Student Open Mic Night shines spotlight on teen talent
Whether their forté is through song, playing music, dancing, or reading poetry or other spoken word, local students have a chance to showcase their talent each month at a popular downtown Hagerstown venue.
Sponsored by the Washington County Arts Council and 28 South, the Student Open Mic Night has been going on for more than a year and happens the second Tuesday of every month at 28 South, at 28 S. Potomac St., in downtown Hagerstown. This month’s open mic is Tuesday, March 13. The event runs from 6 to 8 p.m., while acts are asked to arrive between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m.
Danny Webber is the assistant professor of music and humanities at Hagerstown Community College and vice president of the board of the Washington County Arts Council. He said the event is a great opportunity for student artists in any medium.
“For something like the poetry students, which the way that they’re creating poetry is as much a performance art as it is a literary art — having an opportunity to practice the performance and get some feedback from an audience that isn’t just their best friends or other students at the school, I think is tremendously valuable,” he said.
Barbara Ingram School for the Arts senior Robbie Doty of Hagerstown performed stand-up comedy at February’s open mic.
“I’ve been coming to these open mic nights pretty much every month and just trying out my new material that I wrote. It’s a really safe setting. I feel comfortable, sometimes I invite my friends out ....”
Robbie, 17, said he has always enjoyed being a comedian.
“Ever since I was little I loved to make people laugh, whether it was my parents or just anyone, my classmates, but I started doing improv my freshman year at Barbara Ingram and that was a whole bunch of fun, just making stuff up but then I realized it might be a different experience to try and actually write stuff out and plan stuff out. I’ve always liked, whenever I have a stupid idea (to) write it and down and then see later if I can make it into like a funny story or a joke or something. I guess this year it’s just finally the time that I just finally decided to just go at it full force,” he explained.
Amanda Miller, who teaches English at HCC, attended the open mic for the first time in February.
“I am coming to hear some of our wonderful talent. Hagerstown has always been a place where you can count on people who can write well and sing well and dance well. I just went to the opera this past weekend and it was fantastic. I love going to the Barbara Ingram plays and performances. HCC puts on performances, but one of the things that I’d really like to see more of in Hagerstown is open mic nights where students and everybody, community members are reading their poetry and their stories,” she said.
Miller read a piece of her flash fiction, “Always Them,” at the open mic, and said she hopes some of her students will check out the event in March.
“I actually just found out about this recently, but I would imagine that we’ll have a lot of students here next month,” she said.
Her colleague Webber said students from all walks of life are welcome at the open mic.
“Oh, come out. It’s awesome. You’ll have a really, really good time,” he said.
Watching their peers perform, can be a confidence builder, Webber said.
“I would say almost half of the performers that we’ve had showed up without the intention of performing and they saw their friends do it and saw how much fun they had doing it and they decided to get up their gumption and come in and perform,” he said.
Robbie agreed that the open mic is a no-pressure venue for kids to try out their art.
“It’s a really chill environment, no one’s judging you or anything. Everyone just wants to have a good time. But it’s just a cool way to express yourself. Just put yourself out there and you never know who’s gonna be here to see you,” he said, noting that he’s already gotten buzz about his routine.
“Last time, some guy told me that I should go to some clubs in Frederick and just try my stuff out and so it’s always a really cool experience. And getting feedback from people, it can help you grow as a person and a performer,” he said.
Top photo: Barbara Ingram School for the Arts senior Robbie Doty of Hagerstown performs stand-up comedy during the Student Open Mic Night at 28 South in Hagerstown. This month's event is from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 13. (Photo by Amy Dulebohn)