Open mic night switching focus to local youth

By Brady Grove, Times Reporter

Two local businesses are working together to appeal to Strathmore’s young musicians with an open mic night at HOB’s Hobbies.
The initiative is the brainchild of Max SPL Music and HOB’s Hobbies, who wanted to gear their open mic nights towards the youth.
However, the event is having trouble gaining momentum with the community’s younger population and their involvement, leading the two businesses to turn to the Strathmore High School (SHS) and music teachers around town.
“I remember being a kid in town and not having a place to play,” said Daniel Wiewel, co-host and owner of Max SPL Music. “Having somewhere that has live music that a kid can come out and listen to and then one day, if they feel like it, to get up and play. (That) is what I’m trying to build.”
Wiewel is no stranger to the local music scene, having competed in week four of the local Battle of the Bands competition last summer. He acknowledged there is much entertainment available for adults, but that options for the youth are limited.
“If you don’t have a band, who do you go play with?” asked Wiewel. “I want a kid who’s never played in front of a crowd before to be able to come see what it’s like.”
According to Wiewel, the open mic nights have been ongoing for several months and have seen mixed reception. Some nights have seen up to seven artists and other nights the organizers struggled to find performers. Yet on the nights with lower turnouts, the musicians in attendance have a chance to work on songs and exchange ideas.
“We had this one young man last month play his first set in public using his own writing,” said co-host and HOB’S Hobbies owner John Hilton O’Brien. “He was very well received but not many youth participate yet.”
Hilton O’Brien believes there are three reasons why they haven’t had strong youth participation yet: the event is new; teenagers may not know about it because live music is tailored to adults; and students associate musical performance with school and not as a recreational activity. HOBS Hobbies already supports the Strathmore Musical Arts Society and jumped on board with Max SPL Music to further stand behind Strathmore’s music community.
“We are trying to reach out more to the youth, the under 18 crowd, who don’t really have a place to perform in town at the moment,” said Wiewel. “That’s my main goal. But we do have some retirees that come out every week who are looking for a place to share some tunes.”
The show starts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10 and runs two hours, with donations being accepted for the Strathmore Overnight Shelter.
For more information, contact Daniel Wiewel at 403-464-4966 or the Max SPL Music Facebook page.