Bright flames from the wood-burning stove cast a soft light across the room. Countless hundreds must have sat in this bar over the years; one might have constructed an encyclopaedic oral history of the area from the tales the regulars might have recalled, whilst not asking anyone to vouch for the veracity of every story that was told.
“Did you ever think about having an open-mic night?”
“One of those nights when people are invited to come along and sing a couple of songs each? Yeah, thought about it. The problem is that there are some people you could ask to sing two songs and wish they would sing all night, and there are others who start their first song and you wish they hadn’t started.”
Anyone who had been to an open-mic night would have known what he meant, for a pub coming back to life after a long dormancy, though, it might not be a bad idea for bringing new and different people through the doors.
Open-mic can be a lucky dip of entertainment. There are no rules regarding what people might sing or how they might sing it. Sometimes the wish that people would stop before they started can stem as much from a dislike of a person’s interpretation of an old favourite as from a feeling that they are lacking in talent. Hearing a song sing n in one way for fifty years and then hearing someone sing it in a different way can be jarring – like someone coming into your house and moving your things from the places where you like them.
The typical open-mic singer seems to be a middle-aged male with a penchant for particular genres of music – much of it would be regarded as “soft rock,” classic songs from bands that would have filled stadiums.
Perhaps the appearance of such tracks at such nights is consonant with recent research by academics at Nagasaki University in Japan. Music and biology, it seems go together, soft rock and testosterone showing a correlation. Anyone who has been at concerts by soft rock bands might have noticed those at the front of the crowd are overwhelmingly male, the long guitar riffs beloved of some of the bands are undeniably “boys’ music.”
An open-mic night which strongly features music from soft rock bands is an occasion where one would expect a strong male presence. The pub would be filled with middle-aged men, but that would only be the way things always were, and would be a distraction from the retelling of stories.