East County musicians growing in open mic forum in Rancho San Diego
They have day jobs, but on Saturdays you can find them jamming together on the Starbuck’s patio in Rancho San Diego. Self-admitting, they are starving musicians that refuse to give up their passion for music and performing, but they call the expanding diversified group of free-playing musicians Open Mic Rancho San Diego.
Beginning on the Starbuck’s patio six years ago for Memorial Day and Labor Day in nice weather until it too chilly in the evenings, the first few years it was one performing group and then other musicians began showing up. Now the group, by word of mouth and a Facebook page is growing.
“Last year it kind of exploded,” said Paul Grinvalsky. “Last summer went really well so we decided to keep in going on through the fall. Because of the weather, during fall and winter we went back and forth from here to downtown El Cajon and different restaurants, like. The weather is great now, so we are here during the summer.”
Teri Hoffman said Open Mic went into full force about two years ago. She said the audience is great, so they abandoned good weathered Friday nights and now play all year.
“Our drive comes from being able to play with other musicians and we have a lot of fun doing this,” said Hoffman. “I’ve advertised for musicians on Craigslist and post performances on our Facebook page. I’ve invited a lot of musicians, befriended a few and it keeps me busy all the time.”
Madi Jones said this has turned into a full-time job for Hoffman and she does it freely.
“She is on the computer all the time, putting videos online, editing them and cutting them,” said Madi Jones.
Grinvalsky is a musician and attorney, and not necessarily in that order. With an undergraduate in classical guitar, he is a lawyer by day and a musician by heart.
“I am practicing law, it’s not a bad day job, but I still love playing music,” he said. “I play a little of everything and fill in where I can.”
He said the videotaping and posting performances on Facebook made a huge difference in getting other musicians involved and larger crowds at the venue.
Regulars come down here all the time and have really added to the success of Open Mic, said Grinvalsky.
“More and more people have been coming back to watch and to play,” he said. “It’s really gotten huge and it just keeps running. We just keep jamming until it gets to cold. We have been looking for venues, especially in the winter and we do this for free, but it is very rewarding.”
He said many of the repeat musicians have spent so much time together, they now mix and match doing songs together.
David Farrell said he has been involved with the group since its early conception and his association with the group of musicians is a blessing. On Saturday, he played a six-hour stretch on the drums. He said over the years, and different venues, they get together and play for businesses facing financial obstacles.
“It keeps me out of trouble,” he said. “But seriously, more than that, I believe the friends I have met and the ability to share the music I love is a gift from God.”
Joyce MacKinnon, Rancho San Diego, said she began coming on Friday nights and sat there freezing to death. But now, she along with friends comes there every Saturday afternoon.
“It’s neat because they have different kinds of music,” she said. “This is good for the community. I love watching the seniors that live across the street, they are always walking through and wind up sitting down an listening for a while.”
Open Mic Rancho San Diego is looking for other venues to play, especially in foul weather, said Grinvalsky. They have a page on Facebook and in good weather you find them at the Rancho San Diego Starbucks on Jamacha Road from 2 p.m. until the chill chases them away.