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Thoughts on "Open Mic" nights...?

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  • #16
    I go to two fairly regularly, one on Sunday evening, one on Saturday afternoon, but these are almost like family and friends get togethers, except nobody has to clean up afterwards. They each have a core group of people who are all pretty talented, most of whom play in working bands or as solo performers. I usually get to play with a couple of others, which is great practice - playing songs I don't usually, or ever, play and honing my accompanist chops. Sometimes it's really happening. I even play actual gigs in a couple of groups with people that I met at these. And while there is a core group, new folks who show up are welcomed and supported and usually end up coming back. On the other hand, I don't play at the standard Open Mics where Bubba and Jenny come in to sing Bro Country or Jewel covers. I may go to watch some friends who are working at getting gigs and starting a career to have a beer and show support, but I don't play. But, to SH's point, it does seem like a number of places are doing open mics in lieu of actually hiring professional musicians.

    Comment


    • Grumpy_Polecat
      Grumpy_Polecat commented
      Editing a comment
      Bubba and Jenny... I used to play with those cats, man.

  • #17
    Originally posted by SteinbergerHack View Post
    I have seen a trend locally over the past couple of years that has me concerned. Several of the local bars have abandoned booking bands, and are holding "open mic nights" instead. These bars aren't my normal clientele anyway (they never did pay enough for my groups), but it got my attention when a couple of friends asked if I would come join them and play a few tunes. These guys don't play actual paying gigs, so they just see it as a fun time with buddies drinking beer and don't give it a second thought.

    From my perspective, it is a matter of the bar trying to get free "entertainment", knowing that the 10 guys who all show up to hack their way through a half-dozen covers each bring a couple of friends and buy a few beers. I get it, and can see why the bar would do it as long as they can put people on stools with glasses in hand.

    That said, it rubbed me wrong when a singer friend asked if I would come sit in "to help raise the bar on stage and put on a good show". From my perspective, why would I go "put on a good show" for nothing when I am already booked with paying gigs for the next 8-9 months? If the owner wants to "raise the bar", I am perfectly willing to accept a paying gig there - and I'd host the first set as open mic if they would like me to....but not as a freebie. I'm pretty certain that my buddy honestly just wants to have me help him sound better on his stuff, and probably never considered it from my perspective, but I still feel that we shouldn't be supporting a "give-away" to a bar that isn't booking acts and paying them.

    If the bar did open mic nights mid-week, then booked bands on the weekend, I would probably feel differently....but they don't.

    Am I being unreasonable in viewing it this way? Any thoughts on how to deal with this sort of request without coming across like a jerk?
    I've never been to one, either as a participant or spectator. There is very little that instantly makes me want to leave more than the sight of a guy or girl with an acoustic guitar.
    Keep the company of those who seek the truth, and run from those who have found it.

    -- Vaclav Havel

    The Universe is unimaginably vast. For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

    -- Carl Sagan


    Life - the way it really is - is a battle not between Bad and Good but between Bad and Worse.

    -- Joseph Brodsky

    Comment


    • oldsoapbars
      oldsoapbars commented
      Editing a comment
      No love for Leo kottke or Earl Klugh?

    • HAMMER TOSS
      HAMMER TOSS commented
      Editing a comment
      Or Tommy Emmanuel?

    • arf-boy
      arf-boy commented
      Editing a comment
      Anton doesn't even really like Richard Thompson, who may be the apex of the guy-with-acoustic genre.
      Last edited by arf-boy; 01-10-2019, 07:21 AM.

  • #18
    Originally posted by SteinbergerHack View Post
    I have seen a trend locally over the past couple of years that has me concerned. Several of the local bars have abandoned booking bands, and are holding "open mic nights" instead. These bars aren't my normal clientele anyway (they never did pay enough for my groups), but it got my attention when a couple of friends asked if I would come join them and play a few tunes. These guys don't play actual paying gigs, so they just see it as a fun time with buddies drinking beer and don't give it a second thought.

    From my perspective, it is a matter of the bar trying to get free "entertainment", knowing that the 10 guys who all show up to hack their way through a half-dozen covers each bring a couple of friends and buy a few beers. I get it, and can see why the bar would do it as long as they can put people on stools with glasses in hand.

    That said, it rubbed me wrong when a singer friend asked if I would come sit in "to help raise the bar on stage and put on a good show". From my perspective, why would I go "put on a good show" for nothing when I am already booked with paying gigs for the next 8-9 months? If the owner wants to "raise the bar", I am perfectly willing to accept a paying gig there - and I'd host the first set as open mic if they would like me to....but not as a freebie. I'm pretty certain that my buddy honestly just wants to have me help him sound better on his stuff, and probably never considered it from my perspective, but I still feel that we shouldn't be supporting a "give-away" to a bar that isn't booking acts and paying them.

    If the bar did open mic nights mid-week, then booked bands on the weekend, I would probably feel differently....but they don't.

    Am I being unreasonable in viewing it this way? Any thoughts on how to deal with this sort of request without coming across like a jerk?
    Only one comment here:

    You say it was a singer friend who asked you to come and "raise the bar" and then complained about the owner wanting to "raise the bar" for no pay.

