Tonight marked another trip walking down to Mill Ave. with Teej and Greg. It’s getting to sound like a broken record on this blog…every day, another trip down to Mill. Fortunately things change up enough down there that’s it’s like a new experience every time.
Tonight was amateur open mike night outside a coffee shop on the north end of Mill. Of course we couldn’t get coffee from there…we had to partake again of the sweet ambrosia that is boba. Anyway, it’s open mike night:
There are certain things I noticed about amateur musicians after I sat there a while. It’s weird, because here you have average people who shyly (most of the time) walk up to the front of the crowd to perform. They’re just like us…average people in every way (again, this is a generalization). Then, when they sit down, situate their guitar or other instrument of choice, and start playing, it’s like they change. They have authority and even on some occasions, an air of dignity and nobility. The musician doesn’t even have to be particularly talented; there’s just something about them being up there with everyone listening and them playing songs they wrote. I buy it and it’s a really cool experience…
The first performer I saw was an unassuming young guy wearing a Cheers shirt and a backwards baseball cap. He sat down, mumbled some disclaimers about how his songs weren’t done and justifications for shortcomings he perceived in his own music and then he just tore into some really cool songs. He had a good voice and on his last song, I was really impressed with his guitar technique. I’m no expert, but he struck me as being very talented.
The next guy up looked like a genetic hybrid of David Crosby and Ron Jeremy. I was skeptical, but then he started playing some bittersweet songs that I was sucked into because he seemed like the kind of authentic guy who’s been around and seen some things. He was definitely cool.
I also liked the third act, which was a couple of guys who seemed like they were more baked than the pot pie Greg made last week. They sang some sort of R&B stuff, which at some points crossed completely into improvisation. Some girls walk by, the lead singer guy would throw in some lyrics like, “Hey baby, you in the tank top shirt, shake it for papa, yadda yadda yadda”. Although entertaining, they were the beginning of the end of my theory that when people take the stage they have a sense of dignity and authority.
The next person up was a no-talent woman singing acapella. Her first song was nothing special, but her second song transgressed many unspoken rules of open mike nights and I couldn’t help but feel violated afterwards. She sang a horrid, bloody-ear inducing rendition of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song”. The point where the performance transitioned from “this lady is not very good” to “I want to cry, someone please kill me” was when she hit the part of the song that goes, “Killing me softly with his song–ee–ong–ee–ongeeongeeong” and her voice cracked repeatedly from years of smoking unfiltered Luckies. She got off the stage…
…and an overweight, middle-aged man took the stage to cover Nickelback songs. My theory was shattered, but I laughed heartily and all was good.
I’ll be back next week.