Pin It
Favorite

Amateur Hour 

Melodic, obscure or just plain painful -– anyone can grab the spotlight at Open Mic

click to enlarge “Lester” - CHARCOAL DRY PAINTING BY EMILY REINHART
  • Charcoal dry painting by Emily Reinhart
  • “Lester”

There you are again, noodling on your guitar in the dark of your own tired little home. Singing sweetly, so sweetly. You know you're good. But these walls have heard it before, give you the same old feeble bounce-back from their moldy plaster. If only ... if only ...

Meanwhile, two houses over, there's that girl again, sitting cross-legged on her bed with her notebook in her lap, reading aloud yet another rhythmic adventure of loves captured then lost then recaptured then -- ah! -- lost again. Bastards. But this line, she says to herself softly, stabbing her pen at the paper, this one line right here, with it I could slay entire roomfuls of innocent new lovers. If only ... if only ...

Then there's Jack. Funny, crack-your-ribs Jack. Cracker Jack, for short -- that's what his friends call him. They mean well, Jack knows, but they're his friends. How can they, or Jack, really know whether he is good comedy? If only ... if only ...

If only these poor saps had an audience!

They do -- waiting in bars and coffeehouses all over Humboldt, and even at that bakery down by the old Fernbridge. And all of these Humboldt County open mic scenes -- they're not just attended by the bold, the professional, the show-off. Inside these dark, glittery spaces, where the wine and coffee flow, even the professed shy beginner-folk -- people who crumple into a rubbery heap when they have to give a speech -- seem able to stand up and do their thing. There's something different about doing open mic. You've got material you really believe in -- your own, or someone else's that you've made your own. And there's the smiling, encouraging crowd, filled with scaredycats possibly just like you. These things stiffen your spine, embolden your heart.

In this week's cover story we feature some of the local venues where the meek and bold gather on common ground to tell stories, recite poetry, sing, rap and joke. Almost every night of the week, it seems, it's amateur hour somewhere in Humboldt. And by "amateur" we don't necessarily mean lame; we simply mean the performers aren't getting paid.

So git on on down there. You might discover you are, indeed, smokin' hot. Or maybe you'll realize your material really does suck. But you'll feel better for having done it, either way. And the rest of us, the audience? We'll let you know.

-- Heidi Walters

More:

A Joke Walks Into a Bar

Speak It

An Old Town Melody

Take it to the Bridge

Tags: ,

Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

About The Author

Heidi Walters

Bio:
Heidi Walters worked as a staff writer at the North Coast Journal from 2005 to 2015.

more from the author

Latest in News

  • Maria Garcia, Citizen

    After work, ESL students go back to school
    • Dec 14, 2017
  • 'In the Interest of Justice'

    Decades after leaving the jungle, Eric Hollenbeck is awarded three Bronze Stars
    • Dec 14, 2017
  • A Matter of Choice

    Humboldt's tradition of open enrollment will likely see some changes next year
    • Dec 14, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bluffing

    A billionaire's high-stakes gamble with patient lives
    • Dec 22, 2016
  • 'What Sustains Us'

    How a congregation overcame tragedy, together
    • May 26, 2016

© 2017 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation

humboldt