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.





Open mic night at the Mariposa Cafe


A fun night at the Mariposa Cafe. Lots of great soloists. Interesting open mic every performer had excellent voices. Among the performers included Melody Pearson, David Wilkenfeld, Ian Hanchet (who joined me with some mighty fine playin’ on “Stormy Monday”, John Petronko, Marie-Josée Tremblay, Saul Friedman, Sally Butterworth, Danielle Carter, and Victor. Thanks to Victor and his staff.

Excellent menu choices and wonderful people.

And… like many an open mic, the ride home on the bus reveals the interesting night creatures that inhabit the dark side of the urban world.