I recently attended an open mic at the Liverpool Limp Lizard. As a resident of Liverpool, I’ve heard that the open mic has become legendary! As a musician, I knew that it was something special due to the caliber of musicians that will support anybody at all! The fact that they have a sound system run by guys who know what they’re doing makes it extra unique. I asked Dave Porter a few questions about the series and his passion for it shows in his responses:
“Open Mic Night at The Limp Lizard Liverpool celebrated its 3rd anniversary this past February. Every Tuesday night some of the best players in Upstate NY gather to play and to listen. A huge variety of talent of all kinds: We’ve got regulars who are established players and singers who come in to test out their latest creations, or to just play some favorite songs with the house band. We have Elvis impersonators, comedians, singer / songwriters on acoustic guitars, jazz bands, top shelf horn players, a capella singers, comedians, rappers, hip hoppers, country players, southern rockers, two pre-teen girls who sing while their dad plays guitar….you never know who’s going to show up on any given night.
The format goes like this: The House Band starts at 7:30 and plays for 40 minutes or so. House band consists of
Richie Melito – former guitarist, singer and music director of the world’s #1 Michael Jackson tribute band.
Edgar Pagan – revered bassist / singer of regional favorite ‘Grupo Pagan’ and ‘GPL’, jazz and latin icons.
Dave Porter – guitarist / singer with 80’s RCA recording aritsts ‘805.’
Dave Chitambar – long established jazz and rock drummer from Auburn.
…and usually some percussionists and keyboardists that have come in often enough to make ‘honorary house band.’ (Chris Warring, runs sound when Dave Porter is on stage playing, then they share the sound duties the rest of the night.)
After the house band plays, the guest artist (usually twice a month we have guest stars) comes up and does 4
songs, most often with the house band. After that, our ‘signup nazi’ Marie Brushell organizes all the players that have signed up to perform….it’s not an easy task. Some nights we’ll have 2 full bands signed up, 2 solo acoustic players, 4
lone drummers, a couple bass players, some singers, some electric guitar players, saxes, trumpets and trombones, a
washboardist and an electric percussionist….and they all have to be jigsawed together in a way that makes
Most nights we are so busy that a signup artist can expect to play 2 songs, solo or with the house band. A self
contained band can expect the same. We provide drums, bass amp, and 2 guitar amps, and most nights we have
keyboards set up. Artists can bring their own pedals but we don’t have time to switch out amplifiers or keyboards.
We have a great group of non-musicans as well that come every week just to listen. They have become familiar with
the house players and the regular sign up performers, and there’s an air of family as well as welcoming
encouragement for new performers and new audience members. And a huge bonus to all this…the food at The Limp
Lizard is fantastic. Southwestern cuisine at its finest.
What makes this open mic particularly good is that over its 3 1/2 years it has grown to attract a whole bunch of
CNY’s absolute finest musicians and singers, who will perform with their peers and then turn around and happily jam with, guide, and encourage the beginners and upcoming players that have signed up to play. On any given night you will find the house band putting new twists on songs it’s been playing for months, launching into tunes it’s never played before, or a song that Porter has never once sung before. Then the guest artist comes up, and often he has sent his
songs to the band members a few days prior and they have learned them for him. After that it’s whoever is signed up
and what they want to play. We’ve done Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads, Hendrix, oldies ‘Sunny,’ ‘Autumn Leaves,’ ‘Summertime,’ Since I Fell For You,’ Prince, BB King, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, CSN, Clapton, Beatles, Stones, just about everyone….and original songs by signup artists where Richie and Edgar grab the chord changes by watching the guy’s fingers on his guitar neck.
Some nights it is magic. ‘I Wish’ by Stevie Wonder with keys, 2 guitars, bass, drums, 2 percussionists, 2 trumpets,
trombone, sax, and 2 singers. 13 players is the record so far.”