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Open Mic at Canvas

Mike Fleming, AKA Open Mike, started Wednesday's night events at the Canvas Café in early 2003, after the weekly events at Nickie's and Dogs Bollix drew to a close. Wednesdays are a mixed bag, where all types of performance art are welcome, including live music, poetry and spoken word, and sometimes dance. Mike actively books feature artists, who usually perform a 30-minute set of music at 9 PM, in the midst of a wide variety of undiscovered talent, who sign up for 10-minute sets all night.

It's a toss-up as to who will show each time. One week it might be a bunch of catchy pop-balladeers and folk singers, interrupted by the occasional storyteller. Many "sonic treats" are to be found, and the whole room starts grooving and clapping along. Will Franks might stop by to render his poet/playwright's combination of pseudo-spoken word and scripted melodrama that suddenly morphs into a duo performance. Call it a sort of hippy Penn & Teller approach to poetry.

If you are more interested in a poetry-only night, then consider coming down for the event on the first Monday of every month. This event goes from 8-10 PM and is hosted by lurker magazine. The highlight of their year is when they stage a poetry slam competition at the Canvas, with the winner bagging a feature spot in a subsequent issue. Otherwise, expect a semi-invitational open mic.

Monday nights other that the first of the month are also dedicated to purely literary shows. Hosts range from the Canvas' booking agent, Elliot, to writers from the SF Grotto. Also donning curatorial duties will be Vadim Litvak, former SlamMaster of the 1999 Metro Silicon Valley Poetry Slam. This kind of lineup is sure to draw those who love to speak out.

It is worthwhile to pay a visit just for the venue itself. The ultra-contemporary setting right across from Golden Gate Park provides excellent people-watching. The crowd represents a wide cross-section of the population, with misfits in trenchcoats and ponytailed musicians milling about with blonde Marina girls sipping Merlot. Also, the gallery area offers a swanky appeal that the design whore in you will love.

The Canvas has on-going art exhibits by local artists and is enhanced by their proper soundsystem. This ensures that no lyrical turn goes unheard and the audio quality is good enough to produce some lovely eargasms, so it's great that live CD-recording of Wednesday Open Mic gets archived for posterity. Contact Mike through his website, www.westcoastvideo.net, for details on obtaining a copy.

Open Mic at Canvas
Canvas Café
1200 9th Ave., SF
415.504.0060
Every Wednesday, All ages, Free
7 PM Signup; Open mic runs 7:30-midnight