Student covers Skillet to win inaugural ‘Open Mic Night’

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Chase Fortune, senior in public relations, performs original music with his didgeridoo and guitar at the Open mic Night in the Little Theater in the Union on Tuesday night, Nov. 11, 2014. (Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

Sterling Oleson, freshman in family studies and human services, was voted by the audience as the winner of the Union Programing Council’s first Open Mic Night of the semester on Tuesday night.

Oleson performed a cover of a Skillet song that included screaming and air-guitar playing. He beat out 15 other performers to win the audience-voted competition, according to numbers provided by Lauren Sokolosky, UPC music committee co-chair and junior in social work.

The event was headlined by the band Thrift, who plays indie rock music according to guitarist Mark Malagise. The band is from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and has been touring other colleges throughout the country that host events such as Open Mic Night, Malagise said.

Oleson received a small gift basket that included gift cards, a CD from the band Thrift and a Snickers candy bar.

“(The prize) was all Thrift,” Sokolosky said. “They bought their own prize themselves, that was kind of their thing.”

Participants performed original songs, covers of songs already made famous such as “No Diggity” by Blackstreet and spoke original poetry.

This was the first of three open mic nights, according to Sokolosky.

“Right now, we’re just going to have two more after this because we have Thanksgiving break and then finals,” Sokolosky said. “This was kind of the trial run, so if it goes good we’re hoping to have it every Tuesday in the fall.”

Sokolosky said the music committee’s budget is small and, in the case of this event, coffee and tea were the only things bought by the committee. Generally, UPC funding goes to larger events like K-State Idol and last September’s OPUS band competition. The biggest budget the group gets is for the Little Apple Music Festival, for which the committee used about $10,000 dollars, according to Sokolosky.

“Otherwise we work with really small budgets, and we just kind of hope to bring some gigs that kind of bring the student body together,” Sokolosky said.

Approximately 70 people showed up as audience members or performers. Instruments used included drums, electric guitars, acoustic guitars and, in multiple cases, ukuleles.

However, the most unique instrument was the didjeridu played by Chase Fortune, senior in public relations. A didjeridu is a long wooden Australian instrument created by the country’s aboriginal people. It is usually approximately 1.5 meters long, and the musician blows into the instrument to create sound. Fortune case and his stepdad spent a Saturday drilling holes in PVC pipes to create a stand on which to mount the didjeridu while Fortune played.

“I’d played guitar for a long time and was looking to kind of expand my skills and kind of bring in different instruments, and I just saw it one time and I started playing it, I though it’d be cool,” Fortune said. “Then, I hear this artist called Xavier Rudd and he combines the two, so I took that from him a little bit and made it my own.”

Xavier Rudd was Fortune’s inspiration, he said.

“I played them both separate, and then I saw him do it together and was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s brilliant,'” Fortune said.

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Shelton Burch
Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.