We at County Grind spend our nights, weekends, and sometimes mornings at live music shows. But only occasionally, are we CG writers the ones performing at the shows. Even rarer is the chance to go to a show, perform in it, and then write about it. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was asked to document my experience at an open mic night at our pick for Best Hollywood Neighborhood Bar for 2012, Native Florida Tap Room and Music Hall.
CG recently wrote about the new Thursday night event where owner Kilmo tries out local musicians in order to find great openers for touring acts. As a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, I took the opportunity to perform for Kilmo and crew and to bring you backstage at Native Florida. Take it easy though, there was no one doing lines off of toilet seats or swarms of topless groupies at this open mic night.
I arrived at the venue twenty minutes before the show (very un-rock 'n' roll, I know). Waiting outside for the doors to open, I happened upon another guitar case-toting dude on the sidewalk. Brian identified himself as a fellow solo acoustic performer. He and I made small talk for several minutes before Kilmo opened the doors to our musical fate for the evening.
I was impressed by the venue's spacious, acoustically favorable design. Inside, sounds reverberate and there's a mysterious stairway that leads likely to a VIP lounge area, or maybe to heaven?
Brian and I chatted with Kilmo as he cleaned up the bar. This place already had a good vibe: A superior design, relaxed atmosphere, and nice people. The venue's website notes that it has "concert quality sound and production." Believe me, they're not lying. Even when Kilmo put on the house music, the sound system's high fidelity was instantly notable. At that point, I could only imagine what treatment the performers get.
Showtime rolled around a bit past 9 p.m. and Brian kicked off the night's festivities. I'd like to think many local performers have that very cool moment when the guy you were chatting with at the bar a few minutes before turns into this kick-ass singer on stage. Well, it happened to me. Brian killed it. After four or five songs, Brian thanked the crowd and unplugged. Hell yeah. It was my turn.
After giving Brian kudos for his performance, I hopped up on stage, guitar case in hand, plugged in, and anxiously waited for Kilmo to work his sound guy magic and give me the green light. At this point, more people had gathered and Kilmo was pulling double duty, serving drinks and hustling over to the sound board. This guy's some kind of multi-tasker.
After a couple minutes of awkward posturing, it was a go. Once I finished with my first song, I felt in good shape. The sound was amazing. The crowd's applause was actually pretty enthusiastic. After five songs, I simply basked in the glory of sweat and a job (I would say) well done. Various people from the audience came up to me after my set (including Brian) and told me they were blown away. A special moment in any young musician's life.
My performance marked the end of the show's acoustic sets. A local funk and blues rock band called Kalderin would be the closer. At this point, the venue was packed and significantly louder. It was becoming a bona fide rock show.
Before leaving with heads held high, Brian and I were talking about the pros and cons that go along with playing smaller shows. "If you're looking to do originals, open mics are a good place to start," he said. "You have a very sympathetic crowd. No one's expecting a headliner. But if you hit the mark, you usually get a really good response."
Wise words, Brian. And who knows, maybe we'll find ourselves opening for the next big out-of-town act to hit Native Florida Tap Room. Call me, Kilmo.
To hear some of my music, click here. Open mic nights take place every Thursday at Native Florida Tap Room and Music Hall, 2006 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood.
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