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Expanding sounds

Attendees say open mic events more popular

September 12, 2010
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

The sounds produced by open mic nights in the local area are growing, as the number of venues seems to have expanded.

LaPier Kraft of Ephratah said there are a lot more open mic events now than there used to be.

"It just seems to be growing," he said.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Tom Staudle of Fultonville sings as he plays a song on his acoustic guitar during the open mic at the Fonda-Fultonville United Methodist Church in Fultonville on Sept. 4.

The 77-year-old has been playing music most of his life. While he used to play guitar and bass, he mostly plays keyboards now, he said.

Kraft said he used to play at an open mic at the Coffee Klutch in downtown Gloversville. More recently, he played at an open mic event at the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County.

"[Open mic events] seem to be more interesting to kids than [they were] in the past," he said.

Kraft also has played at the open mic events hosted by the Fonda-Fultonville United Methodist Church.

Tom Staudle, a Fonda resident and an organizer of the open mic, said the "acoustic coffeehouse" in the basement of the church takes place the first Saturday of every month.

He noted that since starting in February 2009, there have been more than 100 different musicians onstage. There only has been one show that had no new musicians, he said.

"Times are tough," Staudle said. "I'm glad something is offered to get people out and off the couch."

There are a mix of people at the shows, he said, with a variety of ages and interests represented.

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They have had mandolin, banjo and guitar players perform, along with acappella singing, karaoke, poets and comedians, he said. Children with ages in the single digits have performed, and a woman in her 90s played as well, he said.

Staudle said part of what draws people to the open mic event is that most people in the room - where they sometimes get about 70 people at a time - appreciate music and performance.

"If you have the [courage] to go up on stage and sing a song, if you even try, the crowd will love you," Staudle said.

The musicians that have performed at the open mic event are not always local, he said. Musicians from Albany, Schoharie and Cooperstown have played, and they are not always new to performing.

Daryl Kosinski, a Glen resident, is a member of Sundial Express. According to the group's website - - they have "an eclectic collection of new and familiar songs."

Kosinski said sometimes they play at open mics as individuals, but they will sometimes play together. They have a wide range of music they play, from folk to traditional to country to "whatever we feel like playing," he said with a laugh.

Kosinski said he has been playing guitar for about 48 years, and has played at open mic events for about 15 years.

"There are more open mics now than there have ever been," he said, noting he has played at the open mic at the Fonda-Fultonville United Methodist Church and at the Coffee Beanery in Amsterdam.

He said the two have slightly different crowds. The church crowds tends to be a little older, he said, while the Coffee Beanery has younger people, some of whom may have never performed before.

"There are always a wide range of ages at these events," he said.

Lisa Sear, who owns and operates Lone Palm Gourmet Coffee in Johnstown with her husband, said while their crowd tends to be younger, they always get a couple of older people performing.

At the business' open mic night - which has been offered on Monday nights at 7 p.m. since April - they have a variety of performers of all ages, she said. She recalled one night where a seventh-grader did an excellent scat-style singing performance.

While they had a bit of a drop off in attendance since Fulton -Montgomery Community College closed for the summer, she said, they are expecting it to pick back up to where it normally was, at about 30 people a night.

Sear said the couple decided to start offering the open mic nights like those at coffee shops in other parts of the region, such as in Saratoga Springs.

"There's not a lot to do in Johnstown besides bars and movies," she said. "So it's nice to offer something else."



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