Countdown to 100: 1 - Flipnotics

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

Host:
Lisa Kettyle

Location: 
Flipnotics
1601 Barton Springs Rd.
Austin, TX 78704 
(512) 480-8646

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.

Countdown to 100: 2 - Backroads

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #99.

Raul writes awesome songs and can play killer mashups.

All right, I admit the first time I walked into Backroads earlier this summer with Amy Z, I was a little nervous about the place, especially because there were pool tables on a raised area behind the stage.  Would I get knocked in the head with a pool cue while singing? Plus we got offered drinks basically just for walking in, because we got there late and the open mic had already shut down.  Not being too experienced with people buying me drinks, the offer usually puts me on guard when it’s from someone I don’t know.  We later found out it was the owner, probably just wanting us to stay and hang out!

A few weeks later, Ana Bee brought me over for their Tuesday night karaoke.  I hadn’t done karaoke in years, and I spent a long time trying to figure out what few songs in the book I thought I’d actually be able to sing entirely, not just the choruses.  It was a weird experience to sing without my guitar in front of me, but we had a great time.

When I finally made it to the open mic, I also had a great time.  Raul was very welcoming, the sound system was great and I got to do two rounds, one of six songs and one of five.  There was hardly anyone there, musicians or audience, but in some ways I felt like it was one of my better performances.  I gave it my all and felt like I had shown up and done my job right.

Word has gotten out and the list has built up a bit since my first time there, but so far I’ve still gotten to do at least five songs every time I’ve gone. Last night Jeff and Ana Bee showed up again and did a set together, and then I asked Jeff to join me for my second set because we went around again.  Fun fun! 

Ana Bee & Honey Bear (according to Ana.  Jeff is still warming up to it! :-) )

Songs: 
Round 1:
Keep Telling Me, Winter Time, Jonah, Sister’s Prayer, Shoreline of Alaska
Round 2: Rain Song, Wings, The Way I Am (Cover), Anchor 

Host:
Raul Adrian Ochoa 

Raul’s Reverbnation page

Location: 
Backroads
2200 S Interstate 35
Austin, TX 78704  
(512) 448-9711

Wednesdays - Sign up at 7:45, Music at 8-till close. 5 songs (sometimes more if the list is short).  Free drink for playing.

Favorite Backroads eats: Actually the only food I have had there were things people shared with me - a jalepeno popper and some salad.  The popper was tasty and the salad was huge!

Other things I like about Backroads:  Getting to play lots of songs, nice sound system.

Countdown to 100: 3 - OPA! Coffee & Wine Bar

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #98.

I’ve been telling the Texans all Autumn long that they don’t actually know what cold is.  Back in Iowa, they’ve had snow already and have been wearing winter coats for a while.  Tuesday night was actually, definitely cold here in Austin though.  There was frost on the car windows when I came home.  When I posted something to that effect on Facebook, I got teased for growing soft, but hey, 28 degrees is 28 degrees, no matter what state you’re in!

Anyhoo, it was a cold night of bus rides, but OPA! was nice and warm.  Ana Bee, the host, kicked things off with my guitar and a couple of her awesome tunes backed by an awesome lead guitarist named Jeff.  He’s got a good ear and a good sense of respect for each song he plays along with, even if it’s the first time.  Now that the secret is out, he’s got a few people wanting him to jump in on their songs!

I think the colder weather does keep folks inside more, because the list was short, which meant we each got to do four songs.  I had Ana jump in with me for some harmonies on Jonah, it’s fun that I’ve been around long enough to have folks know my songs and add something extra!

Songs: Keep Telling Me, Sister’s Prayer, Winter Time, Jonah’s Whale

Host:
Ana Bee

Location: 
OPA! Wine & Coffee Bar
2050 South Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78704 
(512) 326-8742

Tuesdays - Sign up at 6:30, Music at 7-till 9 or “whenever”. 3 songs.

OPA! on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/austinopa

Favorite OPA! eats: Hummus plate, cheese & spinach triangles, steamed milk, iced Americano.

Other things I like about OPA!:  Beautiful courtyard with a huge tree, bench swings and fountains. The bathroom is amazing!  White stone tiles, beautiful glass bowl sink, candles and fragrances a rocking chair and artwork.  I almost just want to hang out in there, hehe.

