Silence filled the room as Angie Barkley sung and played her ukulele. Nina Mary performed three original poems—And Mary is a regular so the crowd was respectful and quieted down to listen to her newest pieces. A band performed three light-hearted love songs followed by poetry from Kiana Hamilton. And each had a generous eight minutes to show their skills. If the artist went over time there was no cutting them off, they finished their performance. More, this coffee house was packed full of poets and musicians.
This was the scene at the last Cartel Coffee Lab open mic, which they host on the last Wednesday of each month. It's one of those events that doubles as a social, so only the showstoppers could silence the room. Think of it as an open mic for performers who are to crowds and can handle performing a busy room. The Cartel invited all ages and all types of acts including comedy, music, and poetry.
Performers and artists knew each other from attending these open-mic shows regularly. It was all friendly and talkative. And though the crowd was rowdy at times, they gave each act a healthy round of applause. It can be intimidating to perform at an open mic—there's little to hide behind, sometimes not even experience. Bring a pal perhaps, a way to blend into the subtle madness of an open mic.