A young musician reviewed his playlist and tuned his guitar while servers wearing roller skates zipped around the Sonic Drive-In parking lot to deliver trays of fast food and ice cream to customers. Others gathered around, warming up their instruments to perform, some for the very first time before a live audience. “We’ve got 4-year-old, 40-year-old, and sometimes 70-year-old people that come out here and they can sing karaoke, and they can play their instruments,” says Sonic Open Mic manager Matt Fulcher.
A drive-in eatery is not the typical venue for an open mic night, but Fulcher has hosted the Sonic Open Mic Night on Saturdays in Vero Beach for the past three years, attracting a crowd of all ages and talents. On average, six to twelve people perform at the drive-in. They can win free prizes and food, but it’s often more than winning something. “It’s all about trying to get people out here who do not really know how to perform in public to come up and sing in front of others and get comfortable performing.”
When Fulcher was in high school, he took advantage of the Sonic Open Mic night to practice performing in public. “I played bass guitar and didn’t really know how to sing,” The setting gave him the opportunity to develop his musical talents. He welcomes other musicians and poets to perform to a family friendly crowd.
When participation is low, Fulcher and his crew of musicians entertain the crowd or fill the night with games of Cornhole, where players can win prizes of food or shirts by pitching a bean bag in a hole on a large wooden game board.
But the draw is the mic. Especially for one young girl who Fulcher remembers was trepidatious about taking the mic at first, but after weeks of coaxing from Fulcher, the singer was finally convinced to take the mic. After singing with Fulcher, she gained the confidence to practice new songs and perform weekly at the Sonic Open Mic Night event. “I saw how she grew musically over about a 5 to 6 month period and it was beautiful. Music really changes us,” Fulcher said.
To learn more about the growing talent in Vero Beach, follow Sonic Open Mic on Facebook.