Many open mic nights, jam sessions, and karaoke opportunities take place in bars, where students under 21 can’t usually enter (in the US, anyway). Consequently, several of my students were wondering how to get stage experience when they are too young to enter establishments where they could perform.
The idea of coffee-shop style open mic nights came up, but since these students also don’t accompany themselves, there was the complication of finding musicians to play for them, scheduling rehearsals, etc.
Then I thought of Rock & Soul Cafe. They do weekly open mic nights, with a raised stage and a good sound system, and they sell beer and wine, but they are also an all-ages cafe. I called them in advance to make sure that it was OK to bring karaoke singers to the open mic night, and it was.
If you are under 21 and looking for a low-hassle way to get on stage, this kind of place – a coffee shop that is built to support live music – is a great option. Some things to plan in advance:
1) Call the venue and ask some questions to make sure singing to tracks is okay with them. You want to feel like you’re in a supportive environment!
2) Ask when signups are, and how long each performer gets to play.
3) Ask if they would like your tracks on CD or mp3 player.
4) If you or a friend has the expertise, you might consider mixing all your tracks into one long track so that you know how much space you have between songs.
5) If you or a friend has the expertise, you probably want to cut out or shorten extended instrumental solos so that you don’t have to stand around alone on stage waiting for solos to end.
6) If you think you’re going to bring a huge crowd, you might want to give the venue a heads up so they staff appropriately. (We overwhelmed Rock & Soul Cafe… one student brought about 40 people to watch!)
(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn