Monday, 28 July 2014 16:35

Life of an Indie Artist

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This past week was awesome. Last Monday I launched the beginning of my “Open Mic Tour”. I selected open mics from the top ten open mics listed for St. Louis. I recruited two singers to assist me during the “tour”. Our first stop was the Venice Café. Venice Café is located at 1903 Pestalozzi St, St Louis, MO 63118. The building is a solid brick building placed in what appeared to be the historical side of Saint Louis. All of the surrounding houses and business were made from brick with early 1900 architectural designs. This place had to be one of the coolest places scenery-wise. The decorations were so eccentric, so hypnotizing, so appealing.

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One of the coolest areas had to be down by the restroom. That area was decorated with detailed glass artwork on the walls. It covered the majority of the downstairs area. We had to get a picture down there. The upstairs area was so New Orleans. The decorations gave off a historical, yet magical type of feel. So we found ourselves some seats and waited for the show to begin. I found it interesting that at this open mic, and later I found out that at most open mics, you are allowed to perform several pieces. At the open mics that I have attended, you are only allowed to perform 1-2 pieces. That is definitely good to know. The night that we came the news was there interviewing the venue's management or someone in charge of the venue—I'm not quite sure whom. Someone had robbed them over the weekend. A lot of people came out that night to support the venue. So, yes, it was packed. And by chance, I run into a singer by the name of Molly Simms. She reached out to me about performing in a showcase that she put together. And before that day we had not met face to face. It was pretty cool. The showcase that we will be doing is Aug 1st at The Livery Company on Cherokee! So the show begins. Everyone is taking the stage and playing their instruments and singing. I, however, do not play any instruments. As a child, I learned to play the piano by ear and even had some lessons but I never truly perfected the craft. I also had guitar lessons as an adult but I had to put those on the back burner for a few reasons. So currently, I sing and I write. I am hoping in the next few months to pick back up with the guitar lessons. But until then, I will have to rely on my tablet and/or cd. So my fiancé approached the guy that was operating sound and asked him about hooking the tablet up. He said that he wasn’t sure and would check with the host. I could tell by the host's reactions that he was a little reluctant in wanting to assist with the tablet. At first, we were told that it probably couldn’t happen because they didn’t have the right plug to hook us in. Then we were told that the tablet could possibly be run through the house speakers. We were performing either way, with or without music. We rehearsed both ways. Eventually, the host came over and spoke with us and when he found out that we were only performing one song he seemed more relaxed. But I get it. Everyone else is playing live music. However, the instrumental that is on my tablet was recorded with live instruments lol, so I’m partially in the club. He even teased us a little bit about having a tablet as he introduced us but it was all in good humor. We stepped onto the stage rocking our Raye Cole Music tees. I introduced myself and the ladies did the same. And we had an awesome performance! The audience was definitely vibing with us. And as we got up to leave, on the way out of the door, the audience began to applaud for us again. That was definitely a first. There was another side to the venue but we did not get the chance to explore it. We would have had to walk in front of the stage during someone’s performance and that just is a tad bit rude in my opinion. So we just said next time. We did get some pretty cool photos outside of the venue. The outside was so nice looking. It reminded me of a tropical kingdom! We definitely enjoyed ourselves and did our thing in the process. So that was night one.

