Salt In The Wounds At Washington Avenue Open Mike

Readers may remember three weeks back when Lonesome Onry and Mean set off a torrent of pissing and moaning for our speculations that the open-mike night at new Washington Avenue drinkery Salt Bar might not be the artistic triumph the Houston Chronicle proclaimed it to be. More accurately, the Chron didn't so much do the proclaiming as let the club, the host and the open-mikers proclaim it; the daily simply acted as an uncritical conduit for the hype. Who'd have thunk?

Several commenters on that blog seemed to imply that LOM shouldn't have opinions about the event unless we had actually been there to see it in all its wonderful-cality. Well, guess what? LOM and Rocks Off dropped in for a toddy at Salt last night. Our conclusions?

The open-mike part was even more pitiful than we expected. After all the hype and emphasis on this being a 'by-invitation' open-mike ("not for Joe Smo's [sic]" according to one commenter), it seemed to be just that: An event open to any Joe Smo [sic].

Our trip to Salt had been spawned by an insistent friend of ours who runs an open-mike outside Austin every Thursday. He had taken us to task that all open-mikes are not the trip to the dentist that we had portrayed them as in our last blog. We plopped down at the bar next to him and he rolled his eyes.

He'd been there since the music started.

"It's worse than you painted it. Much worse. This guy is quite the vocalist, don't you think?"

It was bad. Really bad. We actually felt sorry for the guy, so sorry that we determined it would be pointless to print his name.

After Joe Smo left the stage, some Dave Matthews Ballcap Nation wannabe took over. Rocks Off looked at LOM and said, "Patio?"

The patio proved to be the best place to listen to Salt's open mike night, at least on this night.

Seeing host Brant Croucher, a Nashville refugee, come to the microphone, LOM stepped back inside in time to hear Croucher tell the noisy crowd that if they knew someone who was good to have them contact him and he'd get them in to play. Sounded like a call for Joe Smos to us.

Croucher then took the guitar and covered Mick 'n' Keef's "Dead Flowers." It was immediately apparent that Croucher must have spent a lot of time at open-mike nights in Nashville. We doubt he's familiar with the term 'musical cliché.'

As we drove toward Rudyard's for a nightcap, our buddy from Austin kept insisting his open-mike program is infinitely better than Salt's was on this evening. We didn't see how he could possibly be lying.

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William Michael Smith