Open Mic at The Bluebell, Conwy
Every Sunday night a great group of musicians gather there to share their music. It’s a brilliant place to discover new acts. Only last month I wrote and article about Saint Loe. They played a few of their songs one Sunday night. You never know which musical delights you’re going to hear.
Open Mic with Craig and Friends
This week I spoke to Craig, to find out how it all started. This is what he had to say.
How it All Began
Open Mic with Craig and Friends is approaching its 4th successful year. We got started when Heron and Jared of The Blue Bell wished to extend their established weekend of music. This already included live music on both Friday and Saturday night. At the time, Gaz Evans and myself were playing regularly at other Open Mics in North Wales. We felt it would be fitting to establish a new event in the Conwy area.
Originally called ‘Open Mic with Craig and Gaz’, it was immediately successful, attracting many local musicians of all ages, abilities and genres. The format of the event changed a year ago. Gaz left due to work commitments and it became known as ‘Open Mic with Craig and Friends’ .
I am now joined by a guest host each week. These are drawn from a pool of established musicians on the local entertainment scene. They are all are quality performers; some are even qualified sound technicians. All of them are willing, where possible, to accompany singers who don’t have instruments. This format brings fresh musical input each week and attracts new faces in the audience too.
We pride ourselves on delivering a professional set up and providing a quality PA system and drum kit.
Meet One of the Hosts
To gig as much as possible and meet new people and other musicians. I’d love to join a local jazz band as keys player and also eventually finish my album of original music!
This week, Kevin sang a great cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’.
So why does Craig think this weekly event is so popular?
What Makes This Open Mic Special?
It attracts solo musicians and bands alike. We’ve had visiting artists from all over the UK, the USA, Canada, Europe and even Brazil.
Most importantly we find that our evenings have become a valuable social scene. The events enable musicians to mix easily with a music loving audience. It also encourages musicians to jam with each other. Open mic has proved particularly successful for solo vocalists, who are given the opportunity to sing with live backing, when possible.
We have supported several charities over the last 3 years. I am particularly proud of the way some of our regular visitors got together to provide first class entertainment at fundraising events.
The welcoming, friendly and attentive audience has always played a huge part in the success of the event. In particular, they’ve proved to be hugely encouraging to ‘new’ and younger performers who wish to take that first step before a ‘live’ audience. I believe singing and playing live, is the best, quickest way to improve ones stagecraft. This is particularly evident with newer performers, who are given a huge confidence boost.
This week was no exception when it came to young, new talent. We saw Jared and Connor of the band ‘Small Town Heroes‘ play a few songs. The band consists of:
- Jared Moore, singer/rhythm, 23 from St Asaph
- Connor Thomas, lead guitarist, 19 from Llandudno Junction
- Heather Clarke, bassist, 20 from Rhuddlan
- Adam Bevins, drummer, 21 from Prestatyn
I asked Jared what the band had been up to so far, and what their plans are for the future.
We’ve been playing pop punk cover gigs across North Wales, such as The North in Rhyl, The Cross Keys in Llandudno, Skerries in Bangor, George and Dragon in Conwy and Bandstand in Llandudno.
So far we’re planning for weddings and other gigs across North Wales.
We plan to write original music and have our sound heard.
This particular track is an original song, being launched by the band this week.
How Can You Get Involved?
I’ve been lucky enough to sing a few times at the Open Mic nights. Sometimes accompanied by a guitar (played by the very helpful hosts and musicians) and a couple of times with a whole live band behind me – that is a particularly amazing experience. Especially for somebody like myself, who’s never performed live, except for karaoke! Craig outlines how anyone can get on stage.
Any visiting artists are asked to bring their own instruments. People get slots on a first come, first served basis. Sometimes we feature a band ‘showcase’ by prior arrangement. This allows a band to play for around 25 minutes. It often serves as a introduction to getting paid work on the ‘circuit’. If you would like to arrange a showcase, please send me a message via the Facebook page ‘Open Mic with Craig and Friends’. We also have a Facebook group where people can share photo, reviews, videos etc.
Join us for OPEN MIC with Craig and Friends at The BLUE BELL, CONWY, every Sunday at 8:30 PM PROMPT
Some music speaks to you in ways nothing else can. This week, Daniel Williamson, 40, from Conwy, performed a few of his original tracks. I was so moved by the depth and emotion of his songs. Daniel has been writing music since 1990. He’s released 4 albums, with a fifth due very soon. You can find him on SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube and Facebook.
I find the possibility of coming across great music every week so exciting! If you get the opportunity one Sunday evening, you should definitely drop in to check it out.