Diverse performers show up for open mic night

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter

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Young and old, people from all walks of life come to watch, perform and hang out with one another at open mic nights in Bob’s Bookstore.

Sharing their own poetic and literary work, patrons tell jokes and stories, play instruments and sing.

At 7 p.m. every Wednesday night on the corner of Sixth Street and Monroe, owner Joe Judd has had an open mic night.

“We are open to anything here,” Judd said. “Our only real rule is no nudity.”

Past performances have varied from guitarists playing classical guitar, girls from Charleston High School coming to sing and even people coming together that have just met to play the instruments they brought.

“A guy came in one night and just talked about a time he was a medic in Iraq. He told us a story about how he had to sing soul music to calm a patient down that didn’t speak English,” Judd said.

Judd said Bob’s Bookstore employee Dallas Shoemaker and violinist James Calderon are the two people who help run the night. After all the performances, Shoemaker will usually play records over the store’s speakers until closing and play music that customers and attendees bring to share.

Judd said he has witnessed some of the most exciting and unique open mic experiences during the summer, when Charleston students who went away to college return to town.

“(They) just walk in and say ‘oh, I play guitar,’ and then they start playing classical music because that’s what they were studying,” Judd said. “It’s always different.”

Judd is also working on bringing in a free-form improvisation music workshop that would take place at the bookstore alongside the open mic night during the week. These workshops were offered back at the bookstore Judd owned when he was in Chicago, Myopic Books, and he is hoping to bring the experience to all of his bookstore locations. He is open to booking other events at his store, as well.

“I would love to have poetry readings, too,” Judd said. “Anything like that would be great.”

Bob’s Bookstore also has a chess night at 6 p.m. on Mondays that is open to the public. Judd offers these events to help bring people in the community together and to expose them to different things.

“You see people who may not know each other, but they end up playing together,” Judd said. “That’s when you know it’s working, and that makes it worthwhile.”

Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]