6th November 2017

Just last Thursday, I went back to the Muddy Creek Cafe in Bethania, North Carolina for another amazing open mic night. Not only did I have an awesome time and enjoy some great music by other musicians, but when I took the stage, I sang an original song, (U) Spit Me Out, and the following two covers:

  • Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley
  • Welcome To Your Life by Grouplove

My friend, Country Dan Collins, who hosts this event every week, and I had a conversation about songwriter during which he mentioned that it was OK to write a crappy song sometimes as long as continue to work on your craft, and I mentioned the Goo Goo Dolls frontman, Johnny Rzeznik, who wrote Iris for the City Of Angels soundtrack after a period of dealing with writer’s block that followed the Dolls’ success of their 1995 breakthrough hit, Name. I told Dan that Johnny said, “If it sucks, I don’t care,” as he was writing Iris. As an artist who writes music when the spirit moves me, I tend to agree that a song does not have to be perfect or a hit. It just has to come from your heart.

Remember that the open mic night at Muddy Creek happens every Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM with sign-ups starting 15 minutes earlier. Come on out one week, and show us what you’ve got!


25th October 2017 #BenjiMartinNC #concert #openmic #NCmusic #GSONCmusic

Last night, Westerwood Tavern was the setting for my first open mic performance in Greensboro since 2009. Like at Muddy Creek Cafe in Bethania last week, I felt at home at Westerwood because an old acquaintance from my Flatiron days, Blockheads leader Matty Sheets, welcomed me with open arms. 

The Flatiron was a club where I played from 2005 through 2009. It was located on Summit Avenue in downtown Greensboro until it shut down a few years ago.

Last night’s list of performers had about 20 people because besides us musicians, several comedians signed up. I was 18th on that list, and I treated the audience to renditions of:

  • I Won’t Back Down/Stay With Me — Tom Petty/Sam Smith
  • Have I Told You Lately — Sir Rod Stewart/Sir Van Morrison

Even Matty was impressed with how I have improved as an artist over these past few years since my last open mic performance at the Flatiron. Not only will I continue to sing at Westerwood and at Muddy Creek, but I will continue to find other open mic opportunities so that more people will hear my music.

24th October 2017

Just this past Thursday, I made the journey to the Muddy Creek Cafe in Bethania, a small Moravian town on the outskirts of Winston-Salem, for my very first open mic night there ever (as well as my first open mic night in the Winston-Salem area since 2012). As I was driving along U.S. Highway 52 North, I did not know what to expect when I got to Bethania, but as I got close to the cafe, I noticed the town’s effervescent beautiful with it’s Moravian-style scenery and brick crosswalks.

Once I entered the Muddy Creek Cafe, I said hey to an old friend, Country Dan Collins, who hosted the open mic there. I had not seen or spoken to him since 2012 when I played my last open mic at Chelsee’s, a coffeehouse that was located on Trade Street in Winston-Salem, and we sat down and caught up with one another. Dan is now a proud grandfather. His son, Nate, a drummer who lives in Dallas, Texas, has a daughter named Isla.

There was a lot of great talent at Muddy Creek that evening, including an incredible left-handed axeman who played Dan’s guitar upside down and two adorable ukulele-playing young ladies (one of whom played my favourite song, Riptide by Vance Joy). Of course, I cannot forget to mention Dan, whose set included a song that he wrote about his granddaughter and one that brought back memories of my first open mics in Winston-Salem, Open Mic At The Rubber Soul. To elaborate a bit, the Rubber Soul was a club on Burke Street where I played for a few months in 2004 and 2005, and that was where I met Dan, Drew Hofmann of White Light, future Vel Indica frontman Patrick Ferguson, and Adam Hutchins. Back to my performance at Muddy Creek, I was last on the bill, and my set consisted of the following songs:

  • I Won’t Back Down/Stay With Me — Tom Petty/Sam Smith
  • Take Me Back — original song
  • Have I Told You Lately — Rod Stewart/Van Morrison

Words cannot express enough how good it felt to share my music with people in the Winston-Salem area once again. It was like going home and seeing old friends, and I had a great time. I plan to return to the Muddy Creek Cafe again in at least a couple of weeks. If you are a musician, you are more than welcome to come on out to this lovely establishment one Thursday night. Sign-up start at 6:15 PM, and the event starts at 6:30 PM. I guarantee that you will have the time of your life!