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Amateur nights bring performers to center stage each week at Clackamas River Growlers

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Rick Darling hosts an open mic night at Clackamas River Growlers on Thursdays.

At Clackamas River Growlers on Thursday nights, both beginning musicians and those who have been playing for years have an opportunity to take the stage.

Estacada resident Rick Darling began hosting open mic nights at the bar, 367 S.E. Main St., two years ago, bringing a guitar and speaker system. Though attendance varies, the night typically sees three to five local participants. The night mainly draws in musicians, but other performers are also welcome.

"People can do whatever as long as they're respectful. My personal rule is no politics," Darling said.

He appreciates many elements of the Clackamas River Growlers venue. "It's a community. It's a friendly, small town atmosphere," he said.

The event's atmosphere is laid back. "It's very organic, with amateurs and our mistakes," he said. "Sometimes it's only me playing, but the live music brings people in, and lets people be more relaxed."

A variety of people appreciate the music at open mic night at Clackamas River Growlers — including those who are unable to hear. "The deaf people will put their hands on the guitar to feel the vibrations," Darling said.

The event also provides opportunities for audience involvement. "Sometimes we'll bring hand percussion instruments to get people involved. It's fun," he said.

'Sets your mind free'

Darling, who purchased his first guitar several years ago, describes himself as "a living room amateur" musician.

"The nice thing about open mics is they allow amateurs to get off their living room couch," he said.

Several musicians joined Darling during the Thursday, Feb. 28, open mic, including Steve Guilliams. He likes connecting with listeners while performing.

"There's a charge," he said. "It's a high when people are reacting."

Dustin, another performer who wished to identified only by his first name, appreciates that "music sets your mind free."

Both Darling and Guilliams encouraged anyone interested in performing at open mic night to do so. "Just do it," Guilliams said. "Power through the anxiety. Everyone's got

it."

"Come on in. There's no pressure, no judgment," Darling said. "It's really nice. This is a community. This is what Estacada is."


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