It started with this 1998 story. Shot and edited by Mike Daly (using old school A/B roll dissolves), the piece was about Open Mic Night at Eddie’s attic. It was a lifestyle-type feature, the sort in which I trafficked in the late 90s as a feature-reporting franchise guy at WAGA.
The story led to an offer from Eddie Owen, the club’s owner: We need judges for our semi-annual Open Mic Night Shootout. The Shootout is a contest featuring winners from previous open mic night contests. As I recall, I was one of ten judges. Another judge was Roni Sarig, then the music editor of Creative Loafing (and husband of the lovely Danielle Dardashdi, freelance Atlanta TV reporter).
A succession of singer-songwriter types appeared on stage, almost all of them bearing guitars. Since they’d won previous open mic nights, almost all of them had talent.
Eddie served the judges all the free beer we wanted, and I had a couple. Maybe more. My mood became increasingly contrary as the night wore on. One performer was pitiful, as I recall. All the other judges gave her a thumbs down; I gave her the only thumbs up. It was a mercy vote.
At one point, a duo came on stage called the Lo-Fi Masters. They were two too-cheery white guys with guitars and enormous skill. They were perky and cute. I despised them. They emerged winners of that night’s shootout, despite the fact that I voted against them at every opportunity. I enjoyed the evening, but mostly forgot the details.
About a year later, I ran into Sarig at an event at Manuel’s Tavern. “Hey– who knew we’d launch the career of John Mayer,” he said to me. To which I said, “Huh?”
I take no credit. But this story seems to come to mind whenever Mayer makes news. Maybe I can stop telling it now.
Mayer does not appear in the video above. I don’t think he was there the night we shot the piece. If so, we sidestepped him. However, Jennifer Daniels is in the video.
Eddie Owen never invited me back again as a judge.