Took my open mind to an Open mic - and look what happened!
Hello blog world. I've missed you. You've become my little friend - like how Anne Frank had 'Kitty' - her imaginary diary pen pal. I imagine Kitty reading each word with baited breath! Just starving for news from my own little personal attic - this crazy town. Well, Kitty, I had a great night last night, and I couldn't wait to tell you about it!!!!
So after some discussions with friends and playing my music for my roomie a lot in our apartment, etc, I decided it would be a good idea to go out and check out some open mics. It's a great chance to play your material out, get heard, figure out what works, and basically just break the seal - get over some of the fear based thoughts that are holding you back from sharing your music. So last week, I checked out a few open mics online and went out around the city to 'observe.' It was a bust. Both places I checked out were complete hippie dens- one was closed - the other had a total of one person inside. I decided to ask around. My voice teacher told me about a fabulous singer/songwriter club in Hollywood called Genghis Cohen. One of her successful students had worked that circuit for awhile. So i found out they had a good open mic on Monday night. I was in a good mood yesterday. For some reason, the stars were aligning for me. I met with an old acquaintance who turned out to be a friend over a glass of wine on my roof. We talked about spirituality and growing up and moving past our old relationships, ect. It was lovely. She went home - I put on a short skirt - and headed out to Genghis Cohen to check out the scene. I didn't bring my guitar. I had absolutely no intention of playing.
Genghis is a hip Asian fusion restaurant on one side and an intimate listening sanctuary on the other. I paid my $5 cover and walked into a tiny black box type room with glowing red Chinese lanterns and black wooden pews for seats The room was silent - other than the sound of the shy guy on stage singing his heart out with his guitar. I felt immediately happy. I sat down and took it all in. What happened was truly beautiful. Each artist got up to take their turn at the mic - a little nervous, a little green, but full of intensity and dedication to their art. There were a few poets - one with wild eyes who seemed to be having a meltdown and talked a lot about his inability to want to have sex with his wife...that was awkward, another who read some beautiful prose while his buddy played guitar. I loved it. I felt like I was back in the 60s or something. I felt like I was in the Village in 1965 and a young Dylan was going to hop up on stage any minute with his awkward interpretation of Woody Guthrie and then blow us all away with an original. That didn't necessarily happen, but the vibe was one of quiet support and respect for the art form. Most of the acts were dudes with guitars. Some of them still finding their voice - imitating the greats, etc. Around the middle of the night, the featured artists got up - he was allowed to play about 4 songs. He held a baby martin, wore sunglasses, and a winter hat - and MURDERED that guitar. He was amazing. I got chills. His name is Bernie Larsen. I thoroughly enjoyed his set and told him so after. The night went on and some people were better than others, as is to be expected. The worst was when a young artist would get up and play a pretty good original and then play a cover - it felt like sacrilege! This place is a sanctum for brand spankin new music - good or bad, just lay it out there - but PLEASE do not play some mediocre version of an old classic or the new artist you can't stop listening too at the mo. That was the only dumb part.
The host of the Open Mic was this amazingly spirited and kind man named Billy Kent. Billy sat and listened and tapped his foot and hooted and hollered for every act. He was like the Grandfather of the room - asking chattering guests to please be quiet and respect the artists, and making insightful, supportive comments as he introduced each performer. He created an environment that was safe to express yourself in and the vibe was palatable. I was drawn to his spirit immediately!
So anyway, it was getting late and I had had grapes for dinner. I was starving. I grabbed my bag to leave and felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Bernie. "Aren't you going to play?" Me: "Ummmm. I wasn't planning on it, no. I'm just checking the scene out." Bernie: "Um, no you're playing. You can borrow my guitar. Come one, I'll clap for you." He quickly grabbed Billy and said, "Hey, this young gal wants to get up there and sing!" Billy goes, "Of course, great! I'll get you on stage after the next few acts." I turned to Bernie, "Fuck you." He laughed. It was on.
So I did it. I jumped up there - pretty much unprepared - playing a baby Martin I was completey not used to - but I did it. I played "Break My Heart" first. I totally messed up the guitar in the first couple seconds and exclaimed "Shit fuck mother fucker!" on the mic. whoops. And then kept going. It went really well! The room had started with 3 people and about 5 more walked in while I was playing and then a few more. Some left too - but I didn't realize. I just kept playing. I told the group I had just moved to LA and this was my first open mic. I received a lot of love at that comment. The next song I played is one I wrote a few weeks ago - not sure what it is called yet - maybe "Preacher's daughter" - that went well too. Great applause! After I stopped, Billy the host ran up to the stage and said, "Come on now! This is not your first open mic! Where are you playing? Where is your gig????" I said, I guess here next week!
It was wonderful. Billy and Bernie and I hung out and chatted about original music and original voices. Both of them were very supportive of my unique voice and writing. They were like - you've gotta come back here! We laughed about the Fbomb and fantasized about making a live album of the Genghis open mic. Bernie and I swapped CDs and I'm going to go to his gig on Wednesday at Molly Malones. He has a reggae band - and actually used to tour with Lucinda Williams, Melissa Ethridge, Ricky Lee Jones, and Jackson Browne! I was like, thank you Lord, for this new, supportive, and talented friend!!!!
So I will be playing at the open mic at Genghis Cohen next monday! I am officially on my way to playing the singer/songwriter circuit around here. And I'm so amazed that all it takes is that little word: YES. Yes, I'll play. I'm up for it. I'll share my heart. No problem. My set was not perfect by ANY means, but it was me, and it was ballsy, and it was unique. That's all it has to be. I am reminded of Julia Child making crepes and totally fucking up. "Oh well! Just toss that one out, and start again! No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize!" That woman believed in her ability to cook and risked looking like a fool for what she loved. Well that is what I'm going to have to do, over and over again. If you risk looking a fool, there is a tiny, minuscule chance that you will look like an amazingly inspiring and talented original artist. I'm willing to take that chance. So anyway, I'm on my way.
ALSO. I got to go see a friend from Italy do her one woman Cabaret act at a theater festival in Calabasas. She was fierce and poised and powerful and practiced and sounded amazing! Check her out: Giselle Wolf. All my old pals from Italy were there, including the fabulous Amanda McBroom. I saw her chatting with a friend who later approached me at the end of the night. He was the founder of Cabaret West and said Amanda had raved about me! He gave me his direct line and urged me to call and come perform at The Gardenia - the oldest cabaret joint in LA. So there you go. Things are happening!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm calling him today to see what is up and see what else I can get cooking. Life is anything but boring - I guess that's what happens when you face your fears! Jeeze it equally sucks and rocks at the same time. And at this point in time people, I have no regrets!
Sorry I'm so light on the photos. So I thought I would add a few of what my apartment looks like. enjoy.
The Living room:
Have a good day, Kitty. Missing you!