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The Ramblin' Mike

Mr. Spots Chai House
by Michael Guthrie

Every Thursday night, in the heart of Ballard, Mr. Spots Chai House hosts an open mic for poets and musicians. I think this room excels in ambience, character, art and it's full service kitchen with beer, wine, espresso and Chai Tea, (the specialty of the house) which you can take home by the gallon.
Excellent acoustics in this room make it a treat for musicians to play in. There is a good sound system with a Makie, 6 channel, board. The audience is there to listen, so some musicians could easily play in this room without a sound system.
Five years ago this open mic was started by; musician, poet and emcee, Chris Brandon. Chris has been host for 4 consecutive years. His mission was to find a formula that doesn't exclude anyone and to create a scene people can be part of. He certainly has succeeded in both, this is a popular open mic with a lot of talented performers showing up, like "Nati" a very dynamic, animated and powerful poet. "Otha" master of the beat-box.
Three and one half years ago Mr. Spots moved to its' present location on Leary Way, just south of Market Street. The open mic was already happening and that scene just moved with the business to a great spot.
As a back drop for this hub of music and poetry is a long high wall full of paintings by Heidi Rausch. Images dance around each other in a colorful display of light. Artists take turns displaying their works and barristas pull their shots and steam their brews.
I was standing at the bar, getting my beer, when I received a compliment on my set from Marcia Moonstar, a San Francisco "Hippie Poet" from the Haight-Ashbury days. She used to read at the US Cafe. She was preparing to do her new "Rap Poetry" with her new electronic drum module and amp, don't let the gray hair fool you! I had to leave before she got up but it was nice to get some positive feedback on my tunes from a woman of Marcias' background.
Don Fulton is a musician who gets around a lot trying his new material out in a live setting and keeping his performance skills sharp. He has been spending a lot of time at home building his studio, writing and recording songs. Don remembers buying a portable recorder when they first came out and has been doing home recording since. He started playing when he was eight years old, he loves old guitars and playing them. One of the reasons Don plays open mics is to meet like minded musicians like Gil, host of the EMP open mic. Gil and Don are both Beatles fans and you can see them jamming at the Liquid Lounge on Sunday night. Most of the time, you will see Don play his own tunes as this is where his passion lies. Don Fulton has put together a nice little 3 song EP that he gives away to promote his music, you can see him out there at one the many Seattle area open mics.
Well I hear from my friend Eva Tree that there is a new open mic at the Blue Star Cafe at 45th and Stone Way. Guess I'm going to have to Ramble on over and have a look!
Michael Guthrie is a singer/songwriter who regularly plays venues in the NW. , is a Victory Music sound volunteer and produced his own CD. He ran his own coffee house/cafe, The Village Green Cafe, in Kaslo, BC. '73-'79.
He studied sound engineering and recording at: Sound Master Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA in '87 . contact: moorafa@mindspring.com visit: www.moorafa.com