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Open Mic Offers Unity, Community


Butcher, baker, candlestick-maker.

If these three characters met up at an Open Mic Night, their vocations would be far less important than their talent or passion for music. 

Open Mic events are hosted in many communities with the intent to draw in musical enthusiasts and local patrons. On these evenings, an energetic atmosphere is created, charged with anticipation and notions of sharps, flats, G-clefs and melodies.

Upon arrival, potential performers immediately sign up for a time slot on the master board. Artists are allotted a specific number of pieces to present on stage, in order to give all those interested an equal opportunity to shine.

There are essentially no other rules, which allows for tremendous musical freedom. 

Initially obvious in anybody’s eye is the diversity of the people around them. Attendees and performers vary in a plethora of areas, which include age, gender, cultural or ethnic background. An unreserved welcome is commonplace. What becomes crystal clear is that the attributes of import are shared musical appreciation and the desire to connect.

In all ways that count, Open Mic Nights offer give-and-take relationships of calculable value. It’s a dynamic communal currency.

Some musicians walk onto the stage for the very first time, ever. Others are regulars, and still others are professionals, often performing at well-known venues, local or otherwise. 

This informal gathering is ideal for a live audience practice in the various disciplines for individuals, duos or groups.

Instruments include guitars, saxophones, violins or even a banjo. Most establishments maintain a set of drums, keyboard and a sound system … necessary equipment not easy to lug about by the musicians.

If not playing a horn or wind implement, vocal accompaniments are often added, and original musical scores are not uncommon. There are also instances when sing-a-longs occur, especially if an arrangement lends itself to an unrehearsed chorus of voices. These moments often spur an audience member, or two, to break into dance. Also acceptable.

Yes, there is a lot happening, often simultaneously. Microphone placement, sound checks, seating arrangements and instrument storage are ongoing. One might assume that the ambiance might be frenzied, yet, it is indisputably organized — fine tuned, if you will. Tasks are completed efficiently to maximize the performers’ schedules. The management is willingly assisted by other musical enthusiasts — patrons, participants, and staff.

Of course, attendees are ordering food or beverages as they chat and laugh together while enjoying the performances. Conversely, when each piece is completed, all tete-a-tete abruptly ceases; after a momentary stillness, energetic applause erupts. Maybe even cat-calls. It’s deliberate and hearty praise.

Yes, make no mistake about it, Open Mic Nights are patently about the music and all that domain entails. Hail to the music.

Nonetheless, opportunities sporadically present themselves for interaction among musicians and audience members. Off-the-cuff dialogue about the artists’ curricula vitae or personal background subjects unrelated to their music may ensue. It is, however, much more likely that artists are queried about their instruments, musical genre, and what it takes to become proficient.

During these exchanges, what might well be learned is that occupations run the gamut from engineers to entrepreneurs and university scholars to high school students. Perhaps a candlestick-maker is among the mix.

Above all else, what produces success at Open Mics is the fellowship, camaraderie and collective admiration and appreciation for the sounds produced. Robust support for the artists by the audience is integral to success.

A deeper insight reveals that, truth be told, the music melds everybody together and leads to a much larger certainty. By evening’s end, what lingers is somewhat otherworldly and mysterious. There is a commonality bound by strong threads that remain. The threads are a product of this unequivocal conjoined experience.

It’s an inexplicable, yet common phenomenon, often acknowledged as a glorious happenstance. One way or another, everyone is enriched when connected by these durable musical threads. The cords fit snugly around them, not only for the immediate after-hours, but for hours or perhaps days to come.

Luminous filaments attach themselves to imperceptible areas in need of soothing, producing peaceful, esoteric humming within minds and hearts. The threads fabricate a beguiling, colorful tapestry tailored specifically for shared unity that proves to be healing.

Music fills otherwise hollow crevices. It can tenderly shatter what is not positive nor constructive, be it seen or unseen. Music has the potency and power to adjoin willing souls, everywhere.

All that is needed is to be present and to truly listen.

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