In my continuing quest to forego online dating and get back to the real world, tonight was open mic night. Yeah, kid!
It took me a while but I finally found an open mic with an attentive audience, and one that wasn’t in a noisy bar (I detest those, as well as being relegated to simply being background music). But like any good open mic night, it is infested with “the regulars”. You know, the people that are there performing EVERY GODDAMN WEEK. Seriously. They monopolize the night. They must camp outside on the sidewalk so they can take over the sign-up list as soon as they can.
I used to go to open mics a long time ago. Now I’m back and better than ever, and nothing has changed. I got there almost an hour before it started and already 14 out of the 15 performer’s slots were full. And sure enough – still the same people as the last time. Jesus, don’t these guys ever take a week off?? But I got the last slot. Yay for me.
But great. Fucking great. That meant I had to sit around for two-and-a-half or more hours until it was finally my time to go on. Two-and-a-half hours of listening to Tom Petty and Eric Clapton covers. And Bob Dylan covers. Sweet chocolate Christ with the Bob Dylan covers. Everybody around me was on the edge of their seats in an awed hush, ready to explode because they’d never heard such good shit. I was just sitting there checking my pulse to make sure I was still alive and wishing for someone to finally inject some life into the proceedings. Oh – wait! Here they come! They’re walking in the door carrying saxophones or bouzoukis or djembes or something else different and interesting… but sorry folks! We don’t have any time left for unique acts! We have to allot all our time to the regulars so they can sit in front of us and engage in musical masturbation week after week. In fact, it’s time for our next act already. What is it? Oh look, it’s yet another guy with a guitar! Holy shit – who ever would have guessed that.
And you know what really pisses me off? Half of the regulars that come on sit there on the stool scratching the back of their heads going, “um… I’m not really sure what I should do for my next song…any requests?” or “um… you know, I didn’t really have anything planned for this…” and then they sit there with their iPhones precariously balanced on their knees so they can read the lyrics to a song they don’t know yet and are just going to muddle through instead because they feel a compulsive need to get up there and play every fucking week and never take a break and just take time away from everybody else.
Anyway. Well, finally it came my time to go on. I thought I’d be lucky to have any audience remaining that late in the night, but lo and behold the place was still pretty full. That was unusual, and so was I – in a sea of guitars, I was a lone Irish fiddler. Yes, I play Irish fiddle (among other things). So I tore through a couple of sets of jigs and reels and that closed out the night. They were very appreciative. Hmph… they’d better be; I can certainly play much better now than the last time I was out doing this.
After I was finished some girl came over and started chatting me up, asking me how long I had played for and telling me that she also played violin. Suddenly her boyfriend materialized out of nowhere and whisked her away before we could continue our conversation.
Boyfriend. Of course.
I chatted with some other people for a bit, but since the place was getting ready to close up I decided to cut out of there and head back home. It had been a longer night than I was anticipating.
A few minutes later I was walking down the alley on my way back to the parking lot when I heard footsteps running up behind me. This is it, I thought. I’m about to get mugged. Or raped. Or both. It was neither.
“Hey, fiddle guy!” I turned and saw some frazzled looking woman clutching an empty cup and a ream of paper.
“I wanted to ask you the name of the second tune you were playing,” she panted.
Oh. Well, the second thing I played was not one tune, but rather five or six strung together. Her face fell comically when I gave her this news.
“Why do you ask? Was there one that you really liked?” I asked.
“Well, you see…” she trailed off and looked at the crumpled papers clutched in her hands. “You see, I’m a writer, and I like to come down here and sit in the back and write. And while you were playing, I had a dream sequence.”
“A – a what?”
Yes, a dream sequence. While the crowd was stomping its feet and clapping its hands, she was sitting in the corner having visions of the characters in her story sitting around drinking cups of tea. To the beat of an Irish jig, apparently. Right. And what kind of tea were you drinking before you came down here, I wanted to ask. Nonetheless, I wrote down my entire set list for her, so she could investigate which one was the chai-chugging one.
So it was an interesting night, and once again it feels good to be out and about. I’ve certainly been making the activity rounds as of late. Now I’m wondering what else I can be doing. Any suggestions?