It’s Been Too Long

Before this post, I hadn’t written on here since May 7. That’s a long time. Nearly three months. I was out of the country for a bit, and then started a new job. These are excuses, I know.

Just wanted you to realize I hadn’t forgotten. I still host Open Mic South Park Abbey, every other Wednesday. That means tonight (Aug 1), Aug 15, Aug 29, and so on. On weeks I am NOT hosting, the lovely Amanda Cogan runs the show. Do it up!

TTYS, amigos.

Local San Diego Songwriter Interview: Craig Furnivall

Craig Furnivall is the type of person who says hello first. Formerly from Rochester, Indiana, this Midwest-mannered guy has already made a name for himself in only a couple years on the San Diego singer-songwriter scene.

There’s a reason for that.

“My goal is just to play, play, play, play play,” Furnivall advises. “I didn’t have a car when I first moved here, so I decided to live in PB. I figured it would have the most places to play out.”

He scoured the city for open mics, performed every night he could, introduced himself to as many people as possible and quickly got requests for several local showcases.

“I got in touch with Cathryn Beeks, from ListenLocalSD,” Furnivall says, “and she set me up with shows at Winston’s and a couple other places. Now she books even more venues, including House of Blues. She’s an awesome person to talk to.”

Still based in Pacific Beach, Furnivall is one half of Bosen & Suede, a noted local duo with other area musician, Brian Bosen.

After releasing their debut EP, last month, the pair planned and set out on an 18-show, 22-day tour of the West Coast, in April 2012. It was Furnivall’s first, and a true learning experience:

“We booked as many shows beforehand, but several times we would just show up and try to play somewhere. Venues need a face, not just a phone number and email address. The experience got us playing for fresh crowds, meeting venue owners and visiting new cities. Next time, we’re going to be able to book more shows ahead of time because we’ve put in the hours.”

Furnivall shares that he and Bosen set up shows by contacting anyone they knew living in the cities they wanted to play, and asked for venue recommendations. They also researched on ReverbNation, a site for musicians to post and share music.

Q & A

Recently, Craig was nice enough to meet at a showcase I was setting up and playing at. I arrived later than I had said I would, and my questions to him were rushed. I knew I was being rude, and felt like a jerkstore. In typical Furnivall fashion, he shrugged it off with an easy smile, and within a few minutes, he was talking with several of my friends as if they were already his.

Do you want to be a touring musician?

I love touring. It’s entirely necessary for young aspiring musicians that reach a certain point in their music if they want to continue growing and expanding. Going on the road performing for new audiences is invaluable if you approach it with an open mind for professional progress and an open heart for personal growth.

If I could make money from music, ideally it would be from shows and CD sales (both physical/digital). Pretty standard, but my hope is to not just have a show that entertains, but to provide an experience for concert-goers…to create music that is not just listened to, but resonates with the listener. I would love personal connections with everyone who can find shelter in any aspect of the music I create, because music has done that for me.

What gear do you play?

Alvarez guitars. Elixir strings. Fender Strat when I’m playing electric. But I really love Alvarez’s acoustic sound. I don’t enjoy electric nearly as much. When I first started playing, I was just messing around on an electric. It wasn’t until I started strumming on an acoustic that I thought, “oh, THIS is how it should feel and sound.” It resonated with me in a whole new way.

What’s your songwriting process?

I’m hugely lyrically-driven. If you don’t have anything to say, you shouldn’t be talking. I usually come up with melody while I’m playing guitar, and then I go back and forth between writing lyrics and writing the song. It’s different from Bosen, who starts by jamming a bit and forming the song from that. Writing with Brian is awesome; our styles are so different that it just shouldn’t work! The fact that it does is just one of the many reasons I love music & songwriting.

How long you been writing music?

I’ve been writing music for over a decade. I started playing music (guitar) in 8th Grade. Electric at first, but it always sounded like it needed something more, so when I picked up an acoustic, I thought, “This is it. This makes sense!”

Why did you come out to California?

I wanted someplace with a better music scene than Small Town, Indiana. I planned on moving here right out of high school. When I told my parents, they were supportive, but encouraged me to go to college. I did, and I’m glad they pushed me to go to school more. The second I was done, however, I came out here. I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon!

What do you do for a living outside of songwriting?

Live off credit cards! [Laughs]. I do contract work for an education company. It’s nice because I might not have to work for a couple months at a time, but my credit cards are starting to take a hit, and I’m giving myself the goal to start dealing with it by the Fall.

My main goal is to be a part of this community; someone who supports it, and inspires others to think about what they want to do with their talent & love.

Where do you get your song inspiration?

Love lost. Hope. Transitional moments in life like me moving out here. Then I seem to always build songs in a typical structure of intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, chorus, way big bridge, and back to the chorus. I’m a big bridge guy. I love bridges.

How often do you practice?

I play guitar at least an hour a day. Typically, I’ll be going over old songs or trying new stuff and a couple hours will go by. If Bosen and I happen to have a show or a bar gig, the amount of time playing will increase a little. Though, for my style of writing, it tends to be less an amount of technical guitar work and more keeping a constantly wandering mind for lyrics and thoughts. To truly be a “songwriter,” the mind must always be on and searching, and I feel that is where I place most of my energy/attention.

What keeps you here in San Diego, as opposed to bigger “music” cities like Los Angeles or Nashville?

One, it takes awhile to become established in an area and figure out the ins and outs and who’s who, etc. To start over at this point doesn’t really make sense until I reach the level of success I want (and believe is possible) in this community. Two, I want to believe that you don’t HAVE to go to the stereotypical places to become successful. I want to believe that anybody can be greater than they believe they can be, regardless of where they’re from or the environment they’re surrounded with.

####

Go see Bosen & Suede’s next big show at Lestat’s, Friday, May 25. Go here for more info. Do yourself the favor of saying hello to Craig, if he doesn’t beat you to it.

How to Get a Performer Permit to Play in Balboa Park

With the proper permit, anyone can play & sing non-amplified music in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Without this free pass from the city, however, you can be booted from the park or even fined.

I’m going to share how I heard about this permit, where I got it and what it was like to perform in this beautiful tourist spot.

Why You Should Perform Publicly

Public speaking is most people’s number one fear right behind spiders crawling in your mouth to lay eggs while you sleep.

That’s why some of the best singer-songwriters have poor stage presence in-between songs. They’re uncomfortable in front of a crowd when they aren’t performing.

The quickest way to kill this fear is to play & perform as much as possible.

You can wait until night and drive around to different open mics, but that’s three songs at most. It’s a slow way to get your stage legs.

Go play in public.

Also called “busking,” street performance lets you practice and play for hours in front of an ever-changing amount of people. Plus, citizens sometimes give you money without you having to ask. You’re not homeless. You’re an artist!

You can’t just swing your axe anywhere, however. There are rules. This is California, USA.

In December of 2010, I found myself without a full-time employer. I worked freelance copywriting jobs for a few months. It was good.

During that period, I had time to burn. I would hang at Balboa Park, ride my bike on nearby trails, and write songs at home.

I also started playing out at more open mics.

It was at one of these that I met a mellow Hawaiian dude named Paul Hanna. He was a civil engineer for the city, with a one-of-a-kind voice.

We were chattin’ to chat, you know? No big deal. And he mentions he had played at the park the past couple weekends. Says he has a permit that allows for this.

If you haven’t been to Balboa Park’s main hangout area, “the prado” then you need to go. It’s a wide pedestrian walkway lined with museums, art galleries and koi ponds. Visit on a busy weekend so you can see how many people from around the world enjoy this beautiful spot.

If the weather’s nice, so, 340 days a year, you’ll encounter many street performers. This is especially true on weekends, and when the museums are free on Tuesdays (more tourists). There are magicians and no-armed guitarists and fortune tellers…the people you’d see at a less syringe-y Venice Beach.

I learned that these performers usually have permits. You get your month-long permit from the City, and it’s free.

“A free permit from the government?” I thought. “Paul is a liar.”

But he wasn’t. And isn’t.

I asked him how he did it, and he told me the whole process.

How It Works

Permits are distributed by a lottery system. To participate in the lottery, you need to be at the Balboa Park Admin Office (click here for map-shot), at 10:00 AM, the first Saturday of the month.

The following Saturday happened to be the first one of the month.

Paul said I should be there early, so I showed up at 9:40 AM. When I walked around the corner of the building, there were like, 40 people already in line.

You’re standing in a line to hopefully get a permit that allows you to perform in public so that some forgiving soul maybe drops some of their folding money in your general direction. I’ll be honest. It’s a weird crowd. Many of these people do this every month of every year. They are hardcore, or super-lazy, depending on how you look at it. Everyone is cordial, but it’s like in high school when you’re hanging in a different hallway than you’re used to.

