Open Mic Open Minds
Through the wooden doors and large glass windows the smell of fresh brewed coffee lingers in the air. Among the collection of art strung on the walls, lush green plants rest in the corner parallel to the mix of comfy couches and chairs. The display case shows off a myriad of a muffins, brownies, and fruit parfaits as young couples and colleges students fill the café seats. While New Moon Café offers an eclectic ambience and a variety of vegetarian dishes, the café simultaneously provides a venue for poets and musicians alike. The café opens seven days a week, which includes Tuesday Open Mic Night. The Tuesday afternoons allow relatively unknown performers to showcase their savvy skills to the small crowd filling the café seats. A rising star commonly seen performing at Open Mic Night, is Oshkosh West junior Connor Metz. Having found his niche in New Moon, Metz embraces the café community.
“The atmosphere in New Moon in general is really welcoming; everyone knows each other. I’m friends with the owner and he’s actually the one who wanted me to start hosting. Everyone is just really supportive of each other,” he said.
New Moon plays a vital role in the lives of local musicians. Gaining an accepting environment in which to share music is the first step that up-and-comers often struggle to find. Metz feels that New Moon generously offers an outlet.
“I can share my music with the rest of the small music community in Oshkosh,” he said.
Having performed at New Moon for roughly a year, Metz encourages others to get past the fear of public performance and just enjoy the ride.
“You need to practice a lot before you go up. I made the mistake of not really practicing so the first few times I did it I was really bad at it,” said Metz. “Just make sure you know what you're doing. For New Moon in particular, the people there are really nice and really supportive, even if it’s your first time or you’re not very comfortable doing it. If you want to do something, do it, whether you enjoy it or not it’ll at least be an experience.”
Metz fondly recalls his first time taking the dimly-lit wooden stage that rests at the edge of the café and how he has developed as a performer during his time there.
“My first time at New Moon, I read some of my poetry. I was 14, freshman year, and it was pretty nerve racking. People in the audience seemed to really like it, so I decided to keep going. New Moon has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I’ve actually started hosting there,” said Metz. “[New Moon Café] is probably the main reason why I got into music in the first place.”
Although Metz has found a home performing at New Moon, he has higher aspirations for himself and wants to take his music beyond the confines of a café.
“I definitely want to make a career out of [music] and I’m actually starting to make some pretty good progress with that. I recently started a band with two guys here at West, Ryan Owen and Andy Fritz, and a former West student, JT Casper,” said Metz.
Everything Went Silent, which composes of Metz on bass and vocals, Casper on guitar and vocals, Owen on drums, and Fritz on lead guitar, defines itself primarily as post-hardcore in style. Despite the fairly recent birth of the band, the musicians are raring to go and have already booked professional studio time for this winter.
Although pursuing his dream with Everything Went Silent, Metz still enjoys the independence of playing solo in his free time, not yet willing to leave his roots at New Moon Café behind.
While performing live can be nerve racking, the Café provides a place to do it. No matter the skill level, all are welcome to take the stage. Young artists can follow their dreams, but they first need to take the first step and to get their foot in the door. There is no bigger advocate than Metz in regards to opening that door.
"Do what you want to do,” said Metz. “It’s good to take other people’s advice but you’re the one playing so it’s your opinion that matters the most. ”