I'm wired with a sometimes inexplicable optimism. It's what makes me check what's on the radio before popping in a CD in my car or visiting some band's MySpace page if the press release they emailed me looks interesting enough. So, from time to time, I enjoy a good open mic night, and in Atlanta, that means Eddie's Attic
. I went last night to support my friend and Paste
's books editor Charles McNair. Dressed in all black he sang his pair of literate, heartbreaking songs with all the passion and intensity an arena performance might have warranted. So did many of the others who took the small stage at Eddie's.
There are always several cringe-inducing moments at an open mic, and I
would have traded my beer for a gong during a few of last night's acts.
When I used to judge these things, my fellow critics and I would pass
notes back and forth and giggle like schoolgirls at lines like, "I
could see the light and stuff in your eyes." But more of the
contestents have at least the minimum level of skill to entertain, and
a few of them are downright talented.
I stayed to hear the three finalists, Scott McMahon from Knoxville (pictured above),
Andy Elwell from Minneapolis and local chanteuse Kate Wright. All were good,
particularly McMahon who won the event. He'll move on to the
semi-annual Open Mic Shootout, where each week's winner performs in a
round-robin style tournament. Past Eddie's Open Mic Shootout winners
include John Mayer & Clay Cook, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland and
Jennifer Daniels. Their names are on a plaque at Eddie's right near
platinum records by Mayer and Sugarland. Each week a couple dozen
songwriters climb the stairs of Eddie's with a dream to get on that
plaque and a hope to become the next success story to come out of the
fabled club. The amazing thing is, some of them will.