Touring and Open Mic Nights Will Build Your Stamina

Here is the results of my open mic “7 Day Mini Tour – Feb 24th – Mar 2nd“.

  1. Jam session at the Black Lion Pub  (performed Saturday February 24)
  2. Brutopia  (performed Sunday February 25)
  3. Ye Olde Orchard  (performed Monday February 26)
  4. Grumpy’s  (performed Tuesday February 27)
  5. Jam session at Crobar  (I showed up but they cancelled the event Wednesday February 28)
  6. Mariposa (Performed Thursday March 1)
  7. I found an open Jam in someone’s house in Roxboro, QC. (Performed March 2)

Well after the week, I had a new perspective on endurance and stamina… you can only build stamina by doing the gigs, not just by practicing alone or as a group in the basement. Like Joe Walsh says, “You play for 2 years in the basement until you no longer sound like “sh*t”, then you go through the whole process again when you start to play live… you sound like “sh*t” until you’ve done it for 2 years, recording… (not word for word, but this is the essence of his message.)

So a few lessons learned:

The Open Mic Stage at Brutopia
The Stage at Brutopia
  • When you challenge yourself, make it a bit harder than what you would feel comfortable with. 7 nights in a row is harder than it seems… by Wednesday , day 4, I was feeling the exhaustion from working during the day and playing at night.
  • Have several songs at an open mic, because if someone before you plays a song you will be doing, you should not play the same song. You need some alternate songs.
  • Select your songs in an order that makes some sense, or builds to some planned conclusion. Treat it like a mini set. Also, at some open mics people like to sing along, try to have a song they can join in on.
  • Have some business cards with you.
  • You can ask your audience, that if they take pictures or video to post them on social media with your hashtag. In my case “#bernielandry” or #bernieonthestick”.
  • Get to know the staff and the key people who might book or refer you.
  • Accept comments in a professional manner. Audience participant “Wow, you were fantastic”, you reply “Oh, it’s nothing, I made a few mistakes…” NOT! Answer more like “Thank you, the practicing is paying off”. (You know more about what you are doing than the audience. If they like it, accept graciously.
  • Network with other musicians
  • Have a good time.

Of course there are many more, but suffice it to say that, everyone’s experience is different.

As a closing note, a few of my musician friends commented on how the “7 Day Mini Tour” was a cool idea.

Now that’s cool that I inspired others with this simple experiment.

Experiment, get out there and make it happen.

Have any open mic stories of your own, please leave a comment and share.

PS: A shout out to The Audio Barn for listing all the open mics in Montreal

Open Mic Nights! Challenging Yourself

I decided to play in front of an audience for 7 days in a row at open mic nights and live jam sessions.

Why? Well in the previous post, I was at a crossroads – “Been Out of the Loop for a While, so Now What?” So out of all the things I could do, here it was a real challenge. I would get back in the groove, settle in to playing live consistently.

I looked up all the open mic and jam events I could attend and came up with the “7 Day Mini Tour – Feb 24th – Mar 2nd“.

  1. Jam session at the Black Lion Pub (performed Saturday February 24)
  2. Brutopia (performed Sunday February 25)
  3. Ye Olde Orchard  (performed Monday February 26)
  4. Grumpy’s  (performed Tuesday February 27)
  5. Jam session at Crobar
  6. Mariposa
  7. Help! I am still looking for a Friday Open Mic / Jam… this could be the only thing that might cut the Mini Tour short.

Chapman stick & TC Echobrain for Open Mic Nights

So using just the Stick and a TC Echobrain pedal I started my crazy venture/challenge. My usual pedal board was not practical or logistically possible. Playing the Stick without pedals is more like playing an acoustic instrument. Therefore no tricks to fall back on, no covering up and just the instrument and me!

Note: I added the TC Echobrain delay pedal to just add a bit of ambiance because no 2 locations have the same audio board and I have no idea what the sound in each location would be like.

One of the most important things is being able to set up as quick as possible.

Here is why:

  • I am plugging into a sound board in most cases and not an amp
  • If you get stressed over setting up, your performance will reflect it
  • The audience may be a bit liquid happy, but I still believe you must look professional, to be taken seriously

Important discoveries:

  • No 2 rooms are the same acoustically and audience atmosphere vary from one Open Mic nights to another
  • Get there early to sign up or you finish late… One night I left around 2:30 AM because of waiting for the Hockey game to finish (the audience on Montreal pubs love hockey, even when we are not in the playoffs. Which means…
  • Be ready for the unexpected!
  • Have back up cables. Good idea as I lost a cable because of chaotic situations setting up and unplugging between fellow musicians who perform as well.
  • Tune in advance… Also, when I arrive I open the case right away to get the wood of the Stick at room temperature as this will affect the tuning in a less than desirable way.
  • I also bring my tablet on which I have all my repertoire (words and basic arrangement including chord structure. I do not use during performance, only a quick go over and to finalize what 3 songs I will do.

There are many other tips and preparations I have discovered but that will be in the next post as I complete my Open Mic Nights 7 Day Mini Tour.