Open Mic Nights Exposed – The truth behind the hosts, the venues, the musicians and the listeners/fans

Are you here to read all the dirty and dirty little secrets about Open Mic Nights? Well, you came to the right place! So get comfortable and read on…..

Where shall I start? I am assuming that you know what an Open Mic is and know the difference between an Open Mic and a Jam Session. If you don’t, this post will help Jam Session or Open Mic – What’s the Difference? . My comments, observations and opinions here come from many years of performing at Open Mics, as well hosting a few and listening to feedback from everyone involved.

Let’s start with the venue. Assuming the venue is a place of business, their goal is to make money. From my experience, the only venues that usually make money on Open Mics are bars, for obvious reasons. For the most part, a venue should consider Open Mics a form of advertising because, there is only so much money people will spend while waiting to perform and listening for several hours. You will attract new potential customers to your establishment and, many will become regulars who will bring their friends and talk it up. Venues should understand that the folks coming to Open Mics genuinely appreciate your hosting it. For those of you attending the Open Mic, please understand that most venues are not making money from the one or two drinks you order. In fact, some venues will stay open later than normal and have to pay staff to be present. I only mention this so everyone knows what to expect.

OK, what about the host? This is usually a paid gig for the host. The host determines the “rules”, such as who plays when, how long each set is, etc. For more details, check out Open Mic Etiquette which I used at my Open Mics. Typically, Open Mics will run until the last person gets their stage time. If the turnout is heavy, the venue stays open and the host stays…. wait for it…. without any extra compensation. Hosts don’t get paid based on how many performers show up. They charge the venue for X hours and that’s it. The host also gets to be the brunt of complaints when a performer accidentally gets overlooked, cut short, doesn’t like the way they sound, had to wait too long to perform, the crowd thins out before their turn, etc. By the way, the host is also responsible for making sure there is music for the duration of the Open Mic. So if performers dribble in and listeners are there, the host will fill in the stage time. In short, the host is trying to keep everyone happy (including the venue) and coming back.

Ahhh, performers… an interesting breed. I know, because I am one! Performers will run the gamut from rank beginners to “unbelievable, I can’t believe I’m seeing this person for free”. Open Mics are typically a “safe place” for performers and many will try out new material. It is your responsibility to ask the host what the rules are. For a sample check out Open Mic Etiquette which I used at my Open Mics. So, what should you expect? You should expect a heads up before your turn and the host will either introduce you or ask you to introduce yourself. You should also expect the host to keep track of time and let you know when it’s your last song in the set. I promise there will be nights that are incredible and others that aren’t up to par, for any number of reasons. Try to roll with it and come back again. One complaint that is often heard is that people play their set and leave (also their friends leave). To that I say, you want an audience, you be an audience. You should also remember that this is a paying gig for the host and often, if the venue books gigs, they will have the host do the screening. If you are interested in a gig, please ask the host what the policy is.

Listeners/Fans….. we love you! Playing to a room of our peers is nice, but you folks really make the stage time rocof re. Open Mics are a great way to have a night out with live entertainment and not break the bank, which is so important these days, isn’t it? By the way, it really helps if you let the venue know how much you appreciate making their location available. They expect the performers to be grateful, but your feedback can make all the difference in keeping the Open Mic going when things slow down a bit, and it always happens at some point.

If you don’t know where Open Mics are in your area, check my post Jam Session or Open Mic – What’s the Difference? for resources to locate the ones in your area.

If you would like to host an Open Mic and want to know what is involved and what to expect, feel free to contact me and I will help you as best as I can.

Well, there you have it, Open Mics Exposed!! Leave a comment and let me know what you think or what your experience has been.

Taking you back to a simpler time… with music

Steve

Songwriter, Musician, Entertainer, Instructor

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Interested in taking Lessons in person (locally), or worldwide (via Skype) or booking Steve for a Private Party, House Concert or Office Function?  Just leave a comment and I will contact you by email (your address shows on my admin panel).

Steve started playing guitar in ‘69, and has been performing regularly since ’90. His involvement with recording and sound engineering began in the early ‘70’s.

Steve, and his bands, have always given back to the community, supporting Special Needs Families, Christian Outreach, Food Pantries, Homeless Shelters and Medical Research.

