Mics open for all

William Loftis performs at The Kitchen Pass open mic night

William Loftis performs at The Kitchen Pass open mic night

Parker Willis

A local open mic night host has moved to another location, but his friend and band mate has stuck around to “continue the tradition.”

Nate Robusto, the new host of Champs’ open mic night on Wednesday and drummer for Cinna the Poet, said he’s been to all but five of the events since Josh Mullen started hosting it three years ago.

“Tradition is important to me,” Robusto said. “And I just want to give people the same opportunity I had. Being able to play in front of a non-critical audience like this has been a big help to me musically.”

Mullen, lead singer of Cinna the Poet and six year veteran open mic night host, didn’t say why he moved his event to The Kitchen Pass five weeks ago. But he did say he’s sure The Kitchen Pass has the best drink specials Wednesday night in Joplin, open mic or not. No matter the reason for the move, Mullen has continued to draw crowds and performers alike.

“It’s the biggest in Joplin,” Mullen said. “If you’re a poet, a musician, a comedian or any other type of performer you’ll be seen by the most people here.”

Knowing this, Robusto has tried to change the tempo and idea behind his hosting to keep performers and crowds coming in to Champs.

“My open mic night allows just about anything,” Robusto said. “I’ve even got a couple of friends who want to start showing short films. I want the most eclectic combination of performers possible. Even if we need to set up for your performance come early and I’ll help you.”

Robusto said his idea is to have a “real open” mic night.

“Even if a comedian comes up and doesn’t get laughs we’ll let him keep trying,” Robusto said.

But Robusto said he doesn’t want to take away from Mullen’s night – he is trying to gather his own crowd.

“Josh is one of my closest friends and we support each other,” Robusto said. “I’m very appreciative to him for starting the tradition here.”

And even though Robusto is taking his place hosting the Champs event, Mullen doesn’t have any hard feelings.

“I hope all the open mic nights do well, because the more musicians we have playing in town the more the music scene will grow,” Mullen said. “Nothing negative can come from there being more outlets for art.”