Open mic nights starting point for forthcoming musicians

Hank Black, guitar player of 3 years has attended open mic night for about a month and a half and performs both songs written by himself and others. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Ben Woolley | Reporter

Waco is filled with aspiring musicians of all ages. Exposure and practice are particularly beneficial to musicians when they are in the beginning stages of a music career. Waco’s open mic nights at The Backyard Bar Stage & Grill and Common Grounds provide musicians with the opportunity make themselves known in the music industry.

Every week, there are two nights that anyone wishing to share their musical talent with others can do so. Starting at 8 p.m. Tuesdays at the Backyard Bar Stage & Grill and 8 p.m. Wednesday nights at Common Grounds, all musicians can attend open-mic nights to showcase their talents.

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Jacob Strock, who goes by, the stage name of Cre, performs on Nov. 8 at the Backyard. Open mic night’s are platforms for forthcoming artists to practice and grow in front of forgiving crowds. Photo credit: Dayday Wynn

“There’s no better feeling than playing live music for people. Especially when I’m with a band, playing at open mics are a lot of fun. There’s something about seeing people dance and enjoy your own music that makes you feel accomplished,” Gypsum, Colo., performer Jonna Mae said.

Common Grounds hosts predominantly Baylor student audiences and performers on Wednesdays while The Backyard hosts more locals and older musicians. The artists who play at Common Grounds vary in sound and genre while artists at The Backyard mainly play country music. While the venues differ in audience and performer style, Common Grounds and The Backyard have a shared love for music and talent and the expression of live performance.

Singers and songwriters love the ability to share their music. Open mic nights also allows them to read crowds, so the performer can understand what people in the audience like and don’t like.

“It’s our goal as singers and songwriters to make people feel moved in some type of way, and it is really easy to see the expression of the audience in places like The Backyard around Waco,” Mae said.

While open mic nights can be fun and entertaining, they can also serve as a stepping stone for artists. Almost like a playground for musicians, open mic nights allow musicians to try things out and just have fun with no rules or guidelines and no set list.

“Open mic nights are important for musicians to get their chops. There’s no money other than tips and no real set. Artists can work on performing with no pressure of a full performance. Open mic allows you to work on craft and get better,” Seguin senior and singer-songwriter Hunter Hewell said.

“Everyone in the audience knows that you’re there to get better. That lack of pressure and a place to work on things is great for artists who are trying to get started and get their name out there in their community.”

Many of singer-songwriters start out small doing open mic nights and then get a broader audience as they land more gigs.

William Clark Green is a prime example of this. “He majored in agriculture economics but spent more time songwriting and playing guitar at every openmic night and hotel bar gig he could find than actually studying,” said in the William Clark Green biography.

Green will be performing at 8 p.m. on Friday at The Backyard Bar Stage & Grill. Green’s success demonstrates the benefits of practice and exposure from starting at small gigs then gaining larger fan bases.