Sometimes what you want out of an open mic is a chance to reach an audience, even if it’s a small one made up mostly of other performers.
But sometimes, the list is thin. So thin no one even bothers to write their names down. The barstools are empty, maybe there’s a couple shooting pool in the back. The bartender’s only half listening. Hell, even the sound guy, once he gets your mic set, decides to duck out for a smoke.
Sure, you could leave and save it for a better night. But me, I stick around.
Because at a scant open mic like that, you can take risks. And if you’re lucky, you can convince the others to join you.
These are like minds—people who love words and rhythm and storytelling. If you ask, the musicians might be willing to play along while you read.
Give them a mood to set—something that sounds like trees and a break-up, something childlike but not bouncy, a slow walk down a city street after a rain. Decide who’s going to lead off and then listen for musical phrases where your lines can tuck in or sail over.
Take turns. Take your time. Let the mic and the stagelights work their magic.
This is nothing at all like collaborating in a living room or a garage. It’s not a rehearsal. It’s something that happens and then ends. An impromptu performance for no one but each other.
It’s the kind of moment that can be perfect—not for it’s potential to lead somewhere else—but for it’s own rare sake.