Snacking on Singer Songwriters

Eschewing Second Sunday in the Park (took a really long nap and didn’t want to be in the heat), I left my house at 8:35 and walked down to the Rookery, thinking to catch the end of the new Open Mic night that started a few weeks ago. I heard Justin Cutway and Aaron Irons talking about a songwriting challenge and I wanted to see what it was all about.

The night was eating the day, digesting some of the heat. I caught up with Everett Verner and we talked about the weather and how great it is to own cats before he forked off towards his home and I continued straight down Cherry Street to get to the Rookery.

I have come a long way in my thoughts towards the Rookery since last year. I was thinking about it at Bragg Jam. Last year for Bragg Jam, it was the worst venue. The staff at the time were pretty much snarling by the time we got there to see MagTard play. When I asked if someone could come and bus the table where we were going to sit, I was handed a cleaning cloth. I held myself in check, although I did lash out in words later. Every drink I got that night from them were so watered down, I wondered if there was only tonic water and lime in the gin & tonic I ordered. And to top it off, the woman at the next table not only wanted me to bus her table (I didn’t) but she asked me if Vinny, the only other black person in the room, was my husband. Sure, easy mistake to make (maybe), but you don’t know me. Just wait and see for yourself. Yeah, I had such a bad experience, I swore I would never go to the Rookery again.

I had to take those words back when the Rookery came under new management. Suddenly, the food was better, the atmosphere was better and I find that, though I’m not a regular, on certain days, if I hold my head just right, it seems like I am.

That’s how I felt when I walked in. Kevin Meadows and his wife Christina were playing. It started later than it’s normal 7:30 start time, taking into account Second Sunday in the Park. I heard Dean Brown and his Dubshak band as I walked in the opposite direction. It sounded good, a cool, jamming groove on too hot of a day. Inside, the Rookery was nice and cold. Justin Cutway and Wil Cowart were at the bar, sort of waiting in the wings for their turn. I’ve heard Justin Cutway, AKA Trendlenberg, play many times, but I’d only heard Wil Cowart via MySpace and I was anxious to hear him play. Tim Gilliland showed up shortly after Wil Cowart started to play. That was also when people started trickling in from various other activities – Second Sunday in the Park, poolside church services, paying tribute to the god of tanning, or just from home in an attempt to get out and do something on a lazy Sunday night. We all sat around with our drinks, listening to talented fingers strumming six strings. Savana Cameron, the lovely host for Open Mic, even went electric on us. I’m really interested in what will happen as it gets going. I also have to add that though all the musicians were different, there was some really good singing/guitar playing going on. Even what mistakes could be heard produced laughter from musician and audience alike because we were amongst friend. I mean, besides the old, drunk guy sitting in the fron, judging each musician, it went pretty smoothly.

As I wrote earlier, the singer/songwriter challenge started with Aaron Irons and Justin Cutway. It was what first struck my interest and something I hope to see grow as the event does. The challenge, for anyone interested in being challenged, is to write a new song every week. Will that song be good? Maybe not. Might it sound like other songs you have? Yes. Will it give you an opportunity to grow as a songwriter? Yes. Savana even came up with the idea to create a board so that anyone interested can see where they are versus others taking the challenge. In a few weeks, there will be stars on poster board denoting all the new songs written in honor of the Open Mic Singer/Songwriter Challenge.

So if you have an instrument, come out and play it. If you’ve wanted to play in front of an audience, and even if you feel you’re too afraid to, come out! Play! Sing! Just ask for a shot of liquid courage before you head to the stage and play.

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