At 10:00 AM, the park rangers bring out a container filled with numbered, wooden blocks . The line starts to shuffle forward, people draw blindly from the container. This goes on until the people or the blocks run out.

You’re drawing for the order you get to choose your permit spot. You want a low number.

I got “7.” Booyah.

When your number is called, you enter the office. Ranger A takes your wooden block and hands you a permit map with 20-25 spots marked on it. Some areas are reserved for solo performers, some for groups, and a few for “acts” such as palm readers. The spots are all spread out, but limited for each type of performer. Depending on who has a lower number than you, your “genre” can fill quickly.

Of course, some of the spots are way better than others when it comes to foot traffic. The money-making areas are the prado and the botanical garden lawns. Lots of people. The worst one looked like it was on the corner of a parking lot behind the Air & Space Museum. Lame.

I lucked out and was able to select a primo spot.

Ranger B checks your ID, has you sign a paper, and hands you a stamped permit paper and park map.

You’re free to go and play.

Rules

Your permit is good for that month. You can play everyday unless the rangers tell you otherwise, or there is a special event going on. You can play in ANY spot you want, too, but the person with that particular spot’s permit gets priority.

Keep your permit with you. The police can ask for it at any time. I never saw them ask anyone, and they were always rolling by. If you’re caught without a permit, I think they just tell you to leave. Or waterboard your face. I don’t have the full rules in front of me, sorry.

Also, the only signage you can have with you is a piece of paper that says “Donations Accepted.” That’s it, no “Buy 3 CDs for the price of 4″ or whatever.

Experience

I went about two times a week the first month. Usually played for 90 minutes, and made about 10-20 bucks each time. It’s not much, but a) I’m just a dude on a guitar, nothing unique that draws a crowd, b) I needed to practice anyway, might as well get a few dollars, and c) I was underemployed, so any money is welcome.

Tourists and locals are both nice. Little kids dance. I learned a couple holiday songs including “Feliz Navidad.” Every once in a while, people stop and listen.

You get way more comfortable dealing with all types of people. People who stand really close to you. People who stare at you like you’re a giant ice cream cone. People who yell “Freebird!” while you’re in the middle of a song that took you three months to create and made you cry (just once!) during the process.

There are even people who put one-dollar bills in your guitar case. Sometimes two.

I was packing up and grabbing the money from my case one day, and there was a $100 bill inside! I was pretty stoked. Then I picked it up, turned it over and saw it was an advertisement for a church. I chuckled. Even their ads are tricky!

I went back to the lottery the next month, and drew a “4″. Beginners luck. Chose the same spot. Repeat.

If you’re not worried about lacking a permit—as I said, the cops never bothered anyone—just go and play in Balboa Park, for an afternoon. Try not to set up too close to another singer or musician. Everyone deserves the space.

Do you busk anywhere? Please leave a comment.

Click here for the Balboa Park Administration Office address & map.

San Diego Songwriter Showcase at South Park Abbey

Please come hear some of San Diego’s best up-and-coming songwriters & musicians.

Free show.
Fancy beer list.
Tasty food menu.

Saturday, April 28
8:30pm sharp
South Park Abbey
1946 Fern St
San Diego, CA 92102

It’s going to be a great night. Four performers will be playing:

11:30pm: The Ryan Persinger Project
One-man band, plays loop-pedals like a boss, fresh from Iowa

10:30pm: Anastasia Pena
Confident strummer, attitude when needed, super-kind musician

9:30pm: Amanda Cogan
Local performer, worldly voice, heartfelt singer-songwriter

8:30pm: Joe Nafziger
Host for the evening, this blog’s author, person with guitar

If you have any questions, contact me: joenafziger [at] yahoo [dot] com.

San Diego Open Mic Review: The Lazy Hummingbird Coffee & Teahouse

lazy hummingbird open mic review san diego ocean beachAfter leaving work one Tuesday night, I headed straight to the Lazy Hummingbird Coffee & Teahouse, in Ocean Beach. They have an open mic that starts at 7pm, and I had been told to get there early because the sign-up sheet fills quickly.

After getting through a small amount of traffic where The 8 splits into Nimitz & Sunset Cliffs, I pulled up at 6:35pm.

I was eager; while I had played a full-set at Winston’s, an established Ocean Beach venue, I had yet to strum and sing at an open mic in this neighborhood. Plus, fellow open-mic musicians had told me to check out “the Lazybird.”

Street parking was easy. OB seems to be like that. Everyone local walks everywhere, and you always find a spot right around the corner from wherever you need to be. Also, you will always smell weed in the air. Always. You’re in OB.

