The Folk Connection opens every month with an Open Stage segment. This is a time when we invite all members of the community to participate as performers in the evenings events. Those who wish to perform on the open stage must arrive early and sign up prior to the start of the show. There are seven slots available each night, and each person is assigned a ten minute time slot (usually enough time for three songs if none of them are too long).
We take names for the list on a first-come, first served basis, however, the order that people sign up in will not necessarily be the order of performance. We like to arrange the performances to allow some variety in style of music presented, singles vs ensembles, gender, etc.
Sometimes we have many more people who wish to perform on the Open Stage than we have slots available. In an attempt to be fair to all, we ask that performers who performed at the previous month's Folk Connection give precedence to performers who did not. We permit performers who are travelling a significant distance to the Folk Connection to contact us in advance to ask for a spot on the Open Stage, however, they would also not be permitted to do this two consecutive months. Sometime we are short Open Stage performers and at that point can include performers from the previous month on the list or allow each performer a longer set.
The Open Stage segment provides a unique service to our community. Through it, musicians who are new in town can introduce themselves to our audience, performers who are just starting out can come to perform for a very friendly, supportive audience, and locals can gain important performing experience to aid in their development. A number of performers who we met on our open stage have progressed to become feature performers at our folk event as well as other venues.
For the audience, it is an often exciting process of watching new talent bloom right in front of our eyes. People who had memory issues or struggled with some parts of their first performances, have carried on to be fabulous, polished performers. We have also seen the development of some very interesting ensembles made up of performers who met each other at the Folk Connections.
Another bonus for the audience, is the amazing variety of acts who perform on our open stage. In one evening we might have singer/songwriters, klezmer (traditional Jewish music), a cappella soloists or ensembles, and instrumentalists. Even if one particular performers doesn't particularly appeal to you, in ten minutes you have a chance to listen to someone else. You can't loose.