Tag: take the mic (Page 1 of 3)

Sharing Music During a Pandemic

So, it’s been a while since my last post. Since March, the places and events where we share music have been closed, postponed, cancelled.  It has been such a hard time for touring musicians and venue owners, and also for their patrons. And yet, many of us are finding ways to share music.

I have watched some great live stream concerts with virtual tip jars. I’ve participated in an on-line song circle – not exactly a jam since only one of us plays at a time, but still nice to have conversations and see familiar faces. To celebrate Hillside Festival , we watched pre-recorded videos of some wonderful performances and then had a small number of people – nicely distanced – around a campfire. Coming up next weekend is Play Music on the Porch Day – I envision people playing music from their balconies, front steps, driveways, and filling their neighbourhoods with music. (Visit http://www.playmusicontheporchday.com/ to learn more or to add your location to the music map)

It is clear to me that, even though current times has made it difficult to gather, live music is as important as ever:

The ability of music to lift spirits in times of uncertainty and grief.

The role of music in amplifying the call for human rights and solidarity.

The social interactions that are created and nurtured by making music together.

To quote songwriter and performer Alysha Brilla: “All these shut downs have confirmed the sneaking suspicion I’ve had my whole life that gathering together with music, dance and celebration are one of the best parts of the human experience.”

What can we do to help our musical community weather this storm? If you have stayed employed through the pandemic and have the means, consider making a donation to your favourite arts organization or festival. Support a musician by purchasing their music or buying a ticket to a virtual concert. Check in with someone you would have normally seen at a jam or song circle, share a story or maybe a song they are working on. Share your music whenever you can.

How have you been keeping your musical connections alive? Share ideas, links, upcoming events in the comments.

Take the Mic: Favourite Campfire Songs

For me, Canadian summers will always be linked to campfires: in the backyard, by the lake, at Centre Island. Our township has announced a fire ban due to the lack of rain and resulting crispy dryness of the grasses and trees around us. But I’d like us to keep the summer campfire idea alive by sharing our favourite campfire songs. Post a comment below with a silly song, a soulful one, or maybe that one  that always gets everybody singing along.


Take the Mic: Awkward Musical Moments

If you’ve been to a few jams or open mics you have experienced this: the person – usually unwittingly and often well primed with the establishment’s beverages – who sabotages the song. The person in question sings louder than the song leader, often changing the tempo, the lyrics, sometimes out of tune. Although it is usually non-malicious enthusiasm or the effects of too much “liquid courage” that leads to this behaviour it doesn’t change the fact that it is distracting and – frankly – rude.

How to manage this situation? The performer can gamely try to wrestle the song back into their own control by singing louder. A real pro somehow works a good natured comment into their banter like a stand up comic turning the joke around on a heckler. It takes a bold open stager to stop and ask to do the song without the added accompaniment, but this can put a real damper on the ambiance of the room and risk the label of “diva” being applied to the beleaguered performer.

Have you used or witnessed any elegant (or not-so-elegant) solutions to this situation? Please share your stories!

Take the Mic: What Brings You Here?

Here is a post from songwriter and music publisher Jack Cooper from a songwriting social media group:

“Hey, here’s a songwriterly question I though I might throw out here. What do you go looking for when you visit song circles/open stages? When I first started going out to open stages regularly ’bout twenty years ago, it was mostly for the performing experience- how to perform under a ton of different conditions and before both supportive and non-supportive audiences.
This evolved over the years to where the main benefit I derive from doing originals at circles and open stages is for editing. You know those twinges you get when you sing something that doesn’t feel quite right? I would note those and revise parts of the lyrics/music that makes me flinch.”

So – where are you on the spectrum of reasons to come out and play? What’s your motivation? What do you take away with you?

Take the Mic: The Elusive Song

Writer’s block. It is like being 9 ½ months pregnant and nothing you do puts you into labour.  It is like seeing something in your peripheral vision but when you turn your head there is nothing there. Have you been in this place?

Maybe you have decided that you want to add your own compositions to your repertoire of cover songs but the muse isn’t speaking to you.  Maybe you have written songs already but you have hit a dry spell; the music is just not flowing. What have you done to get past a writing stalemate and re-enter the creative current?

Post your tips below for breaking out a song – the first few get a limited edition Open Stage Adventure guitar pick (apologies to my non-guitar playing friends).


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