Jumping up with the jam band 

What: Open Mic Jam Night

Who: Hosted by Phil Richard and friends

Where: Dusty’s

When: every Monday night from 9 p.m.

Some people might think a bar where some guy is asleep at a table a bad sign for an open mic night, but not anyone who was at Dusty’s last Monday. The sleeping giant awoke with unbridled passion once the guitars started. He became my new best friend for the night, Ray, and one of the most spirited table top dancers I’ve ever seen.

You could say it was an eclectic crowd for the first open mic night since the new bar was born. Sleeping Ray and me, some scruffy locals having a laugh around the beer taps, a selection of spunky ski instructors, some well-dressed boys playing pool and even a middle-aged American couple were just part of the 100 strong crowd that partied until last call.

Hosted by guitarist Phil Richard and friends from his many bands, there’s no chance this open mic night could ever be a fizzer. On vocals and percussion is Grateful Greg and on bass is J.P., both from Frost Heave and Whole Lotta Led fame. No matter how much you may suck, these guys could comfortably cover you. But that doesn’t mean any idiot can get up – there are rules to adhere to.

"Only the serious may apply. If you’re really bad, we’ll politely interrupt and offer you a big round of applause to get off," said Richard.

But don’t let that potentially embarrassing scenario deter you, for as long as you have a smile on your dial and a bit of an idea about music you’ll be welcomed into the warm arms of Whistler’s local musical community. Who knows? You may even land a regular gig out of it. That’s how it happened for singer Greg.

"I started out at open mics and eventually met the right people who enjoyed playing with me. They invited me into their bands and I’ve been professional for years ever since," he said.

Open mic nights are a mecca for dreamers and a reunion for those who have made it. Local roots and rock acoustic legend Leanne Lamour got up for a few numbers and another surprise guest was Rick Schein, sweating it out in a Hawaiian shirt and glasses. Under journalistic interrogation, the suburban-looking family man turned out to have been a guitarist in Mitch Ryder’s band. Ryder was best known for the hit Devil in a Blue Dress. Schein is an avid guitar collector from Michigan, who also has a condo in Whistler.

A couple of guys impressed the crowd with their harmonica skills and a few more singers, guitarists and bongo players got up to face their fears, enough so to culminate with one almighty jam session at the end.

Head to Dusty’s for a fun free night out each Monday through winter. You never know what might happen.

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