Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Spanish Street home to Cape Girardeau music scene

Monday, September 25, 2017
Photo by Jonae Earls.

Two businesses, seated opposite one another on South Spanish Street in downtown Cape Girardeau, are hosting back-to-back open mic events: The Library on Wednesday nights and Cup ‘n’ Cork on Thursdays.

Both events run from 6 to 9 p.m. and are welcome to all ages.

This week both locations took advantage of mild weather by hosting their events outdoors, the Library on its covered back patio and Cup ‘n’ Cork in its courtyard.

Cup ’n’ Cork owner Patrick Abbott said their open mic night has been around since they bought the coffee shop five years ago. The Library’s version of the event, though, is only in its second week.

Ukes of Hazard singer Devin Scott was the guest host for Cup ’n’ Cork’s event on Thursday, Sept. 21. Scott said he learned the ukulele and started playing at open mic nights three years ago and he is now making enough money on the road to pay his bills.

“If you're a new musician, go to an open mic and play, there's a very small chance you'll be the worst one there,” Scott said. “It’s a supportive group, where you can be learning a song in front of people, and they're not gonna mind.”

Host and promoter of the Library’s open mic night Bob Camp said he’s been around music so long he gets his decades confused.

“The audience and participants define themselves from season to season, my job is to give them room to do that,” Camp said. “It's a springboard, these folks develop their skills, move on to paid gigs, and new musicians take their place.”

Local musician Matthew Paul performed at both events and said he’s played open mic tours across the country. Paul is in charge of the Cape Music Scene blog and social media pages, which promote local bands and keep followers updated on live music events.

“Everyone wants everyone to do well, people will come and talk to you afterwards about your sets,” Paul said. “People take their guard down. You may bomb one song, but everyone else has been there too, there’s no superiority.”

Another performer at the Library’s open mic night Don Greenwood said he started playing guitar after retiring at 65. He’s 72 now and has written about 100 songs, which he described as humorous and upbeat.

“These are the best kinds of events. People can participate actively instead of just sitting and listening. We've seen a lot of young people just starting off in this setting and now they're fully-fledged musicians,” Greenwood said.

Local songwriter Christopher McKenna performed both nights. A self-proclaimed “crappy” guitar player, McKenna said he just sings louder so no one will notice he can’t play. He said he’s only played live a handful of times but has been attending open mic nights for years.

“The open mics sometimes live and die by the turnout of the college kids,” McKenna said. “I’m interested to see what it's like when more students start showing up.”

Cathy Thompson, owner of the Library said it’s too soon to know whether their open mic night is here to stay. She said as long as participation grows and revenues are increased the event will continue. She also noted that minors participating in the event will wear a bracelet to indicate their age and will have to leave at 9 p.m.

Southeast senior and wildlife biology major Erin Cordell said she came to support a friend who was singing Wednesday night.

“The atmosphere is just chill. A music scene like the one we have in Cape is rare in the Midwest,” Cordell said.

The Library is located at 10 S. Spanish St. and Cup ‘n’ Cork is at 11 S. Spanish St.

For more information regarding live music in Cape Girardeau, check out @capemusicscene on Facebook and Instagram.