Just Arts and Music holds an open mic night monthly to find and showcase new talent. The event offers students a chance to get their feet wet onstage, often for the first time. The third floor of the Student Center gushed with music and poetry all night from talented students here at Eastern Michigan University.
While the organization has been around four years, EMU only recognized them as an official student organization last year, according to Sean Ruona, JAM’s co-president.
JAM encourages newcomers and regulars to do everything from music to poetry to dance. Anything that can be performed on stage can be done at JAM, and just about everything was. The event featured 18 acts and went from 9 p.m. to midnight.
“Generally we get the guitar player/singer,” Ruona said. “We have a decent amount of poets. I guess that’s kind of what people think when they hear open mic. As I’ve said time and time again we welcome absolutely anybody under any artistic medium that they have. And I think some of the coolest performances we have were one of a kind people. We’ve had stand up comedians, we’ve had dancers – years ago we had a magician – which kind of blew me away.”
Everyone performed, from rappers like Justin Davis, who did two songs from his new mixtape “Wake the Fuck Up,” to Jordan Blanchard, who did a song on the saxophone and then another on the guitar. He was inspired by Bobby McFerrin and captured the attention of the crowd who, as soon as he finished, erupted in applause.
A notable first-time performer was Chris, who started out with a cover of Nirvana and finished with Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song.”
There were a number of poems which stood out in the open mic’s ranks, as well. Among the most notable were a hilarious homage entitled “Ode to Fish McBites” and the emotionally driven “Jasmine.”
“The biggest mistake is to come into this thinking that you have to adhere to a certain standard and that you don’t have to be as good as the guy behind you or that you have to be a seasoned performer – which absolutely is not the case at all,” Ruona said. “We welcome everybody and people make mistakes. I mess up notes and lyrics all the time. So the thing we stress is no pressure. This is just you on that stage doing what it is that you do in a very supportive community. We’ve never had anybody booed off stage.”
Ruona stressed that what helps the most is the support of the campus community, which permeated the mood of the open mic night.
“It’s really them that are keeping it alive,” Ruona said. “If it was just the two of us it would be me playing songs to myself or Dylan [Croasdill, co-president of JAM] reading poems to nobody. So it’s the people who are listening and the people that are performing and the people who bring themselves to the stage that are keeping it going.”
Interested in performing? To apply for open mic night, simply show up with what you intend to do and sign up.
JAM is looking for new people to join the group and help run it. If you are interested in getting involved with Just Art and Music, send an email to email@example.com.
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