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Cohumulone
01-29-2014, 04:45 AM
I wasn't sure where this thread really belonged. The gigs and shows forum didn't appear to be the place for this.

I'm curious about standard open mic expectations. I realize that many will have "house rules," but in general, what should I expect?

Specifically:
Do songs need to be completely from memory, or is there usually accommodations for holding music? My memory isn't what it used to be.

Do songs need to be originals or are covers pretty common?

These types of things. Talk to me, folks.

moetrout
01-29-2014, 05:31 AM
Great topic for a post. I am far from being good enough for open mic, but still very interested in what the etiquette is.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
01-29-2014, 05:47 AM
I think there's usually a moderator/organizer who will have the master list and will tell you When and How Long.

They probably have the 'guidelines' in their heads, if not on paper, so I think your best bet is to see the person in charge and get the 'scoop' from him/her!

Great way to keep the uke in front of people! :)

keep uke'in',

brUKEman
01-29-2014, 05:59 AM
The open mics that I attended usually work like this. There is a sign up sheet for the order in which you play
They give you say 10 minutes/2 songs or 15 minutes/3 songs. Songs can be covers or originals.
You should be tuned up and ready to go when it's your turn. Short intros to the songs, not long drawn out versions. Give the respect to the other musicians that you would like to receive while you're playing.

hoosierhiver
01-29-2014, 06:34 AM
Like brUKEman said, be in tune before you get on stage. Also don't go past your time allowance.

Cornfield
01-29-2014, 06:46 AM
Some open mics want only originals, others will let you play covers. Most allow you to read from sheets but its probably better to know your material.
As far as etiquette, my number 1 rule is to stay to the end. Most of the people at open mics are there to perform and some will leave after they have done their song(s). I stay and listen to the others.

SailingUke
01-29-2014, 06:51 AM
As far as etiquette, my number 1 rule is to stay to the end. Most of the people at open mics are there to perform and some will leave after they have done their song(s). I stay and listen to the others.


All open mics have their guidelines, do you research before hand and prepare.
Visit the venue and check out the set-up (stage, sound system, etc.)

Listen to the other musicians and be respectful, remember without them you may not have an audience.

OldePhart
01-29-2014, 07:01 AM
What SailingUke says in spades - the golden rule applies. At any new "venue" try to attend a couple of them before signing up - you'll get a feel for how they run things and what the audiences tend to like and, in some cases, you might even discover that a particular venue might not even be for you. Much better to discover the latter before you are standing "on deck" with uke in hand!

I've never seen an open mic where using a lead sheet or what have you was not permitted - but you may be expected to have your own stand and be ready to hustle on and off the stage with it with as little fuss and muss as possible. Plan in advance and figure out how you're going to accomplish that without knocking microphone stands over, etc.

I know one guy who just needs a touch of extra help to remember chord progressions for songs so he tapes a simple cheat sheet to the back of his guitar that lists the song and chord progression in simple notation. He'll stare at that pretty intensely through the set just before his and then jump on stage and usually never look at it again. Nice to have it there though if you go to start a song and draw a blank!

John

OldePhart
01-29-2014, 07:04 AM
As far as etiquette, my number 1 rule is to stay to the end. Most of the people at open mics are there to perform and some will leave after they have done their song(s). I stay and listen to the others.

Yeah, this is a really good point. I've seen whole groups of people get up and leave after someone finishes their set - they were just there to support a buddy and then they're gone. Extremely rude, IMHO.

John

Cohumulone
01-29-2014, 07:34 AM
Great tips so far. Thank you.

I certainly wouldn't come to play then leave. I agree with you folks who said it's rude.

Checking out the venue a couple times is something I hadn't thought of yet. Another great response.

itsme
01-29-2014, 07:58 AM
Some open mics want only originals, others will let you play covers.
This is important. If they say "no covers" the likely reason is that they do not have the requisite performing rights licenses to allow the use of copyrighted material in their venue. These licenses can be prohibitively expensive for a small venue that doesn't normally present live music, like the coffee shop that only has an occasional open mic.

ASCAP/BMI can and will send out undercover agents to audit open mics at unlicensed venues. If they find copyrighted music being played, the venue can be in a world of legal hurt over infringement or be forced to purchase licenses they couldn't afford in the first place in order to stave off legal proceedings.

