April 13, 2017

My First Open Mic at the Royal Oak in Kanata


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Well I finally did it. I took my backtrack tunes , my trusty Jazzmaster guitar and my MP3 player hardware setup to the Royal Oak restaurant in Kanata North, on March Road. A nice small homey venue. I figure this is where I want to begin my open mic tour.

I looked up the open mic opportunities in Ottawa and there are many before I picked my first venue. It helped that the Royal Oak was close by and the rules for players was relaxed.

Just look up Open mics in Ottawa. This was the first search result that popped up revealing a good picture of where the many open mics are in town and a short description of the venue in each location.

The hosts that night was Jill Ross and Dan Austin. An established couple that’s been on the music scene here in Ottawa for some time.

Royal Oak Open Mic

They kept the the crowd happy with their relaxed attitude and folksy tunes.

Setup was simple. There was already a small audio setup in place. I just hooked my MP3 BT player into the mixing board, did a short sound check and I was ready – or so I thought. See my comments later on in this post.

bill werba on guitar

I prepared and played the number of tunes I thought I was allowed to play:

  • Faithful Love
  • Saranande
  • Sleepwalk
  • I Miss you So

I practiced these a lot, to the point I felt really comfortable playing them in public.

Of course if there was a slow night of attendees you could play more, but I did not have more tunes ready to play… and it was a slow night. I was the only attendee. Yikes.

There is couple of things I learned for the next open mic experience.

1 – as much as there may be a sound system available, it won’t work well for my kind of setup. Most people showing up play guitar and sing – perfect for them. However, to get a controlled audio mix (which I need), bring your own powered monitor. Best put on a mic stand close to your ears. The overall sound clatter in the venue is too distracting. I did not get clear sound from my backtracks while I was playing. Not good from a performers point of view.

2 – any fears you have of a critical listening audience looking and hearing your every pick, twang and/or mistake – not to worry. No body seems to care; though I can’t be sure. Which is great. Most of the restaurant people are enjoying their meals and busy in their own conversations. Conclusion, view these open mics as a chance to play out without being too critical on yourself. Play as if you were practicing. If people are indeed listening – a double win. Of course, if there were other attendees waiting their turn to play, you will have a listening audience. You will be playing to your peers.

Overall a great experience, looking forward to my next outing.


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