Tab Tries: Open Mic

Despite being comprehensively stumped by bar chords, EVIE PRICHARD tries open mic at Emma.

emma Evie Prichard guitar open mic tab tries

The awkward thing about my volunteering for ‘Tab Tries: Open Mic’ is that technically speaking I ought to be really quite competent at music. I’ve had both guitar and singing lessons on and off since I started secondary school, which makes the fact that I’m comprehensively stumped by bar chords really quite a humiliation.

I signed up for Emma Open Mic without realising that it was the first of its kind, although this turned out to be a blessing as it limited the number of people there to witness my humiliation. Given that it was on the morning of the open mic itself that I discovered the F chord somehow completely eluded me, things were not looking good.

The trouble with choosing a song that only contains 4 and a half chords is that if you develop an embarrassing mental block on one of these you’re pretty much fucked for ¼ of it.

Evie to camera: is THIS the F chord? No??

The song itself was ‘Storm Warning’ by I Am Kloot (previously interviewed by The Tab – do have a look). My absolute favourite band, these guys were clearly looking out for me when they wrote a song which may be the easiest thing it’s possible to play on the guitar.

That said, they do have it in for me as well. Their last gig at Cambridge contained not one audience member under the age of 35 – I couldn’t decide if the complete lack of fellow young people made me more or less indie.

Up on stage in Emma Bar, I had a horrible moment of facing the audience and wondering what the hell they expected from me. I’d been preceded by several acts of the ‘well yes, I did put my grade 8 in this instrument into my personal statement, but don’t worry, I can play it in a way that’s totally down with the youth’ style.

This, as you can imagine, didn’t set me up well. I’m really more of the ‘well yes, I can’t play a single note without buzzing, but you paid to come to an open mic and thus deserve all the amateurism I can pump into your ears’ school.

I had been meant to bring 7 or 8 friends to support me on the night (and by support me, I mean witness and thoroughly enjoy my humiliation). However, they all conspired to drop out during the day. Excuses ranged from ‘I have too much work’ to ‘Gordon has less work than me and he’s not going’ to the simple but devastatingly effective ‘why would I?’


“I got the feeling that he would have said that to the Cheeky Girls if they too had agreed to appear at his event.”


In the end I was left with only the boy who’d lent me the guitar I was playing, and it was no secret that he was there more to support the instrument than its player. He was no great help – I watched him casually wander to the bar to buy a pint while I was playing.

The performance itself, despite all of these setbacks, went surprisingly seamlessly. Yes, I couldn’t play the guitar or remember all the words, and yes, I did spend most of the performance watching for audience reactions with a keenness which looking back must have been embarrassingly obvious.

But luckily for me Emma bar is an extremely chilled place, my song was borderline ambient and no one seemed inclined to look up, let alone to listen to what was playing. I was completely in the clear.

I stepped off the stage to no visible reaction and scuttled back to my friend with a mixture of extreme relief and slight annoyance at having received no acknowledgement whatsoever, be it good or bad.

The nice guy organizing the thing told me I’d been good, but I got the feeling that he would have said that to the Cheeky Girls if they too had agreed to appear at his event.

On the whole I was pleased with the way the open mic worked out. There was no booing, no chanting and no sense that I had to impress anyone. I was lucky in that I was on relatively early, before most of the actual music fans turned up, but still I have to praise the atmosphere.


“…no acknowledgement whatsoever”


If you’re considering playing in public for the first time, Emma will be a good bet.

I’ve since worked up the confidence to sing at Clare open mic (although with my guitar playing sole supporter as backup) and I’m certain that without my positive (or at least ambivalent) experience at Emma there’s no chance I’d have had the confidence.

So go, play, or simply listen. But if you do, try to make sure you have no interest at all in what’s going on – if not for your cred’s sake then at least for the performers’.