Walter Hagen, when he retired, spent
a lot of time in here He called Lil Bos his second home, co-owner Nancy Freund said.
Blues, rock, folk, and country musicians have found the same comfort within the bars lacquered wood walls. With the support of Darla Rowland and Dan Babiarz, Traverse City musicians can test their talent in front of a live audience at open-mic night on Fridays.
Rowland, who works at the Grand Traverse Resort, and Babiarz, who is involved in food marketing, have been hosting Lil Bos open mic night for six years. They are musicians themselves and understand how difficult it can be to find a place to play. Rowland plays bass and sings while Babiarz is the lead guitar and sings in their own band, Incognito.
We are all musicians, and we have to stick together, Rowland said. If we cant count on each other, then who can you count on?
Its not uncommon for either Rowland or Babiarz to loan equipment, or even jump in and jam when a band needs someone to fill a spot. They feel they should support anyone who has the guts to perform in front of a crowd.
We want to give them a lot of support, accommodate them, and have them come back, Babiarz said of the players. We will definitely plug and promote anyones upcoming show.
Rowland and Babiarz want the musicians who sign up for open-mic to feel like they are welcome. Rowland bakes cookies for participants around the holidays, and Babiarz hosts an annual musicians softball game.
The two have seen everything from indie-rock to folk musicians striking wood boxes with their hands.
You really never know who is going to walk in that door, Rowland, said.
Its unbelievable how much stuff we have packed in this place.
Regardless of what kind of musician or who has signed-up, Rowland and Babiarz give the same amount of time to each band. Its completely first-come, first-serve said Rowland.
You live and die by the list, Rowland said. If you are the third person on the list then I am not going to bump you.
Lil Bos open mic night has been a place where many local musicians and bands get started.
The heavy metal rock band SMYT, has been together for two years, released two CDs, and are gearing up for a third. They have played venues ranging from Streeters to The Loading Dock, yet the first time they ever played together was at Lil Bos open-mic night. Rowland and Babiarz have even engineered the soundboard for the headbangers band outside of open mic.
Darla and Dan are not selfish people; they would rather be a part of something than have that something be about them, Dane Deroshia, lead singer of SMYT said. They have supported us from the beginning, no one knows how to mix our sound on the board better
Like SMYT, Hursh had its early beginnings at Lil Bos open-mic night; they are now playing at Le Naros Pub in Lake Leelanau on Friday nights. They have found it difficult to find gigs in Traverse City because there are a lot musicians fighting for the same crowds.
You cant throw a cat in this town without hitting a musician, its very competitive. said Guy Hursh, lead guitarist.
The bars that do feature live music are kick-ass, but there are only a handful of them in Traverse City. Ben Hursh, lead singer of Hursh said. It doesnt matter what kind of musician you are, Darla and Dan will always have a spot for you and will support you.
Rowland and Babiarz have also given Lil Bos a chance to test out new talent trying to find a regular gigs.
If you want to play here [at Lil Bos regularly] come to open mic night, sign-up and we will let the crowd decide, Sal Capone general manager at Lil Bos said.
Sol de Luna (formerly Bo Bossa), Hands Down, and Egon are all bands that have auditioned at open-mic night and have played paying gigs for Capone. All three of these bands Capone booked after hearing them play at open-mic night.
These are young musicians struggling to see if they have it; thats what open-mic is all about, Capone said. It gives them a place to play other than a garage or basement.
Open mic night at Lil Bos is on Friday from 10:30-1:30 pm. For more information go to Rowland and Babiarzs band web site www.incognitorocks.net