Open mic brings out acoustic performances in J. Lee’s

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bowley, Flickr

The College Programming Board and Ramapo Music Club co-hosted an acoustic open mic at the J. Lee’s Student Lounge last Thursday night. J. Lee’s was a change of scenery, as both the CPB and RMC usually host their open mics in the first floor lounge of Linden Hall. However, the nearly 60 students that gathered did not seem to mind the change of venue.

Freshman Reilly Hacker said, “I actually like the J. Lee’s atmosphere better because there are more places to sit and it’s not so dark.” 

As always, all students were welcome to sign up and perform, but the CPB and RMC selected Ken Raspas, Chris Wilson and Jerard Guevarra to headline the final hour of the showcase. This open mic put a special spotlight on musical performances that relied solely on acoustic instruments like guitars and ukuleles. Using those instruments, students could use a more intimate approach to songs by artists like Justin Bieber and My Chemical Romance. 

Jesse Hans began the night with two slow piano covers, including the timely fitting “Autumn Leaves,” by Nat King Cole. A few acts later, close friends Mitchell Manasala and Jerard Guevarra took the stage. 

The vocals from the freshman-senior duo were immaculately smooth, as both singers reached their falsettos effortlessly. The crowd was impressed by their immense range, and that it was only their first time collaborating together on stage. Manasala explained his favorite part of performing is establishing a lasting connection with his audience. “The people need someone to listen to. You could sing by yourself but it’s not the same without that connection,” said Manasala. 

Freshman Nicole Aleta performed the crowd-pleasing “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles on keyboard. This was Aleta’s second time performing at an open mic this year, but she has performed at many open mics in her hometown. 

She explained, “Every time is different. Each time is a learning experience.” This open mic in itself was a learning experience for many regular performers who are wired to the acoustics of the Linden lounge. A different room presents different acoustics for both the audio engineers and performers to adapt to. 

Breaking up the flow of rock and pop covers, freshman Bishav Rasali performed a song on his acoustic guitar by the Nepali band Full Circle. Rasali explained the group disbanded nearly 10 years ago, but were primarily known for playing acoustic sentimental music. 

Jerard Guevarra returned to the stage as the final act of the night to debut a few of his original songs for the audience. His sweet, weightless vocals combined with his vividly intricate lyrics that float from “brown eyes” to “pastel skies” made for memorable, reflective compositions. 

Guevarra explained, “As a writer, performing is a good outlet because I love seeing how people react to my music. That’s what really helps me grow as a writer.”