Site Meter

April 30, 2008

Open Mic @ The Half Moon: Rain Stops Play...

...or at least postpones it.

Last night I went along to the Tuesday night open mic at the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill. It was my first time there, but I'd read reviews that it was usually pretty busy. When I arrived, though, the place was like the grave. The organiser and one act were there, but otherwise no one was there. To be honest I wasn't surprised. I'd considered staying home myself due to the foul weather we had in London yesterday.

As I've mentioned before, the Half Moon has a decent sound stage in the back. It's where we've seen Oli Brown and Devon Allman's Honeytribe play blistering sets.

After downing a swift pint I chatting to the MC and then the sole act in attendance. He'd done a few open mics, but not many. He was noodling while we chatted and he clearly knew his way around a fretboard. He generously offered the use of his guitar if I wanted to get up on stage and pop my open mic cherry. I didn't take him up on his offer. When I do 'get naked' up there for the first time it'll be with my own equipment and with a setlist prepared. He actually said something interesting to me, though, as we waited for more acts to arrive. For years he had struggled with singing but one day found the register that he was comfortable in and suddenly everything fell into place. It seems to me that I may suffer from the same issue.

Slowly but surely the place started to fill up, with a maximum of 10 to 15 people present at any time. Maybe it was the weather, maybe the votive candles flickering on each table, maybe just my mindset at the time but I actually felt transported to Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street. A weird sensation, like space and time had folded. Anyway... that's an aside!

The standard of play was actually pretty high. There were a couple of egos present, notably one guy who acted like he was too good to be there. He wasn't. As with many singer-songwriter types, he could sing, he could play, but his compositions, save one, were non-descript.

There was also variety. The MC opened the night with a poetry reading, there were blues players, folk singers and even a kind of country blues guy who creatively generated his own rhythm section using a kick-box.

To my surprise, the stand out performance wasn't from a musician at all. There was a girl there who quietly sat at the back until she was called up, then launched into a really intense poetry recital whose subject matter ranged from generational physical abuse to gang feuding. I just sat there thinking, "Holy crap, this girl is really a talented writer". It turned out that it was her first time performing her stuff. Wow! I would actually have loved to have discussed her process with her, how and why she'd started writing and so on, but before I got the chance she'd bundled herself up and stalked off into the night.

I'll definitely go back again, on a night when the weather's better! Hell, I'd even consider getting there really early to see whether the MC'll let me up on stage to try playing when nobody's there.

1 comment:

Axe Victim said...

Sounds great. First though I'd be looking to get three of your own songs under your belt.Then you can play 'em to your hearts content.