The King’s Head in Lichfield, Staffordshire, is a traditional British pub in a small but busy city. It also happens to be my local. In September 2005 the landlord of the pub began a regular Friday night ‘Open Mic’ session, hosted by Chris Niven, a local amateur musician. I have since supported and closely followed the event due to the perception that, through default rather than design, it seems to have a rather Cardew-esque feel as a musical event. The ethos is one of ‘turn up and have a go’ regardless of experience, ability, style or confidence. The host acts more as a facilitator, enabler and, in some cases, mentor and pillar of support rather than ‘front man’. In fact, Niven has described his role in terms that are not so distant to those expressed in my Cardewist manifesto, or indeed Cardew’s own role within the Scratch Orchestra:
Niven himself is the product of an informal musical development such as that explored by Green (2001 and 2008a). As such, while Niven is technically more advanced than some (but not all) Open Mic performers, he is not especially differentiated from the participants, certainly not in terms of musician/nonmusician, professional/amateur or trained/untrained, though this is a distinction to which Niven does perhaps aspire.