Tenacious D famously referred to “Open Mic Night” as “Learn to Play Guitar in Front of a Live Audience” night, and not without reason. As a veteran of 25-plus years of open mics, I can attest that the results can be…mixed.
There are two pieces of advice I have distilled from my quarter-century of listening: 1) Tune before you get on stage; 2) Know at least one entire song (two half songs do not equal one whole song).
For all that, open mic events play a vital role in the local artistic community. They are a place to debut new material, to meet other artists and, yes, a place to cut your teeth on stagecraft and playing to an audience. There are several great opportunities around town.
My old pal Mike McDade has been hosting open mics for as long as I’ve been in Chattanooga and Hap Henniger keeps it weird at The Office on Thursdays, but there is a new showcase in town, one that promises to make an already inclusive event even more so. The Well, at 1800 Rossville Blvd. #8, has partnered with the Chattanooga Folk School to bring a Monday night open mic to all ages and all abilities.
Hosted by the always kind and supportive Shawnessy Cargile, a “Children’s Open Mic” runs every Monday from 6:30-7:30 p.m., at which any child 12 and under will have the opportunity to sing, dance, tell jokes, recite poetry or perform any other creative act.
Sign-ups for the regular open mic commence at 7:30, with the first performer taking the stage at 8 p.m. Performers are given a maximum of 15 minutes per set and the first Monday of every month features a “Pro Panel” to give feedback to performers after their set (this is optional, one need not receive feedback if they so choose).
The “Pro Panel” is comprised of professional musicians, poets, event organizers and music/written-word critics, each dedicated to providing constructive advice and feedback to performers. Vendors Local Juice and Taqueria Jalisco are on hand with food and drink.