It’s an uncharacteristically cold Tuesday night and there’s a long line of people standing outside of The Night Owl in downtown Fullerton.
Almost all of them are holding instruments. Some exude nervous energy while others are cool and confident. They are all waiting to be put on the list of musicians who will perform at the coffee house’s increasingly popular weekly open mic night, held every Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Third in line is The Red Leslies, a band composed of two Fullerton College students Adrian Martinez and Lui Sanchez. Martinez said that open mic nights are important for them because it serves as great platform to see an audiences’s immediate reaction to the band’s new music.
Carlie Mcveigh, Makenna Mcveigh and Hailey Little, also FC students, said they go straight from their evening P.E. class to The Night Owl every Tuesday to experience both the music and the atmosphere.
The atmosphere is pretty special.
In the back patio, where the event takes place, every seat is taken. Those with no chair spill out into the surrounding sidewalk. The whole perimeter of the building is populated with people sitting in groups. People are talking, laughing, sipping from their coffee and smoking cigarettes. There appears to be a genuine excitement from the crowd as they listen to the music.
After spending time in Europe, owner of The Night Owl, Joe Rosati saw how much the public appreciated the arts and was inspired to bring the same sort of feeling to the Fullerton community.
The coffee house has had open mic nights for three years, but it hasn’t always existed in the same way. For the first couple of years it was held inside but started to get crowded.
A year ago Rosati requested a permit from the city to move the live music outdoors and along with that he upped the production value. New gear; amps, microphones, mic stands, a light rig and multi-colored lights turned the once modest open mic night into the event that it is now.
The improved quality of the sound is thanks to the event coordinator, musician and certified sound engineer Arthur Pacheco. He sets up the performance area and gear, controls the technical levels while the musicians play and in between performers plays music from his personal vinyl collection.
Pacheco allows the musicians to perform as they please. Every week there’s a lot of variety. Singers, songwriters, bands, drummers, violinists, beatboxers, talented artists, and novices; all of them get eight minutes of stage time.
Pacheco believes it’s important for local artists to have a space where they can share their art.
“I pretty much let them do what ever they want,” said Pacheco.
Based on the amount of people surrounding The Night Owl’s patio on Tuesday nights, it’s clear Fullerton agrees with him.
The Night Owl is located at 200 N. Harbor Blvd.