As a songwriter and registered artist with BMI, Steve’s songwriting and gig sets span the Blues, Rock, Folk, Country and Christian genres.

2009 was the start of a busy solo performing schedule as well as sharing his love of music by teaching both Guitar and Live Performance Techniques. Steve teaches his guitar students to play the music THEY want to play, right from the start, without getting bogged down with music theory. With Live Performance Techniques lessons, students learn how to move from the living room to a live stage.

06/18/10 & 06/25/10 Gig Report– Open Mic Fridays at Cork & Olive Lake Mary

Two reports in one today, talking about our new All Originals format. Most of our musicians are songwriters so, when we decided to go back to the 60’s and 70’s Coffee House theme, it has been well received at Lake Mary Cork&Olive.

Now you get to experience the area’s best songwriters performing in one great location!

On the 18th, Ron Rich started us off with some of his wonderful songs, spanning both the Country and Folk Genres. You may hear Ron’s songs for the first time, but he has a way of making them feel familiar to you right off the bat. Ron spent some time in Nashville and has toured a good part of the U.S., so he’s got some interesting stories about the inspiration behind his songs. You can check out Ron at http://cabinsong.com.

After Mike Borek finished a powerful set of his originals, Ron and I got up and accompanied one other while taking turns playing a few more of each of our originals. Man, that was fun!

The 25th was our second All Originals night and it pretty much picked up where we left off on the 18th. We had three new OMF musicians and about ten new listeners, so it was a very full evening.

Jenn Weidley and Ron Simkay (hope I spelt that right!) took the stage and treated us to a great set with strong vocals and sweet harmonies backed up by guitar, fiddle and flute. Jenn’s been trying to get here for awhile, but had some serious matters to tend to, so it was a real treat for us to have her and Ron here. Their friend, Julia, was along and, let me tell you, it’s great having her in the audience!

Burnin’ Vernon Miller, one of my old Blues Scene friends, followed Jenn and Ron. Vernon was original a horn player, but he’s added guitar to his musical arsenal, but you’d never know it’s a recent addition. Vernon’s take on things is a hoot, he’s animated as all get out and his songwriting stretches way beyond just Blues. You can check him out at http://www.reverbnation.com/burninvernon. When you meet Vernon, be sure to ask how he got his nickname. You might be surprised!

Brothers Jon and Steve Martino were back, after a few weeks of vacation. Boy, we missed ‘em! Great sound, easy to listen to AND they performed a new song that John wrote recently. When these two take the stage, they always make the room seem just a little friendlier. It’s hard to believe that’s even possible, but John and Steve do it every time!

We had nice crowd of listeners tonight, including Tom and Denise, Steve, Denise and her husband and Bryan’s crew of four, and they wanted more, so Jenn, Ron and Vernon gave it to them. By the way, Bryan has a Jazz band called Stillborn Scarlet and they’ll be showing up soon, so make sure you don’t miss it.

As usual, Amy and Stephanie made sure everyone was well taken care of and struck a few stage poses for the camera. A special thank you to Lake Mary Cork&Olive Owner/Sommelier Antoney for allowing us to bring our music to you in his shop. This is one of the most unique, knowledgeable and well stocked wine shops you’ll find anywhere, so please be sure to support them and, when you do, let Antoney know you enjoyed the Open Mic Fridays experience.

Check out our short video Open Mic Fridays with Steve Falter

Taking you back to a simpler time… with music,

Steve

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06/11/10 Gig Report– Open Mic Fridays at Cork & Olive Lake Mary

Another great night of music and new friends at Lake Mary Cork&Olive.

Amy and Stephanie were off tonight and Brandy did an outstanding job taking care of us all night long and making everyone feel right at home. Thanks, Brandy!

Also, many thanks to David St. Pierre from That Deli! for the outrageously good soup everyone got to sample and enjoy. I only do business with people and venues that I can rave about, and That Deli! is no exception. Let’s just say that, when I go there, I don’t even look at the menu. I just let them give me whatever they feel like and I have never been disappointed. David will be here the 2nd Friday of each month with samples of their terrific food.

Some of our regular musicians were out of town, but no problem as three new OMF musicians showed up. I’m telling you, we are never at a loss for music here. Every week, some of the area’s best talent shows up to entertain you!