The Lazy Hummingbird is a small coffee shop, diagonal from the Apple Tree grocery store parking lot, on Santa Monica Avenue. During the day, the Lazybird’s chairs, tables and standard tea-house furniture are scattered throughout the inside, and on the patio.

For open mic, things were a lot more orderly. All the seats were arranged to face a lone, padded, wooden chair sitting in front of the main window. Strangely enough, the other side of the Lazy Hummingbird’s main room is actually another business—something similar to a FedEx/Kinkos. The unused tables are re-purposed as a barrier between the two sides.

You are unable to reach the bubble-wrap.

How It Works

I asked another patron if he knew where the open mic sign-up sheet was. He acted annoyed and tossed his arm in the general direction of the cash register.

Maybe he thought I thought he worked there, and was insulted in some way. I don’t know. If you can’t be happy just to help another person in the smallest of ways, I’m sorry you cry yourself to sleep most nights, dude.

So, yeah, the sign up sheet is near the cash register.

It was damn near full.

Out of, I don’t know, 17, 10-minute spots, only the second and third were still open.

I grabbed the second. I like playing early. That’s one of my things. I play early. I stick around to listen to several more players, and then I head home to hangout with my lovely wife before going to sleep at a decent time.

There is somewhat of an unwritten rule that you should stay for the full open mic, but I’m OK with breaking it. Maybe you stay for the whole open mic. That’s polite of you. That’s being a supportive, fellow musician. Thank you for doing that.

But my guess is, if you stay all night, you’re not married. Staying for the whole thing is a single-man’s game (or single-lady’s game). No matter how supportive my wife remains, I feel guilty hanging out too long.

Playing

The first signup-ee wasn’t present when things kicked off, so the host, Cat (with a K, maybe?), brought up an older guy (in his 60s), who read three short poems.

Cat radiates a happy disposition. She’s cheerful and sits right in the front, listening to everyone, unless the coffee/tea aspect of this place gets to busy, and she has to go help work the counter.

After the third poem, the first person still wasn’t around. It was my turn by default.

I played “Make Up Your Mind” and “Gone.” The time flew by, and I have to say, it was probably the best open mic experience I’ve had.

Here’s why:

• I sat down.
Lazy Hummingbird isn’t really a standing type of place. It felt more comfortable to sit, like when I practice at home.

• All unplugged.
No mic. No amp. (Though both are available.) It’s just such a small, intimate setting, I knew I could fill it without electricity. Plus, I was able to hear my voice better which let me sing more on key.

• Great crowd.
I played early, and nearly every seat was full. Just 30 minutes later that evening, the place was jam-packed. People are super attentive, respectful, and there are no TVs on, no pool table. It’s like playing music in your friend’s bedroom, but without the stiff socks lying on the floor.

Recommendations

This place is doing open mic right. Go check it out on Tuesdays. Sign up early. Starts at 7pm. I give it 4.5 chai lattes out of 5.

Adams Avenue Unplugged: Is your name on the list?

From the Union-Tribune:

At least 109 solo artists, duos and groups have been confirmed to perform at the debut edition of Adams Avenue Unplugged, the free festival that will feature 170 performances on 24 indoor and outdoor stages along a two-miles stretch of Adams Avenue on April 21 and 22.

Among the confirmed artists are Jack Tempchin, Tomcat Courtney, Sara Petite, Gregory Page, Lisa Sanders, Roy Ruiz Clayton, the Bayou Brothers, Veronica Rose and Bart Mendoza.

The festival is both a new start and a continuation, as the two-day event replaces the 18-year-old Adams Avenue Roots Festival. As its title implies, most of Adams Avenue Unplugged’s festival’s performers perform with acoustic instruments. A good number are veterans of previous editions of the Roots Festival, which — like the new Unplugged event — is produced by the Adams Avenue Business Association.

To check out the full lineup, go here.

Local Songwriter Interview: Amanda Cogan

Amanda Cogan is a San Diego native who grew up in Mira Mesa.

Now living in Normal Heights, she’s a regular at Open Mic at South Park Abbey, where her strong voice is always a crowd favorite. She’ll be playing some upcoming showcases, too.

After confidently and happily strumming her Taylor 314ce through five or six songs one random Wednesday night, Amanda sat down with me and answered a handful of questions about music, songwriting, and what she plans on doing next:

How long have you been playing guitar?
Nine years, but I hate saying that because I feel like I don’t know enough chords. I just use the same ones over and over, and move my capo around. That’s the secret, folks; a capo!

