I’ll admit it. I had my doubts about Café Night. There is something about the term “open mic” that makes me uncomfortable. I imagined people getting up and singing horribly, like those ?rst few episodes of American Idol. I chose the assignment of covering Café Night, but I really had no idea what to expect.
I arrived at the UVU courtyard early, hoping to get an interview with Sarah Roseborough, the fine arts chair on the UVUSA activities branch. She is the one in charge, but was nowhere to be seen. Two tech guys in grey shirts were setting up the sound equipment on the stage at the bottom of the stadium made up of grass and concrete. Both would pull out plugs and put others ones back in. Neither of them seemed too concerned that the show was scheduled to start in 45 minutes.
Thirty minutes before the show, I spotted Sarah. I introduced myself and sat next to her. She seemed cheerful and put together. Wearing a red shirt with a white crocheted vest, tight jeans and knee high brown boots, along with her hair pulled back, she looks clean and crisp. I felt a slight twinge of envy, but push it aside and pulled out my questions for her.
I asked her how long Café Night has been going on. She replied, “It started last year so it’s only its second year running.”
She informed me that it is a monthly event that will be going on around the second Wednesday of the month. Usually it is held at Center Stage, but the Fine Arts Committee decided to take advantage of the nice weather while it lasts and hold the ?rst one outside. When I asked about how people sign up, she told me there was a sign up sheet in the Student Government of?ce in SC 105. She then told me what I had been wondering ever since I got the assignment.
“It’s completely open mic night, so it’s really whatever people want to do. It mainly ends up being music, like solo artists or small bands. But tonight we have a storyteller and people are welcome to come up and read their poetry if they wanted … We’ve even had faculty and staff who have done it before, so it’s really for whoever wants to get out there and have fun.”
At a quarter after seven (the microphones were being troublesome), the show ?nally began. There were about 65 people sitting at various places in the courtyard, a decent turnout for the ?rst show of the year. Jen Blosil, a thin girl at her keyboard with her sister on the guitar, was the opening act. Jen’s most striking feature was her mass of dark blonde curly hair. Once Jem started, my fears of Café Night were swept away. This girl could sing. Her voice had a haunted, powerful quality to it, rich with pain and truth, yet hope and love. It was devastatingly beautiful. I looked around and noticed a guy riding his bike on the upper level. He stopped and listened to Jen, trans?xed by her voice. This was the kind of power her voice had. When the rest of her band joined her, she joked and talked to the audience. Everything she did seemed so genuine. It was as if being on stage was as natural to her as breathing.
The next performer was Erica LeMaster, a petite girl with light brown hair. She played her guitar and sang her own songs. She was very different than Jen, but Erica also had something genuine about her. Her voice was sweet and simple, never trying to be anything other than herself. She sang a song she wrote about her best friend who was, as she put it, “on a religious sabbatical in Thailand.” From just listening to her sing, I knew she missed him.
If I were to give an award for the bravest performance of the night, it would have gone to Mary McLerran. The oldest of the performers, I had noticed her and her husband sitting together during the other performances. He had his arm around her and they whispered into each other’s ears. There was something endearing about that. Mary introduced herself and said she was a Deaf Studies major. She then said she was going to tell us a story and then retell it only using sign language. She told us a story from when she was ?ve years old and, using a spoon, she had fed her baby brother, Ashbee, dirt from the sandbox. Mary was energetic and confident. She had a gift for building up to the climax of the story. Even when she was signing, she had an energy that kept me engaged.
By the end of it, Open Mic night turned out better than I thought it would have. I got to hear some great music and a great story. The environment was friendly and casual. Everyone wanted to just relax and enjoy the night.