INTRODUCING WASTED YEARS TUNNEL SESSIONS – AN OPEN MIC NIGHT FOR THE REST OF US
A few weeks ago, on a particularly lazy Sunday afternoon, Leigh and myself were mulling about our North London flat looking for stimulus. It was a chilly afternoon—after what had been quite a sunny Spring week in London—and the thought of a grabbing our acoustic guitars and heading for a cozy open mic night in a quiet pub seemed quite appealing.
Open mic nights, whilst usually fairly low key/somewhat sombre affairs, have long been a favourite of ours when the mood strikes for a busking session but the weather is not all that favourable. We shot a text message through to our good friend and Wasted Years bedfellow, Adam John Fraser, to see if he was game. Predictably, his reply came through almost immediately. In a fortunate twist of fate, he’d taken his guitar to work with him this particular Sunday and was keen as mustard to convene at our apartment for a post-work pesto pasta, and then roll out to a local open mic night.
By the time Adam (delayed by TFL’s classic Sunday train service disruptions) was finally knocking on our door, there was little time to make it to the open mic in time for registration—and absolutely no time to enjoy a pre-performance carbo-loading session. Since we were all famished and had little money to buy the obligatory pint at the open mic, we opted for the pesto over the performance, and threw a pot on the stove.
Whilst chowing down on the last morsels of our Saisbury’s ‘taste the difference‘ penne (definitely worth the extra 60p), I proposed that the evening need not be a total loss if we were to hit up a local underpass or tunnel for an impromptu open mic night of our own. I mean, we could buy some brews for rock-bottom prices at a local off-license, we could play more than three songs each, and it was certainly likely to be more lively than your average open mic night. As we thought about it, it seemed crazy that we hadn’t done this earlier.
Most open mic nights—or gigs for that matter—are incredibly sterile; with punters standing on the outskirts of the dance floor, drinking their mandatory drink and watching their friend’s band for half a set before they fuck off home in time to watch Game of Thrones. Furthermore, the PA usually sounds likes arse, and if (God forbid) someone does start getting a bit raucous, there’s usually a bouncer quickly tapping them on the shoulder. Come to think of it, most live music venues seem to create the absolute opposite environment to what they are striving to achieve. Hosting out own open mic night in a tunnel was sure to be a hoot. We could sit around on milk crates, drink cheap beers and enjoy the rich natural reverb of a small, enclosed concrete space. Who knows, we may even attract some local bums. So that was that. We would grab our acoustic guitars and make for a local underpass that Leigh and I knew for a fact boasted particularly wild acoustics.
What ensued was a wonderful evening of live music, as the three of us took turns in performing our respective campfire jams, whilst the others clapped along. It was a totally organic experience. When passersby stopped to take in a song or two, they did so out of their own enjoyment rather than obligation, and sure enough, when the bums rocked up, things got lively. The following day, we grabbed a pint with the guys at Wasted Years Records to regale them with our tales from the evening prior and to tell them of our plans to make this street ho-down a regular thing. Given that the whole evening revolves around cheap booze, music and bums, the guys gave the initiative their rubber stamp of support and Wasted Years Records Tunnel Sessions was born. Enjoy the following documentation from our inaugural Tunnel Session, and if you’re a busker, musician, drunkard or local street urchin, keep your eyes peeled for our calling card — we want you at the next one.