Posted by: kubiakl | September 6, 2009

Tough Crowd

Some background:  I’ve been playing guitar for almost ten years.  A couple of years ago I joined a band (which was really just a group of teachers who got together to murder classic rock songs).  That band spawned an acoustic trio composed of myself, another guitarist, and a singer.  We wrote a few songs together and would play them mixed with covers at some local open mics.  Alls I ever had to do was stand in the back and remember how the chord progressions went – the other guitar player was more gifted but couldn’t always remember how the songs went.  So I kept time and kept the songs on track while he would feed off of me.  It was fun while it lasted but it’s been a long time since we’ve played together.

The point is that whenever I’ve been involved in performance it’s been as part of a group.  No spotlights for me – which I was happy with.  Lately though, I’ve wanted to do something more than play to my living room walls.

Friday night I decided to go check out an open mic with the possibility of signing up.  Now I think I’ve made it clear that I’m not much of a singer.  Seriously.  That made this a huge personal step for me – I don’t think I’ve EVER sang in public.  I showed up at Hot Boiled Pho And Crawfish at the intersection of Parmer/Mopac with a friend.  They had sent out an advertisement to my school mail box which said “Open Mic Friday”.  I was expecting a small crowd, something perfect for a beginner… but  aside from the waiter/owner, we were the only two people there.  Turns out that nobody had signed up for the open mic.  Two more friends came (the now married Bachelor from my Vegas trip and his wife), so we ate and I played a handful of songs for them as a test run.

As far as first times go it could have been worse.  I didn’t have to face a room full of strangers, but I did have to face my friends.  That can be harder.  Especially when your friends have no problem calling you “Mumbles” and “Jizzly Adams” (thanks to my general lack of articulation and spectacular two-week beard).  I will say that the good-natured heckling helped me learn how to focus through distractions when I decide to perform at another one.  And the laughs helped me loosen up quite a bit.

All in all it was a really good experience.

So my advice to you, if you’re considering taking the same step I finally did – do it.  Yes, it’s a little nerve wracking, and yes, the only guarantee is that it won’t be what you expect.  But when you step back from the microphone and see a few smiles it is completely worth it.

And on a culinary note: if you live in the Austin area you owe it to yourself to check out Hot Boiled Pho and Crawfish.  It’s authentic on both ends (the owners are native Vietnamese but grew up in Louisiana) and the tastiest pho I have ever had.

Hot Boiled Pho And Crawfish

You better believe I’ll be going back.

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