Last Wednesday the McClellan Octet hosted their second weekly “Open Mic and Sing-Along.” The event featured amateur Yale musicians and songwriters who came prepared to play one original composition and one cover song.
A window sill, framed by a couple amps, a keyboard, a collection of guitars and a string of green holiday lights, served as the main stage in the McClellan common room. However, don’t be fooled by the casual atmosphere and the former use of the word “amateur”; led by Max Lanman ’10 and Michael Waxman ’11 these musicians are unbelievably energetic and inspired to generate quality music.
A performer himself, Lanman decided to try his hand at music while pursuing filmmaking. The creative side of music and the time he devoted to practice, inspired Lanman to establish a venue where musicians could share their work with the Yale community. Lanman describes this event as one of the “best outlet[s] for the extreme amount of talent at Yale.”
Waxman states that about 25 different musicians have already participated in the first two events alone, and he expects more Yale undergraduate musicians to emerge and take a chance at creating and performing original works.
“The weekly open mic is really integral for the singer-songwriter community,” Waxman said. “It gives people both a motivation and an outlet for debuting original music.”
In addition to original music, musicians performed covers from Bright Eyes, Radiohead, The Killers, Oasis, Damien Rice, Fugees and Kate Perry, during which audience members were welcome to sing along with the performer.
“Of all the social groups [at Yale], the music scene is the most open,” Lanman said.
Even when lyrics failed or chords dropped in a hapless puddle (a rare occurrence), improvisation practice and the attentive and encouraging audience made for a worthwhile learning experience. Lanman points to performer Ugonna Igweatu ’09 as one example of the underground talent that the Open Mic Night has attracted.
Learning guitar in college through watching YouTube videos and by ear, Igweatu says he feels that he is truly beginning to hone his skills as a singer and songwriter. Igweatu describes himself vocally as a cross between John Mayer and Norah Jones, adding that he is heavily influenced by blues music, like that of Buddy Guy, and Jimi Hendrix. A senior, Igweatu wants to “hit the ground running” upon graduation by working on his songwriting and recording his material.
“Five years from now, I want to be a great guitar player, vocalist and songwriter,” Igweatu said. The open mic provides a chance to perform to the public, and also to find inspiration from other Yalie musicians.
“There’s a lot of dormant music talent at Yale, and I think there’s a big audience for live music, too,” Waxman said. “It’s just a matter of putting the two together.”