Local roadhouse pushing to increase open mic action
We'll, you're in luck.
The Double Aught Ranch, formerly known as Wrangler's along Highway 99E, has put a call out to all musicians for an open mic night every Monday night beginning around 7 p.m., according to the bar's latest Facebook post.
The announcement for the new Monday open mic night, which will be hosted by Portland State University student Scot Sacharczyk, appeared on Facebook in late June
It's kind of ironic that a new open mic night is starting at The Spinning Wheel, er, the Double Aught Ranch — a vinyl sign hanging on the top of the building alerts people to its name change — considering that just about one month ago local singer-songwriter, Trent Beaver, announced he was shutting down the Monday night open mic he hosted at the Double Aught Ranch for several weeks.
"I had to pass it on," Beaver said. "Got crazy busy and needed that day."
A brief history of open mic nights
Open mic nights, by all accounts started during off-nights at music venues in the 1930s. Groups of young black scholars and students, primarily hailing from French territories and colonies, came together in Paris and were introduced to writers from the Harlem Renaissance, primarily author Paulette Nardal and her sister, Jane, both of whom lived in Martinique, studied at university in Paris, and were considered leaders in the then-burgeoning literary, visual arts and music cultural movement dubbed "Negritude."
The first open mic was said to take place at the Calmart Salon, a tea shop hangout owned by the Nardal sisters that attracted what was labeled at the time as the "French-Black Intelligentsia." The Calmart Salon throughout history now is considered to be the location where the seeds were planted that spawned the "Negritude" movement — the tea shop is credited as the site where "Negritude" grew roots and eventually spawned popular culture fruit.
During meetings at the Calmart Salon, authors would read their work to crowds of eager listenders, waiting to hear the then-progressive literature of the day being created by artists who provoked thought and deviations from the norm, much like the writings of The Beat Poets in San Francisco at City Light Books — it still exists today — during the 1950s and 1960s.
Open mic nights later, famously, flourished in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York, providing a performance space for musicians who went on to become legends — Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell, to name but a few.
Today, open mic nights flourish just about anywhere there is a bar or tavern and a stage that has no plans for a live performer that evening.
Typically, musicians are required to bring their own instruments — although microphones are 99 percent of the time supplied by the event's host — and to come to sign up early (some allow artists to call ahead to reserve a timeslot but that is a move often frowned upon by the host because it's seen as not being fair) as the evenings tend to work on a first-come, first-served basis.
There also are many opportunities to sit in with other performers, which is what makes a good open mic night truly what it should be — a place for people to try out new material, shake the rust off and meet and jam with other musicians, often leading to new, lasting projects.
How to hear the local musicians who often perform
Beaver's open mic attracted musicians from across the Portland metro region, such as guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Sanderman, who said the drive across the metro from Beaverton to participate in the weekly Canby open mic show is a big weekly haul from Beaverton, especially when Beaver's open mic began around 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
> On a side note, Sanderman made a recording during a night when this reporter and several other musicians happened to perform original songs and covers by other acts — Sanderman wasn't aware of all of the song titles so he left the song names blank. If anyone is interested in listening, and to get the semblance of an idea of what to expect at the new Monday night open mics at the Double Aught Ranch, go online to www.dropbox.com/sh/phfigxlvx12pc4g/