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.