For three years, Open Mic 2.0 at the Oak Street Mill in Cornelius has given local artists a chance to perform in a supportive and eclectic atmosphere.
The vibe at Open Mic 2.0 is similar to a family gathering, where artists of all ages and genre are welcome. The evenings are held by Bella Love Inc., a company that works with towns and nonprofit groups to organize events that help build the artistic community in Lake Norman. Performers and audience members pay admission to attend the Open Mic nights.
After Mike Noland finished his set at a recent Open Mic night, Adam Wilson approached, explained he had left his guitar at home and asked to borrow Noland’s. Once he had the guitar, Wilson asked for a pick, and Noland gave him a choice of the two in his hand. “We are all friends here,” Wilson said with a smile as he headed for the stage.
Analise Malick, 15, was belting out the lyrics to “Holiday” by Green Day as her band, The Glass Hammers, rocked the stage. Their youngest member, Genevieve Malick, 12, started playing bass guitar when she found out her sister was forming the band two years ago. “I knew they needed a bass player, so I decided to try it, and I realized I liked it,” said Genevieve.
Huntersville resident Buddy Dukes, father of Patrick Dukes – the drummer for The Glass Hammers – said he thinks this is a great environment for the young band to grow. “The people here are so supportive. It’s a safe place to try out new stuff,” he said.
After the high-energy performance of The Glass Hammers, the room quieted down as Emerson Carter, 8, sang her original song, “Back Roads,” while playing a ukulele. Emerson said she had been taking lessons on how to play the ukulele for a year, and “I love it,” she said.
“This is an opportunity for everyone, a chance to plug into professional connections and a stepping stone for artists towards getting paid for doing what they love,” said Case Warnemunde, founder of Bella Love. “Since we started a few years ago, pretty much everyone we have been dealing with are now gigging full time,” he said.
One of the most famous of the 15 acts that night was singer/song writer Jenna Renae, singing her song, “Waiting for Someday,” which she wrote for her husband, Brent Ryckman. She told the crowd that she sang it to him on their wedding day. Jenna Renae moved to Charlotte about one year ago and competed in the television show “America’s Got Talent,” with her audition airing this past May. She has been a regular for the last three months.
“She (Jenna Renae) is a testament to how the word is spreading,” said Warnemunde. “This is a showcase of the best talent that resides in the Lake Norman and greater Charlotte area.” Pointing to a strong network with great relationships, he said, “We are eager to see fresh new talent come into the community.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to go?
Open Mic 2.0 is held from 8 to 11:30 p.m. the first and third Thursday of each month. The Kadi Fit building is in the Oak Street Mill, 19725 Oak St., Suite 3, Cornelius. Musicians pay $3 to play, and audience members pay $5 to attend. Musicians, comedians and poets are asked to reserve a time slot by sending a RSVP to the Facebook events page at www.facebook.com/events/425708900941588/ or email Case Warnemunde at email@example.com