    Are you sure the owner even cares about 'raising the bar"?

    Comment


    • #19
      Originally posted by saturn1 View Post
      I go to two fairly regularly, one on Sunday evening, one on Saturday afternoon, but these are almost like family and friends get togethers, except nobody has to clean up afterwards. They each have a core group of people who are all pretty talented, most of whom play in working bands or as solo performers. I usually get to play with a couple of others, which is great practice - playing songs I don't usually, or ever, play and honing my accompanist chops. Sometimes it's really happening. I even play actual gigs in a couple of groups with people that I met at these. And while there is a core group, new folks who show up are welcomed and supported and usually end up coming back. On the other hand, I don't play at the standard Open Mics where Bubba and Jenny come in to sing Bro Country or Jewel covers. I may go to watch some friends who are working at getting gigs and starting a career to have a beer and show support, but I don't play. But, to SH's point, it does seem like a number of places are doing open mics in lieu of actually hiring professional musicians.
      Seems to me that open mic nights are much like karaoke. To the degree that today's audiences are more entertained by being involved, or at least seeing what at least seems like 'regular people' being involved, then they are by just sitting and watching a show put on for them by trained professionals.

      I blame this, at least in part, on the quality of live performance becoming so degraded over the last couple of decades that there's often little difference between a supposedly professional band and Bubba and Jenny. And if Jenny's your friend, or it's more fun to see Bubba get too drunk and make a fool out of himself? All the better. I blame a lot of this on the "dad band/weekend warrior" thing that began in the 90s when all those boomers decided they had enough money to buy guitars and finally learn to play just like their heroes of 20-30 years ago. They didn't care how they looked, not much more for how they sounded, and didn't care about getting paid. Used to be a bar was a place to see young hungry kids trying to hone their craft. Now it's a place to see old guys with pot bellies and 'boutique" gear all see who can f' up "Crossfire" the least.

      Part of it can also be blamed on our reality TV culture, social media, "selfies" and all of that as well. But I DO blame a lot of it on the musicians and entertainers. Instead of upping their game over the last couple of decades like pretty much every other form of entertainment, the fact is that "live music" is still basically the same format is was 60 years ago (a couple of guys on guitar and bass and drums and a singer do blues-based music) and most not even as good as our grandfathers did it.

      Is it any wonder audiences are bored?

      Comment


      • Jasaoke
        Jasaoke commented
        Editing a comment
        Well said.

    • #20
      Some just see playing music as a simple thing to have a good time with and don't find the monetary angle appealing to them. I play for free because I'm not a commercial music maker, nor do I define that into music making. A bar hosting open mic nights as a better financial method of marketing is pretty smart. People like to showcase their skills and open mics are no fault, no foul stages to do that on. It's grass-roots, no glam and pretty noobish most of the time but you get what you pay for and people are okay with that.

      You can't slight a business for taking advantage of that just because there are people who earn their living solely by making music in need of work. You can but the logic stifles the argument.
      - The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it. - H.L. Mencken

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      • #21
        Originally posted by guido61 View Post

        Seems to me that open mic nights are much like karaoke. To the degree that today's audiences are more entertained by being involved, or at least seeing what at least seems like 'regular people' being involved, then they are by just sitting and watching a show put on for them by trained professionals.

        I blame this, at least in part, on the quality of live performance becoming so degraded over the last couple of decades that there's often little difference between a supposedly professional band and Bubba and Jenny. And if Jenny's your friend, or it's more fun to see Bubba get too drunk and make a fool out of himself? All the better. I blame a lot of this on the "dad band/weekend warrior" thing that began in the 90s when all those boomers decided they had enough money to buy guitars and finally learn to play just like their heroes of 20-30 years ago. They didn't care how they looked, not much more for how they sounded, and didn't care about getting paid. Used to be a bar was a place to see young hungry kids trying to hone their craft. Now it's a place to see old guys with pot bellies and 'boutique" gear all see who can f' up "Crossfire" the least.

        Part of it can also be blamed on our reality TV culture, social media, "selfies" and all of that as well. But I DO blame a lot of it on the musicians and entertainers. Instead of upping their game over the last couple of decades like pretty much every other form of entertainment, the fact is that "live music" is still basically the same format is was 60 years ago (a couple of guys on guitar and bass and drums and a singer do blues-based music) and most not even as good as our grandfathers did it.

        Is it any wonder audiences are bored?
        So where do you live that the music scene is so unappealing to you? Where I live I can go and see live music pretty much 7 nights a week of pretty much any type and of any caliber that I, or anyone else, may want to see and hear. Young bands working to make it, seasoned pros, major touring acts, struggling bands touring in vans, solo artists, blues, new rock, classic rock, funk, jazz, reggae, EDM... Open mics and hosted jams are just other points on the spectrum. I guess I need to be more appreciative of what I've got here.

