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I have a week off work and am planning to hit 3 open mics. Not sure if I should mix in covers with my tunes or just keep it "original." Any thoughts, suggestions???????

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I usually mix covers and usually get 5 songs...I have a CD to sell so I get their attention with two covers that I am pretty sure nobody else will play, like Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine" and then follow that up with "Here Comes the Sun" by George Harrison.  Then I hit them with an original from my CD then another cover, and then finish with an uptempo original from the CD and announce that I have them there to sell!  Usually works...

Also, I try to do my own version of some covers, so they recognize it and can sing along, but it's just different enough to make them listen.  So, there's my two cents...oh yeah, always be prepared in case the act before you takes one of the songs you had on your list to play...that happens all the time!  



Here I am at an open mic with my 1936 Regal dobro doing an old blues tune written the same year! 

I have recently begun to do open mics again after a long time being away from it. I also tend to mix covers and originals. I am planning on doing one this coming week-each performer gets 15 minutes so I am thinking of doing 2 originals and 2-3 covers depending on length of songs. It seems that it's always good to have some songs that people recognize and, as Ed said, might want to sing along to. Have fun with the 3 upcoming open mics and let us know how they go.

Hi all, new to the group. I've just started playing open-mics over the past few months and I think cover tunes are a vital piece of the singer/songwriter's repertoire, whether for an open-mic or a full on gig. Short answer: I say a mix is a good idea. Long answer: I have very few original tunes and thus, if I didn't play covers, I'd have very little to play. I like hearing people play songs they it cover or original. Starting out (which wasn't that long ago), I only played covers, and I still mostly do. I'm slowly mixing in an original or two as I write them, but I still love learning and playing cover songs. They serve as inspiration to my own songwriting, help to define my "style," and help increase my performance chops. I like to tell folks to play whatever will get them on stage and have fun doing it!

Hi Steve,

Erik here - I'm with AER Amps, and also a part-time musician. My take on open mic's is that cover songs are best to get a crowd "engaged" right off the bat. If they hear something that they recognize (especially if it's done well, in a unique way), they'll listen. And then once you have their attention locked in, you'll have a much better chance of keeping it for some originals. So similar to Edward's strategy (above) - although going back to a cover (depending on open mic set length) at the end can also work well, leaving the crowd with something they recognize.

That said, it depends entirely on the crowd and type of open mic. If you have some killer originals, and the crowd is genuinely responsive and attentive, you may not have to dip into the cover songs repertoire at all.


(AER Amps)

Just got back from the open mic. Halloween in a college town...what a full-on FREAK SHOW!!!!!! Guess I'm even older than I thought.

Set went ok; I'd give it a B-. Opened with "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and had a few folks singing along. Last two songs were originals that were well received. Worst part was half way through the second song I got a tickle in my throat!!! Tried to wait between verses to cough, but didn't always make it.

Overall a positive experience. Note to self: bring a bottle of water on stage!!!

Glad to hear it went well!!!  I have had the throat thing happen too...I always have something to drink up there with me now...we use a thing called a "swirlygig" that attaches to the mic stand...don't leave home without it!

Swirlygig Microphone Stand Drink Holder

Holds water bottles too!

We do "You Ain't Going Nowhere" too and it usually gets the audiences attention!  One of the guys in my trio plays mandolin on it, the other guitar, and I play banjo and harmonica!  I trade verses with the guitar player and on the last verse that I sing, i do my "world-famous Bob Dylan impersonation"  this gets announces just before I song it and if some aren't listening, they do then.  Of course my impersonation is bad, but that just make s it all the more fun! 

Keep on doing it, it will only get better and more comfortable...I promise!  Edward

Well I made 2 of the 3 Open MIcs this week. The Thursday evening one is more of a poet/comic thing; only two musicians. Went ok. I try to use each one as a learning tool if nothing else; another turn on stage trying to work on my "show." The originals seem to go over well, which is always a plus!!
Hey Steve, great news you had the opportunity to do two shows in one week and that the originals went well!  I have been performing for over 30 years and I still love open mics (even though my two bandmates will only "play for money") and still use them as springboards for new material and "in front of an audience rehearsals!"  Keep up the good work and thanks for keeping us posted!  I visited your page here and saw that you have not posted any music files for us to listen to...could you post some of your originals and tell us which ones went over well at the open mics?  These don't ahve to be studio quality recordings, I am just interested in the songs! Thanks, Edward


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