When I was in college, I thought that it would be cool to fool around, impress the ladies, and pick up the acoustic guitar. Sadly with classes, hanging with friends, and pretty much being lazy-I never learned how to play. I would never give up the guitar, however. I always kept it in its black travel bag and placed it in my closet. Recently-I decided that it’s the right time to unpack the instrument and develop a plan. I will learn how to play, and perform in front of an audience during an open mic night. If you are someone that is like me, and what’s to follow through on an idea, or if you want to start their journey on becoming a musician, open mic nights are a great start. Here in Dayton, there are a couple of great open mic events throughout the week that you can perfect your craft at, and even get your name started.
The first open mic night we will discuss takes us to a small shopping center that is across Wright State University. On Sunday nights at One Eyed Jacks in Fairborn, the RnR Playdate, hosted by Jay Madewell and Todd the Fox is held. Their concept of the open mic is very different than most. For a 25 minute set, you can play with a drummer (Madewell), guitartist (Todd), bassist (Chris Barnett from the local band Mayliner). If you choose to play solo, that’s fine. Between sets, there are five minute comedy sets. My first experience with this open mic night featured seeing what seemed like a reserved, coy woman named Mandy Jewell. She walked up to the podium, and plugged in her guitar. She sat down, took a deep breath, and waited to be introduced. Todd grabbed the microphone and explained to the crowd that Jewell was in the process of having a largely successful Kickstarter campaign that would give the funds to travel to Nashville to record her first professional demo. After hearing this, I couldn’t help but be intrigued to hear her play. What took place for the next 25 minutes was something that I didn’t think I would expect. This tiny framed young lady that seemed to be the person that would be considered a perfect example of being a wallflower proved me and everyone in the crowd otherwise. Her guitar play and singing revealed a woman that has had sadness in her life, and that she is now rising from the wreckage. She is stronger than most would give her. Her voice was like if Mazzy Star decided to morph into someone else’s body. Jewell spoke softly, which only built her charm level up more and more. I can’t wait to see where Mandy takes her music. She is truly a gem that Dayton better be ready for. The whole concept, the performers, the location-RnR Playdate is a great start for anyone that wants to get started in their musical journey. The crowd is very loyal, and will follow you wherever you go.
Our next stop is the South Park Tavern. Every Wednesday night, the fantastic bar that offers some of the best pizza and beer in town also presents their open mic night. This establishment is actually the birthplace of an idea. On a chilled October night in 2011, a young man was sitting at one of the tables with some friends. The group was sitting around catching up on what has been happening with one another. The young man has enjoyed the music that was being played in Dayton, and wanted to show his appreciation by starting a page people could go to and read about his adventures and his accounts of seeing the local shows. He explained this vision to his friends, telling them that we would write reviews on the shows he attended, and hopefully meet some great people along the way. That young man was me. Over a year later, and continuing to move forward with Dayton Most Metro, I can’t begin to express my love to this open mic night.
Starting at 9, each act has 25 minutes to set up and perform. At 11, the stage opens up for any upcoming rock band to come up and perform till the doors close. The tavern on Wednesdays nights also offers up some acts that you would never think would happen. Just a couple of weeks ago, an artist was penciled in to play. The performer was labeled on the schedule as ‘K.D’. What the people who were in attendance didn’t expect was that ‘K.D.’ was no other than The Breeders lead singer and bassist for the Pixies Kim Deal. She performed a solo electric version of “Cannonball” but also another Breeders fan favorite “Fortunately Gone” from 1990’s Pod among others.
Travel over to the great Oregon District, and you will notice that some of the great establishments to run up and down the area also host fantastic open mic nights. On Thursday nights, the Trolley Stop and Blind Bob’s each will give you the forum to come and sing your heart out. Both venues also give you a great intimate crowd that will be looking forward to hearing good music played by you.
So, if you are ready to start embarking on a journey that you have been thinking of going on from some time, you always have to start somewhere. If music is in your blood, and you want to become part of the great group of artists and musicians that call Dayton home, then go to one (or all) of the open mic nights the town offers you. Maybe, just maybe, you will fulfill a lifelong dream of yours. Or if you are like me-you will knock something off the bucket list. Either way-have fun doing it. If you don’t play any instruments, just sing only in the shower, or you just love seeing music, then go and support the people playing at the open mic nights. Show them your appreciation. Who knows-you just may see the next big star to come out of town…