MUSIC PREVIEW – Open Mic Night takes off at Saint Rocke

Zeal Levin is one of the rising stars to come out of Saint Rocke’s Tuesday Open mic night. Photo by Rebecca Deane

Zeal Levin is one of the rising stars to come out of Saint Rocke’s Tuesday Open mic night. Photo by Rebecca Deane

A year ago, Hermosa Beach music venue Saint Rocke decided to dedicate Tuesday nights as nn open avenue for developing local artists. Sans drums, but with a full PA and sound man, the club “opened its hearts to talented new new faces.”

“We wanted to do more for local artists,” said Reid “Reidiculous” Clow of Saint Rocke. “From the ashes of just a boring Tuesday night, it rose like a phoenix.”

The scene has evolved into more than just an open mic. It’s become a nurturing environment.

“We feel for the starving artist,” said Katie Henley, Saint Rocke’s manager. “Of course, we have no cover, or cost to play, and have $2 tacos and drink specials.”

A mashup of talented musicians took advantage of the open format. Impromptu jamming and spontaneous rocking out has become a common occurrence.

Kimberly Deckman, the Sestra sisters and a few other regulars formed the first band out of Open Mic Night, called Breaking Seasons.

“It’s a cool to see bands come together,” said Henley. “They’re forming very organically.”

Backed by a professional rhythm section,  with a dash of trumpet to add flavor, one of the night’s recent standouts is the soulful Zeal Levin. He played his first show November 18.

“The sweat dripped from his pores while on stage screaming passions,” said Clow. “Zeal got the audience grooving and feeling the vibrations on the dance floor. It’s fun to watch the various effects music has on people; the ways they dance, the smile it puts on their faces. Zeal and his band had a room full of all different types of dance moves, smiles, and grooving locals.”

A natural fruition from the scene is a mixtape dedicated to the Open Mic Night performers. The Saint Rocke Local Artist Fall Mixtape is compiled from recordings once from September, October, and November.

“We will be releasing the mixtape digitally so artists and music fans can share and promote their live, acoustic tunes, along with their peers, all for free, and with ease,” said Clow.

The night offers musicains the opportunity to sharpen stage performances and calm stage fright —  and also ups chances of scoring a gig at Saint Rocke. Several performers are graduating to regular gigs. In December alone, open mic regular Phil D. Anthony is performing a showcase Dec. 5, Jef Joslin has organized a Holiday Toy Drive show for Dec. 13, Lea Beily is opening for Sophie B. Hawkings on Dec. 23. Open mic artists are also doing the happy hour slot every Friday.

“Open mic is literally the best way to get your foot in the door,” Clow said. “Or in this case, on stage.”

Check out “Not your Average Open Mic Night” every Tuesday at Saint Rocke, 142 Pacific Coast Hwy, Hemosa Beach. For more info go to SaintRocke.com

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