The Simple Gift of Open Mic


By Richard Davis

We live in a world that pushes for bigger and better where other people try to determine what is best for us. In our little corner of the world in southern Vermont most of us know better and we determine our own standards on our own terms. That is especially true in the town of Brattleboro.

Music provides a good example of what I am talking about. Our area is blessed with an abundance of gifted musicians. Some have risen to the level of star status, but most are happy to live life on their own terms in a place that they feel welcomes them.

That means that we have a chance to hear a variety of musical genres close to home without having to pay the ridiculous prices for venues in place like Boston and New York. Most of the time, the quality of music we experience here is just as good as that of the high priced venues.

Of course, COVID has put a damper on our listening opportunities. As much as Zoom has been a replacement it does not compare to live performance. We are now finding a way to enjoy live music again and life seems a lot better when you can hear a live performance.

There is one kind of local performance that has been especially gratifying to hear in these complex times because it feels like a simple gift offered in a genuine spirit of sharing. That is the open mic experience.

Open mic venues exist all over the country and Brattleboro is no exception. Thanks to the tireless efforts of musician Kevin Parry, Brattleboro has had a near-continuous (except for COVID) stream of open mic music for many years.

Kevin ran the open mic at the Brattleboro Marina for a few years and he is now running a newer version at the recently opened River Garden Marketplace on Main Street every Monday night from five to eight p.m. The Marketplace is run by the people who own the Whetstone so there is an abundance of craft beer and a variety of bar-type snack food.

Most of the performers are local musicians who often play songs they have written. Guitarists prevail, but there also are small groups and a variety of instruments represented. I played my clarinet at the Marina and hope to play again at the Marketplace once I get more practice time in.

The Marketplace is an intimate setting and Kevin has expertly set up the stage and the sound system. Sitting there listening to the performers is a relaxing experience because everyone seems to truly appreciate the effort that the musicians are making. The performers often have friends and family in attendance.

The night that my wife and I listened to open mic all the three song slots were filled. The word is out and musicians want to play their music for a live audience and share what they have been working on. After all, music was meant to be shared and open mic is one of the best ways to do it.
I urge you to make the effort on a Monday night to head over to the Marketplace and experience one of the simple gifts that Brattleboro has to offer.

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