Open Mic Key West 2014
(listen to "Liveaboard" while you read the blog!)
OPEN MIC KEY WEST 2014!!!
The Key West Open Mic at McConnell's we're doing has constantly had great success in the past and since we started doing it again at the beginning of the year, it's picked up where it left off. As in the past, people read this blog from all corners of the world. Consequently, they also come from all over, more often than not, armed with an instrument to play, which they brought along with them on their vacation to Key West, because that factored into their decision to come to Key West for their holiday in the first place! I think I'm doing something right apparently! It goes without saying that we have our local core supporters who are there every week, week in, week out and if it were not for them, there would be no open mic to begin with. I refrain from naming names because I'll inevitably forget someone and feel like a jerk
At this moment the open mic is on Thursday's at 9pm. We follow Trivia night, so it's not always starting precisly at 9. If any schedule changes do take place, I'll post both here and on Facebook.
As I've stated in the past, every open mic is run differently. I've attended dozens run by many, many different people and having attended many in the past, I've come up with a system that really is as faultless as it can get. I'm not boasting, mind you. None of this was my idea, per say. I just took the best of all I've found and pooled them together. It works too! Damn well! So, to every open mic host that I've had the pleasure of attending your open mic, Thank you!! Especially David Leicht, who's was the first I attended in Miami and, when it all boils down to it, it's the closest I pattern mine after.
One thing that is mine and mine alone however is the theme. For starters, when someone new comes in the first thing I tell them is "If you can't have fun here and be laughing, we're going to throw your ass out!"
One quick note: This is an "Open Mic" not an "Open Jam". The difference is slight, but in an open jam, there is usually a band, or an individual that you go up and play with. In an open mic, you go up on your own, or with friends that are with you. There's not an established band or individual(s) that you play with.
Going back to the requirement of having fun, this also is required of myself as well. In order to do this and maintain being the laughing ringleader of this circus, I have to keep it as simple as I can. I therefore use a signup list. My view is that everyone is responsible for themselves to sign up and where they sign up is where they go. Easy and fair. You sign up number 6, you're number 6.
There's no bumping anyone ahead of anyone. At least not until Mick Jagger and Keith Richards walk through the door and only have 40 minutes to spare. We're talking Jagger/Richards here, not a friend who just arrived into town. If players do want to switch, anyone it affects can't be affected. So if player #6 wants to swap with player #3, fine. But player #3 is not now in the #4 slot, they are in the #6 slot. Therefore, players #4 and #5 are not affected... A.K.A. it's fair.
I can't tell you how many of these events I've been to where someone walks through the door and the host by passes all who've been there for an hour or two and puts them on stage. Here you have people who have spending a lot of money on dinner and drinks waiting to play and supporting the event, and they are suddenly treated like yesterday's garbage.
I've seen the most passive, docile people in the world, suddenly have steam coming out of their ears like a whisteling teapot. These are people that are here every week, week in, week out. They're the bread and butter of the machine. They don't deserve to be treated like crap, In addition to that, it's a completely moronic business decision from the get go. A.K.A. Never bite the hand that feeds you!
So, I put out a sign up list at one point or another, when I'm setting up. I'm always first on the list regardless. It goes without saying that I have to make sure the sound is correct for everyone else, so I'm that guinnea pig. I give Dani Hoy, my girlfriend and #1 roadie the option of being #2 first, as she's helped lug everything from home. Sometimes she takes it, sometimes she opts for #4, #6, or whatever. After that, anyone who wants to play signs up. When we get through the list, we start over, so everyone has the opportunity to play twice, or more.
I've also been asked via message, text, and phone call "Can you sign me up for about 10:30". Sorry. Everyone's responcible for themselves. Like Bogart in Casablanca "I stick my neck out for no one". Besides, it's similar to the above case. There are people there buying dinner and drinks and maybe their signup would put them on at 10:45, yet someone waltzes through the door, having not spent a penny, and they're ahead of the person who's been there? Not on my shift. It again, goes back to being fair for everyone.
At my open mic, it's fair for everyone.
McConnell's (900 Duval St.) is very, very good to us! On paper we run 9 to midnight. I can't recall the last time we stopped at midnight however. The early side is !2:30, the late side is 2:00am. In fairness to other places, many have restrictions on how late they can play, so you're limited. Another great thing about McConnell's is that it's right on Duval St. I can't tell you how many people walking by, who normally had no intention of stopping there, hear the music through the open door, stop, look in, then come in! To say that thousands have come in because of live music, is not an exaggeration in the slightest. They're not musicians, but like so many in Key West, they love live music!
My view is that as long as the register is ringing and everyone's having fun, we're continuing! This has been my policy, where permisable, forever. Some other musicians don't care for it, they think I'm doing them a disservice. They think because I do it, they will be expected to do likewise. I don't know what they'll be expected to do? What I'm doing is the simple business sense that I've used in my former thirty year career, carrying over to this: Give the customer more than they asked for. The customer in this case is the bar/restaurant. It's a known fact: When the live music stops, the customers leave. If I'm still playing, they stay.
My job as a performer in a bar is not to play music, per say. So many in the music profession just don't get that concept in the slightest. A musician's job is elementary and it's truly amazing how many musicians just don't get it. Likewise, it's even more amazing how many bar owners and managers don't get it either! A musician's primary job, before anything else, is to make the cash register ring! Hello!
That's why we'll stay as late as 2am. Everyone's having fun and the cash register is singing it's favorite song!
My feeling is that because it's fair for everyone, it's a very successful open mic.
If you are coming to Key West, be it as a musician or someone who loves live music, stop by on Thursday nights at 9!
THE SHANTY HOUNDS WITH REDAWG
Dani Hoy and I have been playing about town recently as The Shanty Hounds. It's been a blast! A few weeks ago I bumped into Redawg, the amazing drummer who plays the Zendrum. Redawg suggested we pool our efforts together and go as a trio. Talk about a new dimension!
Suddenly we're becoming the talk of the town! HA HA HA!
Before this, Dani and I would do our duo songs, then do our individual sets. With Redawg we play everything together. We've been playing at Seadogs/Hen and Hounds a fair amount and having a blast! Last Saturday we played until 2am! We were scheduled to 12:30 (see the above article on open mics for the reason why). There's a lot of energy in this gig!
More to come on this as we progress, but we're having a blast!
A few plans are in the works again this year for MOTM, here in Key West. For those not familiar, MOTM is the Trop Rock gathering in Key West at the end of October/beginning of November.
One event, yet un-named will be on the final day, Sunday November 2nd, from 1:30 - 5:30 at Sunset Tiki at The Galleon!
Some REALLY exciting news will be announced very soon on this, so keep tuned in! There will be a Bar. B. Que going with burgers, dogs, and maybe chicken. More on that as we dot the I's and cross the T's!!!!
I apologize for the pictures in this blog! Photbucket is going through some change and I can't reduce the size of the pictures, so I've gone back to an old Flicker account for the pictures. As you can see, I haven't figured out how to get the size option correct yet! HA HA HA!!!
K.W. Chris Rehm
To obtain my music:
My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris
Thank you everyone!!