Why local open mic parties thrived during the pandemic

Why local open mic parties thrived during the pandemic – [225]

To a songwriter, the first step to testing out a new song – and what it feels like to perform it – is playing it at an open mic party.

These reserved events are designed to help singer-songwriters hone their craft in a friendly setting filled with music fans and other artists.

“They’re great for figuring out where you need to tweak things,” says Baton Rouge singer-songwriter Peyton McMahon, a successful local musician who has been writing and performing since he was 16 and has a YouTube channel. popular. “The crowd usually listens more at an open mic party than at a booked concert, and you can get feedback from other musicians. “

Baton Rouge’s small but sizable open mic scene features weekly gatherings at places such as Tin Roof Brewing Company, La Divina Italian Cafe, and Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar.

And because the shows tend to be smaller and more intimate, they were largely able to continue safely during COVID-19.

Unlike scheduled shows, singers add their name to an artist list during open mic parties. Everyone takes their turn on stage, playing a handful of songs in front of the crowd. Usually it means original work, but somArtists can also play covers to hone their performance skills.

“You always want to play your best songs,” says singer-songwriter Margaret Fowler. Fowler plays in a family band called Moon Pie and also performs regularly with his partner, Jason Milam, a member of local band Unselfish Lovers of the Blues.

Fowler says open mic parties serve an important purpose in a city’s local music scene, as the gatherings build a stronger songwriting community. They give artists a chance to hone their craft and learn how to connect with a crowd.

“For someone who may not have booked a concert, it gives them the opportunity to go up there and build their confidence,” Fowler said. “Performance is above all about communicating. You literally look at people and act out what you wrote.

And sometimes parts of a song just don’t feel right. An open mic party can reveal these imperfections, which a songwriter can correct at home or in the studio.

“It’s a litmus test for your writing,” McMahon says. “Sometimes I write songs fast and go to an open mic party with just me and my acoustic guitar to try them out. If the song has life, or if it needs to be worked on, I’ll go back and work on it.

McMahon says open mic nights are also great places to network with local songwriters looking for other creatives.

“You see a lot of the same musicians,” McMahon says. “And it’s cool to be able to network and get feedback. “


Tin Roof open mic party

Every second and fourth Thursday

8 pm-10pm

Find him on Facebook

Original music group from La Divina


6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Find him on Facebook

Jolie Pearl Singer-Songwriter Sundays

1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Find him on Facebook

Much of listening to and observing live music is spontaneous dancing – a very good dance – which inevitably breaks out among the audience. Two-step couples sway and sway to the beat, predicting each other’s movements with style and finesse.

How do they do? Unless they grew up dancing at home, they could have enjoyed one of Baton Rouge’s adult dance schools, including the famous TC Dance Club International, whose location on Government Street. celebrates 50 years of activity at the same location in October.

“We teach social dance as opposed to competitive dance,” says co-owner Rick Carpenter. Students between the ages of 20 and 70 sign up for school sessions Monday through Friday, Carpenter says, and they don’t need to be part of a couple to feel comfortable participating. There are a lot of single students. The TC Dance Club teaches many different dances, including what Carpenter calls the “big five”: swing, jitterbug, cha-cha-cha, foxtrot and waltz. These basics work for social experiences, from weddings to live music.

“The Cajun waltz and Cajun swing are the same as the American waltz or swing, just tuned to Cajun music,” he says. “Once you’ve learned them, you just adjust the steps to the music. »Tcdancebtr.com

This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of 225 magazine.

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