Niagara Gazette

February 14, 2013

Take the stage as open mic series Toast & Jam returns Monday

Special to Night & Day
Night & Day

Night & Day — Get ready to lose those winter blues at Lewiston Council on the Arts’ Toast & Jam open mic series which begins again Monday at the Brickyard Pub & BBQ, 432 Center St., Lewiston. It’s a long way from Greenwich Village but the spirit of the traditional coffee house percolates through the pub where couples, friends and singles come to socialize, relax and check out the local talent scene.

Dale Campbell hosts the open mic on six Monday evenings (through March 25) beginning at 7 p.m. The stage is open to all singers, musicians, poets, actors, dancers, comics and performance artists.

Campbell’s calling card boasts a long history of open mics and he can be heard regularly on WJJL 1440AM, “Just Me and the Dog” and “Dale Campbell - All About Town.”

Most of the people who perform at open mics are not professionals — they do it for the love of it, and part of the fun for the audience is never knowing what to expect. Neophyte songwriters play at open mics to help overcome stage fright. Seasoned pros show up to try out new material on a live crowd just to see how it flies in a room full of fellow performers. Then again, some people use it as a way to learn that playing to a crowd is not their forte.

Toast & Jam provides a unique opportunity for performers to enjoy a moment in the spotlight in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. Everyone is welcome at this all-ages show. The format allows about 15 minutes for each performer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. On one hand, you don’t get much of a chance to warm into their performance, but if someone is really awful, you won’t have to wait too long before it’s someone else’s turn.

“It’s a great atmosphere.” says Campbell. “By the end of the night, it feels like a sing-along at a friend’s house. Some performers are really good, others are just there to have fun. And everyone enjoys the great food at the Brickyard!”

The performances are filmed, edited and broadcast on Lockport Community Television (LCTV) throughout the year, one of the things that make this event unique. The other is the longevity —14 years is a long time for an open mic. Many of the performers have been coming for years and have become old friends and audience favorites. Others will be making their debut this year.

An acoustic guitar will be raffled off during the series, with the winner chosen on March 25. Lewiston Music and Vic’s Woodshed Music are continuing their support of the event by donating the guitar and each time someone performs, they get a comp raffle ticket. The audience is invited to take a chance too, and raffle tickets will be sold throughout the six weeks.

Sponsors of the event are Brickyard Pub & BBQ; Vic’s Woodshed Music, Lewiston Music, Cataract Printing Service and LCTV.

For more information, contact Lewiston Council on the Arts at 754-0166 or visit www.ArtCouncil.org.

OPEN MIC ETIQUETTE For the Audience • Be nice! Recognize performers for their courage. Many of the best performers started this way and you can say "I knew them when ..." Besides if you're so great how come you're not up on stage? • Please let the establishment owners know that you appreciate their generosity in hosting an open mic. There is no cover charge so we heartily encourage you to spend a few bucks. Support the business that supports the arts! For the Performers • Performers who arrive first have their choice of 15 available time slots. • This is a family event. Select your material accordingly. • You're welcome to perform for all of the six weeks in our series, but come prepared with different material each time. • If you're bringing back-up music have it cued up to the starting note. If you're planning on more than one song, have them on the cd in order. • Tune your instrument before you're on stage. • Don't "invite yourself" up on the stage with another performer. Wait to be asked. • If you have CDs to sell, bring them with you and let the host know. Dale will announce it for you. • If you make a mistake or forget the words, keep on going. Remember no matter what happens or how nervous you think you appear, if you're having fun the audience will too!