I played in my first live open Mic

This weekend I got up and played 2 songs at a live open mic in a local brewery. At the moment I don’t have any video. I do have a picture of me at the back of the jamming portion at the end. You can only see my bald head and my guitar, I can guarantee I was strumming a different chord than they were.

I am fairly sure I have talked about it here before. It is a small open mic, in a quiet brewery largely frequented by the musicians that play. Most people who get up are people who play local gigs regularly. They are a welcoming bunch and they know I play, so every time I go in, they ask whether I am going to do it this time. Well this Sunday I did.

I have developed a set list of 5 songs that I have been practicing every day this year. I put them into songbook pro. Unfortunately my Ipad is too old so I can only see them on my phone.

I showed up early to put my name in but was still 7th on the list, behind one of the best performers. I sipped a beer and drank water until my turn.

Even though I thought I was prepared, I left my phone in my pocket. Playing plugged in and singing into a mic with a monitor was very different than doing it quietly in my basement.

I got through 2 songs, flubbed chords and messed up lyrics but had fun. At that point I decided to stop. To be honest I didn’t want to mess it up and feel bad. Of course the audience was very supportive and it felt great.

At the end they have a jam session, which I was really looking forward too. I chose to stay unplugged. I decided I could watch their fingers, and copy. As they picked songs they discussed the key, there was way too much going on for me to figure out the chords on the spot. They started playing and I realized that good players, who are not teaching, don’t have clear finger placement like beginners. Most of the time I played muted chords as rhythm. It was really good fun though, and interesting being so close to people seeing and hearing the signals between them of moving to different sections.

There were lots of lessons learned, probably best for a learning log. Great to have made a public debut, and looking forward to doing it again.


My turn to stalk you now… :smiling_imp: - 17 minutes after posting!

Oh man, how good is that Phil! You did it! So good to hear they are a supportive bunch. I’m yet to find that around where I live, but having said that I’ve only been to one open mic (as an observer).

How does it feel now? Do you have the itch to do it again? I’m looking forward to that LL entry.

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Sounds like a great learning opportunity indeed. A lot of lessons in one time and place!

I think you might went into the jamming part a bit…optimistic, hoping to read off chord placements etc. When going into jams and buildign experience; asking for a 12 bar blues isn’t a bad idea. You could take initiative and ask for 12 bar blue in a certain key where you are comfortable to improvise a little lead in. That way, you can do both the chord accompaniment role as do a bit of lead when it is your turn to get creative.

Getting used to the “feeling” of being there, on stage, doing something live, in a different place, and with a different setup is soooooo valuable. It’s hard to quantify but the generic “live experience” label is really a badge you want to ear more and more to feel more comfortable “up there” :wink:


Well done Phil, thanks for sharing.

Sounds like a positive experience all round. I guess the preparation will become easier as you get used to the pressure? I often forget things. I sometimes think of making a small check list, but I’m not really a list person :slightly_smiling_face:

I find jamming the most challenging but most rewarding, my two licks from the minor pentatonic take me a long way :rofl: but seriously this is where a small bit of theory can pay dividends. I also keep a map of the pentatonic shapes and a circle of 5ths with me for the jamming.

Keep it going and have fun!

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Thanks Lieven, I knew it was going to be hard, which is why I stayed unplugged, but it was WAY harder than I thought.

There was a 12 bar blues, that I was more able to figure out. It will be a while before I take any initiative or lead.

Yes the buzz of being there was really cool, and I will do again.

Thanks JK, It was really good. I stopped as definitely want to do it again, so I wanted to save my songs, for another time.

Having played the OM’s here, I was prepared enough to know that my fingers were going to stop working properly and lyrics disappear.

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Shame I can’t multiple like this post Phil, this is great to read and thanks for sharing your experience. So nice to read how supportive everyone was, not that it should be a surprise I suppose, as we all know from here every guitar player remembers their formative experiences. Very cool they do a jamming session at the end, that must have been great! Out of interest, what songs did you play?

With each member that does one of these it’s nudging me closer and closer!!

Bravo brother, bravo :guitar::guitar::clap::clap:

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Thanks Mark, I played House of the Rising Sun, and Knocking on Heaven’s Door. I have been trying to make them more interesting and varied with strumming after going through the strumming SOS course. Although at home I have been trying more raked strumming in HOTRS, I ditched that knowing my fingers wouldn’t work that well under pressure.

Interesting on the supportive comment. While I was waiting my turn, a guy I used to work with before I retired walked into the bar. We had a brief conversation, I hadn’t really started playing guitar when I worked with him. So he thought I was just drinking. He left to go sit at the bar, and was still there when I got up. After my performance I went over to talk to him. He congratulated me and said he didn’t play any instrument. He did then say that the first song suited my singing more than the second, the actual words may not have been as supportive, but having just left the stage my mind was buzzing. :rofl: Honest feedback, which can be good to help us improve and I do understand what he was saying.

If people want to try it, I definitely encourage you. I learned a lot from it, and I think there were even unconscious learnings I have not worked out yet. When I played my set yesterday at home, it was maybe the best and cleanest yet.

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Hi Phil,
What great fun that must be …and now it’s ON :sunglasses: :sunglasses: :sunglasses:

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Doing the open mic is great! Your posting has prompted me to look for venues around here that do the same.

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Well done on the open mic. Being up there is a real buzz isn’t it. So far I have always been doing rhythm in the background, getting out front must feel great. Not something I feel up to yet!

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Well done @philsmith sounds like a great experience and a lot of lessons learned. I avoid jamming like the plague :rofl: it takes real skill and experience. I liked Lieven’s suggestions on how to approach it. The odd times I’ve done it it works out best if you’ve had a chat in advance about what you’re going to Jam (at least at the start). I’m no good at following others switches to chords.

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neither of which I have. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

This is totally impromptu, of whoever is there at the time.

A bit of a “dad do you know the piano’s on my foot?” “you hum it son and I’ll play it” how totally inappropriate and exploitative were those old adverts?

Well done!
My first open mic, a few months ago, I was shaking thru the first two pieces, had to restart both of them…


Sounds great, Phil. What a pleasure to read your post :smiley:

Have you been able to sleep at night after the first “real” Open Mic and when is the next one? :slightly_smiling_face:

Absolutely. That was the first lesson I learned on my first open mic. So very different.

Good on you!!!

It took me a while, but I eventually got a practice setup that included a good quality acoustic amp that had channels for vocals as well, got a good mic, stand and practiced that way for a week or so before my open mic and it made such a difference to my level of nerves.

It’s great to read your positive attitude about the experience. You can be quite proud.

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Congrats on your live OM debut, Phil! Sounds as if you had a blast! :smiley:

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, it was a great and interesting read with lots in it, many of us can relate to. It’s great you learned so much and had the guts to also join the impro at the end. Great stuff. :slight_smile:

Great you also want to step up that stage again, looking forward to any update on that now. :slight_smile:

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That is great news Phil and congrats on playing for first live OM. It is also great to read that although there was some flubbage it hasn’t deterred you from doing another one.

Well done that man. What a rush it must be. :+1:

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Congratulations! It’s so much fun isn’t it? I’m new to the Justin Guitar Community, but in my twenties and again in my 40’s I played in bands. It’s the most fun thing you can do with clothes on!

Well done Phil! It takes alot of courage to do an open mic for the first time. You got through it and had fun so maybe the next time will be more relaxed and even more fun.