If you have been reading my blog with any regularity, you know that I am involved with "The Showcase of Original Music "(and open mic). The night of November 16th, 2012 was a very rewarding milestone for me personally. We completed our first year of monthly events and did so with what could be said to be the best show of all, fittingly. At 7 pm when the doors opened and the first few prospective open mic performers started wandering in, the slightest twinge could be felt in my stomach scanning the mostly empty room. I found myself worrying that perhaps the audience turn-out would be disappointing and thus leave the performers giving their all to mostly empty seats. Though the event comes to life each month through the cumulative efforts of the "team", there is a tendency for me to let its success or failure rest heavily on my shoulders. So, even though many succesful nights have started out in much the same way, there is an unavoidable sinking feeling viewing a large room with few people in it.
Fortunately my role as soundman for the Showcase pulls me into a hyper-focused space which keeps me from fretting too long about what's going on behind me. As show time approaches, in that 30 minute time span between sign-up and the first open mic performance there are always last minute details to attend to that make the time fly by. Unbeknownst to me the "Gallery & Cafe", as the sign above the door declares, magically fills almost to capacity without my being the slightest bit aware.
The surprise must be visible on my face to anyone watching me at moments like this. As I turn to assess how things are going, I take in the room which is now bustling with conversation, laughter and anticipation. The worry inside me quickly fades as it is pleasantly apparent that we now have not only a nice variety of open mic musicians, a very talented and seasoned featured artist ready to do her show, BUT ALSO a large crowd of anxious original music supporters. I am struck by the scene before me to the point of thinking it feels like a scene that might have been scripted in Hollywood. For me, it is an early Christmas gift and another small confirmation that we are doing something worthwhile and providing a great experience for all who attend.
From my perch, I see Mike Garrigan, our musician liaison attending to needs of our featured artist Crystal Bright, who has just arrived. Volunteers like Annette Logan are happily helping newcomers become acquainted with the building and our event. My friend Bill Donnell is stepping in to help by running the video camera tonight. I watch as he concentrates on getting just the right shot in the view finder. Across the way, I hear the familar voice of Susan Sassmann as she makes her way though the crowd smiling and chatting it up with musicians and guests alike. Sitting right next to me, camera at her side and laptop ever at the ready to archive all that video is Melody Watson waiting to snap photos along with other Creative Center members who often show up. Valeria Elliott has also found her way to her platform and is now set to record her own video footage on behalf of the Center, which will be used for future promotions.
There are only minutes to take in and mentally acknowledge all of this activity before I am snapped back into the moment as John Paul McNeil's voice comes through the PA speakers announcing the first guest of the night. With eyes set on the stage and hands at the controls, it is time for me to enjoy my part of the experience... from behind my sound console. It's an amazing team which manages to blend our unique talents and personalities into a cohesive unit on Showcase night. Making the difficult or challenging look easy is the sign of professionalism. We are all volunteers, but every bit the professional by that definition.
Intrigued? Our first schedule event of 2013 will be January 19. Mark your calendars... and tune your instruments!