by Brad Butterfield
Originally printed March 1, 2023
The Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT)’s first open mic of the semester took place at the Buck House on a snowy February 22nd. The night began without a microphone, which would likely have been an issue at any other performing arts event. However, it seemed the crowd of nearly fifteen students were all aware of the same truth: The only necessary ingredient for an open mic night is willing participants. By all meaningful measures, the night was off to a perfect start.
Jack McCann, who goes by the stage name Mushroom Jack, announced to the growing audience that he had an amplifier cord in his room across campus. Then, as if he was a majestic snow bunny, Mushroom Jack sprinted out of the cozy Buck House to retrieve the cord.
Indigo Thomspon was first to take the stage. She opened the night with an original poem which she couldn’t remember when she originally wrote. She confidently set the tone for the night and closed with “Fate won’t let you live your life in vain,” to unanimous applause from the crowd.
In the meantime, our hero Mushroom Jack returned with the amp cord. Unfortunately, lady luck was not doing us any favors and the amplifier chord Mushroom Jack brought required a converter to plug into the amp. Undeterred, Mushroom Jack again braved the elements, to retrieve the right converter from his lair.
Without missing a beat, Julia Simmons took to the stage and began dropping joke after joke, as if she were a seasoned road comic. The crowd erupted in laughter and even began firing jokes back at Simmons.
“What do you call a cow with no legs?” an audience member shouted from the back of the room. “GROUND BEEF!”
This was a real hoot and absolute holler, obviously. There is never a bad time for dad jokes, depending on who you ask.
The atmosphere was so welcoming that I could not stand by like a journalistic fly on the wall. I have one joke ready at all times for critical moments like this. “What is the difference between a cottonball and a lizard? … A lot of things!”
After some minutes of jokes, there was a general consensus in the room that if we continued with the comedy, Jay Leno would be out of work.
Next, James Lara harnessed the now-rowdy room with a heartfelt poem simplifying the complexities of life and attachment, ending his set with “Desire and longing pulls you farther away.”
Jack Hellesoe, known as Bird Jack, was not to be confused with Mushroom Jack, I was warned. Bird Jack opened with a unique cover of “New Slang” by the Shins to the beat of various audience members on tambourines. Bird Jack then played an original song, written “during a time of social uncertainty.”
Having endured the chilly night air twice to get both an amplifier chord and converter, Mushroom Jack finally joined Bird Jack onstage. A solid cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River,” led to an unforgettable original performance of a song detailing the tribulations of a mushroom. It was Flight of the Conchords meets Pink Floyd meets Paul Stamets with a sprinkle of Mid 80’s Ozzy Osbourne.
Leaning into the finally functional microphone, Mushroom Jack belly-sang, “What would YOU do if I was a mushhhhhrooooom?”
He then paused for a perfectly timed guitar solo as Bird Jack held rhythm on his wonderfully stickered guitar. Reading the crowd’s energy, Mushroom Jack brought us back down like a seasoned symphony conductor, abruptly yelling into the mic with authority, “It’s antibacteriaaaaaaal!”
It was a night of firsts, too. With the support of the crowd, Isabella Jug got on stage to sing in front of people for her first time ever. Bird Jack improvised chords even though he’d never played through the song before. The level of talent in the room was only outdone by the complete support from everyone there.
Danika Zikas and Julia Simmons finished out the night with a song written in the throes of a mushroom trip their freshman year. The fungi-inspired song was being unveiled for the very first time for the audience huddled inside the Buck House. Jug provided gentle harmonies from the couch while Mushroom Jack laid out a soft guitar section to complete the soundscape. It was a beautiful team effort. The final act of the night was the roaring applause from the throng.
CCAT will be hosting monthly open mics throughout the semester. Find them on instagram @ccat.humboldt.