Sunday, December 15, 2013

Open Mic Night comes to Loreto Bay

I have often written on the subject of entertainment here in Loreto Bay on these pages, but this weekend there was an addition to that menu - an Open Mic Night at the Wine Cellar @ Nopolo.  Certainly musicians are often featured at our very popular local "watering hole", but this was something new, an open invitation to musical members of the community to perform for their friends and neighbors in a relaxed, and hopefully non-threatening venue.

Like most other good ideas, this one required some effort and co-operation to come about which came from Bill and Steve (one of the members of Los Beach Dogs) who were instrumental (pun intended!) in bringing this event together, along with Will and Cynthia, the owners of the Wine Cellar.  Microphones, amplifiers and the sound system were set up before the performances began, and people started arriving early for the 7:00 pm start time, to insure a good seat.  Which proved to be a good thing, because as the evening progressed  and  a steady stream of music fans continued to arrive, it was soon standing room only, with the overflow spilling out to the small patio in front of the "Cellar".

When all the preparations were complete, Steve welcomed the crowd and encouraged them to show their support of the performers to come by moderating their conversations among themselves so the musicians wouldn't have to compete with too much background noise.  He also explained that each of the participants would be limited to a maximum of three numbers and a 15 minute set, so everyone who wanted to would have their chance to perform.  He also encouraged those listening to show their enthusiasm and support for the entertainers, some of whom had little prior experience with performing their music in public - advice that proved unnecessary given the friendly atmosphere in the room.

Bill, who was one of the organizers of  the evening, was first up and although he is someone who has had relatively less experience with public performance, regular readers may remember that he had played and sung at the Full Moon Beach party which I had written about earlier this Season (  His set was followed by Don, who has played here before as well, and then by Steve, a recently arrived visitor who said that friends of his had just talked him into making this appearance, much to the enjoyment of the rest of us!

The rest of the evening's entertainment was provided by Rich, George, Tony and Steve, all members of Los Beach Dogs, whom most of you will know as Loreto Bay's own popular "homegrown" musical group that performs frequently within the Community, as well as occasionally at other venues in and around Loreto.  But on this occasion the crowd was in for something special; Rich, George and Steve each did solo acoustic sets, sometimes accompanied by Tony on percussion, and we had the opportunity to enjoy their individual styles, and music that was different than what they usually play in their soft-rock Beach Dog ensemble.

After these solo performances, the four of them wrapped up the evening's entertainment by getting  together and playing another set of some of their Beach Dog "hits", albeit with a more acoustic interpretation than they play them in bigger venues.  With that, the music was over, but the evening carried on, as the crowd slowly thinned as people began to find their ways home again. 

But meanwhile, libations continued to flow, and tempting tapas dishes kept coming from the small but
efficient kitchen at the Wine Cellar, and animated conversation replaced the earlier musical entertainment.  While I was enjoying yet another evening at our local "hang out", it occurred to me that the special atmosphere that this Bar has on an evening like this, is due in large part to the fact that most of the people there are friends, or at least acquaintances, and the majority of them call Loreto Bay home.  So whether it is dropping in for a late afternoon drink or snack, watching televised sports on the TVs, or having a light supper or late night nibble, the Wine Cellar has become almost our "Club" as opposed to just a Bar.  A Club that everyone is welcome to, whether they are a regular that stays here for the Season, or someone renting a home here on their first visit, discovering Loreto Bay for themselves.

In talking to Bill afterwards, I learned that the plan is to have these Open Mic Nights every couple of weeks through the Season, alternating between the Wine Cellar in Loreto Bay and the 1697 restaurant  on the town square in Loreto.  While I am pleased to be able to look forward to enjoying more evenings like this in the future, I also think that by having them in the two locations, here and in town, will also develop more opportunities for people to mingle between these two communities, while appreciating the highly talented musicians that we have here among us.

And so another entertaining evening came to a close here in Loreto Bay, and as I made my way home I thought about the number of surprisingly talented musicians who are around me here, and the warm reception they all received from the enthusiastic crowd.  I also thought about how this Friday the 13th may be remembered as the beginning of a new local tradition of Open Mic Nights that may bring our local communities together - and I reflected again how lucky I am to be "Living Loreto"!