The Open Stage


You're up.

It’s you’re turn at the mic.  Every possibility is there to do anything and the room is about half full.  You haven’t had much more than a glass so far.  That was just to calm your nerves.  As the last guy finished his last song you went over your little set list about ten times.  Maybe there’s a bit your forgetting that’s really good.  Maybe you should lead with a cover.  Or finish with one.

All over this little town of ours there is a open stage on just about every day and what is interesting about these is just about everything.  You get every kind of performer from jazz singers (not in a smarmy way) to world musicians to guys with a background in hard rock and every other style you could name.  Naturally you see every level of player but what’s interesting is the fact that little communities of musicians start up here and sometimes even groups.  This makes it really interesting if you want to get out there and try.  I mean, yes there is that chance you will get together with others to play but at the root of it is guys who play the open stage circuit regularly and so there is a sort of fellowship there.  One basic rule of the stage is if you show up, your there until you absolutely have to go.  I might seem a bit extreme by saying that but it’s about being part of the community.   If you have work that night or your girlfriend is texting you or its last bus then fair enough.  But you don’t want to get known as the guy who gets signed up and is just there to do his 3 songs and then is out the door.  Listen to the other sets.  Pick out what you like in the material.  Talk to the others during the switch overs.  If you’re a real pro you can offer to sit in or even be there to help with any sound problems.  Everyone there wants to give the audience there best show so if you can help a little with that without suddenly coming down like God from mountain everyone will appreciate it.  However I leave one story with you.  I have lots of experience with playing live shows.  In Cookeilidh I have played different stages with different equipment and my own for eight years now.  At an open stage I cohosted just for fun I needed to quickly tune so I turned my bass down on the board, pushed the signal cut on my cable and pulled out.  I did that at the Highland Games yesterday with not a blip.  But with that piece of equipment, on that stage, with the other guy playing I set of a screaming roar of signal insanity that went from a discreet tune to an embarrassing crash of a set.  I apologized my ass off for that.  So much as you may be a ninja with pro audio there are surprises no one wants.  So if you want to help it’s best you give the open stage host (starts show, runs gear, usually has last song…that guy) your idea and he or she will try it out.

The open stage circuit is just one of the little communities in town.  Like wheels within wheels there are groups centered around these different arts like the Jazz community, the filmmakers community and with Cookeilidh the community of celtic and bluegrass players who we met over the weekend.  Community is your best way to view working in town with other artists.  They are not the competition.  It’s not like Coke and Pepsi out there.  Show your respect and enthusiasm for what’s already there and people will respond the same.  All you need are three songs.  It’s your fifteen minutes up there.

What are you gonna do?

For a list of stages in Victoria click

Google open stages available in your area! See you out there!


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