“Is this thing on?”: My first open mic night

I’ve been playing guitar for a year or so and I got the nerve to play my first open mic night Friday. I used to sing different places with a couple of friends but it was the first time I had played the guitar in public. I’ve got a ways to go before I’m proficient on the guitar (and singing for that matter), but everyone’s gotta start somewhere. I happened to start with a song that has three chords.

I played at Unity of Kanawha Valley ‘s monthly open mic where Ron Sowell, of the Mountain Stage band, hosts. Everyone who recommended it was right –the audience was kind and encouraging and, most importantly, quiet. The bar open mic night scene is fun but it can be difficult to sing over a loud, drunk crowd, especially when you’re just starting out. Plus, at a church, people are basically obligated to be nice to you, even when you’re not that good.

Thanks to my buddy Paul for documenting it.



Newbie guitarist seeks songs

Wanted: songs for a beginner guitar player to learn, master, then take on the road during (very distant future) world tour. Must be catchy and suitable for a female voice to sing along to. Acceptable chords: G, C, D, and E minor.  F-chords-heavy songs need not apply, as my hand currently hurts just thinking about forming it.  B-heavy songs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Preference will be given to happy songs and anything by Josh Ritter.

Send proposals to lorithebrave@gmail.com or comment below.


Talking to strangers

In the evenings lately, I’ve taken to practicing guitar on the front stoop of my apartment. It’s a nice change from the inside of my place, where I typically play.

I use “play” loosely. I’m learning. If I have a guitar in my hands you can usually hear rough versions of OCMS’s Wagon Wheel (Not Darius Rucker‘s version. Sorry, I still love me some Hootie, though). Josh Ritter’s Idaho or the opening notes from Falling Slowly (from the award winning movie and Broadway musical Once).

The other day in the middle of my umpteenth “Rock me, mama,” and G chord, a man in a beat-up brown Oldsmobile stopped his car in the middle of the street and parked in front of my apartment.  He got out with his two little boys (there was a baby still in the car, one of the boys told me). He wore an old wifebeater and shorts.

“Hey, can you show me how to play your guitar?” he said. He must have sensed my hesitancy. “I promise I’m not gonna run off with it.”

Sure, that’s what I would say if I were about to steal someone’s guitar. I suspended whatever fear I had of talking to strangers/getting robbed, raped or murdered. And showed him a G chord and how to hold the thing.  He was actually quite nice, despite the whole leaving a-baby-in-the-car thing.

“You know that song, ‘Hey there Delilah?'” he said. (How could I not?) “I really wanna learn to play that. I figure if I ever get a girl, I could sing her that song.”


The view from my stoop