It had been so long since I’d been to Flipnotics I could hardly believe it, but I was happy to get there for #149. Lisa didn’t have her guitar with her, I told her she could borrow mine. When she got started, she grabbed my guitar out of the case by the window where I’d left it and she hung it up on the hook on the wall after playing.
A few players in, and Lige asked if he could borrow “her” guitar for his second song. She said it was Spencer’s, apparently she had asked to borrow his guitar and he told her it was in the gig bag by the window, and between the two gig bags by the window she happened to grab mine! I piped up saying that the guitar was mine actually and Lige could play it if he promised not to break a string. He’s such an awesomely intense player that I’ve seen him break strings probably half the time I’ve seen him play! Even though I had an extra set with me, I didn’t want to have to change any on the spot, and I also wanted to play all of my final 50 open mics on that set. Anyway, Lige decided to do two mandolin tunes instead, and my guitar was all ready to go when it was my turn, and we all had a good laugh about the confusion.
Flips can be a mixed bag of awesome and odd, and my favorite bizarre set of the night was one by an impromptu group that we dubbed Jandy & The Phone after a guy and gal (who will remain semi-nameless, though “Jandy” is a blending of their two names) who to the best I can figure out, signed up together after meeting on the porch, stumbled through a few verses where he was not playing the same chords as the songs she was singing, nor did she attempt to modify the melodies to fit the chords he was playing, and they were interrupted by her phone ringing in her purse out in the audience. Both folks had plenty of potential, and with an actual rehearsal I bet they would have done alright, but as it was, she finally said, “Let’s just leave,” and they did. In true supportive Flips fashion, we cheered them on through each attempt and shouted after them to come back next week and try again.
Songs: I Know, Shoreline of Alaska
I hadn’t been to Flipnotics in a while! I guess there kept being shows and stuff on Thursday nights that kept me from it. It was definitely an intense sign-up, the energy is always palpable and ramps up between about 7:35 and 7:45 when Lisa actually puts out the sheet. She was just a couple minutes late that night though, so the energy was even more anxious!
I didn’t have much of a chance at getting on the first half of the list, but I wasn’t too worried because I had a car. Plus I’ve learned from experience to start getting ready maybe 5 or 6 folks ahead of my slot because toward the end of the night folks start dropping out and often you’ll get pushed up several spaces if you’re patient. I’m definitely more aggressive when I have a bus to catch though.
It was fun to realize that I hadn’t been there in so long that I actually had two songs I hadn’t played there yet. Also fun to have a few people recognize me, even though the songs themselves were new. There is definitely a balance to bringing fresh stuff so people don’t get bored, and repeating stuff so they recognize you.
Songs: I Know, All or Nothing
Photo by Amy Zamarripa
Another fun night at Flipnotics!
I actually ended up heading down way early to hang out and get some work done, needed a change of environment to change up my focus, so I got there somewhere a bit after 5pm. There was a great happy hour set with a boy from Alaska with lightning fingers who could sing the blues like an old soul and played slide and mando and resonator and filled up the tiny room and beyond with his voice. I can’t remember his name and it’s not on the Flips calendar, but it was amazing.
Somehow even with getting there so early, I ended up #18 on the list. I could feel the minute I stepped out on the deck that it was going to be one of the super mad dash nights for signups. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t make my bus home or at least have to zip out the minute I got off stage, but luckily Apatua said I could get a ride home, so it ended up that I played to pretty full room and got to stay till the end and hear all the rest of the great acts.
We had a super huge storm a couple nights ago, with thunder so loud and close that it woke me up a little after 2am, so rain has been on everyone’s mind. Flips is a great place for sing-alongs because everyone is paying attention, so I got the whole room singing for Rain Song.
Adding to the fun of the night, Lisa had an event to go to, so she asked Amy Z to fill in for the second part. I’m curious to see if more people come out to Fair Bean tonight and join the Facebook group now that they’ve heard more about it!
Songs: Rain Song, Wings
Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #100.
Lisa Kettyle plays a mean uke! And her outfit happens to match the venue. :-)
Perhaps one of my favorite open mic stories to tell is about the sign-up process for the Flipnotics Open Mic. Probably because it’s the most dramatic. It’s pretty standard that sign up is anywhere from 15-30 minutes ahead of the musical start time of an open mic. Depending on the venue, you either need to get there on time to be able play at all or on the other end of the spectrum, you can safely waltz in 30-60 minutes late and still get a slot. And in either case, there will be some nights where the opposite is true.
At Flipnotics, the list is pretty much always full. Music starts at 8pm. Around 7:30, musicians start milling around on the deck outside, pens in hand, hovering near the table where Lisa Kettyle, the host, usually puts down the sign-up sheet. Some of the musicians have been there since shortly after getting off work at their day jobs, but it’s 7:30 when the hovering starts.
At 7:45, Lisa comes out with the list and 2 or 3 pens, hollers, “I’m putting the list out!” and the feeding frenzy begins as everyone jockeys for an earlier slot. People have gotten jostled, scratched and marked with pens in their attempts to sign up. It’s not always that way. One time when an actually line was forming for sign-ups I said out loud, “Oh look, a civilized queue!” and someone else responded equally enthusiastically about it, and the couple of boys who were about ready to pounce slunk back into line as well.
Lisa has said she tried a few different ways of having people sign up, like lottery style for example, but during that month of experiments, attendance dropped. As soon as she announced she was going back to the old way, attendance went back up. The style doesn’t work for everyone, I have heard while making the rounds to other open mics that some people don’t usually go to Flipnotics mostly because of that sign up system. But the beauty of Austin is there are so many open mics, you’ll find the one or few that work best for you and your music.
After the sign-up process, Lisa explains the rules, (be in tune, no super long songs, don’t sing along with the performer unless invited,) and the fact that it’s a listening room environment. There are a few other places in town where the people do listen, but the thing that sets Flipnotics apart even from those is the bar is actually separated from the stage area, so the the people who are in the room are really choosing to be there and spillover noise from running the espresso machine, cash register, etc is minimal.
Which also means I was able to get a pretty decent video of my performance:
Lisa also has the room vote on whether everyone will do 2 or 3 songs. With a full list, 2 songs means everyone gets to perform. 3 songs sometimes means the last few people won’t get on before closing. On the nights that I’ve been able to stay till the end, often times 3-5 performers won’t stick around and the people that do stay still get to perform. Lisa also has a policy that if you’re on the list, stay till the end and don’t get to play, she’ll put you on the list wherever you want next week.
Flipnotics was the 3rd open mic I played in Austin back in June, so it was pretty great to look back from performance #100 and remember that on that first night there I was playing without a pick and was barely projecting - to the point that Lisa turned off the AC so people had a better chance of hearing me. So to be playing with a pick, no mic, be able to talk while tuning and make eye contact with the audience, all that is a really great measuring stick of how far I have come in the 7 months I’ve been playing out.
Songs: Anchor, Shoreline of Alaska
1601 Barton Springs Rd.
Austin, TX 78704
Thursdays - Sign up at 7:45, Music at 8-till close. 2-3 songs depending on how long the list is.
Favorite Flipnotics eats: Delicious empanadas, I’ve had the spinach mushroom, samosa, that came with some yummy garlic sauce, and the sweet potato pecan that came with whipped cream. Great smoothies and espresso!
Other things I like about Flipnotics: Awesome, multi-level deck outside. Bar space is separate from the stage space so not only is it a listening room, the bar noise is minimal.