Lessons From an Open Mic

Last night—at about 6:55—I spontaneously decided to chug up the hill to take in a free open mic session, slated to begin at 7:30. I’ve decided that what I love so very much about open mics, is the vulnerability that rests at their core. People are BRAVE to get up there and project their voices and strum their guitar strings and bare their souls.

Sure, certain performances go off much smoother than others; while some have slightly cringe-worthy moments, others show the weighted advantage of having already booked studio time and album releases. But these sessions also come with such an element of delightful surprise. Raw talent is revealed in the most unexpected places.

Yes, I admit I prejudged a lot of the folks who gathered in that circle before the tea lights were ignited and the event officially launched. It was a bit of a ragtag gang, and I sensed in my heart that many of these kids (cos some of them truly were just kids) had been high school misfits or societal outcasts. But I loved thinking about how music might’ve just been then their life raft, their savior. (I pictured hours and hours of practice in the sanctuary of a bedroom, a basement, a cluttered garage.)

Last night there was the shy but outrageously talented Japanese girl who killed it on the piano, her second performance ever in the States; there was the tiny but mighty man who strolled up with an unexpected swagger and took charge of the “stage” with a confident presence and soulful bellow; there was the scrawny, bowl cut-donning kid who I would’ve unfairly pegged as “just” a gamer or Trekkie, rather than the owner one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. (His cover of a Decemberists song was off the charts.)

The bottom line: Vulnerability is hard, but vulnerability is so darn beautiful.

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