By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
I recently received an invitation to an event in Portsmouth, Ohio that really tickled me; the return of a monthly open mic that I helped found more than 20 years ago.
The first official Third Thursday Open Mic was actually in the living room of the house I was living in at the time. It grew out of a series of sporadic poetry events being organized by Leonard Poage. When the first in a new series was canceled at the last minute by the venue owner, we decided to put a sign on the door directing everyone to my address. We set up a PA system in my dining room, had people sit on the floor in the living room, and we enjoyed the show.
I had a favorite jacket get stolen after I left my friends in charge of the house so I could go to work, but it was worth the loss.
Third Thursday – as hosted first by Jacob Rakovan and later me and then Jason McGoron – became an institution. It was the only event of its kind in town, with an even mix of poetry and live music, and an “anything goes” ethos, and it kept us going and engaged and inspired during the waning of our college years and the onset of “real” adult life.
Though it jumped venues many times, it continued long after I moved to Austin, TX. It even continued after McGoron joined me there. About ten years or so ago I was shocked when I came home for a visit with my then girlfriend and found it still going, at least in name. By this time the poetry end of things had mostly dried up. Sure, they wouldn’t say no if you signed up to read, but the show was mostly a music open mic by this point. Still, it was fun to see some remnant of it still going.
When I finally moved home for good after another five or so years, it wasn’t a regular event anymore. Somewhere along the line the energy had fizzled out and Third Thursday died a quiet death.
That is, until someone decided to resurrect it – complete with poetry! Third Thursday will return at Richard Noggins Pub, in Portsmouth, on May 19. It isn’t exactly the same. In addition to an open mic, they have featured readers and performers. So, it’s a bit more professional than the “show up and go” format we had back in the day. But if you told me 20 years ago this show would still be going, I’m not sure I’d have believed it.
Of course, I don’t expect anyone from Carter County to drive into Portsmouth for it. I probably won’t even make it (though I’d like to).
But it does have me itching to bring back the Holler Down the Holler Poetry Slam, which has been on an indefinite hiatus since COVID closed down the Second Saturday events at the Grayson Gallery.
And speaking of the gallery, they held their monthly Final Friday art show last week, with a Celebrate the Earth theme for Earth Day. Winners included Caroline Sobral, taking home $50 and the Brandon Click Memorial Award; Michael Wagner with the gallery Board Choice award; and Haley Bays with the People’s Choice award by popular vote.
If you missed out this month, don’t worry. They’ll be back next month, on May 27, and every month after on the final Friday. Gallery director Dan Click has also recently floated plans for another Heart of the Parks Art Festival, which we’d love to see return.
On the other end of the county, The Olive Hill Center for Arts & Education will host their Pot of Gold Vintage & Craft Market Open House a week before, on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21. Doors open at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, and stay open until 6 p.m. On Saturday the event runs from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The Eastern KY Museum will be open in the tearoom on Saturday, which will also feature a BBQ lunch option. In addition to vendors, visitors can expect music, craft demonstrations, art displays, and book signings from local authors.
If getting outdoors is more your thing, the following Saturday, May 28, Grayson based mushroom enthusiast Fenner Morse will be leading a Beginner’s Mushroom Walk, in the area around Sandy Hook, from Noon to 4 p.m. The event is hosted by the Bluegrass Mycological Society. For more information you can find them on Facebook, or email to register at email@example.com.
Finally, I want to take a moment to ask you to do something for our senior citizens.
When you are out and about this weekend, keep your eyes open for the bucket brigade in Olive Hill. Starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday morning, the Olive Hill Senior Center will hold their activity fundraiser at the red lights in town. Because you’re never too old for art, music, and fun, those donations will help fund activities and other items for the folks who utilize the senior center, so make sure you have something on hand to contribute. They’ll definitely appreciate it.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org