If covers aren't allowed, besides your own originals, you can play material that is in the public domain.

moetrout
01-29-2014, 08:41 AM
I am too new to playing to even think about performing, but I would love to attend some. How do you find them in your area? I did join the Tree Town Ukulele group and went to my first group stum last night. At that they annouced a small book store/coffee shop that was having a local play this Saturday. I'd like to find more to attend. Any tips for finding them?

aman
01-29-2014, 08:50 AM
Thanks for this thread. I want to start playing in front of other people as early in my ukulele playing life as possible so I will be looking out for these type events and opportunities.

Paul

Cohumulone
01-29-2014, 09:01 AM
If it helps, there may be groups listed in your area in an app or site called "meetup." Also, if you're on twitter, I found lots of open mic sites designated by city. Found "OpenMicPhoenix" for example, for me.

Tuko
01-29-2014, 09:43 AM
Thank you guys - my university offers open mic nights at the on-campus Starbucks. I plan to start playing live, and this will be a big help.

Cornfield
01-29-2014, 10:01 AM
Google "Open Mic (insert City name here)"

ScooterD35
01-29-2014, 02:19 PM
I can chime in here with some experiential insight.

For the last few years, I have been the regular host of the longest running Open Stage in NJ. We have a regular Friday night acoustic concert series (The Minstrel) in Morristown, NJ and the second Friday of most months is our Open Stage.

We start at 8:00pm and go until 11:30 with a short break in the middle. There are a total of thirteen 15 minute performance slots. Six of those are available by advance registration, one goes to a volunteer and the remaining slots are distributed via lottery 15 minutes before show time. I tell newcomers about the general house etiquette before we start. Be in the audience for the other performers, be ready, be in tune, be quiet and respectful, etc...

We are an extremely enthusiastic, nurturing group of folkies and our Open Stage is a fantastic place for anyone's first performance. You can be nervous, fumble, make mistakes... and we will applaud like you were Eric Clapton. We tend to attract a fairly broad range of performance levels, from beginners to professionals. It is fairly well known that we sometimes book opening acts for our regular concerts from the Open Stage.

Over the years, the regulars have gotten into the habit of giving up songs to anyone that doesn't get a slot in the lottery. I also keep things moving quickly enough so that I can sneak one or two people in for one quick song. We actually managed to get 18 different performers on stage one night. (Another night, it just happened that everyone that signed up had really nice guitars, so as I introduced each performer, I also mentioned the instrument they were playing.)

If any of you live within driving distance of Morristown, NJ I would love to see you at our venue! Ukuleles are always welcome (I actually threw a Uke festival there last year and have started booking the sequel for this year).

The Folk Project' main page can be found here:

http://www.folkproject.org/index.shtml

The Open Stage instructions are here:

http://www.folkproject.org/minstrel/openstage.shtml



Scooter

AMunger
06-07-2014, 05:00 AM
I recently played in an informal ukulele open mic with no guidelines. During the first act an audience member started playing along with his acoustic bass guitar. He is very good but off a little on occasion and I was a little uncomfortable with his unsolicited accompaniment. The event was advertised as an open mic and not a jam session. I felt that his event was to promote individual and organized ensemble participants and not the skills of the bass player. I thought he was rude. I think most others thought it was OK. Any thoughts? Thanks.

mds725
06-07-2014, 06:15 AM
I recently played in an informal ukulele open mic with no guidelines. During the first act an audience member started playing along with his acoustic bass guitar. He is very good but off a little on occasion and I was a little uncomfortable with his unsolicited accompaniment. The event was advertised as an open mic and not a jam session. I felt that his event was to promote individual and organized ensemble participants and not the skills of the bass player. I thought he was rude. I think most others thought it was OK. Any thoughts? Thanks.

It sounds to me like the bass player violated the rule of being "quiet and respectful." Open Mic is a performance, and if it would be inappropriate to whip out an instrument at a symphony concert, it would be inappropriate to whip out an instrument at an open mic. I think that at the very least, the bass player should have asked if the performer wanted accompaniment and should have respected the performer's answer.

