By Liam Woodworth-Cook
While open mics are fairly common in any city, they aren’t always accessible to people under 21. Every Thursday night at 7 p.m. my old housemate and friend Sam Balentine opens the stage for some all-ages music and fun. Lasting till about 9, the B.GOOD open mic has a close, intimate feel. For those who want to wet their throats with beer, B.GOOD has several craft beers on taps but runs a Thursday special: $2 PBR’s.
Sam isn’t the only host; the other host is Cabbage, a Portland musician of blowing talent. Cabbage plays a wide variety of woodwind instruments among other sounds. He’s one of the most animated harmonica players I’ve seen. He vocalizes along with instruments, dances, taps percussion and plays a fiery melodica. All in all, a minstrel of many talents. Sam is a songwriter frequenting every open mic in Portland and is known for such. He plays covers and original pieces and will soon be out with an EP.
For seating there’s a couple tables and the bar, though a whole room of seating is in a room over if you don’t mind not seeing the players play. I’ve read poetry several times; Sam and Cabbage are welcoming to any level of talent that somebody’s willing to share. After a run-through of the list, the magic happens. When I lived with Sam he wasn’t yet hosting the B.GOOD open mic but would state it was his favorite, for the end of the night affair. Everyone is invited to cram up on the stage (sometimes the whole room) and jam together. Sometimes it’s a couple of numbers, sometimes it’s only one piece running 15 minutes. The sounds get whacky, solos depart and return to the rhythm. The jam I attended I read a poem, elaborating and riffing off of it as we all improvised for close to 20 minutes. There’s a recording somewhere.
If you’re hungry, B.GOOD serves burgers, fries and salads, a “healthy spin” on fast food. You can order at the bar on the second floor and wait for your food as you enjoy the sounds strummed off the stage. It’s certainly the most bizarre open mic I’ve seen or heard stories of in Portland. Sometimes a didgeridoo shows up bellowing into the night. It’s an easy-going, light-hearted short night of songs and jams; Sam and Cabbage don’t disappoint.
Categories: Arts & Culture