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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Aging Open Mic'ers...

Contributing Member

San Francisco, CA

Nov 26th, 2017 07:37 AM   Edit   Profile  

I attend two O/M's per week and it's certainly apparent that the majority of players qualify for Medicare. At 72, I'm one of them.

While I don't host either of these fine Open Mics (and have zero interest in doing so), I do want to see them survive after we Boomers die off.

Judging by the "mandatory" grey hair (or no hair) of the performers, I fear for the future of these weekly events. Several of us have tried darn near everything to get young performers out, but we've had little success.

First off, we don't find many young players around these parts. The ones that do show up probably take a look at all the grey hair and say, "Whoa... this Assisted Living crowd ain't for me!" And so it goes...

On the positive side of things, the Medicare folks always have a great time at these events and so far that's been reward enough to keep things lively. But I do wish we could see and listen to some younger folks on a regular basis.


Contributing Member

San Clemente, CA

Happy Sunsets, tahitijack
Nov 26th, 2017 11:05 AM   Edit   Profile  

I attend jazz and Hawaiian music concerts every month. The audience is overwhelmingly older baby boomers. Can't help but think the artists are aware their future is limited.

Tony Wright
Contributing Member

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Nov 26th, 2017 12:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

While not really an open mic, I think the dynamics are similar.

I have been doing sound and stage lighting at a monthly "Singer-Sonwriter Concert Series" in a local 501(c)3 not for profit Art Gallery locally. The audience does not pay admission but is asked to contribute to the cost of the event. Most do.

OK, so you got the basics...

The singer songwriter's are selected by a local woman whose mother founded the Art Gallery about 2 years ago. This organizer belongs to several social media sites for songwriters and thus knows quite a few in Oklahoma and more from some distance. We have 3 or 4 artists each month plus the organizer who emcees and performs at each event.

She picks the artists...they are welcomed to bring merchandise. My sound and light pay check comes from the Art Gallery. I believe the performers split the donations...but there could be some supplement from the Art Gallery, unsure, not my business.

The format is simple...they do a group song first and last...normally. Then round robin, each performer does one song and then the next and so on until it is time for the first to perform their second. Typically, about 5 songs each performer plus the opener and closing songs during the 2 hour event. No intermission.

Audience demographics are scattered. I would agree that the majority are older than 50. But it is a slim majority. I would probably say that the group is probably divided in thirds...

Under 35. Age 35-50. Over 50.

There is no food or beverage provided other than bottled water. You can bring your own beverage, but NO FOOD.

Every artist discusses their song before performing that piece. It makes the song more meaningful to the audience. And it helps form a bond of "friendship" as opposed to simply "play and entertain us".

The audience is usually around 35-50 people, more or less. Provided seating is limited and they are welcome to bring their own "camp chair" if they prefer. About 1/3 bring a chair.

Over the last 10 months, I have noticed the audience has grown by about 30-35%. The first was probably about two dozen audience. I have noticed a lot of the same people at each performance, and some attend sporadically. And there are a few new people each month. There is a loyal attendance of probably around 25 that attend every month.

Seating is in "theater" style. Individual folding chairs side by side with an aisle up each wall and down the center. I think they can seat 12 per row. After the third row, some of the seats get moved around, so I think we still have a maximum most months of around 50 people.

Weather and competing activities are the factors, not the quality or name of the performers because the typical audience person does not know any of these performers/songwriters. I have only heard of about 1 out of 3.

I gave my notice in October that I will stop providing the sound and lighting after the monthly performance in December. Rather than launder dirty linen on the forum, I will simply say there is no incentive for me to continue this relationship. I like the music. The performers are easy to work with. My problem is a "labor - management" issue. I will miss this project, but I can still attend as audience...



England's Sloppiest Guitarist
Nov 26th, 2017 02:32 PM   Edit   Profile  

I've been going to a local Open Mic for nearly 12 years now, which was being run by a guy I've known for nearly 40 years. He's a couple if years older than me, which makes him about 60.

Anyway, about 6 months ago he had a running disagreement with the new bar owner and quit. After a couple of months it was taken up by three younger lads in their late '20's - early '30's. It's still pretty good but it's not quite the same.