NOTLguy
06-07-2014, 06:20 AM
Two of the rules we use at our groups open mic:

Never apologize about your playing.
Always thank your audience when finishing a song.

Regards,
Bill

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 06:22 AM
Very definitely rude. If I had been on stage I would have stopped playing and just looked at him pointedly. If he said anything I would have replied that I was waiting for him to finish his solo so I could finish mine...

John

RAB11
06-07-2014, 08:19 AM
I go to a couple, one is a three song limit open to anyone, covers or originals allowed but the majority of the audience are musicians. Everyone's supportive but there is a bit of snobbery involved as the majority of players there have been playing since before I was born. They seem to enjoy the uke though.

The other one I go to often is far less organised and with far less people, so I get more songs, and the majority of people are just regular pub goers so I have to tailor my sets slightly.

I always love impromptu jams with people when I'm playing but really they should ask, especially if you're a new player.

Ukuleleblues
06-07-2014, 01:05 PM
Went to an open mic a few weeks ago and had a blast. We jammed out in the street till 10:30 after they closed and had a great time. Met a bunch of friendly folks.

So I go back the next week and the place was overrun by the bluegrass crowd. I would say hello and they would literally just stare back. So after the open mic I was going to jam with a couple of folks from the previous week. We moved down the street cause it was obvious we were not welcome. Then they moved down to our end so we could not hear ourselves playing. So we quit for awhile. Later on I went out to try and jam with them and it became apparent they played mostly 1, 4, 5 songs using an open G chord shape. They changed keys by moving the G shape up and down the neck with a capo. Is that common in bluegrass, just play in key of "G" and use capos? Some of those guys were capoing down to D. Anyway I left shortly after that. When I got home I realized not 1 of the bluegrass crowd did more than grunt and nod my way. Like oldephart says, knowing the atmosphere of the joint is important. We'll I'm off to learn a new song about "momma bakin biscuits while daddy is trapped under a tractor".

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 01:47 PM
Yeah @UkuleleBlues - bluegrass is kind of known for their "bluegrass nazis." If you ain't pickin' it the way Bill Monroe did, if you ain't playing a Martin, etc. etc. etc. You find the occasional standout regular guy, but by and large I've got no use for most of 'em even though I do like a bit of bluegrass now and again. Honestly, it seems like the best players at bluegrass jams are the most friendly, with a few exceptions. Seems like it's the folks that get lost if a song calls for an Am that are the most likely to put on airs. LOL

John

Ukuleleblues
06-07-2014, 02:55 PM
Yeah @UkuleleBlues - bluegrass is kind of known for their "bluegrass nazis." If you ain't pickin' it the way Bill Monroe did, if you ain't playing a Martin, etc. etc. etc. You find the occasional standout regular guy, but by and large I've got no use for most of 'em even though I do like a bit of bluegrass now and again. Honestly, it seems like the best players at bluegrass jams are the most friendly, with a few exceptions. Seems like it's the folks that get lost if a song calls for an Am that are the most likely to put on airs. LOL

John

Bill Monroe was known as an innovator and BG is a relatively new form of music. You would think they would be more tolerant.

Ukejenny
06-07-2014, 04:03 PM
Went to an open mic a few weeks ago and had a blast. We jammed out in the street till 10:30 after they closed and had a great time. Met a bunch of friendly folks.

So I go back the next week and the place was overrun by the bluegrass crowd. I would say hello and they would literally just stare back. So after the open mic I was going to jam with a couple of folks from the previous week. We moved down the street cause it was obvious we were not welcome. Then they moved down to our end so we could not hear ourselves playing. So we quit for awhile. Later on I went out to try and jam with them and it became apparent they played mostly 1, 4, 5 songs using an open G chord shape. They changed keys by moving the G shape up and down the neck with a capo. Is that common in bluegrass, just play in key of "G" and use capos? Some of those guys were capoing down to D. Anyway I left shortly after that. When I got home I realized not 1 of the bluegrass crowd did more than grunt and nod my way. Like oldephart says, knowing the atmosphere of the joint is important. We'll I'm off to learn a new song about "momma bakin biscuits while daddy is trapped under a tractor".

Not cool and not nice. It is always wild to me when I see people getting territorial and insecure toward another person or group. I've seen people go postal and really show their tails, do some stupid stuff. Even though I've seen it on quite a few occasions, it never fails to shock me a little.

