By Jonny Stringer
TrySheffield took to The Royal Standard to witness the talent on offer at the pub’s weekly Open Mic Night.
Describing most other open mic nights as musical conveyor belts, guitarist and pub manager, Mike ‘Griff’ Griffin thinks The Royal Standard ‘treats musicians how they should be treated’.
Every Thursday, Griff and Sam ‘Chaddy’ Chadwick, one half of The Velcro Teddybears, help give musicians of all ages and abilities a chance to play live – but not without having their turn too.
Chaddy said: “We always play and try to open it – not to set a standard or show off – but because it’s very difficult for people to come in and sit in a room and be told when to play.
“We say ‘put your balls on the line, whack some songs out’ and I think people like that – especially as I’m doing the sound and looking after them, while Griff’s behind the bar.”
With little pressure put on performers to be technically perfect, the pub’s Open Mic Night has a balance between atmosphere and ability.
The band duo says The Royal Standard aims for a ‘village pub atmosphere’, with Chaddy complimenting its ‘lackadaisically comfortable’ feel.
Griff continued: “It took about a year to set up, but ever since it’s built momentum, there’s a nice environment – a nice chilled vibe to watch and perform good music.”
After experiencing many different open mic nights, the band members say: “It’s run based on how we would want to be treated as musicians. We’ve been to so many places where it’s ‘Right, you’ve got two songs and then you’re off’ and we don’t want to run it like that.”
As well as getting a chance to perform and practice their Velcro Teddybear material, the Open Mic Night offers the band members other incentives.
Lead vocals, Chaddy said: “There’s nights when people come down and it’s the first time they’ve played on their own – and they’re good. You can see it when they walk off different to how they’d walked on. That makes it worth it.”
Ian Bramall has supported Mercury Music Prize nominee, Sam Lee and is regularly seen performing at The Cremorne on London Road. No stranger to playing an acoustic session in front of a crowd, he thinks open mic nights are ‘a testing ground for your songs’.
“Obviously there is no substitute for getting in front of people. Every room and every P.A. set sounds and feels different, so it’s good to experience as many set ups as possible so you become inert to the differences.”
After performing in front of The Royal Standard crowd, Bramall believes a sign of a good performance is having the crowd silenced, as well as the positive comments afterwards, but even if this doesn’t happen – ‘Hang in there, I think it’s the folk who persevere who finally start to develop into something more interesting’.
Another popular performer on the evening was Sheffield Hallam student, Jonny Window, who felt the opportunity gave him a chance to get out of his comfort zone.
“It’s a way of doing something I love, while also being a little out of the ordinary. I would never have sung on my own before this, so it’s a way of getting out of your comfort zone.”
The Hallam fresher said it was a chance to polish his skills, but without the pressure of making a mistake.
“It’s well organised and warm – even if you mess up, everyone’s still really kind. It’s a really nice place to be.”
The Open Mic Night takes place every Thursday at The Royal Standard pub.