Brad Beard started us off with a killer set including some terrific original material. Brad is a friend of one of our regulars, John Cunningham, and he was joined by his lovely new bride, Carole, and her mom, Joyce. What a nice group of people, and they’ll be coming back.

Next up was OMF Newbie Kevin McDonough. I’ve known Kev for awhile as a musician and from the gym. It’s always a pleasure to have Kevin in the house. He delivered a solid set and included a few songs that I love to hear, but I just can’t sing ‘em. At the end of the night, he played some sweet Blues harp on one of my originals, Julie’s Dentist Visit Blues.

Mark Middlebrooks took the stage and knocked out a killer set. We finally got to hear him sing and it was worth the wait. Mark did some cool interpretations of a few standards that took us straight down memory lane.

Greg Jameson did some nice country numbers for his second time at OMF and came up to join in on vocals for a few songs in my closing set. It’s always a pleasure, Greg. I’m glad you’re with us and getting up on stage!

Finally, long time musician friends, and OMF Newbies, Mara and Hannah Silies took the stage and thoroughly entranced everyone. This mother-daughter duo has vocal harmonies that are unparalleled. Jaw dropping is the term that comes to mind. When you can totally engage other musicians in the room, and all conversation stops, that says a lot. I’ve been tryin’ my best to get Mara and Hannah down from Daytona, and it finally paid off!

Once again, my thanks to Lake Mary Cork&Olive owner Antoney Manipadem for letting us use his wonderful store for Open Mic Fridays.

Ladies, stay tuned. We have a weekly special mid-day treat in the works for you. It should be ready to start up towards the end of the month. You’ll be pampered, entertained, and go home with a romantic dinner for two and a specially selected bottle of wine. It will make your day a little easier and help you set the stage for a nice relaxed evening at home!

Check out our short video Open Mic Fridays with Steve Falter

Taking you back to a simpler time… with music,

Steve

By the way, check out my newest song, If I Could Be Your Mirror. and leave a comment with your thoughts. The story behind the song is here http://wp.me/pOmmi-dT

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06/04/10 Gig Report– Open Mic Fridays at Cork & Olive Lake Mary

Old friends and new friends made it another great Open Mic Friday at Lake Mary Cork & Olive!

Jackie, from Hollywood Houndz and many of her clients joined us for Paws & Wine, held the first Friday of the month. They were a great audience, tossing out lots of requests and joining in with singing, as wells as playing the tambourine and cabasa! You guys don’t have to wait for the 1st Friday, come back anytime!

My good friends Marlon and DI showed up, along with their friend Trisha. Marlon joined me on harp for several songs, then Di came up and we sang Happy Birthday to Trisha. I recently wrote two original Birthday songs, one to Proud Mary and the other to Sweet Home Alabama. Trisha chose the latter. Di followed with her set, singing Love Me Like A Man, Stormy Monday and As Tears Go By. Good times!

Mike Borek returned, after some hand surgery (OUCH!) and delivered his usual strong set, including an extended instrumental improvisation.

Peter Murphy took the stage and effortlessly performed several well selected songs. He’ll be away for a few weeks and we’ll miss him. But don’t worry folks, Peter will return!

A few new listeners arrived and John Cunningham did another great job entertaining us with several Jimmy Buffet songs and closing with CCR’s Lodi. I forgot all about that song and I’m so glad you brought it back, John!

I did a few requests from our new listeners and closed out the night. It was a little quieter than usual, with a few of our regulars out of town, but we always have a great time. After all, we have to keep things going and be here when they return.

Thanks, as always, to Antoney for having us here and to Stephanie and Amy for taking such good care of us and making us feel right at home!

Check out our short video Open Mic Fridays with Steve Falter

Taking you back to a simpler time… with music,

Steve

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05/28/10 Weekend Gig Report– Open Mic Fridays at Cork & Olive Lake Mary

This will come as no surprise if you’ve been to Open Mic Fridays or read my Weekend Gig Reports but, Man – O – Man! Another great night!

With the Memorial Day weekend and the Magic in the NBA Playoffs, listener turnout was on the light side. In other words, if you didn’t come out, all you had was a humid, wet night and another disappointment for the cost of your tickets (or cable TV). If you did come out, you had 3 hours, count ‘em, 3 hours of music by some of the best local talent, including five musicians you haven’t heard at Open Mic Fridays before! Thanks to my friends Marc and Dawn, a great couple (first time at OMF) and the other folks who came out to listen.

