There’s no need to sit at home and be bored on these long winter nights. There’s always something going on that’s fun and free in Cambridge where you can hear music, meet new friends, and learn new things!
The Cambridge Library kicked off its new Open Mic/Spoken Work events February 2. Caroline Rodriguez, who works in the information department at the library, is shepherding this event as it was her idea. “I wanted to offer a space that is free in an open and safe environment,” she said.
The library has not offered anything like this before, and Rodriguez is open to suggestions as to how it might best go forward. In addition to spoken word, she invites readings of prose and poetry, a reading of your favorite poem(s) by someone else and even acoustic singer/songwriters. The event is for ages 13 and up.
Like most open mic events, this one offers a sign-up sheet as you come in the door. Time allotted is based on how many folks show up. Fewer people mean more time, and while this first one originally allowed 3 minutes per presenter, Rodriguez was very open to the suggestion that future events give at least 5 minutes of reading/performance time per person.
Rodriguez got interested in slam poetry in high school, and believes “it is a confidence builder in a written-word performative way. Young people may not be aware of or think of their writing as poetry, but many types of music are poetry,” so she hopes to broaden the traditional definition of the way the culture thinks of poetry. “Poetry and written word are for everyone. The ability to write is very powerful and gives voice to the human spirit,” she says.
John McDonald read first from his novel-in-process. He writes science fiction, fantasy and horror – both novel length and novellas. He heard about the reading at Open Mic at the Overflow Café, a regular spot for “mostly music, I’m the only one who reads.”
Situated on the corner of Muir and Academy Streets in Cambridge, the Overflow Café offers open mic in a building beside the café set up for gatherings. On first and third Friday evenings, that space is alive with local musicians (and at least one writer). If you’ve never visited the Cafe, then you are missing a truly great cup of coffee for under $2.00, as well as home made soups. The Café is a great spot to sip your coffee, read, write, or visit with the locals who are regulars and always ready for friendly conversation.
McDonald, who shares his work on an app called “Wattpad,” using the name “Arkham71,” also illustrates his work using computer generated sketches, but did not bring any with him. His reading was an intriguing start to a science fiction novel set on a human-colonized planet, titled, “Her Brother’s Keeper.”
Bill Epps, who works at the library, and whose poem on Harriet Tubman is enlarged to poster size and hung by the circulation desk, read two of his poems. He is still working on both and didn’t want to share the draft forms, but the titles are “Nature Attraction” about our connections with nature, and “Wilding Out” about juvenile delinquency.
Rodriguez read two poems from Nikita Gill’s “Where Hope Comes From: Poems of Resilience and Light,” and one from Courtney Peppernell’s “Watering the Soul.”
The next Poetry Slam has not yet been scheduled. Rodriguez says they thought about making it quarterly but input from the audience that more often and perhaps on a weekend, allowing greater participation, was noted.
Another free open mic is the regular Tuesday open mic at The Dorchester Center for the Arts (DCA), the center for arts programming for all of Dorchester County. A traditional first sign-in first up list organizes the night which is overseen by a different host each week. This is an event regularly attended by many around Cambridge and is a great way to meet others who share your love of music. Music genres move from blues to bluegrass and there are quite a few singer/songwriters to enjoy. There is even a ukelele group that performs from time to time. That group, which practices at DCA on Thursdays, is open to all, and happily a practice ukelele if you wish to pursue the skill – again, free of charge.
Open Dance is a new idea and also a free weekly event on Thursday evenings beginning at 6pm at DCA, started by lover-of-all-kinds-of-dance, Cambridge resident, Binny Olsen. She brought the idea of modeling a dance evening on the music open night events – different hosts, a section where the host teaches, and then everyone on the floor to a variety of music – to DCA, which provides their upstairs space. Attendees arrive ready to have fun and no partner is required – if an enjoyable evening of moving to a groove is your thing, don’t miss this. Beer and wine and snacks are available for purchase.
Finally another new “open” event is the Open Art Studio at DCA, “Winter Wednesdays,” an open art studio.
Participants can create their own art in a comfortable environment with guidance from an Artist and live music. Subject and media for the art are up to the individual, and chalk and acrylic paint and canvas for art are provided free of charge! All ages are welcome but youth under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Repeating to make sure you get it: all supplies are offered free of charge! The current schedule is February 14, 21 and 28 from 6 to 8 pm.
Mark your calendars! Come experience all the ways the Arts Are Alive in Cambridge, MD!
Tammy Vitale. an artist herself, has fallen in love with all the facets of art available in Cambridge/Dorchester County, and wants the rest of the world to get to know and love the arts and artists of this area as much as she does. Dorchester artists of all kinds and art venues are invited to contact her [email protected], subject line “Arts.” See more events posted on https://www.facebook.com/ArtsAliveCambridgeMd/