Contributing Member

St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Nov 26th, 2017 03:49 PM   Edit   Profile  

I've been going to a few open mics or I guess some folks would call them acoustic jams lately. Bass and vocals are amplified but that's all. It's fun trying to remember all the favorite songs of some of the players. At first I thought this will be lame as everyone was my age or better. But if you go to a few and don't mind a few clunkers you'll find everyone there has a song or three to offer that's interesting and off the beaten path.
Most of the folks are ok but there are a few folks there that are truly entertaining and do an absolutely great job. Maybe the younger ones will kick in later in life to these things.

Contributing Member

South Florida

Nov 26th, 2017 07:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

We have one in my neck of the woods that is well run. Basically the guy who runs it also has a local music school. So when the students are up to it he encourages them to debut in front of an audience. There is some serious young talent that comes out.

Contributing Member

Vero Beach FL

Tbird Greg
Nov 27th, 2017 05:24 AM   Edit   Profile  

At 69 years young, my band days are likely over, but I do get out to open mics on a regular basis. It's a fun way to get out in front of an audience and do my thing. My town is a popular retirement area, so there are a lot of older guys/gals who are like me and don't want to give up playing music live.

Don't underestimate the gray-haired balding guys - some of them can rock out as good as ever!



England's Sloppiest Guitarist
Nov 27th, 2017 05:49 AM   Edit   Profile  

Forgot to say, one of the younger (teenage) singer/ songwriter "regulars" at our open mic got signed up by a record company a year or so ago, so he's not allowed to play anymore, and they've changed his name.

Also, there's another singer/ songwriter who's been coming and performing solo since he was 14. He's 17 now, and is getting solo gigs. If I had the time I'd offer to be his manager, as I think he has real talent.

Tony Wright
Contributing Member

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Nov 27th, 2017 06:16 AM   Edit   Profile  

I neglected to mention that probably less than 10 of the performers has been over 40yrs and less than a couple over 60. There has been maybe 3 under 21yrs old.

I also failed to mention that the music is far more interesting than I expected. And I have recognized several by name as playing frequently at some listening rooms in both OKC and Tulsa.

A fair number of the performers are couples in both life and performing...but each has their own compositions and the other "backs" on those songs.

Thus far the local talent has held their own with the folks from "beyond".

It has been an interesting experience.


It's not just good..

...it's good enough.
Nov 27th, 2017 06:41 AM   Edit   Profile  

I co-host an open mic/jam every 2-3 weeks, myself.
And before assuming host duties, I had been attending this one on a pretty regular basis for a few years.

Our regular audience does lean more toward the older crowd (I'm 61), but it varies week to week.
The same is basically true for the performers, but we do have younger players showing up and I'd say the average performer age is actually younger than the audience - unless those younger players bring more friends with them to shift the average.

For a small-town area, we have a pretty active music scene and there are quite a few younger players, solo and group efforts. And some of those younger folks are in the rotating open mic host schedule.
Despite the frequent commentaries to the contrary, playing live music played on real instruments is not a lost art.

"Don't underestimate the gray-haired balding guys - some of them can rock out as good as ever!"

True dat!
We've had some pretty amazing moments over the years at our jams.
A couple train wrecks here and there, as well, but it's all in good fun. We all have a laugh and carry on.


Columbia, SC

Nov 30th, 2017 04:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

I had the pleasure of playing a few tunes earlier this year at one of 6l6's haunts in Half Moon Bay!

We have a pretty good OM here in South Carolina every Thursday evening. The early slots are often the same handful of regulars, most of them just OK, but the better players seem to wait until later. The hosting duties rotate each week, so that the host kind of brings their own crowd. They probably have a dozen or more hosts, and it usually works pretty well. All ages seem to show, and while acoustic instruments are the norm, it's not unheard of for an electric, lap steel or pedal steel to make an appearance.


What It Was!

Fairly Unbalanced
Jan 4th, 2018 04:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

Get some hot chicks to show up. Free drink tickets or somethin'.

Did it take this long for someone to say that?!?

FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Aging Open Mic'ers...

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