Sorry, never made it to open mic
I almost made it out to the Fox & Goose tonight, but just didn’t get it together in time to get down there. Guess I was kind of unmotivated after last week. I’d pulled a good slot, early, bracketed between a folk-singing woman with her hair pulled back, who let me use her music stand, and then her friend, another woman folksinger. The trouble was that they’d brought a bunch of their friends, who sat up front in the pub near the stage area for the first woman’s set, let’s call her Kristi, and then when I got up there, well, they didn’t like the cut of my jib or something, and some of them — strike that, most of them — got up in the middle of my songs and wandered to the bar.
Not that I wouldn’t do the same thing. I mean, if a performer isn’t quite doing it for me, I may bail, but I usually try to wait till he or she is between songs before I beat a retreat, and it usually has to be a pretty bitter cup of tea to drive me out of there. So when you get up in the middle of someone’s song, make sure that you’re intending to make a deliberate statement, because if you aren’t, then you’re just being a clueless asshole, as your exit can break a performer’s concentration. It did mine.
Anyway, after I finished my allotment of three songs, all ones I’d written in February, the same entourage came back to cheer their friend, who’d followed me. Not that either her or Kristi were bad; I think I liked what they played, but what they played was mostly covers. And I don’t want to sound like any kind of open-mic snob or anything, but I go there to try out new material I’ve written in front of people, some of whom I know, others who are strangers. Yes, that sounds kinda chauvinist — not male, but songwriter — and I do realize that open-mics serve different purposes for different people. Some people like to entertain their friends at the pub. And that’s cool.
I guess what got me bummed out was how the entourage stuck around for the following act, some mental case with a ukulele. Okay, I’m gonna say it: Girls with ukuleles? Cute, albeit in the wake of Regina Spektor’s success, somewhat played out, with an exception for Ricky Berger, perhaps. Guys with ukuleles? Unless you’re Herbert Khaury or Cliff Edwards, just don’t go there. You’re heading into seriously annoying territory, exceeded only by that Michael McDonald buffoon doing his little-kid shtick on Mad TV for the 1,045th time.
And the entourage just ate this clown up, even though everything this guy played was — you guessed it — a cover. For me, it felt like I’d played modern jazz to an indifferent audience, only to watch a quintet of straw-hatted dentists moonlighting as a jazz band sweep in and enthrall the same crowd with a bunch of moldy-fig Dixieland standards.
And then the entourage shuffled out, along with the two musicians they’d come to see. “I fuckin’ hate that,” one guitar-playing mainstay muttered. “Kristi and her friends do that every damn time. It’s starting to suck.”
“Well,” I countered, “at least she brought people in who drank beer and spent money. So give her credit for that.”
Anyway, three days without caffeine, and I’m pretty goddamn crabby. I stayed out of public places over the weekend, just because I’ve been broke, and when I’m broke like this, I crawl back in my snail shell and hope there’s no random salt laying about. So I didn’t make it down there tonight, because while I love playing my original songs to people, even when they don’t give a shit, which is most of the time, when I’m kinda crabby and broke and haven’t had coffee or been smooched on or even hugged for a long time, I can turn into a real sourpuss.
Which I’d rather not do, at least in public, y’know?
So, well, another night of me being my usual loner self, tapping letters on a keyboard. —Jackson Griffith