KJACK Open Mic Night: Discovering talent in town

Sophomore musician Kross Warr performs his original song at KJACK Radio's Open Mic Night, Feb. 27.

Performing art to a live audience can be nerve-wracking, but with risk comes reward. Spreading creativity and putting one's work into the world is a goal for a lot of people and a common place to start is open mic events.

KJACK Radio put on the first open mic night in five years on Feb. 27. The event was held at the Starbucks on Milton Road and was coordinated by Emma Keider, promotions director for KJACK.

“We’ve always wanted to do another open mic night. We just couldn’t find a really good location," Keider said. "We wanted to stand apart from other people, so partnering with Starbucks was a really good opportunity because there’s never been an open mic night here before."

The event featured 16 performers and 12 of them performed songs that were either originals or covers. Two people presented poetry and two people did stand-up comedy.

“A lot of college students are interested in art in general, so music is really important to us," Keider said. "Poetry reading and even comedy will be featured so it's just going to be a really fun night for everyone."

The audience was very lively and encouraging. Junior Riley Driscoll performed four poems: “Pun Titled,” “Ablaze,” “Elaine” and “Swiping for the Self.”

“It was really fun, I was nervous going in but I could feel the energy in the crowd," Driscoll said. "There was a lot of support, and people laughed at the right moments, which was great."

This event got so much attention from the NAU and Flagstaff community that it was a standing-room-only crowd by the time the performers began the show. People were mingling and performers brought friends along for support. Some people showed up without having a specific person in mind to support and ended up loving each set.

Junior Kasi Winkle learned about the event through posters hung up at Starbucks and decided it would be a fun thing to do after class.

“Going to this event made me realize that I want to be more involved with the Flagstaff community," Winkle said. "It was a spur of the moment decision to come to this but I couldn't be happier I did. All the performers were super talented and it was really cool to see such a variety of talent, a lot of which came from students like me."

Some performers are working to become established musicians. Sophomore Samuel Scribner performed at the open mic night but it was not nearly his first performance. Scribner has been booked for gigs around Flagstaff and has performed at multiple open mic nights. The audience enjoyed his performance of his original song "Royal Flush," and he ended up performing a second time at the end of the event.

“I’ve been playing guitar for 10 years or something, but I’ve been writing since I was 15," Scribner said. "I’m just always playing … It’s just getting music out. Music is good, it's cool, it’s just great."

Scribner said he does not really prepare for any of his performances. He just goes out and does it, and one would not be able to tell. Although some performers do not prepare beforehand, others do.

Driscoll said this was his very first time performing somewhere that was not a class. He is a member of KJACK so he decided it would be a fun thing to do to support the station. Driscoll said he prepared and practiced before the event.

“It was mostly just about making sure I had all the poems easily accessible, but I did read over them a few times beforehand to make sure there weren't any flubs,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll described his writing experience as a bolt of lighting, the idea for the poem just strikes him at random times and then he builds up thoughts surrounding that main idea. He also said that the last line is normally the first thing he knows for sure before anything else in the poem.

For anyone looking to spread their art and creative material to a wider audience, open mic nights are an opportunity for that. Engaging with the local community and garnering their support will surely bring attention to a talent one has to offer. Although performing in front of people can be frightening, it is all worth it in the end after seeing how excited and encouraging the audience is after each performance.