Series returns to Headroom Stages

BRATTLEBORO — A second season of Five Mics is starting up again at the series founder's home base.

"One cool thing about taking it out on the road, and what I experienced out in Virginia, is I had a totally different flavor of styles," said Jason Scaggs, who started Five Mics last year as a way to showcase local songwriters in an intimate setting.

"I was below the Mason-Dixon line, so I had some serious country slang in there. Obviously, people up here listen to country and whatnot. I grew up down south. That was a cool experience. Maybe that's what I'll find when I do more out on the road in different pockets or different towns."

The new season starts at Headroom Stages in Brattleboro on Friday, Dec. 8, from 8 to 10 p.m. and will feature Scaggs, Evan Lincoln of Flabberghaster, Rei Kimura of Nomad vs Settle, Julia Slone and TBone Fleabone of the Drunken Stuntmen. The schedule also includes nights on Jan. 6, Feb. 9, March 9 and April 7. No admission fees will be collected but donations will be gladly accepted.

The venue is ideal, Scaggs said, because of its "listening-room environment and acoustics."

"I really don't think there's a better room right now," he said. "It's intimate, too. Regardless of how many people you have in there, it still remains an intimate experience."

For Scaggs, feedback online and on the street shows some growing support of the event. He hopes to keep the series going as a wintertime tradition in Brattleboro.

The early showtimes allow those with work and children to go home early and those with inclinations to go out late a chance to start somewhere for the night.

"It's not a bar, which is nice for the musician. That's what gives it that listening room quality I think," Scaggs said. "And for the audience, it's an opportunity to experience a raw emotional performance from the songwriter."

The idea is to bring together songwriters from different musical genres and strip it down to the bare components. That can be new for musicians who do not play in a bluegrass band like Scaggs or play acoustic instruments on a regular basis.

Scaggs recently hosted Five Mics in southwest Virginia and has a show coming up in Syracuse, N.Y. He also plans to bring it to Burlington and other places.

"The format really caters well to being taken on the road because there's this whole network of musicians I know from playing with Jatoba," he said, referring to his band, "and touring around New England. I know a lot of musicians who would love to do something like this."

Headroom Stages owner Aaron Chesley is continuing to run sound for the Brattleboro shows. "He does such a good job," Scaggs said.

Steve West, former radio show host who performed at Five Mics last season, will act as a moderator asking songwriters about their material. Scaggs called him "a natural" at sparking conversation.

Scaggs described Five Mics as "a super casual, very open format for us onstage" with no barriers or walls between the audience. Themes will change as the season moves on but each night will feature five performers. They pick a name out of a cup to decide who plays next during shows.

Piano players will take the stage in January. Another show will feature youth musicians.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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