When did you start writing music?
I’ve been making up music since I can remember; way before I started learning piano or guitar. I remember when I was a little kid, I would sit on the middle of the staircase and just sing—writing some silly melody and lyrics as I went. I’ve just always loved music. Only in the past few years have I concentrated on actually writing and improving my songwriting.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
It’s a weird question to me. When I started playing music, I wasn’t trying to emulate anyone. But now that I play out, I get a lot of, “Oh, you sound like Jewel.” That’s the biggest comparison other people make.

Who do you love listening to?
For great lyrics, I really do love Jewel. Jason Mraz is awesome. I’m mostly drawn to lyrics. I think Bruno Mars is a great songwriter, even though he is a little too “pop” for me, and say what you want about Lady Gaga, but her songs are so well written. She’s a great songwriter, but she is crazy.

How much do you play out?
[laughing] Right now? About once a week. But my goal is four to five times a week. I’m working with Samantha Love right now, to try and book more shows. Ultimately, I would love to make my living as a musician. Not famous. Just a living.

What gear do you use?
I usually just have my Taylor. I also have a portable Fender PA system that I rarely bring out. I have two more acoustic guitars at home: Ibanez acoustic/electric, and an Alvarez acoustic. I’ve played an electric guitar, like, once ever. I’d like to try playing on one more.

Where does songwriting fit into your life?
Every aspect of my life. Songwriting is my diary, but I’m singing it out instead of letting it sit on a page. To answer your question literally, though, I just work on songs when I am inspired. I was trying to write every other day a while back, but now, the last song I finished was about a month ago.

Do you write lyrics first? Music?
Sometimes I write the melody first, sometimes I have the lyrics. It’s an organic process. I never try to do it a certain way. I might have a page of lyrics that morphs into something completely different than what it was at first.

Do you have any desire to go on tour?
In the back of every musician’s mind is the idea of playing in front of thousands of people, riding a bus from city to city and traveling around. If the opportunity presented itself, I probably wouldn’t turn it down. But my ultimate goal isn’t to be an international star and tour.

So, does that mean you just want to write songs that other people will sing?
I’ve thought about that before, but because my songs are so personal it would be hard to hear someone else sing them. I want to sing and play my own stuff. I don’t know if I’m poppy enough to be on the radio, but let’s see how much money they pay me! [laughing]

Where can people hear your music?
Facebook has some videos and songs, and my full demo is on Myspace, yes MySpace!

San Diego Open Mic Review: Train of Thought, at Queen Bee’s

Two hundred feet north of where Ohio Street intersects University Avenue, is Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center.

On Tuesday nights, host Gill Sotu, and DJ Redlite put on Train of Thought, “an all inclusive open mic experience. We are a family of poets, storytellers, singers, songwriters, comedians, musicians.”

It’s true.

Doors open at 8:30pm. If you want to play, tell the lady at the cash register and she’ll put your name on the list. She was really nice, and explained how it all worked. (More on that in a second.)

If you just want to watch, that’s cool too. Either way, it’s five bucks. This is one of San Diego’s few open mics that costs you money to play. Don’t look at it as paying to play though; it’s a cover to get to see all the other talented performers.

And there are plenty.

How It Works

Some people get to play in the order their name is written down, and other people are picked to play at random. You never know when you’re going to be called, so it keeps you paying attention. Be ready.

The craziest part is that you only get six minutes to play! You can shoehorn a couple short songs together, or take your time with just one (that’s what I did).

When Gill calls you up, first timers need to dance a bit when DJ Redlite drops the beat. This was my first time at Queen Bee/Train of Thought, so I went with my standby move: The Stanky Leg.

It was a hit.

Gill and his team really make you feel supported. They lead the crowd in a “We got you!” cheer, and are super nice.

Like I said, you get six minutes to play. At five and a half minutes, Redlite scratches a couple times so you know to hurry your ass up! I never saw anyone get the scratch-warning.

Remember to watch your mouth. This is an all ages show.

The Location

Queen Bee’s is built like a grade-school cafeteria. It’s a large room with a stage on one end. There’s even a glass-door fridge with refreshments for sale…non-alcoholic of course.

There are chandeliers and velvet banners. There are rows of comfy armchairs lined up facing the stage. If those fill up, there are folding chairs in the back, and two-top high-chair tables set running along the East wall.