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Night two we hit up the Shanti. This was on a Tuesday. The Shanti was a pretty cool place. The Shanti is a solid brick building with early 1900’s architectural designs just like Venice Café. The houses and businesses surrounding the Shanti appeared to be the same way. So we enter the Shanti. As soon as we enter a man from the previous night remembered us. He began telling us how much he liked our sound and it was pretty cool. His name was Luke Warnwater. He performed that night as well and during his performance he gave us a few shout outs lol. Luckily for us, the host was able to let us know right away that we would be able to hook our tablet into the PA system. This place was really cool. You could tell that people look forward to coming out and having a great time playing or listening. They had pictures that were once promotional flyers for some of the greatest artists ever, such as Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin. The coolest thing was the guitars, violins, and ukuleles that decorated the ceiling. So it was finally our turn. We approached the stage and it got quiet lol. We introduced ourselves and began singing. Now the lyrics to my song start off, “I don’t need, no false ambitions” and it proceeds to say what other things that I don’t need. There was this lady there that kept yelling, “I don’t need no doctor.” Later I found out that is an actual song but at the time she just came off as a drunken heckler. So after about the fourth time of her shouting out I said, “Will somebody please get that lady a doctor.” We all got a good chuckle out of that. After we had an awesome performance, the crowd asked us for more songs. But unfortunately, that was all we rehearsed as a unit. I could have performed by myself but I decided against it. I made a mental note to self to add more blues/funk/soul to the list. Now that I see how the open mics are set up at the known hot spots in St. Louis, I know how to prepare myself and my girls.

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Night three, we went to Foam on Cherokee Street. This was on a Wednesday. I like Foam. I actually performed there earlier in the year. A traveling musician from Minnesota named Robert Leo Newton asked me to be a part of his showcase. He found me on ReverbNation. I enjoyed myself and I really liked the venue. You can grab yourself some coffee, tea, or a beer and sit back and relax. The cool thing about Foam is that it is right on the corner of Cherokee and the music resonates throughout the streets. So if people are walking by, they may be inclined to come in and just listen. If cars are driving by and they have to stop due to the traffic light/stop sign they may be inclined to pull over and come in if they like what they are hearing. So we arrive at Foam and the place was pretty packed. So I approach the bartender and ask about signing up for the open mic. She informed me that the open mic was actually cancelled for the evening and that there would be a feature performing instead. We were welcomed to stay, however, that is not why we came. Before the show started, we left out and begin to Google other open mics. There were other open mics but we would not have made it to them in time. One of our companions that wanted to see us perform asked if we could sing just a snippet on the streets. I was reluctant at first but I said why not. We sang a thirty second clip and as we finished, a couple approached us telling us how great we sound. They began to tell us about other open mics and even mentioned the one that we would be attending Friday. I told them that we would be at the Hartford Coffee House on Friday, I gave them a copy of my mix-tape, and we said our goodbyes. Who would have thought that singing on the street would produce a potential fan.

So our fourth and final night was Friday at the Hartford Coffee House. The Hartford Coffee House is located at 3974 Hartford St, St Louis Missouri. It is located in a beautiful neighborhood. It is on the end corner of a residential street. It almost blended in with the surrounding brick houses. There is outside seating for those who wanted that and, of course, you could sit inside.

10387189 10202323014892994 2698643917388013826 oMy companions and I sat outside, sipped our coffee, and enjoyed the weather. I noticed that the seats were beginning to fill up on the inside so we went in to find a seat. They begin to maneuver the tables and chairs around to make room for the open mic. The performance area was right in front of the big window that was decorated with different plants. The host of the open mic is Tony Medina. He let us know that Aug 1st will be the last day for him as host at Hartford Coffee. He was one of the best hosts that I have ever seen. He was very energetic, friendly, helpful, and talented. Goodness, he could sing and play the guitar. Everyone who performed that night was awesome. I caught myself singing along and rocking out in my seat. The guitarists that hit the stage were amazing, the host being one of them. The host was one of the best vocalists that I have heard in this area. We also bumped into the couple that we met on Cherokee Street the night before. They were definitely happy to see us. We rocked out yet again and I intend on returning to the Hartford Coffee House for the last day of Mr. Medina hosting!

A special thank you to Keilah Evans and Shayvonda Mayes (their names on Facebook) for helping me out! You girls are awesome and I look forward to doing more with you! I was proud of myself. I set a goal and I achieved it. Sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back! Until the next adventure, and there are plenty more coming, my name is Raye Cole and this is the life of an Indie Artist.