Musicians gather for The Cabin’s open mic nights
A few months before The Cabin launched its Monday night open mic sessions, the bar’s manager, Junior Richard, and Park City-based singers and songwriters Shannon Runyon and Elizabeth Hareza met and discussed what kind of event they wanted to offer.
“I blame them for really getting it all started, but we all shared the same idea for the open mic’s feeling and vibe,” said Runyon, who, along with Hareza, hosts the events. “Since Junior is a musician, he understands the hearts of other musicians, and we have to thank John (Oswald), the owner of The Cabin, who has been really supportive of live music in general.”
The Cabin’s open mic session, which will turn four years old in April, starts around 9 p.m.
“Elizabeth or I will pull out the sign-up sheet and we give people 10 minutes or three songs,” Runyon said. “I’ll do a song or two if it’s not a busy night. If it is busy, then I won’t play at all.”
The musicians can play anything they want during their allotted time, said Daniel Lewis, The Cabin marketer and promoter.
“If there are other opening slots, they are welcome to sign up to play more songs,” Lewis said. “We’re a little different than other open mics because the people we have playing really bring it in. So it doesn’t matter if it’s an original song or a cover, because when they strike that note, the people in the bar know it’s time to shut up, watch and listen.”
The open mic is open to all levels of musicians, Runyon said.
“You can be brand new or you can be a seasoned musician,” she said. “We also have a number of drummers come. Some bring their full kit. Some bring just a cajon. And we also have bass players, harmonica players, like our friend Richard Lesh, who make themselves available.”
Lewis said sometimes the night becomes a community jam session.
“What is really neat is if your friend comes to open mic night, you can sign up with them and have some accompaniment,” he said. “We have a whole community of artists – musicians, singers, songwriters – people who perform around town.”
Lewis acknowledged Eman Villarruel, who is The Cabin’s mixing engineer, for all he does with the sound.“People bring their own guitars, their own basses, and their own effects pedals for what they want to play, and while the musicians know their craft and work the microphone, Eman gets the sound they want,” Lewis said. “Eman also helps break down the equipment – like pedal boxes and other toys – that people bring to play with.”
The open mic sessions are safe places for musicians to play tried and true tunes or new songs.
“It’s such a supportive group,” Runyon said. “The musicians know they have good sound. They know that Elizabeth and I are going to do our best to get everyone on stage.”
One local musician, Mel Soul, made her live debut at The Cabin open mic.
“She appeared one day out of the fog,” Lewis said. “She didn’t have a guitar, but she was coming to open mic. And after listening for a while, she asked if we had a house guitar.”
Mel Soul, whose real name is Mel Sarah Lewis (no relationship to the Cabin’s marketer and promoter), played some original songs.
“I remember everybody stopped and turn to her because of her voice,” Lewis said. “Everyone gave her the biggest round of applause that I have ever heard. This was her first time there. And since then, we’ve already booked her at The Cabin and on PCTV.”
The open mic sessions usually run until 1 a.m., Lewis said.
“We have been known to extend the playing until 1:30 so all the people who signed up can perform,” he said. “The only time we don’t host an open mic is when we shut down for cleaning. And we only do that twice a year.”
Still, no matter the season, there are always musicians who show up to play, Runyon said.
“The community is what keeps it going,” she said. “Even during mud season, we always have at least 10 people who show up to play.”
Runyon and Hareza also started a Park City musician Facebook page.
“When people come to the open mic, we add them to the page and that allows us to communicate as a group,” Runyon said. “That way if we have a jam session or other unique things happening with open mic, we can post on this page.”
Runyon also lets people know about other open mics and singer-songwriter gatherings in town.
“We want people to meet each other and collaborate with other musicians and singers and songwriters,” she said.
Runyon said the open mic sessions will continue as long as they can.
“It’s all about getting the community active, getting the community out there and playing as much as possible,” she said.
Weekly open mic is held Mondays at 9 p.m. at The Cabin, 825 S. Main St. For information, call 435-565-2337 or visit http://www.thecabinparkcity.com.
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Aiko ready for a two-night jam session in Park City.