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Drips & Dregs: The Open Mic

An adventure doesn’t have to involve outdoorsy adventure sports. 

...the microphone smells like a beer (and halitosis).

One of my biggest adventures came about 10 years ago when injury and travel for work put a crimp on my outdoor adventure plans so instead I focused on writing songs and playing open mics.  


And it was way scarier than pretty much anything I’ve faced in the outdoors.


There are certain things you can’t plan for no matter how much you prepare. For example, I am not a good guitar player. My self described style is ‘full on strummer’ because I have not put in the work to know how to do any sort of finger picking. But even though I’m not technically proficient compared to truly accomplished guitarists, when I play, I still strum the guitar a certain way to match my vocals. 


And what I learned early on is that few things can screw that up like getting on stage at a Seattle bar in front of a crowd of drunk people and more accomplished musicians.  

The first time I played somewhere that wasn’t just a chill coffee shop but a crowded room of drinkers and performers was at the Conor Byrne Pub in Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood. This open mic is notoriously well attended (I am not in that video) and as I started the first of my 2 songs…my wrist stopped working. I mean, I could technically still bend my wrist, but the nerves coursing through my body sort of locked it into place and prohibited me from strumming in any other fashion other than just straight up and down. I was able to muscle through the song but the whole time I was aware that this was not how I had practiced it or what I wanted it to sound like.

 

Over time this has eased up a bit when I play in front of people but not 100%. I often wonder if artists who perform all the time have had to overcome this as well or if because they’ve made a career out of performing they never had to deal with it at all.  But the bottomline for me is that getting on that stage is scary and no matter how often I do it, those butterflies start kicking when we get closer to my name being called and when it does? Sure enough, my hand just does not quite do what I want it to do.

 

So my biggest anxiety-inducing adventure hasn’t come from scaling a cliff or ripping a line of exposed single track or anywhere outside at all in fact. It’s come from small stages in dimly lit dive bars and microphones that contain the remnants of beers poured years ago. 

 

Because adventure is a feeling more than it is a thing.

-ct


Drips & Dregs is the weekly column from Rock Fight Founder Colin True.

Sometimes outdoorsy and always outdoor adjacent, check in weekly to see what is on his mind.

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