Countdown to 100: 4 - Baker Street Pub

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #97.

It was a dark and rainy night when I set out for Baker Street…  OK, that’s cheesy and ominous sounding.  Or it might be ominous if it wasn’t so cheesy!  But it WAS dark, cold and drizzling when I headed out for the bus last night to go back to the Sherlock Holmes themed Baker Street Pub.  Luckily the busses that are overly air-conditioned in the hot weather are nice and toasty during the cold weather, and Baker Street was nice and toasty too.  

There was a football game showing on the big projector screen in front of the stage when I walked in, and a big rowdy crowd enjoying said game.  I had a moment of nervousness, “Sheesh, they are going to kill us if we take away their game for some acoustic songwriter music…”  Luckily there are a ton of other TVs around, and I think someone even said that the game they were watching ended right around our start time anyway.  The room definitely cleared out a good deal when the music started though.  Just one of many opportunities not to take things personally. :-)

Some people are paying attention though, because the past couple nights I’ve had performers who have seen me at other venues come up and say, “Hey, what number are you at?”  Some over estimate, some under estimate, but either way, it means they have been listening and I’ve made some sort of impression! 

I had a new/old song to try out on the crowd.  I’d been going through my YouTube videos and found one from several years ago that I wrote when my brother moved to New York City.  Luckily I’d put the lyrics in the description, so I pasted them into a Google document, chopped it up and put it back together in what I think is a tighter/stronger song.  It could probably still use a little bit of tweaking, but after the set one of the hosts said she liked the second song, so even if she didn’t completely hear all the words and whatnot, that was good feedback, enough for me to keep trying it out.

There is definitely a push in the open mic scene to bring something new as often as possible.  People start to recognize you and then the next time they see you they say, “Got anything new?”  It’s a tricky balance though, because playing at least some of the same songs is part of what gets them to recognize you.  I’ve had a few times where people don’t really seem to recognize my face but when they hear the songs they say, “Oh yeah, I saw you at such and such other open mic!”

It’s also funny to compare that situation to a songwriter who has had either some or a great level of recognition.  For those folks, the audience always wants to hear the same hit song, or the songs from the album that made the artist famous.  I suppose that could be another measuring stick of success - earning the right and expectation to play the same song at every single show! ha!

In any case, that’s part of why I created my spreadsheet back in June to document these open mics.  I wanted to be sure and not play the exact same sets at any one venue two weeks in a row.  Turns out there is a set of folks who make the open mic rounds almost as much as I do, so they are going to end up hearing the same songs multiple times a week, but I really can’t do much about that. :-)

I also ended up having a nice conversation with a construction worker dude while waiting for my second bus home.  He noticed the guitar on my back, asked me what kind of music I played and talked about how inspiring music was to him, and how he wished he had the talent to play, but all he had talent for was a hammer.  I told him maybe he could play a drum, and also that it was never too late to start and be simple about it.

Funny that in the past two nights of bus rides, I’ve run into someone who wants to have a conversation about how inspiring music is to them.  I feel like even without them hearing me play a note, we made a brief connection and I was still able to share my message about how important and healing music can be, and that it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated to make a happy little difference.  I hope our simple little conversations made some happy difference in their lives, because they filled my heart up with a little more gratitude for this music thing!

Songs:
Keep Telling Me, A Sister’s Prayer, Rain Song

Hosts:
Justin & Tiffany of Justif

Location: 
Baker Street Pub & Grill
3003 South Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78704-4703 
(512) 691-9140

Sundays - Sign up at 6:45, Music at 7-till close. 3 to 4 songs depending on how full the list is.

Favorite Baker Street eats: This week I tried the Kraken Cookie Crumble, which ended up being rather like a grown-up milkshake almost. Kraken Spiced Rum and Gingerbread Syrup and like, cream or something, on ice, with some spiced sugar on the rim…  Wowzers. Yum. :-)

Other things I like about Baker Street Pub:  All the fun Sherlock Holmes themed decor inside - bookcases, leather chairs, a London phone booth replica!

Countdown to 100: 5 - Pecan Street Brewing

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #96

photo by Mike Shirley

I suppose it’s time for a couple of small confessions.  

