High Street Open Mic nurtures local talent

The enthusiastically infectious nature of Sharron Onciul will convince people to attend the next High Street Open Mic/Coffee House March 31.

The enthusiastically infectious nature of Sharron Onciul, the co-ordinator of the High Street Open Mic/Coffee House, will convince people to attend the next venue, Sat., March 31.

Onciul says although she doesn’t perform, she makes sure the coffee and tea are ready for all who come through the door. And one can imagine that the smiles and good humour abound.

This volunteer-driven experience has been happening for about 10 years and is a great way to meet your community and be entertained by possible stars of the present and future.

Admission is a donation to the Ladysmith Food Bank — either cash or food items.

The local talent comes out of the woodwork, and performers of all levels and all ages are welcome. Although most attendees and performers are adults, Onciul explains all are welcome.

Coffee houses and open mic venues have long been a grassroots way to promote local performing arts. It goes way back in time. Having a starting place on the stage can encourage new performers to try their talent in a safe place.

Onciul notes that the genre of performance is wide open: poetry, comedy, music, dance, storytelling, solos, duos and groups … and each performer is given the opportunity to perform twice — such as two songs, two poems, two stories. There is a variety of modern, pop, country, folk and Old English styling. An intermission halfway through the evening provides time to stretch your legs, visit, enjoy the home-baked fresh goodies such as cookies, breads and squares and to chat up your favorite performer. Following intermission, there may be a chance to share more of your talent.

You never know who you will hear or see at these events, and there is often a range of high-caliber performing arts.

The non-critical atmosphere allows newbies to feel comfortable in an accepting setting. It’s also an opportunity for emerging artists and local talent to be showcased and appreciated in a relaxed venue.

Onciul indicated that occasionally a local choir, Sing for Joy, performs and lights up the hall with their vocal expertise. She says the choir often invites the audience to participate and this certainly ups the fun factor.

Attendance varies from 20 to 50 audience members and appreciators.

The event takes place the last Saturday of every month from 7-10 p.m. at the Hardwick Hall at 232 High St. in Ladysmith. Bring your best sense of fun and appreciation and a donation for the Food Bank.

And a quick reminder about March’s upcoming show at the Waterfront Gallery: Art of the Fantastic — Roots in Myth. This show delves into the realms of the imagination and metaphor … poetic thoughts and insights become visual. Opening night is March 4, and the guest speaker is Ruth Porter from the Tozan Cultural Society in Nanaimo.