Tuesday 20 May 2014

Open mic at Hopskotch

Last Wednesday, 14th May, we went to a new-to-us open mic! It was at Hopskotch, which is a bar on Mathew Street, Liverpool. It’s a lovely looking bar with a good selection of drinks (we’ll go back one day to see what the food is like) including coffee and sparkling water for those of us whose drinking days are pretty much over.

Now, we love open mic nights. They’re a wonderful idea; listen to loads of different types of music (and in some cases, poetry and other types of performance) all on the same night for free; if you don’t like something, you only have to listen to five minutes’ worth of it and if you do like it you can find out more by chatting to the artist/s afterwards! Playing open mics is great fun too; try out new songs, practise performing in front of an audience and just generally have a wonderful time without quite as much of the pressure as a full gig (although any performance comes with a bit of nerves and we’d probably be a bit worried if it didn’t).

This particular open mic was a bit quiet; the fella organising it, Terry Gray, who was a lovely, amiable chap, told us that it was normally a bit busier which we can imagine, as these things tend to come and go in waves. It was pretty quiet that night but we think that it’s just as important to play sincerely and well in front of an audience of one or two as in front of hundreds.

Terry opened with some wonderful, imaginative covers and an original song, and sometimes at an open mic it’s easy to think, “gosh, how to follow that then?” We really enjoyed listening to him play and sing.

Next it was our turn and we sang a couple of originals and folk songs. One thing we’ve realised as a result of that open mic is that we really need to have pickups for both ukuleles, as it constrains playing hugely when trying to point the ukulele at an ambient mic at the same time as sharing a vocal mic. There were points where we felt we weren’t giving it the best that we could simply because we had to stand very still in order to make sure the mic was picking up the ukes. (Our best performances have in the past been either completely unamplified, or at gigs where a large number of microphones has been available to pick up what we’re playing.) It’s not reasonable to expect that someone running an open mic will have any more than one possibly two microphones, and as such we’re investing in another ukulele pickup (we already have one). The glockenspiel tends to carry pretty well, ditto the accordion, and the mandolin is semi-electric anyway but the ukuleles sometimes can’t be heard over an amplified vocal if they’re too far away from a mic.

This is part of the reason we love open mic nights too; you learn stuff and can take things away that help you improve your performance.

We also had a lovely chat with Terry’s friend and the bar did get a little busier as the set went on. We weren’t sure whether or not they’d come for the open mic itself or just for a drink in Hopskotch but it was great to have a bit of an audience.

We would definitely go to this open mic again; Hopskotch is a stylish venue and the free drink for performers is a lovely, welcoming touch. Terry’s a friendly chap and a talented performer, and hopefully when we go again there will be a few more performers to whom we can listen.

It’s on tonight in fact; for one reason and another we can’t be there at this one but if you’re looking for somewhere to perform in Liverpool city centre, or perhaps just wanting to hear a bit of live music this evening why not pop down?

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