Open mic moves to a larger venue

Ben Marcus, president of the Temple Music and Art Group, organized the open mic night’s venue shift. | Aaron Windhorst TTN
Ben Marcus, president of the Temple Music and Art Group, organized the open mic night’s venue shift. | Aaron Windhorst TTN

On some nights, the sound of strumming guitars and harmonizing vocals can be heard emanating from the windows of Saxbys coffee shop.

Inside, students can be seen showcasing their talents, performing poetry, raps and playing acoustic music.

These open mic nights, held by Temple Music and Arts Group, have gotten so popular that organizers are relocating some of the events, including open mic night, to the Underground, located in the basement the Student Center.

“Saxbys gets packed very quickly, and it does not accommodate the 50-plus people that often come to the open mics,” said Ben Marcus, TMAG president and a junior media studies and production major. “The Underground gives us the flexibility and potential for different and much larger-scale events.”

Hosting events at the Underground will allow TMAG to accommodate more students and collaborate with other student organizations. On Feb. 26, TMAG and the Gamer’s Guild will host a Game Lounge.

Students will be able to sign up to perform at the open mic alongside artists like Marcus & Rome, who will perform a set of video game-inspired rap music. In addition to musical performances, there will be board games, card games and video games for people to play while they listen.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Kyle Blessing, a freshman double major in music composition and music technology, said. “Collaboration is what arts groups should be all about.”

Blessing performs acoustically at the open mics and will have a spotlight at the Game Lounge, where he will perform a full band set of music that blends indie rock, Americana and jazz.

Spectators who prefer Saxbys as the location for the open mic nights need not worry – TMAG plans to alternate between Saxby’s and the Underground as locations.

“We like the friendly, relaxed vibe at Saxbys, and we still want to have events where people feel comfortable performing a song they just learned five minutes ago,” Marcus said.

Ryan Ross, freshman information sciences and technology major, believes alternating between the two venues is a smart decision.

“If it is on a chill night, I think Saxbys is a great location, since you have a source of drink and food and a relaxing environment to sit back and enjoy the performers,” Ross said.

He added that sometimes Saxbys can feel too crowded and that it will be enjoyable to have a more spacious venue.

Blessing agrees, saying because Saxbys is mostly standing room only, he is glad to see TMAG move to a space that will encourage more people to come to attend.

“I really like the variety and varying levels of talent that walk up to the mic,” Ross said. “Not only is it a good way to open your eyes to new styles, it’s great to talk to the artists [and] performers afterward.”

TMAG plans to continue to serve the music and arts community at Temple. Marcus said the group has two other dates booked at the Underground this semester and is considering a battle of the bands-style event, though nothing is currently confirmed.

Marcus plans to continue to use TMAG community’s current growth to continue putting on events that will encourage more artists and musicians at Temple to get involved. He plans to work toward having TMAG certified as a four-star organization under the Student Training and Rewards System so the group can be officially recognized by Temple.

“With our growth, we want to host bigger and better events, and, aside from music events, host events for art as well,” Marcus said. “We do plan to cater to the music and art crowds at Temple and live up to our name.”

Vince Bellino can be reached at vince.bellino@temple.edu/

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