Once upon a time, there was a Main Street coffee shop called Muddy Waters where student artists such as poets and musicians would gather to perform every Wednesday night. When Muddy’s closed abruptly, it created a void in the performing space for those poets and musicians. This void has recently been filled, however, thanks to a group of off-campus students who have opened up their house for bi-weekly open-mic nights. Junior Ian Duffee, who hosts the open-mics along with his housemates, has found himself unintentionally moving closer and closer to the center of the arts community on campus.
“A friend of mine actually messaged me on Facebook and was like, ‘Hey I heard you’re doing open-mic night at your house,’” Duffee said. “I was like, ‘Oh are we? I didn’t know that.’ I asked around my house and they were all like, ‘Okay I guess.’” With that, Geneseo found a new space for artists to share as a community.
For Duffee, opening up his home to performers did not come without apprehensions. “I was worried when we did the first one,” he said. “I thought either no one would show up or maybe a bunch of people would show up and view it like a party, and no one would really be paying attention to the music.” Thankfully, Duffee didn’t have much to be worried about. “When it actually started, people came and pretty immediately were very respectful,” he said. “Everyone was quiet––it was clearly not like a party setting.”
When the first open-mic night went off without a problem, Duffee and his housemates pressed on with their plan to hold the event every other week. The next date, however, gave Duffee renewed cause for concern. For personal reasons, Duffee and his roommates had to schedule the second open-mic for a Friday night rather than Thursday.
“We’d been intentionally avoiding holding it on Friday, because it makes it more of a party-type event,” he said. Again, the guests proved better-behaved than Duffee had imagined. “There were a lot more people and it was a little bit louder, but it was still 99 percent quiet,” he said.
With each new week, Duffee found more and more people showing up at his house. But given the great experience he’s had thus far with the open-mics, the presence of unfamiliar faces has become more of a positive than a cause for concern. “It’s not just people I know performing, there’re a ton of new faces every time,” he said.
One of Duffee’s favorite things about the bi-weekly performances is that they are open to anyone who wants to perform. “I like the idea of an open-mic more than just having my friends play because you meet new people,” he said. “Everyone gets to meet new people. It just makes it a more open, community-like setting.”
Duffee plans to continue hosting the open-mics, so long as the current respectful atmosphere continues. “Everyone has really consistently been respectful,” he said. “I’ve been worried about it every time, and it warms my heart that everyone’s been so cool about it.”