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Frances Griffey

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Cal Poly’s radio station, KCPR, will host its quarterly Open Mic event this Thursday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC). Acts ranging from music to poetry to comedy are expected to leave the audience satisfied and keep them laughing, singing and dancing through the evening.

“The whole point is to create a very relaxing space so that people feel comfortable performing, and so they are in a laid-back mood when they watch the performances,” event coordinator Finn Warfield said.

He emphasized the diversity of acts KCPR tries to promote during these events, saying a few full bands, solo musicians, poets and standup comics will perform at the open mic.

“It provides an outlet for many students living on campus and off to showcase their talent or come see new talent they haven’t seen before,” he said.

Here’s a sneak peek at Thursday’s performers:

Abby Dorrell

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As a sophomore architecture student, it’s a little hard (okay, maybe more than a little) to write poetry with the constant projects and classes bombarding a daily school-filled schedule. Dorrell’s solution: write anyway.

“It’s a lot of writing in class when I should be paying attention, or writing at odd hours of the night,” she said. “It’s one of those things where I lose sleep over it, but it’s worth losing sleep over.”

You can find lines of poetry scrawled on the back of her tests, assignments and between lecture notes.

“Sometimes I’ll forget that I’ve written stuff and I unearth a piece of paper from the bottom of my backpack that I wrote four months ago,” she said.

Dorrell can’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing poetry.

“I was going through my bedroom at one point over summer break and found poems I was writing when I was 5 in purple crayon,” she said. “It’s not like I choose to do it, it’s just something I’ve always done.”

Common themes in Dorrell’s pieces are people, personal experiences, relationships and psychology.

“A lot of my poems are about dynamics between people and how it gets complicated,” she said. “(But) I’m not really the love poem person.”

Dorrell isn’t one to title her poems (she struggles to sum up her pieces in only a few words), but she disclosed that the unnamed poem she will perform Thursday gives an inside perspective on what it’s like to be a writer.

Nick Cocores

Dylan Sun/Mustang News
Dylan Sun/Mustang News

As a member of improv comedy group Smile and Nod, theatre senior Nick Cocores knows his humor. After discovering the world of drama and comedy unintentionally in high school, his love for the arts and spreading laughs has only grown.

“I got put into a beginning drama class in high school,” Cocores said. “I think I signed up for welding but got into that instead. At the time I was really upset.”

He remembers the day when things just clicked for him, and his path toward comedy became clear.

“There was this one day in class where (we played) an improv game, but I did something and everyone reacted in such a way where I was like, ‘Wow, that was really cool,’ and then I realized that if it feels good, then I should do it more often,” Cocores said.

He explained how it feels to be on stage and have the audience respond positively to his material.

“When I perform on stage, especially improvising, at times it feels like an out-of-body experience,” Cocores said. “In sports it’s the same way, where you’re in a zone and you’re focused.”

He creates his content from a combination of often exaggerated but real experiences and completely made-up ideas. Cocores describes his comedic style as a “non sequitur hyperbole,” where he takes nothing and blows it up to its extreme.

“Recently, I found a gold mine at taking shots at myself,” he said. “You need to have a sense of humor about it because I can’t say these things and think them seriously.”

Cocores is moving away from pun-centric one-liners and will be putting himself under the microscope for Thursday’s events, where he will perform more self-deprecating pieces.

The CEOs

Danny Diaz (left) and Kevin Church (right). | Frances Griffey/Mustang News
Danny Diaz (left) and Kevin Church (right). | Frances Griffey/Mustang News

Members: Elliot Fiske (piano), Thomas Steinke (trombone), Alina Lusebrink (percussion), Danny Diaz (drums), Burlie Fisher (trumpet) and Kevin Church (bass guitar). Six musicians, one mission: to jam their hearts out.

The CEOs started their career as a jazz band at open mic nights in student housing as freshmen. They mostly play jazz standards but bring fresh takes to the material, making it their own.

“We try to as best we can with six people in college and a bunch of different science, music and engineering majors to get together as much as possible every quarter, regardless of whether we have a gig,” architectural engineering junior Church said.

Church highlighted the diversity of musicians and styles found within jazz groups like The CEOs.

“Jazz groups are interesting because you end up playing with a bunch of different people even if it’s one group,” he said. “Every jazz combination is special, and that’s why I favor them over big bands because you really get to see how, even if it’s three-people big, how those three people’s styles combine on the spot.”

The band’s passion for music is unquestionable, as Church explained the feeling of being on stage and performing for a live audience.

“In jazz, you kind of lose where you are for at least a little bit of the song,” he said. “There’s a moment when you’re playing, and then all of the sudden you realize you’ve been playing for a whole chart and not even realizing it.”

Drummer Danny Diaz said there’s no feeling like performing, and he expects the Pac Pavilion to vibrate with music and dancing during their set.

“We’re gonna make people get up and swing for sure,” he said.

These three acts are just a small taste of what is to come at KCPR’s Open Mic.

“There’s free coffee, free food and you get to see about 20 different performances that a lot of people probably haven’t seen before,” Warfield said.

Doors open at 7:30 and the show runs 8-10 p.m. in the PAC Pavilion.

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