A lifetime is made up of short moments and you never know when a single moment will become significant.
That being said, I don’t know if this will turn into something significant in the scheme of things, but last night was a personal milestone. Back in 1999/2000, I used to perform my songs regularly at open mics, but at some point I stopped and haven’t been back since. So I decided to challenge myself to do one this month. When I performed “Shine Your Light” at a Hanukkah coffeehouse last December, somebody suggested that I try going to the Tempe Center for the Arts Walk-in Wednesday open mic. When I looked into it, I found that it runs September-May and put in the back of my mind to try it once before the end of May.
Each person gets 10 minutes to perform two songs so I practiced two this past week and felt somewhat prepared although once I’m in front of a crowd, things typically fall apart. My husband and I arranged for a babysitter and headed to Tempe after work.
Sign-up begins at 5:45 p.m. and we got there around 6:30 and all the sign-ups were filled. (Apparently some people start coming around 5 to wait to sign up). Truthfully, I was relieved since I was having second thoughts about performing, but I agreed to going on the waiting list to see if there’d be time at the end.
Many wonderful musicians performed, both original and cover songs, and the open mic – held in the lobby of the Tempe Center for the Arts – was led by Valley legend Walt Richardson. Lots of talent there last night. By around 9 p.m., I felt inspired by watching all the performers and hoped that there’d be time left over for me to play. It turned out that there’d be time for me to play one song, which was fine with me. By the time it was my turn, around 9:45 p.m., the place had cleared out significantly – also fine with me – and Walt was so nice in helping me set up on stage. (My guitar is a classical guitar so it doesn’t plug into an amp so I needed two microphones, plus a stool to sit on, plus a musical stand for my printed lyrics in case my mind blanked while I was up on stage.)
I was more excited than nervous by the time I got up there – although that wasn’t evident when I opened my mouth. My voice came out kinda shaky – I sounded much better earlier in the day at home, really – and my fingers stumbled on the guitar. And although I’ve been singing the lyrics for months, I blanked out on certain words so I was glad I had the lyrics in front of me.
The audience was supportive – they clapped, nobody booed – and that was that. Then my husband played a Stevie Ray Vaughn song – he wasn’t nervous at all and had fun with it. (He offered to give up his spot so I could play two songs, but I knew I’d only be able to get through one song.) The whole open mic was videotaped for the center’s archives and since mine was toward the end, it’ll probably never get watched, but it’s still nice to know that one of my songs exists somewhere outside of my head.
Here’s my husband’s video: