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SARASOTA -- Wednesday night I went to an Open Mic Night that was actually cool. It was in Sarasota, at a club on Main Street called Ivory Lounge. The Ivory was chic and fresh and had a comfortable local vibe. The bar was white and the sofas were white leather and a tactful amount of laser beams splashed about the place to the beat of the music. Two pretty girls with beautiful voices hosted the thing, and all of the performers were good. The sound system was of professional quality; there was a Taylor acoustic/electric guitar plugged in and ready to be used by everyone; and a house percussionist made himself available to any artist who wanted accompaniment. The night went off without a hitch, and everyone had fun. 

I’ve been to a lot of Open Mic Nights. [...] And if I’d written anything remotely resemblant of the above paragraph about any of them, I’d be charged with libel. Because Open Mic Nights are never fun; they’re always “just okay”—at best. Which is why I’ve never covered one, until now.

In fact, I’ve been looking for a good Open Mic in the area for some time—since I started this gig with the Times back in December—and all the ones I went to were the same as every Open Mic Night I experienced between 1999 and last Wednesday.

They were generally hosted by a middle-aged person who was a good singer but nonetheless, sucked in a non-specific way. This person was always a bummer. Their originals were worse than the songs they chose to cover, and they ran the signup sheet like it was a Soviet breadline. 


At Open Mic Nights it is typical for the host to perform intermittently throughout the night. The suspicious truth to this is anybody who would host an Open Mic is seeking exposure, and there is nothing wrong with that—in fact, it’s a great scheme, and benefits new artists who need to hone their stage presence, or try out material; it is also good for musicians who have come to embrace their talent as a hobby, but want to participate in the scene—but when the intermittently performing host is a middle-aged fascist who reminds one more of a youth group leader than a musician, you get a lot of empty seats and a bad vibe for anyone who actually shows; the artists get their time, and it’s a good way to network, but nobody goes home feeling invincible. A lot of artists leave after they play—and who could blame them? Many need to get home to their significant others, who stopped coming weeks ago. 

[ . . . ]  

On the other hand, as was evidenced last Wednesday in Sarasota, when you break a bad pattern and replace it with a good one, positive evolutionary forces kick into gear and things change for the better. Which is why Open Mic Night @ The Ivory Lounge was a success. In this case, it was impeach the Baby Boomer and elect Millennial Babes; create a cool environment that people want to be in, and they’ll go to it.

The only guy I saw leave early Wednesday night had a cougar on each arm; he seemed to have just met them, and I think this proves my point.




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