Lifestyle & Culture

Open-mic nights: a vital step for musicians

Samuel Rayfield realises the importance of raw and local music.


Miss Mullens Bar in Morpeth, NSW.

“With an open-mic night, you’re opening up a platform for anybody to do whatever they want.”

Those are the words of Dan Burrows, an English expatriate now running Wednesday’s open-mic nights at Miss Mullens Bar (above The Commercial Hotel) in Morpeth, NSW. From Portsmouth to Sydney, around Australia and for now, settled in the Hunter, he’s one of a growing few in the area to realise the importance of such events for developing musicians.

“Most musicians start in their bedroom”, he says, but without somewhere to demonstrate their talents to others, promise can go unfulfilled. With regular events like his, however, the musicians are being given “the opportunity to practise and further nurture their skills in front of an audience, an audience which will, 99.9% of the time, be forgiving”.

“They’re here to see those guys that are starting out, who’ve still got this really raw talent.”

Mark Lucas, possessor of raw talent, guitar and loop pedal, has performed at almost every Wednesday open-mic since the first earlier this year. Not only is he provided a local platform on which to nurture his skills, but he is able to observe the performances of older and more accomplished musicians, something which “does help a lot”.

“Watching guys like these play, who’ve been doing it for years, that’s so good.”

Guys like Winterbourne, a Central Coast-based duo who played at Dan’s wedding and came up for an accommodating evening of music and conversation. Over snare and dual guitars flowed lyrical harmonies, their performance an accomplished demonstration of the pure crystallisation of talent for fellows like Mark and others to look up to.

At open-mic nights, “you’re gonna have experienced professional musicians … that are happy to come up here and play purely because they love playing music and it’s what they live and breathe”, says Dan.

To speak of life and breath, for music, those things are community. It’s not only musicians, but “music-lovers”. The initial connection between the two requires places like this, where the feedback loop for whoever, however developed, is immediately gained.

“All I know is I’m doing this purely for my own selfish reasons,” says Dan, “because I love music.”

“The fact that I can share it with like-minded people … in a place where we can all congregate, therein lies the importance – people sharing interests.”thing

Open-mic night at Miss Mullens Bar in Morpeth start every Wednesday at 6:30pm. Check out if there are any about your area; if not, create your own.


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