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'Open mike nite' leads to band and Whimsy gig

August 22, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

When Shane White moved to Danville from Lexington last year, he quickly tapped into the budding music offerings at Two Roads Cafe. And since December, White, a guitarist, vocalist and now owner of Two Roads with Jerry Houck, has been hosting "open mike nites" there a few times each month.

"I use this as a vehicle to meet new people," says White. "I want to grow the music scene. I love Danville - I want to stay here. When I moved to Danville, I wanted to put together a crusade to create a local music scene. I want to create the scene more than be an example."

Now, a group of open mikers will join White Thursday for the Whimsy in Weisiger concert. Shane White and The Two Roads All-Star Band also includes Joe Caldwell, guitar; Tim Readnoir, guitar; Rolando Burch, bass; Eben David Henson, drums; Roy Edmiston, percussion; and Jon Waters, harmonica.

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"It's a mix of people who come up here and perform for open mike," notes White, an engineer. "It is going to be a lot of fun."

White says his acoustic guitar playing both is a fun activity and his passion.

"Certainly, working in a technical field, I needed an artistic and creative outlet. ... (The open mike nites) are a great tool to get people out of their shells and encourage participation. (They're) a good tool of friendship."

He focuses on acoustic rock and folk, performing a combination of original and cover material. At Two Roads, he says, he often takes a number of requests.

A long-time musician, White says he began playing when he was 8.

"At the community center, I took lessons from a blind teacher for a while," White says. "Then I got to college and realized it was a good opportunity to play bars and restaurants and fraternity parties. I put myself through college playing (gigs)."

He took to the guitar because his dad played it. "I started playing to imitate him," White explains.

The challenge of his musical endeavors is keeping his energy up and playing "new approaches."

"Keeping it fresh," he says, adding, "I like to do mostly interpretations of covers, but I play them in a different style. I challenge people to recognize a song sometimes."

There are now 70-100 on most Wednesday nights

Those people at Two Roads have grown from a handful last winter to 70-100 on most Wednesdays nights, which also is half-price martini night at the cafe.

"The Wednesday night crowd is diverse," White notes. "There are professionals, Centre students and retirees. It's a real cross-section of the town.

"The nights evolve depending on who is there. Each week is a different flavor - that is one way we keep it fresh. The dinner set is in at 7, then the cocktail crowd is at 8:30-ish. Then other instruments pop in. ... We do it as an open mike format, which also creates a lot of variety. People like to hear their friends play."

Adds Houck, "Shane is a draw. He draws people in and makes people comfortable."

And White, who alternates with open mike co-emcee Paul Sirimongkhon, is part of why Wednesday nights are popular at Two Roads Cafe.

"Shane really does a great job in being a catalyst for raising the bar for the quality of music for these people," Houck notes. "It's upscale karaoke.

"Open mike is the talk of the town on Thursday. ... A few key customers make this a happening thing mid-week. It's every walk of life, every personality you can imagine under one roof. We have had people from Ohio come just to play on Wednesday night because they want to play here, and several very talented musicians have come through. It's a venue to play with other quality musicians."

So the sounds of the popular open mike nite will pervade Weisiger Park when White and company bring their tunes for everyone's enjoyment.

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