#1) Not EVERY one of these performances I’m tracking has been an actual open mic per say.  But the majority of them are, and it’s a lot easier to say “100 open mics in Austin since June” than it is today “100 open mics, a few showcases or mini-gigs, a going-away party and a live internet show, oh and a couple of them were in Colorado.” The point to me is, anywhere that people are there who could potentially be listening (an audience and performer situation), and I play and sing my songs, that counts.  Perhaps the most accurate thing would be to call it 100 performances.  Anyhoo, if you want to be technical about it, now you know!

#2) I have always secretly wanted to get called up to do a song or two from the audience at someone else’s gig.  Since most of my stronger songs require my partial capo, I often walk around with it in my purse, just in case.  Be prepared and all that.  I don’t expect it, and I’ve never asked anyone because hey, their gig is about them! But I’ve seen it happen and it always seemed like a pretty cool thing that I’d like to have happen to me sometime.

So Saturday night I went out to see my friends Jana and Emily perform at a women songwriters in-the-round night at Pecan Street Brewing in Johnson City.  It was hosted by the talented and very funny Penny Ney and the whole night was delightful.  

I had a delicious brick-oven personal pizza and actually found a beer I liked too!  The super nice bartender gave us samples of their current beers on tap.  The one I got was called “Catcher in the Wheat” and was hardly bitter, just a little fruity.  I grilled my friends on what I might be able to find at a regular bar that might come close and was told Blue Moon might be it.  Several of the open mics offer a free drink for playing, and I have usually ended up getting a tea or a soda.  Black tea keeps me awake, and soda isn’t the healthiest.  Neither is beer I guess, but it’s nice to have even a possibility of another option on occasion.

Back to Pecan Street Brewing though, there is a front room with the bar and lots of tables, and then a back room with a stage and a balcony room that potentially looks over the stage if the patrons choose to look in that direction.  There are little delightful surprises scattered around in the form of knick-knacks and clever signage, as well as awesome original artwork, from I think mostly, if not all local artists.

The music and the sound system were both great.  Each of the women had their own distinct, unique style and yet it wasn’t jarring or weird for them to sing songs one after the other.  Penny kicked in some tasteful light percussion on a few songs, Emily tossed in a few lovely harmonies here and there, Jana was queen of the in-between banter and creating a sense of continuity and Katie Lessley even got up to sing one of Jana’s songs and put some of her gorgeous harmonies to a few of the other songs too.  

At the break Jana asked if I wanted to get up and do a song on one of her turns during the second set and I said sure and asked if she had any suggestions for what I should play.  She named off a few and I decided to go for the one that probably had the least tuning issues, because as a guest I sure didn’t want to spent time fidgeting with tuning for one song!   I got a good response, and then a bit later when I moved closer to the stage to take a picture, Emily asked me if I wanted to take her last slot, so I actually got to do two songs!  Thanks gals!

I jokingly complained to them that this performance was throwing off my count, because I had the final 10 all planned out, so now instead of my 100th performance being at Fair Bean this Friday, I’m going to reach 100 at Flipnotics and Fair Bean will be 101!  I guess I’m ok with going beyond my goal before going home for the holidays! :-)

Songs: Jonah’s Whale, Wings

Location:
Pecan Street Brewing
106 East Pecan Drive
Johnson City, TX 78636
830-868-2500

Countdown to 100: 6 - Fair Bean Coffee

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #95


photo by Amy Zamarripa

Tonight I set out to catch the bus at 4:45, expecting to be at Fair Bean just a few minutes after 5pm.  There have been a couple times in the past few weeks where one of the scheduled busses just doesn’t seem to show up - two will pass by in the other direction before the one in my direction comes by.  It was a little bit late and a CapMetro truck pulled up to the bus stop and waited for a few minutes.  The guy finally rolled down his window and waved us over to say that the bus was on detour because the train was blocking the tracks, and so if we wanted to catch the bus we were going to have to go a couple blocks south to the stop just across the highway.  By the time he actually told us this and we started walking toward the stop, we could see the bus already there and we missed it.  Which meant another 20-30 minutes of waiting, and not getting to the open mic till about an hour after it started.  On the plus side, my beat-up bus pass worked when the bus did finally come!  

