After 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.
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.
• 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.
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.