Fri., Oct. 19, the staff of “Impressions” hosted “Open Mic Night,” their first event of the year at Southland Books in Maryville. Over twenty Maryville College students attended, as well as several young adults from the Maryville community.
“That’s just a huge turnout,” said Garrett Painter, MC junior and member of the “Impressions” advertising committee. According to the three current editors of the campus literary magazine, Emily Boren, Abby Davis and Olyvia Daniel, the purpose of the event was to introduce what the publication stands for: individual expression.
“We’ve done some events like this in the past,” Davis said. “It’s good to get people into the mindset for what they may be inspired to submit [to “Impressions”] later in the year.” Musicians and readers of short stories came to take the stage in the bookstore’s café. They were encouraged to perform as little or as much as they wanted by the “Impressions” staff.
“This event not only promotes Southland books, but also attracts the kind of people we want for our publication,” Boren said. “The performers here tonight conveyed the artistic ability of ‘Impressions’.”
Most importantly, however, the event was intended to create an awareness of the “Impressions” community, Daniel explained. Daniel started the performances, singing an a cappella rendition of “Summertime,” originally made famous by George Gershwin. Her performance, which included several jazzy runs and slides, encouraged other musicians to share. She said she chose to be the first performer to show others that it was all right to be vulnerable and share their talents.
“We wanted them to start sharing ideas,” she said. MC students Chase Sterling, Patrick Dalton and Kegan Rinard harmonized guitars and banjo. Sterling sang, “Sink, Florida, Sink” by Against Me, among other songs.
“[Performers] definitely had the opportunity to be hurt tonight, but they were well received,” Boren said. The audience ignored imperfections and forgotten lyrics, as Sterling vocalized and Rinard and Dalton accompanied.
“It was vulnerable, but in a good way,” said John Cole Kirksey, junior at MC. “[Sterling’s] voice was really raw.” Music major Adam Loo sang a collection of songs by NeedtoBreathe, including “Able,” which Loo invited the crowd to participate in. However, the crowd stopped singing along as Loo’s rendition progressed, silence taking over the room as the audience listened to his voice.
“I had no idea he could sing like that,” said Jenny Carter, also a student at MC. “He has such soul.” Loo was later joined by MC child development major, Hollie Malin. They sang “You and I,” a ballad by Ingrid Michaelson.
“[The duet] was awesome,” said MC junior Alex Quesenberry. “I came tonight under no obligation, and I had a good time.” Local musician Brandon Graham sang his own original songs, accompanying himself with guitar and tambourine.
“I really liked the intimate setting, although it made me nervous, “ Graham said. “It went well, though. I enjoyed it.” According to several students, Graham’s indie music style and emotional expressions made his original songs “Bite Down Hard” and “Sunset Fog” sound as if they were lines of poetry themselves, such as his lyrics “with the rolling waves around you, you will find it all so harder to make it through” and “I lost and found a couple of years.”
The local artist’s original music impressed more than one student at the event. “Brandon was great,” said Rebecca Bowers, a junior at MC. “I thought it was amazing that he wrote his own music.” “While everyone had an opportunity to express themselves, Brandon’s original music was my favorite of the night,” said Shelby Sparks, sophomore staff member of “Impressions.”
“Impressions” member Jay Rutherford read a short story that he had composed about his first vacation out of the country. When in Mexico, he had several experiences with a tour guide and tequila, which incited many laughs from the audience.
“It was hilarious,” Kirksey said. “I didn’t want it to end.” Although the audience asked for more performances, the musicians of the night ended the evening by strumming on their guitars together. The comfortable, informal setting was what made the night a success, Loo said. It added a sense of comfort that was essential to perform in a small space in front of fellow students. Rutherford said that he was not expecting many students to attend, and was pleased by the number of people who came to the event.
“I was honestly nervous that it would just be me and five “Impressions” staff members,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised.” Carter said she wished “Open Mic Night” would happen more often, and now felt encouraged to submit her own work to the literary magazine. “I was so pleased with the turn out tonight,” Boren said. “I think that tonight gave performers an opportunity to not be afraid to express the thoughts that show who they really are.”