OK, here’s the recap. After my opening set, Sharon Lowe came up and her daughter, Becca, was with her. Together, they are Bella Rana and. Lucky for us, their evening gig was rained out and where else are the girls gonna play? You have to catch this duo, they are incredible!

Next up was Dell Hoyt, familiar to my Open Mics, but first time at OMF. Dell’s sets are…. well, you really have to experience them. I love his rendition of One Meatball, a cool, Bluesy Depression era song. In fact, I’m hijacking it into my set list! Everyone was singing along on the chorus, as well as with Me and Bobby Magee.

Peter and Mark got up and delivered another one of their solid sets with a mixture of Jazz, Rock and Blues. It’s great when they duo because Mark and Peter sound so good together and you never know if Mark will be on bass or guitar. Very cool!

Following them was another OMF first-timer Nash Rambler. I’ve heard of Nash, but had never heard him perform before. You’ve got to catch his act. Lots of great original lyrics, wonderful picking. Just an overall cool sound and vibe. He even performed his submission for the new state song, Florida, My Home. I can’t believe it wasn’t selected!

Greg Jameson, another OMF first-timer followed Nash and gave us a solid set starting off with Zac Brown’s Chicken Fry, which includes a very patriotic verse. Perfectly dedicated, this Memorial Day weekend, to those who have served our country. I’m looking forward to hearing more of Gregg’s material.

My good friend, and songwriting collaborator, Parlor Jones (yes, another OMF first-timer) finished off the night with a mix of originals along with some Beatles and Blues covers. We also gave our first collaboration, If I Could Be Your Mirror, its public debut. Parlor is a phenomenal musician, a great friend and my official photographer. Yep, he’s responsible for those new pics you all voted on.

By the way, starting in June, That Deli! will have samples of their delicious, fresh made food at the 2nd Open Mic Fridays of the month. I am in the process of setting up other value added specials for each week of the month, so stay tuned.

I also recommend that you check out, and consider supporting, B.A.S.E. CAMP Children’s Cancer Foundation. They provide valuable, and much needed, programs to our Cancer stricken community.

Enjoy the slideshow, below, check out my videos and feel free to leave comments in the box below. There you have it. Need I say more?

Taking you back to a simpler time… with music,

Steve

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05/21/10 Weekend Gig Report – Open Mic Fridays at Cork & Olive Lake Mary

Another wonderful night with new, and returning, musicians and new, and returning, friends. Each week we meet new people and they all have the same reaction, “This is great!”. Thanks, everyone, we try.

First up was Casey, a first-timer who heard about us from his friend Carly Jo and some of our friends at another Open Mic. Casey did a fine job and I hope we’ll see him again. His parents and friends seemed like a fine group of folks and they all hung around to hear some of our other talented musicians.

John Cunningham delivered a great set, as usual. I’m always amazed at some of the tunes he pulls out, and he always has a great intro, especially for the older tunes! John & Steve Martino delivered a terrific set with their signature sound that we all love. John did a solo number to finish the set accompanied by….. himself on Kazoo. Yeah, Kazoo! Very cool…

Another first-timer was Kristi Hernanadez, a terrific vocalist. Kristi called me earlier in the week and said she would come to check it out. I told that was fine, but be prepared, you’ll want to get up and sing. Guess what? She did. I accompanied her on Love Will Keep Us Alive, by The Eagles. Let me tell you, we’re in for a treat when Kristi brings her familiar material.

Sharon Lowe and her husband arrived and she gave me an early birthday present. Sharon brought her flute and accompanied me on Can’t You See. The last we did that was on my birthday in ’08. After that, Sharon finished off the night with a few originals (I love her song, Guitar Girl) and covers.

BTW, my best friend, Scott came in with his son, Luke and had a great time. We also had several new couples hanging out, enjoying the music, wine and hospitality.

I’m working on a few treats, with some special guests. Something different each week that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. You’ll just have to come out and see for yourself.

In the meantime, check out this week’s slideshow and then Click Here to see a short video with our musicians, guests and staff giving you a living tour of Open Mic Fridays.

Taking you back to a simpler time… with music,

Steve

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