Our recorder group played after a dulcimer group at a Christmas thing in the local park. Very small potatoes, and yet, when the dulcimer group saw our instruments it suddenly felt like the Jets and the Sharks. I was almost snorting - I mean - seriously? It's about to go down with a bunch of dulcimer players because the recorder players are on their turf?

Ukejenny
06-07-2014, 04:06 PM
Went to an open mic a few weeks ago and had a blast. We jammed out in the street till 10:30 after they closed and had a great time. Met a bunch of friendly folks.

So I go back the next week and the place was overrun by the bluegrass crowd. I would say hello and they would literally just stare back. So after the open mic I was going to jam with a couple of folks from the previous week. We moved down the street cause it was obvious we were not welcome. Then they moved down to our end so we could not hear ourselves playing. So we quit for awhile. Later on I went out to try and jam with them and it became apparent they played mostly 1, 4, 5 songs using an open G chord shape. They changed keys by moving the G shape up and down the neck with a capo. Is that common in bluegrass, just play in key of "G" and use capos? Some of those guys were capoing down to D. Anyway I left shortly after that. When I got home I realized not 1 of the bluegrass crowd did more than grunt and nod my way. Like oldephart says, knowing the atmosphere of the joint is important. We'll I'm off to learn a new song about "momma bakin biscuits while daddy is trapped under a tractor".

Not cool and not nice. It is always wild to me when I see people getting territorial and insecure toward another person or group. I've seen people go postal and really show their tails, do some stupid stuff. Even though I've seen it on quite a few occasions, it never fails to shock me a little.

Our recorder group played after a dulcimer group at a Christmas thing in the local park. Very small potatoes, and yet, when the dulcimer group saw our instruments it suddenly felt like the Jets and the Sharks. I was almost snorting - I mean - seriously? It's about to go down with a bunch of dulcimer players because the recorder players are on their turf?

Ukejenny
06-07-2014, 04:09 PM
I can chime in here with some experiential insight.

For the last few years, I have been the regular host of the longest running Open Stage in NJ. We have a regular Friday night acoustic concert series (The Minstrel) in Morristown, NJ and the second Friday of most months is our Open Stage.

We start at 8:00pm and go until 11:30 with a short break in the middle. There are a total of thirteen 15 minute performance slots. Six of those are available by advance registration, one goes to a volunteer and the remaining slots are distributed via lottery 15 minutes before show time. I tell newcomers about the general house etiquette before we start. Be in the audience for the other performers, be ready, be in tune, be quiet and respectful, etc...

We are an extremely enthusiastic, nurturing group of folkies and our Open Stage is a fantastic place for anyone's first performance. You can be nervous, fumble, make mistakes... and we will applaud like you were Eric Clapton. We tend to attract a fairly broad range of performance levels, from beginners to professionals. It is fairly well known that we sometimes book opening acts for our regular concerts from the Open Stage.

Over the years, the regulars have gotten into the habit of giving up songs to anyone that doesn't get a slot in the lottery. I also keep things moving quickly enough so that I can sneak one or two people in for one quick song. We actually managed to get 18 different performers on stage one night. (Another night, it just happened that everyone that signed up had really nice guitars, so as I introduced each performer, I also mentioned the instrument they were playing.)

If any of you live within driving distance of Morristown, NJ I would love to see you at our venue! Ukuleles are always welcome (I actually threw a Uke festival there last year and have started booking the sequel for this year).

The Folk Project' main page can be found here:

http://www.folkproject.org/index.shtml

The Open Stage instructions are here:

http://www.folkproject.org/minstrel/openstage.shtml



Scooter

That is really, really cool. Wow!

Dane
06-07-2014, 05:43 PM
Not cool and not nice. It is always wild to me when I see people getting territorial and insecure toward another person or group. I've seen people go postal and really show their tails, do some stupid stuff. Even though I've seen it on quite a few occasions, it never fails to shock me a little.

Our recorder group played after a dulcimer group at a Christmas thing in the local park. Very small potatoes, and yet, when the dulcimer group saw our instruments it suddenly felt like the Jets and the Sharks. I was almost snorting - I mean - seriously? It's about to go down with a bunch of dulcimer players because the recorder players are on their turf?