Luckily there was still plenty of room on the list and actually a few people there to just listen (as opposed to all musicians, which happens sometimes) so I did my first set to a cozy little crowd.  

I had a beast of a time with tuning, which was frustrating.  I tuned up before my set, but as soon as I got the capos on it was out of whack and I couldn’t quite figure it out.  I think though that between the hours of rain today, standing out in the cold for way longer than I expected, and then moving into a super warm and cozy coffee shop, well… yeah, I’m gonna blame it mostly on the weather.  

In any case, the tuning issues helped dictate what songs I ended up playing, because I ended up taking off the capos, starting over with the tuning and playing one with no capos, one with only one, and finally one with the doubles.  Even that didn’t seem to be quite exactly in tune, but I focussed on the low strings and tried not to play the high ones as much and I think it worked out good enough for folk-rock & roll open mic.  

I was last on the official list, and most people left after that, so the remaining of us circled up on the couches and went around playing a couple more songs for each other.  It was a sweet way to finish off the night.

Songs:
Round 1) Keep Telling Me, Anchor, Winter Time
Round 2) Lazy Saturday, Wings

Host:
Amy Zamarripa

Location: 
Fair Bean Coffee
2210 South 1st Street, Suite I
Austin, TX 78704

Sign-up at 4:45, Music from 5-7:30ish.

Favorite Fair Bean treats:
Iced White Mocha, Red Symphony Latte, Orange Bars (like Lemon Bars but with orange!), Veggie Chorizo Empanadas, Hard Boiled Egg

Other things I like about Fair Bean:
Fair Trade coffee, comfy couches, plenty of plugs for laptops, big glass windows to let in the light and allow for people watching.

Countdown to 100: 7 - Kick Butt Coffee Triangle

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #94.


There are two Kick Butt Coffee locations but both are a little bit far North for me to get to either on a regular basis.  I had a Groupon to the Triangle location that expires at the end of the month so I figured it was doubly worth going on Wednesday.

I made sure to get there early because the times I have been, the list fills up fast.  They have a pretty loyal regular crowd, to the point they now have a cork board list and a pile of name cards from the previous weeks, so if you’re a regular go find your name card and tack it up next to the number slot you want.  And they of course have a pile of blank cards if you’re new.

Another reason I wanted to get there early was I had my bus pass from the night before, which expired at 10:20, so I wanted to be sure and play early in the evening so I could still catch the bus back on the same pass.

My friends who live pretty close to Kick Butt made it out just in time to see my set, which had a water theme to it.  Turned out to be a night light on performers, so those of us who stuck around got to do two more songs.  It’s always fun to get to play more, but I was especially happy about it since my friends came out.  I think they had fun watching the other performers though. The guy who plays the beautiful hang drum was there, along with Anna the 12yr old shredding wonderkid and a new guy who did a sort of acoustic rap thing that was completely different and many more.

It can be a little hard to get video at the open mics, people are often talking and otherwise making noise.  Even when it’s a low murmur that doesn’t register all that much from the stage, the camera definitely picks it up.  Plus people will end up walking in front of the camera, or bumping the table, or if I leave the camera on a tripod it’s hard to know exactly how it will be framed, etc.  I was pretty happy with my performance of Anchor which is a new one I just started playing out last month, plus my friends were able to zoom in, so I will share it below:

I’m looking forward to recording Anchor and filling it out with more voices and percussion!

It was definitely a dance at the last minute though, between being able to stay and play a couple more and needing to catch my bus. I felt bad I couldn’t stay longer and connect with the other players, but I also had to get to the bus before my pass expired.

I thought I saw it coming and dashed across the street only to find out it was the 338 instead of the 5, so I actually had a good 5 or more minutes to spare.  While waiting for the 5, a homeless guy approached me with an extra 7-day pass. He insisted on giving it to me even when I told him I didn’t have cash to buy it, and when I tried to give him a granola bar instead he said he didn’t like them. I really felt looked out for, especially after the panicked moment I had on Tuesday when I lost that day’s pass.  So not only did it work out to buy a second pass on Tuesday night that lasted later and therefore got me to yoga, grocery shopping and to and from the Wednesday open mic, I now have one for another 7 days? It’s a little beat up, so I’m not sure if it will actually work, but either way, the idea is pretty great.  I am humbled and grateful!

