A few weeks ago Murray and I were asked to showcase at the launch of JamNet – a facebook page and website aimed at connecting all the open mic and jam sessions on the Sunshine Coast. We’ve often played at these sessions, partly for the fun of it, sometimes for the practice, always for the opportunity to hang out with other musos and listen to the variety of music on offer.
But there’s a limit to the number of sessions we can get to, because Murray’s still at school and things get busy in term time. But the holidays are different, so these winter school holidays we decided to go on an “open mic marathon” and attend as many of these events as possible. Here’s what happened…
1) UpFront Club, Maleny – Monday
An old favourite of ours because of the sheer talent that you get rocking up to play at this venue on a Monday night. We weren’t disappointed, with world class drumming and saxophone playing on display, great songwriting, wonderful singing…and us!! We played there with the full band, which means Rob on bass and Jenny on harmony vocals as well as Murray and me. Danny Rose always runs this event to a very tight schedule, but by some fluke of circumstance the act before us pulled out, so we got a very rare 5 songs in a row! And the free meal for performers happened to be vegan casserole – so I could enjoy it too. A great night.
2) Nook & Cranny, Nambour – Wednesday
Our home town, and nice to support this top venue for a bit of mid-week open mic fun. Nice to meet up with JamNet founder Jon Brown as well (by chance) who had brought Bob Abbott along with him for some blues tunes. We took the opportunity to ask Bob to play harmonica for us on the only real blues song I’ve written. That’s what open mic sessions are all about – collaborating, trying something new, having fun! Some good talent on display, and the organiser was taking details for gigs in the future. And…Murray really enjoyed his free pizza.
3) Palmwoods Hotel Jam Night – Thursday
Well, wasn’t I in for a shock at this one? No originals!!! Murray wasn’t daunted at all, he took to the stage with a bunch of other musos who had all been placed in a band, and solo’d away to songs he’d never heard before, let alone played. I put my name on the roster too, and ended up fronting a 6-piece rock band and picking a few songs that I thought I could remember how to sing. These guys have done an awesome job of organizing the charts – around 300 songs with multiple copies in colour-coded folders, so that everyone can play along. Only trouble is – for a female – the keys tend to suit male voices better. Which is fair enough, since most of the musos at this event are men. A fun night, and Murray caught up with a kid he’d enjoyed performing with a few years ago.
4) Currimundi Hotel – Friday
We went along to this new open mic session with Rob our bass player. Unusually, for an open mic, everyone was given a half hour set, and we had fun entertaining the pub crowd in this big room. A good mix of musicians, lots of them we knew plus a few we didn’t. On the back of our performance here, we were booked to play at Kings Beach Tavern, which was certainly welcome!
5) Duporth Tavern, Maroochydore – Monday
For a couple of months now all three of my kids have been going along to Debby Parson’s under 17 years open mic sessions. They are amazing, a great opportunity to get experience in front of a supportive audience, play through top sound gear with a dedicated sound engineer. Each week one young performer is featured at the start, and this week it was Murray’s turn. Next up Hazel took to the stage with her newly formed band The Hallucinations. There is real talent on display at these events, with no pressure to ‘measure up’ to anyone else. Free meals for kids too – whether or not they are performing. Another top night.
6) Rick’s Diner, Palmwoods – Thursday
Well, we had heard so much about this place that we just had to include it in our marathon. We had to plan carefully though, because the blackboard gets booked up a couple of weeks in advance sometimes. The room is special – filled with memorabilia, guitars, posters, car stuff, just a cool place to be. So that might be part of the attraction. Plus it’s a nice stage in the corner, and it’s always good to play to a packed out room full of people. So Murray and I had fun and managed to fit four songs into our tightly run 15 minute spot. Yeah – it was a fun place to play, with plenty of good musos to keep us entertained.
7) Glo’s Kitchen, Beerburrum – Saturday
Well, we were wondering that six might be enough, but we couldn’t really call it an open-mic marathon without including at least one of Michael Whiticker’s events. Michael has been running a collection of sessions on the coast for the past few years, and his trademark is an amazing sound system and himself behind the desk. He is not one to just get you going and then walk away while you play. He stays at the desk throughout, tweaking the sound for each song, or each section within a song. So for this last open mic gig of our marathon we decided to thoroughly test his skills by turning up en famille, and including two guitars, a trumpet, a didgeridoo and three singers in our short set. Michael didn’t let us down, and we didn’t let ourselves down either, coming up with what felt like a rather magical family rendition of quite a new song.
So that’s it. Seven open mic and jam sessions in two weeks. The challenge is set – who’s going to try to beat it?