Mic Night

By Chris Branch | LSU Student

Stage fright can be, well, frightening. For some, it takes the maximum possible amount of intestinal fortitude to give a speech in front of more than one person, much less power up the vocal cords to belt out a tune.

For many LSU students, this appears not to be a problem. Open Mic Nights in the newly remodeled and expanded Student Union building provide them practice runs for the real stage lights they crave. The next round begins in February and continues monthly until the end of the semester.

On a recent Open Mic Night, in the Live Oak Lounge of the Student Union, allowed students a chance to showcase talents they wished to share publicly.

Wesley Nance, an undeclared freshman, had slight reservations before crooning Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" in front of a student audience.

"I start out fine and then I get nervous and mess up and then I pick up and fix it," Nance said. "I've done theater before. I've done plays. I've been on stage. I guess it's just me getting nervous."

It didn't stop him. Nance, decked out in a red dress shirt, black pinstripe vest and a black fedora, finished the song to a resounding audience approval.

Nance, who hopes for a career in show business, said the amateur-hour performance was only his second appearance in front of an open-mic crowd.

"It went better," Nance said. "I wasn't sick like last time."

Sick or not, the freshman isn't looking ahead. While he wants a singing career of some form, these mic nights serve as perfect venues to hone his chords.

"I'm just practicing right now, not really trying to 'make it' anywhere," Nance said.

Meanwhile, others at mic night had seen this stage before. Psychology freshman Joel Ruhlman said these events are place to get his kicks without the hassle.

"This just gives me a chance to gig without having to find people to pay you," Ruhlman said. "I like the atmosphere. It's fun."

Ruhlman, who lugged his guitar on stage and performed "Yesterday" by The Beatles, is part of the band Fuzzy and the Shopping Carts, which is comprised of friends from New Orleans, Ruhlman's hometown.

Randall Head, the director of the Student Activities Board Music Committee, organizes mic nights. Head notes a flurry of increased participation. "Attendance has gone from about 70 every month on average to about 200. Everyone says they enjoy it."

While Head was unfamiliar with the mic nights before taking over the committee, he's realized its importance for providing a venue for students to practice and share talents.

Dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans, Ruhlman also performed a song from his group's repertoire dubbed "Bread Jam." Ruhlman said he woud like to pursue a career in music, but it could be unfeasible.

"I would love to, but I have other things to do like school."