Once a month during the summer, about 100 people gather on the lawn in front of the Abington Art Center’s outdoor stage to hang out and watch some of their peers play music.
This Wednesday will be the third open mic at the Abington Art Center, a summer event that has been a favorite among young Abington residents for the past two years.
When the art center approached schoolteacher Liza Meiris last summer and asked her to host open mic nights on their stage, Meiris said she was thrilled. She, along with her co-emcee Micki Edwards, had been hosting them at various local locations — coffee shops and small venues alike — for several years, but found that over time the audience would outgrow the location, sometimes spilling into the sidewalk and disrupting the surrounding area.
The art center, with its large property and open atmosphere, was the perfect space to hold a summer concert series.
Meiris said she has several reasons for hosting this event. Primarily, she wants to encourage a passion for music. She, Edwards, and the show’s sound engineers Evan Baum and Kevin Brusha are all musicians themselves.
But aside from that, Meiris said she wants to create a safe environment for teens and young adults to be able to have fun and stay out of trouble.
“It offers a place where you can hang out and be yourself,” she said.
Meiris tries to keep money out of the equation, saying that it causes unnecessary problems, and that a free show is more accessible to a wider audience. She doesn’t do any promotion, either. Instead, details of the show spread by word of mouth.
“People bring their friends,” she said, “and that’s what it’s all about.”
This method works, as evidenced by the typically crowded lawn and the fact that Meiris frequently has twice as many bands asking to play as she has spots to fill.
Some of these young musicians have been in bands and writing songs for a while and are looking to expand their fan base. Some have formed just for the show, mostly playing covers.
Meiris says she and Edwards plan on holding at least two more shows this year, and are open to some other events, including winter shows, provided they can find the right location or a repeat of the successful all-day concert and art show they held last summer.
The next open mic will take place Wednesday, July 25 at 6 p.m. More information for this show and for those interested in playing at future shows can be found on the Facebook event “Open Mic Take 3!“