The First Open Mic Night in China
Turns out SARS – for those either unwilling or unable to leave – was a great motivator. For those stuck here it put a lot of things in perspective. For Jade Gray, it inspired him to create a place where he and his friends could hang out and feel at home. For Canadian Skott Taylor, it made him a little nuts. As a part-time English teacher (as we all were back then), he along with Australian Rich Akers and some other close friends (including future Lush Product Manager Andrea Gabel) found themselves out of work and at loose ends. After a very short stint answering phones in the Modern English HQ basement, Skott decided he’d had enough. He decided to put on a play.
So directed by Skott, Andrea and Rich, along with Graham Becker, Renee Ng and more spent the Summer rehearsing Canadian playwright George F. Walker’s Suburban Motel. The play ran for a grand total of 2 nights, performed to a packed house (hey, there was nothing else going on) and represented a major creative accomplishment for the amateur troupe.
Excited by this, and inspired by a friend’s event back in Canada, Skott decided that our next project would be starting an Open Mic in China. But where would we start? Turns out that Jade – hot off the opening of Lush – was in the audience of the play opening night. Despite that, he agreed to let Skott and Rich base their new Open Mic night at Lush. And the rest is history!
Since then, Lush has played host – been at least a temporary home – to some of Beijing’s most talented performers, including but certainly not limited to: Nico Torres, Jason and Kanene Pipkin, Jess Meider, Abigail Washburn, Helen Feng (from Ziyo and Nova Heart), Tavey Lean, Jeff Deutsch, Stevie Mac, Jake Gerl, our current amazing hosts Thierry and Erin, and so many more.
The Lush Open Mic has become a true Beijing institution and is still, many years later, a treasured spot on the road of any musician in this city.
Open Mic Host Hall of Fame
Current Hosts: Thierry & Erin
Before landing in Beijing, Thierry has done stints as an engineer, a cook, and a barman, but now does what he loves, playing music!
Erin hails from Oregon in the US, teaches high school music and plays the sax. Thierry and Erin are the talented hosts of the first ever Open Mic in Beijing.
Thierry’s favorite drink is Whiskey Ginger, and Erin loves Brooklyn Lager.
Open Mic Founders: Rich & Skott
The Founding Rock Brothers of what would grow to become in institution in Beijing, Rich Akers and Skott Taylor started the Lush Open Mic night in October of 2003. Skott became known for his amazing original songs… and also for a great version of Tribute, the Greatest Song in the World. Rich’s iconic song was a cover of Semi Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind, but he was mainly known for not wearing sleeves.
For Rich & Skott, Open Mic is fueled by the humble Corona.
Before starting his eponymous 9 piece funk and soul rocketship Tavey Lean and the Solid Gold Dream Machine, talented musician and founder of 4 Corners Tavey was a host of Open Mic night. As those few who were there can attest, Tavey’s first time on the Lush stage was something very special indeed.
Jason & Kanene
Equally talented on the guitar, keyboard, bass, drums and pretty much anything he he put his hands on, we were lucky to have musical savant Jason Pipkin and his similarly gifted wife Kanene as Open Mic hosts for many years.
Now back in the States, they are part of alt-folk band The Lone Bellow and perform regularly at venues and music festivals across the country, and were just recently on Jimmy Kimmel!