By the time Thursday night comes around, you, the Drexel population, are sick of schoolwork. Sure, there is homework to be done, but unless something is due on Friday, schoolwork ends up being the last thing on your mind. Now you think, what can I do? What is happening on campus?
Every Thursday night from 8:30 to 11 p.m. in the Creese Student Center lobby, a microphone stands on a small stage waiting for performers to use it. Folding chairs mixed with the lobby sofas surround it. Late Night Series is a free open mic that welcomes musicians of all types, comedians, and spoken word artists. All in all, everyone is welcome, students or not.
Students in Drexel’s Entertainment and Arts Management and Music Industry Programs run the show. The host, stage-named Post Midnight, is a professional poet who has been a part of Late Night Series since it started in 2002. He also is the host of Late Night in the Daylight, which uses some of the Late Night Series recordings during a radio show at WKDU radio. Nick Anselmo, an associate professor at Drexel and artistic director for this series, started the first Late Night Series at Mercer County Community College when he was teaching there. This open mic series was inspired by the salons of the 1930s and ’40s, when composers would have friends over for feedback on their latest music.
Every performer gets the stage for about 10 minutes to capture the audience’s attention before being ousted for the next act. Behind the audience, a table with recording equipment is manned by a group of students who are in charge of the show. Large sheets of brightly colored paper hang to informing the performer how much time they have left. Green means there is plenty of time, yellow means about halfway done, and orange indicates that you’re running out of time. If you are still on stage when red is hanging, you might be kicked off stage. While the artists are performing, the audience is welcome to free snacks, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea. Sometimes the crowd can get so large that the snacks run out quickly, but there is plenty of hot chocolate.
Every open mic night also has one or two featured artists, local or not, who are still looking for their big break. These are musicians or artists that frequently perform around their city or suburbs. The features of this particular night included Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds, a reggae/funk band from Philadelphia and the New Yorker TJay, a folk/funk/jazz singer. In contrast with the typical performers, the featured musicians engage the audience in a different way – with the sculpted sounds of musicians who have recorded albums. They each took the stage separately for 20-minute sets and enthralled the crowd while inspiring the newer artists as well.
The night ends with the host: Post Midnight performs a poem, often inspired by the strange mixture of words that the mostly college-age audience provides to the host at the beginning of the night per his request. On other occasions, he performs a poem appropriate for the season. For example, on this occasion, around the time of Valentine ’s Day, his poem covered his top-5 crazy relationships, ultimately asserting that everyone is looking for someone with the same kind of crazy as them, some compatible insanity. This poem and other highlights from Late Night Series can be found on their website.
This friendly open mic welcomes all, with the sign up starting at 8 p.m. Every Thursday brings laughs and artists, new or returning performers. But no matter what, there is a good time to be had.
Poonam Sharma 2012 graduate, BS in Biomedical Engineering.
Photo Courtesy of TJay Music, LLC.