That's the thing they bang with the little wooden hammers right?

Ukuleleblues
06-08-2014, 03:59 AM
It's about to go down with a bunch of dulcimer players because the recorder players are on their turf?
I got this really funny mental picture when I read that. "Get down to the park quick, the RECs showed and are wanting to "play"". Too funny.

Ukuleleblues
06-08-2014, 04:01 AM
I'm gonna try out another open mic on the other side of town and see what it is like. I'll lurk for a while before I sign up.

ScooterD35
06-08-2014, 04:45 AM
That's the thing they bang with the little wooden hammers right?


There are a couple of different types of dulcimers. The most common is the mountain dulcimer.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZWZ7KpB5Zg


The other is the hammered dulcimer (with the little wooden hammers).


Both actually play nicely with the ukulele (and the recorder).


Scooter

ScooterD35
06-08-2014, 04:46 AM
UU only lets me post one video at a time, so here is the hammered dulcimer.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJDuholrvok


Scooter

Ukuleleblues
06-08-2014, 05:04 AM
I wonder how long that takes to tune up?

OldePhart
06-08-2014, 08:16 AM
I wonder how long that takes to tune up?

It takes a while as you might imagine but good ones are pretty stable and usually don't need to be tuned after moving providing there haven't been crazy changes in temperature or humidity. That's once the strings settle in but they're strung with steel strings so pretty stable after a day. Always wanted one but have never really had the room for it.

Now, if you want to see a tuning nightmare, check out a full-sized floor harp!

John

Ukuleleblues
06-08-2014, 05:51 PM
I met this young man (15) at Open mic. What do you think?

http://youtu.be/OGK_MNNpC2c

I think he might be at our festival this fall.

Ukejenny
06-09-2014, 06:55 AM
That's the thing they bang with the little wooden hammers right?

Those are hammered dulcimers. These cats were strumming. And hating. Oh, and we were in a historical village. In a church. Yep, good times.

I think the strummed/picked dulcimers are referred to as mountain dulcimers. Come to find out, there is a lot of dulcimer activity in this region of the state, with several groups who all know one another. Some of them are a little competitive. Some of our uke group members are also in some of the dulcimer circles and I get to hear some interesting stories.

And here I am, making friends with the other ukulele groups in this area of the state, and we are all going in together and having a uke fest.

Ukejenny
06-09-2014, 06:58 AM
Love the sound of a dulcimer and I accompany a nice group of ladies with my ukulele when they perform. The instruments compliment one another quite well. You'll be playing pretty much D and G chords the whole time, but it is very pretty.

My husband, who has a bowed psaltry, wants to do a dulcimer/ukulele/psaltry trio and I think we are going to try to do Amazing Grace. It should be very pretty.

Hammered dulcimer is quite a bit harder to learn than mountain. Those hammers are pretty small and you need very good aim.

Ukejenny
06-09-2014, 07:08 AM
I met this young man (15) at Open mic. What do you think?

http://youtu.be/OGK_MNNpC2c

I think he might be at our festival this fall.

Wow, very nice. VERY nice!

Ukejenny
06-09-2014, 07:13 AM
In reference, Jim (Ukuleleblues) provided a lot of amazing advice on open mic when he shared a document on putting on a ukulele festival.

Ukuleleblues
06-09-2014, 01:39 PM
Wow, very nice. VERY nice!
He is quite a remarkable young man. Here is a project he started: http://www.musicspeaksproject.com

He also plays guitar, this is the only video of him playing uke I could find. I've seen him twice playing uke at open mic. Here he is playing Jake's song, Dragon.

http://youtu.be/OGK_MNNpC2c

There is also a couple of vids of him on his Music Speaks site.

Nickie
06-09-2014, 02:14 PM
We are allowed 3 songs each. It doesn't seem to matter how long they are. They recommend we do songs we know by heart. I've tried using sheet music, and it turned into a disaster. I finally decided just do instrumentals, so I don't have to rmember lyrics. We all encourage each other. I arrive as close to on time as I can. I don't leave till it's over. I usually congratulate my buddies on a nice performance. I thank my audience for listening.