I finally decided to attend the Steel Stacks Open Mike on Thursday for the first time. It’s a weekly event at the industrial entertainment complex here on the Southside of Bethlehem. It’s run by a local songwriter who I really respect as a musician and I’m glad that he has created and maintained this space for a segment of the musical scene.

I just can’t take the space that Arts Quest has provided for it. It is in a large, glass/metal commons room, one that I have performed in for their family shows before. They supply sound but the speakers are in the ceiling of the space, the monitors are not professionally run, people are standing in the back talking and the host doesn’t maintain a presence for the list of players that get up to play. And, it starts at 9 pm.

I simply could not understand the lyrics to anyone’s songs. That’s pretty lame.

I signed up for a later spot and there were only a handful of folks left. I felt I should try for clarity of my vocals. The monitors were nonexistent and I felt I was playing in a vacuum. Still, I played Don’t Call Me Early and Barrelhouse, and I felt wildly inadequate for the situation. The folks left in the audience liked it and came up afterwards, saying that my guitar and me sounded great. I had no concept of that.

The evening made me appreciate why Godfrey’s won the best open mike award this March. Good sound, an audience that listens and challenges the artist in an acoustically superior space. I’ll go back if they have me as the feature. Nuff said.