Tracie MerchantOn almost every night of the week, an open mic can be found in the Dallas area and often more than one, sometimes several. Some of the open mics include spoken word, playing cover songs, etc. On the other hand, some may prefer original songs, but talented covers are usually allowed. The majority of open mic hosts are friendly and welcoming. Most open mics have their regulars, even if it’s just a few people that show up all the time.

A number of open mics and similar events are hosted by members of the Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA). There is a supportive songwriting community in the Dallas area, a good number of whom are members of DSA. Some of us have been writing songs for years. Some are younger and just getting started playing live at open mics. Quite a few members of the DSA perform at other open mics in addition to DSA events.

But it’s the community that I want to emphasize here. The songwriting and open mic communities are very supportive in every way a community can be. One good example is the open mic at Poor David’s Pub (PDP), hosted by Mr.Troll. It helps, of course, that it is one of best listening rooms in town, and Carlos Sanchez is one of the best sound men in town. Samantha Sanders is one of the best bartenders, too.

A good illustration of my point came about recently. On Monday, I arrived at PDP, ready to play in the open mic. I said hi to a couple of people from DSA at the bar. Troll asked me to step aside and talk to him privately. He needed to go home to take care of his dad, and asked me to guest host the open mic. Of course I said I would.

Troll played first, as usual. He played two songs, but we persuaded him to play a third song. Then he introduced me and slipped out, and I took over as host. On the list were regulars – some older, some newer. The featured artist was Tracie Merchant. I introduced her about 8:45. In the middle of her set, Tracie picked up her phone and began to make a call.

“Does everybody know my friend, Bill Nash?” Many of us did. Bill is a singer/songwriter with MS. He has been in the folk scene in Dallas for quite some time. He has come up with different tunings using capos and key changes to enable him to keep playing the guitar and writing songs. He had to leave SWRFA a little early due to health issues and within a week was in the hospital. He was hoping to get out of the hospital soon when Tracie called.

“We’re here at the open mic at Poor David’s Pub. We wanted to tell you something,” she said when Bill answered. She motioned to all of us and at the same time we said:

“Get well, Bill!” He asked her if we would do it again so he could record it. Which we gladly did.

During the evening a harmonica player was hanging around, hoping to join someone. Vince Alexander is from Atlanta and is here working at the State Fair. He was looking for a break from the fair to do what he loved the most – playing music. Toward the end of the evening he got his chance and stayed on stage to play with Tin Man Travis. Vince had the pleasantness on his face and in his upbeat and friendly attitude of one who is away from home in an unfamiliar place and finds a music community to be a part of (albeit temporarily).

See what I mean about community? And you’re all welcome – to play or listen. At any of the open mics or DSA events.

Peace be with you.

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