NEWS: Big changes for Artsville Open Mic

A word from our founder.

I spent my birthday in 2011 hosting the first Artsville Open Mic. This should give you some indication of how dear this event has been to my heart from the beginning. So each time we make a big change to Open Mic it is not without careful thought and deliberation.

That being said, I'm excited to announce two big changes today. I'll explain each one in detail below:

  1. Artsville Open Mic is moving venues. Beginning Monday, May 4, we're moving the event to Crema Coffee Bar, located at 136 W Carolina Ave in Hartsville.
  2. Artsville Open Mic is now The Artsville Songwriting Competition (ASC). We're officially retiring the name "Artsville Open Mic". From now on these 10 monthly events along with the annual event in November will be known as "The Artsville Songwriting Competition", or "ASC".

About the venue change.

The Midnight Rooster is arguably the reason that I moved to Hartsville in the first place. I've enjoyed a close personal relationship with the original owner, Jessie Avant Smith, and I've known the new owner, Suzanne Galloway for years. I even worked at The Rooster as a server for years. I've played the stage several times and hold many fond memories of this business close to my heart.

After I left Hartsville for Brooklyn Artsville faced many challenges as an organization, but none more challenging than the Open Mic. How do you run a monthly songwriting competition from 700 miles away? How do you effectively promote it, organize volunteers, communicate your vision to all involved, and continually improve the overall quality of the event? These were the questions I faced as a leader.

It's very difficult to pinpoint the root causes of problems. After listening to feedback from volunteers, our venue, and performers alike this much became clear, our Open Mic event was suffering. Something needed to change. We needed to try new things.

Around the time we were examining these issues is when Crema Coffee Bar, a new coffee shop in Hartsville, was set to open. The owner, Tiffany Moan, and I have an established relationship, and she was actually one of the first to offer constructive feedback on the Open Mic once I had left Hartsville.

Last week I made a difficult phone call to Suzanne Galloway, the new owner of The Midnight Rooster. We discussed the state of the Open Mic and eventually came to a mutual agreement that it was time for a change. She was incredibly gracious to me, and offered her full support of my decision to move the event, wishing both Artsville and Crema all the success in the world. Her sentiment meant so much to me, as it was clear that she, as I do, hold fast to the belief that there is enough to go around. "I want my customers to have options in this city," she told me. It was clear from our conversation that Suzanne believes that people are always the priority, and this means the world to me. I'm confident The Rooster will remain our friend even as we move in a different direction. In my view it is impossible to overstate the cultural impact this business has had on our community.

To Suzanne, Jessie and Jeremy, and every dishwasher, barista, server, cook, and office worker who helped with Artsville events over the years at The Rooster: we love you, we thank you, and we pray for years of continued success.


About the name change.

Last week while discussing the Open Mic with a friend of mine in Brooklyn, I had a revelation. Since our founding, we have always used the names "Artsville Open Mic" and "The Artsville Songwriting Competition" to basically describe the same thing.

My friend pointed out to me that many folks associate the words "Open Mic" with an image along the lines of this: someone on stage half-heartedly singing "Folsom Prison Blues" to a room full of disinterested passers-by. However, in my mind I saw a compelling night of creativity and friendly competition, young and established artists alike exploring their craft and upping the ante for a chance to grab a spot in a fabulous annual songwriting competition (and maybe even win $1,000!).

It was clear we needed to reconcile these two pictures. It was also clear that Artsville Open Mic was, in effect, the first round of The Artsville Songwriting Competition. So why were we calling it something different? That's just confusing!

So from now on the event formerly known as "Artsville Open Mic" will be "The Artsville Songwriting Competition" or "ASC". It will still happen every month. It's still free to watch, $5 to enter. The big annual event in November will be known as "The Finals".


Thank you for taking the time to read these updates. We hope to see you at the next ASC, Monday, May 4 at Crema Coffee Bar in downtown Hartsville. Please tell us how we're doing. We greatly value your candid feedback.

And as always, thanks for trying new things.

Dylan Sneed, Founder

COMING SOON: Live from Artsville

A word from our founder.

Ever since the beginning of Artsville we've wanted to create environments that catalyze creativity. We love watching the light come on in your eyes as you experience these amazing performers in such intimate spaces. And now we feel we're poised for the next step in our evolution as we introduce our new recorded music series, Live from Artsville.

What is it? Live from Artsville is a series of recordings we will release over the course of this year featuring performances from our New York house concert series.

How do you get it? There are two ways: 1) buy a ticket to one of the NY house concerts, and receive a code for a free download, or 2) download the EP of your choice from the Live from Artsville section on our website (coming soon).

The first release of Live from Artsville will feature the fabulous Americana duo out of Baltimore, The Honey Dewdrops. Tickets for their show on April 19 are available now.

Not in NYC? You can pre-order the first release of Live from Artsville today for just $5!

Whether you've been following along since 2011, or you just came on board, thanks for coming along with us as we continue to try new things.

Sincerely,

Dylan

Testing Ground

A word from our founder.

Did you know that this whole thing basically began with me returning a favor? I toured solo a lot between 2006 and 2013, and if I learned anything in those years, it's that you can't do it alone. No matter what "it" is, I guess. For me, "it" was traveling across the country, playing music for people in bars, coffee shops, restaurants, churches, theaters, college campuses, day care centers, vintage furniture stores, parks, and living rooms. You absolutely need the help of friends and strangers alike to realize this mission. One such stranger who soon became a friend was a jovial, bearded Alabamian named Doc Dailey. Doc helped me out more than a few times in the Muscle Shoals region of northwestern Alabama. In 2011 he finally gave me a chance to return the favor, and the result was the very first Artsville House Concert.

When I left Texas in 2008, none of this was even a twinkle in my eye. Now it might as well be another limb on my body. Or my child. Whatever the metaphor, Artsville is something I love and feel so grateful for--proud of and humbled by all at the same time. My new dream is to see Artsville serve multiple communities across the U.S.--even the world--and I feel like what we're working on for this Friday night is a step in that direction.

Susan Enan, a true veteran and connoisseur of house concerts, is christening the debut of Artsville House Concerts NY. I can hardly believe this even as I type the sentence. But I've long held a belief that the principles that we've begun to uncover through our work in Hartsville would hold up in any community that we were fortunate enough to serve. People are people, right? I feel like this upcoming season will be a testing ground. If Bridges, our first stab at a NY based Artsville concert series, can be an indicator, then we may be onto something.

One of the principles that we think we've found is that people everywhere are hungry for intimacy. Many are also afraid, which is understandable. Intimacy requires vulnerability, exposure. And if intimacy happens, you will be found out. But that's the point, right? So many of the technologies and platforms that are purported to bring about true intimacy endorse instead disguises, deception, and anonymity. They say they connect, but they often drive apart.

This is why we do what we do. We try our best to set up environments where it's just kinda easy to collectively engage with art. Shared experiences breed intimacy. And we believe intimacy is the avenue to understanding. You gotta be honest with yourself before you can really be honest with others. And you thought these were just concerts.

I think I've gone deep enough for one blog post. It's just that we want to be about the work of true intimacy, community, and creativity. We want to grow, and we want our people to grow. And growth is change. You know a pretty good way to change, right?

Try new things.

Someone should put that on a sticker ;)

Thanks for reading,

Dylan

Click here to get to tickets to the debut of Artsville House Concerts NY, featuring Susan Enan.