Open Mic Recap @ The Fire

I am such a dumbass, but I’ll get to that later.

I always hear musicians praising The Fire’s open mic and last night I finally checked it out. I saw the sign out front, but even then I wasn’t sure this was the right place. I thought “Maybe the outside looks decrepit, but the inside is nice.” It wasn’t, but when I went onstage it became apparant why everyone likes this place so much. Saying their acoustics are great is like saying the Raft of the Medusa is a pretty good painting or Battlefield Earth wasn’t Travolta’s best work. I haven’t played every stage in Philly, but The Fire’s sound beats the pants off of The Point, Grape Street, Fergie’s and Doc Watson’s. The equipment they use is really nice, and the host said the room’s shape and wood walls diminish sound reflection. Even talking into the microphone seemed more natural.

The crowd was extremely dead and there weren’t even that many peformers. There were 2 or 3 people who were really, really, good, but I got the feeling it was an off night for the Fire, so I’ll have to check it out again sometime.

A girl going by the name of Birdie sang with a voice that hit that perfect range between being technically good and personally grounded. What I mean by that is it never sounded like she was singing to some collective entity called “the audience.” She sings to the people in the audience, and she either does it consciously or is a great faker.

I’ve probably heard of John Francis, but I don’t think I heard him play until last night. He’s got a lot of talent and the crowd loved his song about Philadelphia and smashing wine bottles on your head.

James Steward played great low-key, country-folk and absolutely tore ass on the guitar. Somehow this guy fit a million picks into a laid back song.

I am a sucker for local CDs and I got two last night. One was from the host, Cowmuddy, a cool Brit (I don’t know what he is, but he’s not British) who occasionally made comments to you through his microphone on the sound board. We should seriously have one of those at the Tree House. The other CD was from Alec Onsworth (that’s definitely spelled wrong). Alec’s demo could be a lost Violent Femmes record (update: Jeanne thinks he sounds more like the Talking Heads and I agree) and despite wanting to make a joke about how it should stay lost, I can’t. I found out this morning that I like it.

I got weirded out by one guy who mentioned astrological signs. I asked if he just liked remembering signs or did he actually believe all that bullshit. He believed it and I challenged him to guess my sign. He asked one question: “Do you have any reccuring ailments?” and I said I’ve never really had anything bad happen to me in my whole life. With that he correctly identified me as a Scorpio and I figure he’s either lucky, stalking me, or the real life Columbo and somehow figured out my birthday without me knowing.

Now for the reason I’m a dumbass. I looked on mapquest to see where The Fire was and for some reason I didn’t think it looked all that far from 8th and Market. Taking the high speedline was a BAD IDEA. I ended up walking more than 4 miles last night carrying my guitar and my feet are pretty sore today. I feeling like a freaking camel.

Update: Another performer I hung out with, Nelson Pavlosky, wrote something about the open mic in his blog

Ben has finally convinced me that it is a good idea to buy a guitar tuner. I’ve always thought that it would be really hard core if I could tune my guitar by ear, but I think I need to train my ear more, because my 2nd string always sounds out of tune either on the open string or higher up the fretboard. I had thought that that must mean that my guitar needs servicing. I was of course incorrectly attributing my mistakes to my equipment.

I dealt with this exact problem for years until I started properly tuning my guitar. Tuning them to each other is inadequate.


9 responses to “Open Mic Recap @ The Fire”

  1.  Avatar

    Glad to see that you checked out the Fire, Ben! Sorry it seemed like a dead night. The last time I was there, it was packed full of *amazing* performers. Yes indeed, the sound system rocks which makes it a great place to play in spite of the busted-looking walls.

    On a non-open mic night-note, Greg Howard, one of my favorite musicians, is playing at the Fire on September 5th. check it out!
    ( I am in an abusive relationship with my guitar)

  2. I’ll definitely go back, but in a car.

  3.  Avatar

    Interesting you mention Birdie. I think that’s the same Birdie whom I saw a CD for in Adams Morgan not too long ago. I only noticed it because she was playing a JAzzmaster on the cover though.

  4.  Avatar

    I just got that Boss one that is a pedal. It rocks, and the lights can do goofy things. Nice.

  5. It’s probably the same Birdie.

  6. I like mine alot. It’s the kind you stick to the side of the guitar, although it doesn’t stick as well as it used to. The only other problem with it is that I can’t tune the low E string in a noisy room.

  7.  Avatar

    Fuck all that. The Korg DT10 is the most banging tuner around. It’s a foot pedal made out of what must be stainless steel. Although I’m looking to upgrade the preamp in the black bastard to what’s in the newer EG531SC, which has a tuner built in. Then I’d be set.

    Speaking of tuners, you neglected to mention someone who desperately needs a tuner. Or a chord book. You know what I mean.

  8. That was me posting.

  9. […] Moon and Antarctica, but that tells you how much I like this. My fascination with this band started back in 2003 when I saw Alec Ounsworth at an open mic in Philly. Their debut album was a battle between being a […]