Every Tuesday night on the third floor of the Viking Union you can hear music, laughter and rhymes coming out of the Underground Coffeehouse. Open Mic Night, put on by AS Productions, is a chance For all aspiring performers to demonstrate their talents, but for some of these performers it becomes just a weekly routine.
Freshmen Cory Briar, Will Redford and Ted Kornegay are frequent Open Mic Night performers. If you’ve been to any Open Mic Nights this year, you’ve most likely seen at least one of their performances.
Redford and Kornegay make up the performing duo, Will and Ted. Between the two of them, they have over a decade of musical experience. Kornegay is trained in playing guitar and bass, while Redford plays guitar, mandolin and drums. They use their musical background to play original music ranging from serious to comedic.
“I like playing comedy songs because I don’t like being serious most of the time. Music is supposed to be really fun and it gets boring when you play serious stuff most times,” Kornegay said. “Whenever you do comedy it’s a lot more shocking - especially if it’s crude.”
Kornegay draws his comedic style from influences such as Flight of the Conchords and Tenacious D, though he says his favorite subject to write about is Macklemore as he is “really fun to make fun of.”
The other half of the duo, Redford, doesn’t focus on comedy as much as his counterpart does.
“I usually write more serious stuff, I love Led Zeppelin and The Beatles,” he said. “I think my main focus with music, rather than with an instrument, is songwriting.”
Like Will and Ted, Cory Briar is often spotted in the Underground on Tuesday nights. Briar plays original songs and covers on his mandolin and says he finds the atmosphere of the Open Mic Night refreshing—which keeps him coming back.
“Most Open Mic Nights you go and even while you’re playing there are people chatting,” Briar said. “Here you come and it is dead silent, people are there to listen. If you’re doing comedy, they’re there to laugh at you, if you’re playing music, they’re there just to hear you play music, which is so nice. It’s like getting to put on a concert every week.”
Briar, who has been playing mandolin for five years, describes his music style as a mixture of jazz, folk and classical. He creates his own pieces, which focuses more on instrumentals rather than songwriting, and derives his inspiration from the Punch Brothers, Bruce Hornsby and Radiohead.
While Briar typically performs solo, he has also collaborated with other artists in the Open Mic Night community.
“It’s a community here. The more you embed yourself in it, the more you’re going to get out of it,” he said.
Briar said he uses music as a way of expressing himself and connecting with others and he believes Open Mic Night is the best way to do so.
“I’ve developed this theory that everybody has a world inside of them and art is kind of a manifestation of that world, screaming to get out,” Briar said. “It’s sort of a creative release - but it can be more than that too. It’s a way of connecting.”
To see Briar, Kornegay, Redford and plenty of others perform, come to Open Mic Night every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the third floor of the VU.