In this spotlight on the lakeshore, read how top performers from several open-mic sessions will play a special showcase this weekend — and share in ticket proceeds from the event.
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Consider it a tantalizing twist on the usual open-mic night experience.
After four successful sessions of monthly open-mic nights at Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up, the top performers will re-appear there for an encore concert on Sunday.
The top performers from Seven Steps Up’s popular open-mic series will perform in a 3 p.m. Sunday “Best Of Open Mic” showcase. Tickets are $10 for reserved seating and $15 for reserved table seating, and are available online at pindropconcerts.com. “Best of Open Mic” performers will share in the ticket proceeds from this event.
“From what I’ve gathered, people just absolutely love it,” said open-mic host and singer-songwriter Loren Johnson.
“We’ve gotten so much positive feedback from the performers, their families, and the people they bring along. Social media just explodes every day after we host an open-mic night, with people praising what a wonderful and unique experience they’ve had.”
During the four monthly open-mic sessions this year, performers were split into rounds by a random drawing. After the event, Johnson and Michelle Hanks, Seven Steps Up owner and president of Courtyard Concerts, the venue’s nonprofit arm, selected two winners. Those singers were invited to perform at the “Best of Open Mic” showcase on Sunday.
Johnson said guests and performers alike seem to like the listening room-style setting that Seven Steps Up offers – as well as how wonderfully the audience treats each performer.
“We also encourage musicians to sell their merch, meet and network with the other performers, and get involved with other events in the area,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of acts come back and perform as a duo or trio with others that they met at the open-mic nights, and I think that’s awesome. That’s what it’s all about, right?”
‘AN INCREDIBLE COMMUNITY OF MUSIC LOVERS AND PERFORMERS’
Johnson calls Hanks and her husband and business partner, Gary Hanks, true lovers of music. So when Courtyard Concerts approached Grand Haven’s Walk The Beat organization to sponsor open-mic night events and asked Johnson to host the sessions, Johnson was happy to be involved.
“Word-of-mouth, posters, and especially social media have been amazing. But what I think really got the word out about our events was the musicians and participants themselves,” Johnson said.
“The open-mic nights turned into an incredible community of music lovers and performers who came back again and again, and brought their friends. It became known as a place where your music is listened to, really listened to, and I think that’s something that those in the West Michigan music scene really appreciate.”
Michelle Hanks said the open-mic sessions far exceeded their expectations.
“The open mic has been such a gem, a boost for our spirits,” she said. “The musicians and guests are coming back time after time. It is a satisfying thing, to see this support continue to grow. It serves as a fantastic affirmation: We must be doing the right thing.”
“I am blown away by the local talent that comes in here,” Gary Hanks added. “Musicians are out there, making a living – they still want people to hear what they have to say, what they poured their hearts and souls into writing and creating. And here is a place where they can tell that story.”
Even after Sunday’s showcase, that story will continue, with a new season of Courtyard Concerts’ open-mic sessions already in the planning stages.
“We’ve got enough good feelings and feedback from this experience, it’s incredible,” Michelle Hanks said. “We still have to figure out more dates, plans and other logistics, but at the heart of the matter, we are doing good for local musicians, and it has grown a lot of support.”
“The entire experience – from hosting, to watching it grow, and seeing the way it’s created a community, and boosted artists’ confidence, has been incredible,” Johnson added.
“We’ve had parents say doing the event encouraged their child to be bolder, and some long-time hobbyist songwriters admitted it was their first time on a stage, and it inspired them to do more. It’s such a healthy community of positive people, and I feel so grateful to be a part of it.”
In addition to performers splitting proceeds from ticket sales for Sunday’s event, there will be a “donation bucket” for contributions, with these proceeds split equally between Courtyard Concerts and Walk the Beat.
VIDEO: Courtyard Concerts’ Open Mic (April 2017)
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