Since April 2011, I have been involved in running a “no-mic open mic” in Exeter. I attended the no-mic open mic in Oxford, Catweazle Club, run by Matt Sage, and realised that Exeter had nothing like it, and needed it bad. Why? With no mic, people have to listen, and thus the magic of live entertainment returns. Also, aside from the stipulation of “unplugged”, the stage becomes a very open platform to anything that can be performed without amplification. At the Oxford session I’d alreadu seen music, poetry, acapella singing, but also comedy, dance, and a striptease on once occasion. No-where in Exeter could I find such an open and inclusive space for performers, or such a magical night out for audience members.
I spoke to Matt Sage in Oxford about the idea of a Catweazle Exeter. He said there were already Catweazle Clubs in Oxford, London, Brighton and New York, and he’d love for there to be one in Exeter. So we collaborated and Catweazle Club Exeter ran weekly from April to July 2011. It was a roaring success with a troupe of dedicated followers! Indeed, just as expected, people were hungry for this rich and diverse artistic weekly night – there’s nothing else quite like it!
After a summer break, Duckaroo will be starting up again very soon at….(THIS INFO COMING SOON!)
Matt Sage has decided to stop building a nationwide network of Catweazle Clubs, and go back to just having the Oxford “branch”. And so, the new name for Exeter’s no-mic open mic will be: DUCKAROO!!!
The question of “Why name it Duckaroo?” is something I’ve been asked many times already. Quite simply, we wanted a word that wasn’t associated with any particular type of performance, but that was instantly memorable. So making up a word seemed the obvious choice. However, it only occurred to me later that the “Duckaroo” animal herself has ended up being an apt mascot for everything that this project stands for. Please don’t stop reading at this point. I’m serious.
Besides the signature “no-mic” factor, there are some other key values that have come the surface. With no mic, people listen, and they listen equally to each performer, so hierarchy disappears. There is a respect for each performer. A variety of different performance media are seen on the same night, so divides between poets, writers, musicians, storytellers etc also disappear. And right there are all the ingredients for a creative Bohemian melting pot. Performers, excited about having a listening audience, up their game, and try new things. Seeing that performers of all different types are accepted equally, they feel encouraged to cross or switch genres, or even try new media. Audience members who have never performed before feel encouraged to try it, by this friendly and welcoming atmosphere. In fact, audience is usually so on the ball, that when it comes to any audience participation bits, they truly become part of the performance – providing sound effects for storytellers, and harmonies for singers. The no-mic open mic, by its very nature, encourages evolution. It encourages the performers to evolve, and the audience too.
What’s all this got to do with the Duckaroo? Well the Duckaroo is a newly evolved creature, and so is the no-mic open mic she represents.