        Comment


        • #22
          Personally, I love open mics, or really I should say jam nights. I can usually play in a more loose, adventurous and, frankly, fun way than at most paying gigs. If I'm playing with guys who are better than me, it's nice to see if I can keep up and hang with them. If I'm playing with guys who are not quite at my level, I enjoy bringing them along and trying to play in a way that makes them sound better. Even the more singer/songwriter ones with acoustic guitars can be ok just to see people go from dipping their foot in the water to improving to really learning to express themselves effectively.

          Admittedly this is a somewhat idealistic view of the open mic/jam night, but I have one that I hit on Wednesdays that's great fun. What does kind of annoy me is we also did paying gigs at the same place fairly frequently until they recently discovered that they make a lot more money with karoake and stopped booking bands altogether. Oh well, probably time to find a slightly bigger pond anyway.



          While she's talking, I'll use my mind to think of other things. She can't stop my mind!

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          • #23
            There’s an open mic in the nearest big town to me every night of the week in some dive or other. Bars, coffeehouses, craft breweries, seems like they all have an acoustic open mic night, blues, or bluegrass jam once a week. Just like dart night, karaoke, or whatever. A way to get customers in on a weeknight. Some are good, some are cliquish, and some are just downright terrible. I rarely go to any of them as it’s 30 miles away and not worth the trouble. I’ll attend one or two a year, if someone else I know is a good musician is going or recommends it. I generally don’t have a problem with them. I’ve enjoyed them, been bored to tears, or left with my fingers in my ears. It really depends on who’s running it, how it’s run, and the level of talent that usually shows up. A blues jam can be fun if it’s run right. I’ve heard great stuff at all original acoustic open mics.

            Now asking me to pay to perform in one would rub me raw in a big way. But afaik that hasn’t happened yet around here.



            Comment


            • #24
              Originally posted by saturn1 View Post

              So where do you live that the music scene is so unappealing to you? Where I live I can go and see live music pretty much 7 nights a week of pretty much any type and of any caliber that I, or anyone else, may want to see and hear. Young bands working to make it, seasoned pros, major touring acts, struggling bands touring in vans, solo artists, blues, new rock, classic rock, funk, jazz, reggae, EDM... Open mics and hosted jams are just other points on the spectrum. I guess I need to be more appreciative of what I've got here.
              Well sounds like you may be in a much bigger city than I am, but even still. Don’t you find the pay is less than it was decades ago, let alone not keeping up with inflation?

              Comment


              • #25
                Perhaps because it's a tourist area, there is a strong live music scene here.

                but there are also karaoke places and Open Mic places. As well as a couple pay-to-play clubs that will have 5 bands a night and sell tickets to their friends.

                a friend from music school used to host a weekly Jam at a local bar, and me and my brothers would go sit in as sort of the regular opening act.

                and I have hooked up with musicians at Open Mic nights and later gone on to form bands with them.

                I think that open mic places are a good part of the music scene.
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                • #26
                  Originally posted by guido61 View Post

                  Well sounds like you may be in a much bigger city than I am, but even still. Don’t you find the pay is less than it was decades ago, let alone not keeping up with inflation?
                  Pay is a problem. It is about the same dollars as it was decades ago, which means substantially less in real value. I think that's why 'merch' has become so important for bands and artists who are seriously trying to build a career. One of the benefits of current technology is that it is easier and much less expensive to self-produce a recording, be it a CD or a download and use live shows to promote other revenue streams. It was never easy to make a living playing music. Back when $100 a person was a good figure for a four hour gig you were lugging B3's and Leslies up and down flights of stairs, usually playing at a different place every night. With travel time, load-in, set-up, tear down, load out it was pretty much an 8 hour day. And getting a record recorded and ready for distribution was a very expensive proposition. We were all just younger then and didn't mind it.

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                  • #27
                    To be truthful, I don't have to play for the money at this point, but I won't play without the money. What I do has value, what all of us do has value and that has to be acknowledged. I want the gig because the band is worth the money to the promoter or venue owner, not because we're cheaper than somebody else.

                    Comment


                    • #28
                      Originally posted by saturn1 View Post
                      To be truthful, I don't have to play for the money at this point, but I won't play without the money. What I do has value, what all of us do has value and that has to be acknowledged.
                      Same. Though I'll play for cheap if I'm the worst player on the stage, meaning I'm likely to learn something.
                      Keep the company of those who seek the truth, and run from those who have found it.

                      -- Vaclav Havel

                      The Universe is unimaginably vast. For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

                      -- Carl Sagan


                      Life - the way it really is - is a battle not between Bad and Good but between Bad and Worse.

                      -- Joseph Brodsky

                      Comment


                      • #29
                        I have played one in my life at a local blues jam. Our band lost it's other guitar player and our band agreed to play so that we could audition a guitar player that played there regularly. We played a couple of songs, played backup for a couple of singers then packed up and left. The guitar player was a bust because he led us on to believe he wanted to join a band but it turned out all he wanted to do was play at this weekly jam. We did find another guitar player not long and he was really good. I learned so much from him and we got along well together.

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                        • #30
                          Originally posted by Red Ant View Post

                          Same. Though I'll play for cheap if I'm the worst player on the stage, meaning I'm likely to learn something.
                          I like to say Earn, Learn, or Bearn (nevermind) It's good to see it holds true for you.
                          Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...








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