Because it was Open Mic night!
The wife and I are fortunate enough to live very close to a cute little coffee shop, Crossroads Coffee House. We’ve stopped in several times for a delicious blended drink or snack and often stay to relax. The cafe is never too busy when we’ve gone there, which makes it the ideal place to chat, work, surf the net, or check email when we need a change of location. Plus, they have complimentary copies of the Inquirer and Daily News for customers to read, so there is always a nice distraction.
While there, we always check out the bulletin board listing all of the upcoming events.We set a goal of attending one of the frequent artsy performances that it hosts. We met that goal last week when we attended the Thursday night singer-songwriter Open Mic Night.
We weren’t sure what to expect on Thursday night, given how empty the cafe usually is. As such, you imagine our surprise when we walked in to find all but one table and chair filled with people! We ordered some dinner and took our seats. The host wasted little time diving into a song, plugging her upcoming performance at another establishment, and introducing the first singer-songwriter. He turned out to be the first of 13 performers that evening, which lasted over 2 hours!
I am amazed at the diversity and sheer volume of performers at Crossroads. Seriously — we were at an Open Mic Night in a tiny, usually empty cafe on a non-descript corner in a not-too-flashy neighborhood in Philly, and the place was filled with talented or entertaining performers. Some performers sang political messages while strumming standard chords, and another sang quirky lyrics while strumming using what I can only describe as a reverse chord method, with his left hand attacking the strings from above the guitar’s neck. There were a few performers who were so good, so talented, and so charismatic, that the entire cafe was transfixed on their songs. Each of these performers plugged a future performance at a larger ‘venue’ in the city, so it is not hard to imagine them climbing the musical ladder and one day being heard on the radio or whereve you listen to your coffeehouse music (does a contract with Sirius represent ‘selling out’ for a coffeehouse artist?).
Vicky, the host, performer, and organizer, seemed to know most of the performers and was familiar with their other performances, providing a real community feel to the evening. Even the final artist, who was introduced as a first time performer, was welcomed and encouraged by the group. It was a nice moment, and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening. In fact, we planned on going last night but were too late wrapping up dinner to make it. I even have plans to perform in the near future…
Here are some websites for a few of the artists we saw last Thursday (9/11/08):
- Ryan Tennis – Ryan’s music and performance reminded me of Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson. He played “Livin’ It Up” at Crossroads, which you can listen to and download on his site.
- Arcati Crisis (pictured above) – Arcati Crisis was the only duo to perform at Crossroads last week. The two seemed to be good, old friends who have a lot of fun playing together. The song they performed last week was “Fisher Price,” which you can listen to on their website.
All in all, it was a great evening that I recommend you check out at some point. I look forward to discovering more of these hidden, local (and free) treasures here in Philly!