Songs: 

Round 1) Rain Song, Anchor, Jonah’s Whale 
Round 2) Keep Telling Me, Wings

Host: MT Helton

Location: 
Kick Butt Coffee
4600 Guadalupe, Ste B-2
Austin, TX 78751
(512)-467-4365

Wednesdays

Sign up at @ 6:45; music 7:00-10:30. 2 to 3 songs depending on how full the list is.

Favorite Kick Butt Eats: Mediterranean Pizza, Iced Americano 

Other things I like about Kick Butt Coffee: Super nice baristas, the way they incorporate customer comments on their walls, labels, cups, etc. They often have great Groupon deals too.

Countdown to 100: 8 - Whip In

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #93


photo by Amy Zamarripa

When they say “Keep Austin Weird”, Whip In is maybe one of my favorite examples.  Perhaps it’s because it was the first place I saw a show in Austin when I came down to check out Rubicon Recording Studios in February. Two of their slogans are “South Asian Food, South Austin Mood” and “Namaste Y’all!”  They have a crazy amount of beers on tap and an even bigger selection in bottles and cases, along with a teeny grocery selection in the back.  They also have a menu with some typical Indian food and a few Austin twists - they have panini, but it’ll be like naan bread around curried veggies grilled in a panini press.

It’s also the first place I performed at an open mic when I started going out to them in June.  June 7th to be exact.  My first performance was rather a hot mess - I tripped on the cables, I knocked into the mic with my face, I got some almonds stuck in my throat to the point some kind person had to go get my water bottle from across the room before I could even continue.  But after surviving that, and still getting a positive response from people, I realized it was not as scary as I thought it was going to be.

Tonight was a great night, super full list and a bunch of new faces.  With such a full list we were only able to do two songs, and I was already planning to have Heidi Nadine sing Jonah with me, so I decided to go for a nautical theme and do Anchor first.  There is something pretty special about hearing someone else interpret your song, and we’ve worked out a few harmonies that are really pretty.  

It was also great to have a nice balance of men and women performers, some nights I’m the only or one of very few gals.

I couldn’t get a very good picture, but there was a guy there with an awesome sparkly purple guitar:
 

And this (also rather crappy cell phone) pic gives you a bit more of the idea of the stage area - the ceiling draped in saris, other sparkly fabric, Indian artwork, and posters decking the walls.

The other thing than happened is when I was getting ready to head home, I could NOT find my bus pass!  After searching through my whole bag and asking the couple who sat down across from me if I could trade them places back to my original seat of the night so I could keep looking, the man asked me what I was looking for and ended up giving me a dollar when he heard my story.  So grateful, that dollar was the difference between a long cold walk and getting to transfer to my second bus!  Thanks again Sir!

Songs:  Anchor, Jonah’s Whale

Host: D.C. Bloom 

Location:
Whip In 
1950 IH35 South
Austin Texas 78704 
(512)-442-5337

Odd Tuesdays (1st, 3rd & if there’s a 5th week, that too, of each month)

Sign up at 6:45, Music 7-9ish. 2 to 3 songs depending on how full the list is.

Favorite Whip In Eats: Dal Puppies (spicy fried lentil cakes with tamarind date sauce), The SOLA (Mushroom spinach masala, feta cheese wrapped in naan & grilled on a panini press), Chana dal rice bowl with seasonal squash.

Other things I like about Whip In: The beautiful saris draped from the ceiling, the awesome posters, the church pew style benches inside.

Countdown to 100: 9 - Baker Street Pub

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is #92

I bundled up in layers when heading out to Baker Street Pub because it was actually cold, (not the slight temperature dip that seems to freak many Texans out), and the open mic is usually outside.  I was quite relieved when they decided at the last minute to do it inside, because really, it was cold enough that no one was outside to listen.  Even the musicians were likely to wait inside till it was their turn to play, which would mean you’d be performing to nobody at all, not even other musicians!

So we headed inside which is quite charming, filled with chunky wooden tables, leather chairs, and big shelves of books and other London and Sherlock Holmes themed decor.  Usually they are broadcasting a football game on a big screen with a projector on the stage area, but luckily there are also several other big TVs around, so it’s not like we were completely robbing the football fans of the game but taking over the stage.

