Keep in mind that Open Mic is not karaoke. It’s for musicians and aspiring musicians. You can’t get up and sing to a backing track. If you don’t play an instrument to accompany your song, you should partner up with someone who can play for you. If you don’t know anyone then come along as an audience member and network, introduce yourself and make it known you’re looking for someone to partner up with.
If you haven’t started yet, now’s a good time to get practicing. Know your songs inside and out so that distractions and sheer terror don’t fatally harm the performance. It helps to practice in front of someone at home (even though that sometimes feels really awkward).
Speaking of terror, if performing in front of people sounds scary, you’re right, it is. Some of the biggest artists in the world will freely admit to massive nerves prior to a performance. Often times the only difference between those that do and those that don’t is having the courage to push past that barrier because the rewards are worth it. By all means, invite family and friends to be your cheer squad and moral support. Or not, maybe getting up in front of friends sounds even scarier than getting up in front of strangers. Whatever works for you. Remember, we’re all here for a fun and relaxing afternoon and to get some stage experience, we’re not here to sit in judgment.
Do I Have To Talk To The Audience? You don’t have to. If you’re naturally talkative then by all means, let your personality shine through with a little banter. However, it’s certainly not imperative. Banter doesn’t come naturally to some people and when it’s forced it can sometimes be worse than nothing at all. Personally, I like to introduce a song with the name of the writer or the recording artist and possibly a half a sentence about the subject or why I think the song is important. For example, “This is a song by John Prine about organ donation.” If you’re new to performing in public then it will be worth your while to practice song introductions as you practice the actual songs. Of course, you should always thank your audience at the end.
Get to the hotel early so that you can get your name on the blackboard and have time to relax. Like I said earlier, only PA and mics are provided so bring your own instrument and whatever else you’ll need but keep it simple. Complications lead to longer setup times and more points of failure which in turn will lead to less performance time.
Remember, there’s no cover charge but the bar is open and Julie will also have the coffee machine going if that is your preference.