Keena Graham hosts the Americana Open Mic Spotlight — Red Light Café's Wednesday showcase for the best Bluegrass, Roots Rock, Country & Western, Folk, Blues, Jazz, and all other things Americana. We're looking for Atlanta's Best Americana — we're looking for YOU.
THIS WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT @ 9:30 PM: Denny Vanesky!
Denny is a prolific songwriter and has been penning songs and telling stories as a performing musician for 30 plus years. In 1977 Etta Vanesky took her 14 year old son to The Great Northern Bluegrass festival in Mole Lake Wisconsin where he was turned on and tuned in to new sounds by the likes of Bill Monroe, Jim and Jesse, Bobby Smith, Josh Graves, The Piper Road Spring Band, New Grass Revival, Vassar Clements and John Hartford. "Little did I know that weekend would begin to shape the melodies and words that are forever playing in my head." Denny was drawn back to Mole Lake Bluegrass Festival Every year by the music and the beautiful people ' till it ended in 1992.
In 1982 Denny started playing guitar on a back porch in Menasha, Wisconsin — though he started singing and writing songs 18 months earlier in a basement rock band called Forrest Trapper along with master keyboardist Patrick Smolinski, who schooled Denny In music theory. In 1983 he started his own band with Pat and drummer John Freeman and played mostly original songs cowritten with Pat. In the 80s denny raised a family, played in a couple of cover bands and Wood Shedded working on his playing and his writing skills. Writing 100s of songs and toying with every genre from Heavy Metal to Bluegrass, Folk and Jazz.
In 1992 after an all night picking session with friend Tuck Pence, Denny decided to start playing a solo show, and for 4 years played every party and dive bar and coffee shop he could, working five to six nights a week and pushing his brother Jody to get on stage with him and play harmonica every chance he could. In 1996 Denny and Jody started a Blues Swing band together that eventually became know as Russ Allen and Swing Town (Russ Allen, Jody Vanesky, Kenny Skitch, Drew Hicks, Denny Vanesky). Then in 2000 Denny had a birthday party and John Hartford came to play. Inspired to put together a bluegrass band, he taught his son Jacob to play the stand up bass and his son Theodore to play banjo, and that was the start of what was to become Insomniac Gypsy.
Online sign ups begin at noon on the Monday before each show.
$5 Performers / $3 General Admission
Doors @ 7 PM
Performances begin at 7:30pm sharp with 8 participants getting a 15 minute slot. The winner (determined by crowd response, our gracious host Keena, and the RLC Staff) receives a $25 RLC gift certificate, a recording of their performance featured on RedLightCafe.com, and a spot in our Americana Showcase (stay tuned for more details on that).
Online sign ups end at 6pm day-of-show. Good luck, and make us proud!
Americana Open Mic Spotlight FAQ
- No tracks — all performances must be live, i.e., no pre-recorded music
- Solo performers OR bands are a-ok; we welcome all Americana acts
- Participants will receive a recording of their performance within 48 hours (be patient!)
- Online sign ups will receive an email response (with time slot, if available) prior to the show