One pretty funny thing about the stage area outside is that it is directly under a couple of TV’s, so I’ve had it happen more than once that the crowd goes wild during my set, but I quickly realize the cheers and hollering are actually because the team above my head scored a goal.  A significant portion of the crowd is also actually listening to the music, so thus far I just find it amusing rather than take it personally when I figure out what percentage of the attention is actually going toward the game vs. me.

The list fills up fast, so I was glad I got there on time and got to play second.  The sound is great, Justin really pays attention and tweaks as needed throughout your set.  Tiffany is bubbly and friendly and also keeps things moving along well.

I had some great conversations with other songwriters tonight about showing up, performing, and writing positive songs that add to the good energy of the world rather than bringing things down.  It’s fun that now I’ve made some connections with people who know and like each others songs to the point we can help each other pick what to play or make requests of what we want to hear from the others, or give that extra little push of encouragement to try something new!

Songs: 
The Way I Am (Cover), Rain Song, Winter Time, Shoreline of Alaska

Hosts:
Justin & Tiffany of Justif

Location: 
Baker Street Pub & Grill
3003 South Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78704-4703 
(512) 691-9140 

Sundays - Sign up at 6:45, Music at 7-till close. 3 to 4 songs depending on how full the list is.

Favorite Baker Street eats: 
OK, I’ve only had one thing there, it was a veggie burger and fries and it was delicious! :) And this is a crappy picture but these holiday drinks look pretty amazing, I’ll get back to you if I try one:

Kraken Cookie Crumble, Fruitcake Martini, Piece of Cake Shot, Shiner Cheer Beer.

Other things I like about Baker Street Pub: The beautiful patio deck with a huge tree and pretty lights strung across.

Countdown to 100: 10 - Fair Bean Coffee

Chronicling the final 10 out of 100 Open Mic and Showcase performances I have done since June 2011. This is # 91.


Photo by Amy Zamarripa

Friday night was low-key & sweet, just a few of the regulars for the day after Thanksgiving at one of my favorite open mic venues - Fair Bean Coffee.  After a lovely Thursday of traditional Thanksgiving festivities with my cousin and her friends, it was great to spend some time with members of my adopted Austin musical family, sharing songs both new and familiar.

I did have a first though, a woman having coffee asked me to sing something for her significant other’s birthday.  After a quick mental scan through of my songs, I thought I better look up the actual Birthday Song on my phone and then I wrote down the chords in my notebook so I could see them easily.  

While it’s an incredibly simple song, and I pulled it off good enough to create a special moment for the couple (I even saw him taking a picture or video of me when I got up for a second round of songs), the experience made me realize that knowing the Birthday Song by heart is probably one of those unofficial requirements of being a gracious musician.  Imagine the difference in feeling between someone asking you to sing Happy Birthday and being able to launch right in, and saying “Oh, yeah, uh, I don’t really know it, I just write my own music, I don’t really know other stuff.”  Even if you don’t know how to play it, leading the singing would be good thing to do.

I also had a sweet moment at the counter where one of the baristas asked me which song I had sung earlier, and I told her that all the songs I had performed that night other than Happy Birthday were ones that I had written.  She said she liked it and I told her I would be recording them in March, and maybe she’d also like them then with more instruments and such and she said she was sure she would.  It was nice to know that at a place where I’ve been playing a similar handful of songs for the past 6 months that at least a couple of those songs are recognizable and appreciated by the staff who pretty much has to be there.

Songs:
Round 1) Happy Birthday, Rain Song, Keep Telling Me, Jonah’s Whale
Round 2) Shoreline of Alaska, Anchor, Wings

Host:
Amy Zamarripa

Location:
Fair Bean Coffee
2210 South 1st Street, Suite I
Austin, TX 78704

Favorite Fair Bean treats:
Iced White Mocha, Red Symphony Latte, Orange Bars (like Lemon Bars but with orange!), Veggie Chorizo Empanadas, Hard Boiled Egg

Other things I like about Fair Bean:
Fair Trade coffee, comfy couches, plenty of plugs for laptops, big glass windows to let in the light and allow for people watching.

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