Creative minds jam at Blondie’s Open Mic

By Dajonea Robinson
Flapjack Staff

Blondies Food and Drink
420 E California Ave
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 822-3453

Blondies Food and Drink has been around since 2009 and they’ve been serving the Arcata community ever since.  The renowned Open Mic night that takes place every Thursday for the past six years. Open Mic night is a space for creative artists of all genres to create their art.

Rowan Grantz, co-owner of Blondies Food and Drink said that the event runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Open Mic night performers are scheduled as first-come, first-serve.

“But you can choose your own spot,” Grantz said. “There are about 15-20 spots available. Each person gets a 15 minute slot. Anyone from the community is welcomed. So we see a lot of regulars that play every week and some new faces. It’s an open jam, so we see hip hop, spoken word, rock, country you name it.”

Open Mic night thrives with positive vibes. The atmosphere was supportive along with the crowd that fluctuated throughout the night. Thursday’s Open Mic is typically fuller when school is in session, mentioned Beth Isbell, host of Open Mic night and facilitator of the set list. She’s also a musician and poet. Isbell  described her facilitator job as “making sure people sound great” when they’re on stage. She loves to see young talent get their recognition.

“It’s like a performance class where people get to experiment and play with new ideas. They get to learn their craft and build their fan base and get better,” Isbell said. “Everybody should come, it’s fun. Sign ups start at 6:15 p.m,. the show starts at 6:30 and it goes until 10 o’clock. We allow poetry and spoken word, musicians, acapella, solo, duo, full bands we try to accommodate everybody if we can. We try to welcome everybody.”

Isbell opened the night at 6:30 p.m. by performing three of her original tunes with the guitar provided on stage. After her 15 minutes and three songs were finished, Isbell told the audience: “That’s how it’s done!” Then she proceeded to call the first person on the list.

One performer was Randal Martindale, 54, performer, sheet rocker, house painter, and poet. Martindale received his bachelor’s degree in English and French in 1987, also has his master’s degree in literature, teaching and writing from Humboldt. Martindale has performed in films and theatre however, last night’s traditional event was his first time ever performing at any open mic. He performed his original poem titled “Jacket Off.”

“Well, let me put it this way, I’ve had a pretty easy breezy life most of my life,” said Martindale. “I’ve never been politically concerned that much. I always considered politics as a form of entertainment when I didn’t have anything else to do.

“Let’s take it from the beginning I had this beautiful cat named Princess–this beautiful blue-eyed Siamese cat. A 11-year-old cat that was killed by someone on my property. And it was terrible and intense. So that was traumatic, it worst thing that I ever experienced.

“So ten days after that I lost my country. What am I going to do? I have nobody to protect, I couldn’t save my cat. I want to try to save my country so I started getting political. Being pissed helps. I’ve had experience in theatre [so I wasn’t nervous] and it felt good, it felt really good. I’m a passive aggressive person but now more so aggressive if you know what I mean.”




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