Right above the tables is an intriguing painting series. I noted some of my favorites while I was waiting for the show to start:

— standard werewolf
— a woman wearing a serpent as a scarf
— guy playing saxophone made out of a squid tentacle

Finally, the sound system is killer; Redlite makes the whole place feel like a unique nightclub.

The Crowd

Super cool. Really cool. Everyone was attentive. Quiet. Supportive. Participatory. And a quarter of spectators are street poets or some other wordsmithy type. These dudes (and lady) know how to freestyle & flow, and will impress the hell out of you.

I’d say there were 37 people in the room. Total.

Recommendations

It would be nice if Train of Thought went in a certain order so people can be ready to play at the right time. If you hit up the restroom, you might miss your name being called. That sucks. Especially if you waited nearly two hours to play.

Other than that, Gill & Redlite & Train of Thought is a worthwhile show to see, to play or to do both. Check it out on Tuesdays.

Contact Info:
Queen Bee’s | 3925 Ohio Street | San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 255-5147

San Diego Open Mic Review: Lestat’s

Letstat's, on Adams, in Normal Heights, San Diego.There are two Lestat’s Coffeehouses in San Diego.

One is close to the University Heights sign that spans Park Boulevard. The other is on Adams Avenue, and is right under the Normal Heights sign.

The latter location is where San Diego’s most well-known open mic is held on Monday nights. It’s always getting great reviews in the local publications, and on Yelp.

How It Works

Park somewhere in the neighborhood, or walk. If you’re not worried about it, leave your instrument(s) in your car at first. I’ll tell you why in a second.

The Lestat’s on Adams is made up of several connected buildings. The first two big rooms are a coffee shop, and sitting on the sugar & creamer table is a sign-up canister for open mic. Write your name on a piece of paper, and drop it in. Do this only once, as this open mic uses a lottery to fill spots (it’s popular).

At 6:30p, make sure you’re in the next building over when they draw names. Now you’re in “Lestat’s West.” It is a legitimate venue. There are old theater seats, folding chairs and wooden stools all facing the stage. There is proper sound and lighting, and music is punctuated by fellow musicians greeting and laughing with one another. There aren’t any televisions, which is awesome. Oh, and there’s even a sound guy with an amazing mohawk. I didn’t catch his name, but I can pick him out of a crowd.

The night is hosted by Chad Taggart. Chad is a handsome guy that usually wears a hat. He has a kind demeanor, and deadpan delivery. A guitarist & singer primarily, he carried in some oddly shaped, wooden lap guitar along with his more standard acoustic.

Getting Picked & Playing

If your name is drawn, you’re allowed two songs or ten minutes (comics or poets get five minutes), so pick the time you want between 7:00pm and 11:00pm. Obviously, the further into the drawing you’re name is called, the less spots you get to choose from.

I’m married. I like playing early. So, when my name was called, I picked 7:20pm. People before me picked 10:30pm. It’s personal preference and luck of the draw.

This is why I told you to leave your instruments in your car. Someone is going to be playing the 10:50pm slot. Maybe you. Probably not. But know that this is FOUR HOURS after your name is called. If you left your axe in your car, you can more easily go get something to eat at a nearby restaurant, grab a coffee next door, or sit and listen without worrying about your guitar being in the way.

No matter what you do, make sure you’re back in the room, tuned up, 20 minutes before your spot. Things can be ahead of schedule, and if you aren’t around, there are three alternates ready to go.

The Crowd

Lestat’s is a collection of the faces you see at all the other San Diego open mics. Psycho Lizard, Happy Ron, Chris Carpenter, Craig of Suede and more. There’s camaraderie and respect that’s shown, and when you’re playing, the audience is attentive and receptive.

When I got up to play, I had just finished tuning my guitar outside in the cold. Bad decision. While it didn’t sound horrible, I could tell some strings were sharp, and that’s annoying.

It was a lot of fun; quick, but a crowd and sound like you’re playing a real show and not just an open mic. I played my newest song, “Make Up Your Mind”, followed by “Gone“…the most popular iTunes song off my band’s last album.

Recommendation

Go play Lestat’s. You’ll meet a big part of the San Diego songwriting community. Their atmosphere is killer, and the crowd is there to listen. Wow them.

Also, maybe I missed an extra sign-up jar or canister, but Lestat’s should put one in the venue side, too. When I first got there, all three of the other first timers had no idea they needed to drop their name in a lottery jar next door. Maybe an instruction sheet somewhere? Whatevs. Don’t sweat it.