Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of what we hope will become regular contributions to ListenUp from local musicians and those making noise in the Myrtle Beach music scene. This column comes from Charles Grace, a Coastal Carolina music student who performs around town as Sleeping Policeman. If you are interested in contributing your own words and experiences, please contact us here.
As many of you know, I traveled to California for the holidays in 2010. The reason for my visit was family.I hadn’t been to the west coast in two and a half years (For those that don’t know, I was born in CA).
That being said, I could not go without bringing my guitar along with me. I was going to be there for three weeks, and I wanted to get plugged in one way or another. I wanted to represent Myrtle Beach and show California what Sleeping Policeman was all about.
I quickly discovered that booking a show would be next to impossible on such short notice since I hadn’t arranged anything before I arrived. So I chose the next best thing: Open Mic Night.
I found two coffeehouses within the region. The first stop was Java Joe in Yorba Linda. I got there early to get a feel for the place before I played. It was located in the middle of a residential area. According to my family, it was a popular spot because of this.
The next night I stopped by Max Bloom’s Café in downtown Fullerton. This place definitely stood out more. It was a 1940s themed coffeehouse with movie posters and memorabilia from floor to ceiling. The building was smaller and felt more like a living room. They didn’t have a PA system, and there was no need for one either.
They did provide a little practice amp about the size of a lunch box; however, I knew it wasn’t going to sound that good at all. The people that came to this venue seemed to be a close circle of acquaintances. They were mostly a group of old geezers that loved Bob Dylan and The Beatles … not that there is a problem with that. It was a nice change of pace to play completely unplugged for a public crowd.
They only allowed three songs, so I didn’t do any slow stuff. I talked to a few people after I played. They all had good things to say too.
I have to admit that each experience was humbling. I felt very confident going into it the first time. It was really easy for me to get on my high horse based on the following I've established in Myrtle Beach.
It didn’t take long to realize that I was just a small fish in a big pond and nobody knew anything about me. I had to start from scratch all over again every time because every audience was different.
It wasn’t like Fresh Brewed where the same people showed up every week. I felt nervous again as if it was my first show. At the same time, I enjoyed the challenge. It was rewarding to know that I could win a new crowd over. It forced me to get more creative and interact with the crowd. Whether it was having them snap along or making eye contact, I made it my goal to get them involved.
The series of open mic nights really inspired me. They lit a fire under my but to stir up some more interest in Myrtle Beach’s music scene again.
There is no reason to let the demise of one underground venue have a stronghold on the morale of the arts in town. I want to work harder to draw a larger, different crowd out to local shows. I want to give people a good reason to support local culture. I know so much talent in the area that deserves to be recognized. But, I can’t do it alone.
I am calling all locals to support the culture that is provided to you. It does exist.