Sunday, February 15, 2015

Open Mic returns to Loreto Bay

Just over a year ago the first Open Mic night was held at the Wine Cellar here in Loreto Bay and since then it has become a popular local event, alternating monthly between that venue and the 1697 Restaurant in town during the winter season.  This past weekend it was again turn for the Wine Cellar to host the festivities and, as it had been a while since I had last attended one of these events, I thought it was time to check out another evening of community music.

Anticipating that this would be a popular night out I arrived early for the advertised 6:00 pm start and saw that Will & Cynthia had prepared for a bigger than usual crowd in the Wine Cellar this evening, having added more tables and chairs than their regular layout.  In a corner by the doors to the patio the musicians had set up their PA and amplifier equipment and some footlights and a couple of them were warming up and setting levels as the “early birds” in the audience found seats and claimed tables.

Drink orders were made and delivered and plates of appetizers followed to most tables as more people arrived and the Wine Cellar began to buzz on a Friday night.  Soon Rich, currently the “Lone Dog” here in Loreto Bay (without his “pack” of other musicians that make up Los Beach Dogs, Loreto Bay’s “house band”) was first to take the informal stage area and did a solo instrumental blues guitar piece to open the evening’s entertainment, after which he introduced Michael the first performer who accompanied his own soft vocals on the guitar.

As the evening fell and the sky darkened a steady stream of people filled the available seating and kept the Wine Cellar staff busy filling drink and food orders as the music filled the room.  Following Michael’s set Rich returned to the stage and invited Jill and Evie, who had come from town, to add their voices to the evening.  With their melodic back up on several standards, Rich sounded even better than usual as he sang and played amplified acoustic guitar. 

Meanwhile, outside on the patio there was an added attraction being set up.  Jorge, an artisan jeweler from Loreto, and his wife Brenda had an attractive table-top display of hand-made earrings and necklaces set up and were providing a bit of shopping entertainment to go along with the musical variety.

Next up it was Bill’s opportunity to play some nice solo guitar, and although he apologized for a bit of “Loreto Throat” he did a fine job accompanying himself on several numbers.  After all of the musicians had had their turns at the mic they started into a sing-along set where they sang and played together and the Wine Cellar began to feel like a 60’s Hootenanny (if I am not dating myself!).

But that was the essence of the mood of the evening – most of the people in the room were friends, or at least knew each other by sight from the neighborhood, and when someone had finished their set they would rejoin their table in the audience and support the other musicians.  And while there were conversations going on in the background, everyone’s performance was appreciated with warm applause and encouragement, so it began to feel more like a house party with catering rather than a night out at a bar with entertainment.

I feel that these Open Mic evenings are a perfect fit for Loreto Bay – providing a showcase for the musically talented in our community to perform their love of music, and because of the high levels of talent they have, the rest of us who are their appreciative audience enjoy a night of professional quality, musically varied entertainment. 

While I am sure the Open Mic evenings in town on alternate months are equally popular, and that Loreto Bay is well represented both on and off stage there as well, I expect that these evenings at the Wine Cellar may be more intimate and with a stronger sense of community, as close knit as we are here.  But regardless, a good time was had by all, and as I made my way home again that evening I was again reminded what a special place I've found to be “Living Loreto”.