Friday, February 19, 2010

Open Mic

Well once again, last night, we had Open Mic at the Cave creek Coffee co. Thursday night from 7pm until10 or so. We set out the list at 6:20 and there are 12 spots/ 3 songs for about 15 minutes per performer. We have worked very hard to create the only listening room in the Southwest. We tell the audience sometimes more than once that if they would like to visit please go into another room. This is for the musicians to be heard.

I find that the people that always have the hardest time with this are young pretty women, or people that are a little to hip to be happy. Maybe they get bored or are used to being the center of attention but the scenario goes something like this. There is a player in front of the room and a conversation starts. Due to the fact that the room is being quiet the musician is now competing against the conversation. I'll shush them, which gets me the look. They'll quiet down for a few minutes, then go right back to their really important dialogue. The rest of the audience gets disappointed and I shush them a little more strongly. They give the even stronger look and then when I go to get the next act ready they follow me out of the room to tell me how to run an open mic. I try to explain the concept of a listening room and they tell me how much better the room would be if people were chatting quietly while listening.

I have worked on this issue for several years. How do you keep the talk at a low level and if 40 people are having a quiet conversation it's called room noise. I've been told several times what an asshole I am. Here's the news; my efforts are to produce the best environment possible for the musicians... end of story. I have at least 1 and often several couples stop me at the end of a magical night of music and thank me for a place where they can come and just listen. Those of you that don't agree, there are several other open mics around and I hope you enjoy them. We are now getting at least 2 new players every week, many are touring pros that have heard by other touring pros or agents that this is the best Open Mic in this part of the country. I'll trade that any day for an angry audience member that is looking for something other than what we offer.

Being a musician is not easy, it's filled with self-doubt, and as soon as you find some song that you play well, someone asks you to do "Margaretville" or worse they ignore you. I try to give these daring performers refuge and a place to work on their act and grow.

Last night was great, Vic better know as The Jazz bastard helped me open he is a real treat to play with. Later on he made many a jaw drop playing a lightning fast version of "The Flintstone" with john Debuke on harmonica.

Brian Callahan ripped the room up with his hilarious rendition of "The Jenny Mule" I'm sure this guy is going all the way.

Micah Migara (I’ll get the correct spelling) an Ex-bull rider with a voice like a long slow sip of Southern Comfort once again reminded us of that heart breaking sound we haven't heard since the days of George Jones. His tune "Hello Whiskey" has huge potential.

I can't thank the guys that come by after a hard day of work enough. Ernie Bunch, Ken Harris who did fine "Patty Smith" last night, backed by Barbara, Rick Strole the best 60 folk singer around, Mike Assad, Kevin Brennan, Ron McGee doing sound and of course Zeke Vance shooting all of these fine photos.


  1. Joe, the story about Willy is simply great. I can only hope to control the whip in my head and luckily I've managed to stay away from many of those holding them ready to thrash.
    I am touched by your words about me and it makes me want to come out to your open mic because a listening room is a rare thing these days for musicians. As I perform six times a week in LA I realize that this listening room problem is all over. It was in Vegas too. Nashville was better but still it was no Fiddler's Dream or Cave Creek Coffee Co.
    Anyway, I hope to make it out to your open mic at some point. I miss the old days when we'd hang out together at Michael's, the Coffee Plantation, Joe's Grotto, and all the other places we played and jammed.

  2. "My friend Coyote Joe
    Was being chewed out at the door
    He'd shushed her one too many times
    She would come back no more...

    The confrontation escalated
    She was really quite distressed
    I thought about the bumper sticker
    And this is what I said...

    Wag More... Bark Less...

    Wag More , Wag More, Wag More,
    And Bark Less !"

    from "The Bumper Sticker Blues"
    cp2010 Kenn Harris