Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Super Cool and Sometimes Weird Flipnotics Open Mic in Weird Austin

November 17, 2012

It was a sign. Definitely a clear sign. I was pressed for time and got back into downtown Austin at 7:20 PM. I had about six choices of open mics to attend, but a reader of this blog – the nicely-named Christy Moore – had suggested to me that I attend one called Flipnotics. I checked a list given to me by two Austin musicians in Paris, and Flipnotics was also one of the two best suggested for Thursday nights. So I looked for the address and found… it was 10 to 15 minutes walk down the street from my hotel, without even turning a corner…. Furthermore, it had been suggested that I show up by 7:30 to sign up, although the open mic starts at 8 PM. Could things be set up any better than that?

So, yes, I saw it as a sign. A freaky, really cool sign that the first open mic I should attend was a neat 15 minute walk from my hotel without me planning it. I went, got to this funky cafe-cum-bar called Flipnotics, and found the very cool Lisa setting up the stage. A few minutes later, around 7:45, she came out to the terrace where all the hippie-like musicians stood around discussing open mics, and told us the list was open. Oh, but first, she made sure that two or three musicians who did not get a chance to play the previous week were first to choose their spots on the list.

I knew from then on that I was in good hands, this was a class act, that Lisa was a true blue open mic MC. I would see that even more as the evening progressed. Oh, I almost lost faith when once she had got those first names on the list she basically said the list was open, go at it…. and it was each man, woman and weirdo to him or herself as we all descended like crazy people on the list to try and write our names in the 20 or so open slots. (I think there were 17 musicians.)

My mention of weird is NOT an insult. Austin, you should know – if you do not already – has as its motto: Keep Austin Weird. So I would have been disappointed, I now see in retrospect, if there was not some weirdness and weird musicians at this open mic. I was to be rewarded with weird!!! But only two of the 17 could really be called weird. So it was not in any way an impediment to the beauty of the evening. It was fun.

In fact the whole evening was fun. There was a real broad cross-section of musicians, songwriters, and even a bit of rap-type stuff. The place has a fabulous cozy feel to it – funky like I said – and Lisa is very strict about keeping the audience quiet to listen. And if you want to talk, you can go out a little beyond the terrace, or porch, and speak and warm up. Or you can go through the doors into the bar area and talk at the bar, order a beer or glass of wine – and some kind of Mexican food I do not recall the name of, but which I ate for dinner. It was okay.

It turns out that there has been an open mic at Flipnotics for years, but it had ceased to exist for a few years too before Lisa took it over a few years ago. Lisa is one of these special breed of open mic MCs who has a style about her that is really pleasant, and a basic openness and love of the musicians who come to perform. A real, cool, traditional open mic worth the visit. And that sign of it being just down the street could not have been more clear. Hope I do as well over the next few days….


  1. Dude, you DO get around!! I have been following you on facebook for a few months now–Asia to Austin and stops in between! I have returned home from Germany to the San Francisco Bay area for a few months now, so if you get out this way and want info on some of them, let me know.

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