Quilt’s Open Mic: Great Performances, Poor Attendance

The eight rows of chairs waited patiently for warm bodies. The blue velvet curtains hung limp like the conversation in the room. The microphone, the piano and the lonely chair in the center of the stage knew their fate when the clock struck eight.

Free admission, free self-expression and free T-shirts were the appeals of the event. Quilt’s poetry and acoustic music just couldn’t compete with the UT Fall Dance Happening.

“Last Open Mic had 12-15 people perform.This week there were only eight” said Quilt member Mariel Valerio.

The Reeves Theater was rented out for two hours, but it only took an hour for the 8 courageous college students to express their creativity.

“Anyone want to go first?” said Becca Palmer, the host of the Oct. 29 th Open Mic Night.

Not one hand went up into the air. The hesitation to be in the spot light seized when Becca Palmer called the first name up to the stage.

Palmer Holmes took center stage with his flip-flops, blue jeans and a vintage T-shirt. He introduced himself with a smile and his guitar ready in his hands. The silence of the crowd was numbing to the ears.

Holmes said, “Don’t you love how you have a brain fart when you’re put on the spot on stage?”

The audience laughed anxiously in a manner that expressed gratitude for the tension that had been cut.

Holmes sat comfortably while swaying back and forth with the music. He played original songs that resembled the sounds of the Dave Matthews Band. The upbeat notes received applause from all of the 23 audience members.

Christian Crider was the first poet. His long curly hair covered his left eye while he read a piece he wrote entitled “Love Is War and You Are the Enemy.”

Crider also read a poem written as a zombie tribute to Halloween. The visual descriptions of the zombie characters made it seem like “Dawn of the Dead” was playing on the stage.

A group of three left after this performance leaving the crowd to a meager 20.

Becca Palmer read two poems by Margaret Atwood. Her theatrical stage presence made the words take human form. Palmer’s left hand held her notepad while her right hand danced about in the air when she was reciting the sharp and painful stanzas.

Two more people quietly tip toed out of the auditorium after the applause had hushed.

This didn’t dishearten Quilt’s editor Chris Janus. He picked an original poem called “I Want To Drive A Black Cadillac.” After Janus’ careful and articulate performance, Andy Sullivan was left 12 listeners three Janus encouraged Sullivan to play a handful of songs while addressing the room was still available for another hour.

Sullivan said, “It’s so quiet.”

A small cluster of giggles squeaked out of the remaining spectators. The notepad was out of names. Janus climbed the stairs to the stage for one last statement.

“Thank you for coming out everyone. Anyone else want to perform?”

The empty seats gave the answer without having to speak into the mic.

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