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Coffeehouse Open Mic Inspires New Project for St. Louis Writer

Kirkwood resident Kimberley Hughes hosts "Saturday Night Live" at Wired Coffee in Sunset Hills. See singers, musicians, poets, and other spoken word performers.

Director and producer Kimberley Hughes had been back in Kirkwood for roughly five years before she decided to get hands-on with performers again—though not in the way she expected, she said.

Hughes recently started hosting a new open mic series at Wired Coffee in Sunset Hills called “Saturday Night Live.” In addition to giving area performers a few moments in the spotlight, Hughes prepares a special end-of-the-night ensemble scene, based on that evening’s performances. Starting this Saturday, these sequences will be recorded.

“I’m trying to see what happens. I’m hoping to develop a show out of this. Because I’m a director-producer, that’s just where I go,” she said.

Previous coverage: Wired Coffee Launches Open Mic Series With a Twist

Hughes wrote and produced shows in New York City for several years; she relocated back to Kirkwood to be closer to her parents. She says the move led her in a more “soul-searching” direction, which influenced her current lifestyle. Hughes teaches yoga at Mystic Valley in Maplewood, participates in weekly open mics at Maplewood’s Stone Spiral, and spends time meditating, making jewelry, and working on new productions.

Hughes first heard about the Wired series during a Stone Spiral open mic. She decided to sign on because she’s a regular Wired customer.

“This is the best place for writing, and I kind of hate to talk about it because everyone’s gonna know about it,” she said. “I think just because of the expansiveness, but at the same time you can find your little space, your little nook."

The Saturday evening event utilizes the café’s central fireplace area, and allows each performer eight minutes of solo “stage” time. Hughes proudly said its audience is growing.

“The audience was the [Stone Spiral] poets the first night, maybe 10 of us. I was shocked when I came in [Jan. 12]. I think all of these tables were filled, so it was nice,” she said.

In just a month, the series has even developed a couple regulars, including folk singers and a “very tall character” named Lenny.

“He looks like he stepped out of a 19th century old book store, and he’s so talented. He writes a lot of his own work. He comes in here, and he’s got old boots on and his jeans are half out of his boots. He comes in all disheveled and you wouldn’t guess that he’d come and stand up here like a leading man.”

New performers are encouraged to attend—in fact, you could say that Hughes thinks very highly of their potential. Hughes recalls a children’s poet who recently read at the Wired series.

“He got up there and he said, ‘I’m really, really nervous because I know none of you poets like to rhyme,’... It was out of this world. He put us all to shame how good he was," she said.

As a writer, Hughes believes that "I need to sharpen my pencils!" effect is just an added bonus to being an open mic regular. 

"If you see someone progress, it inspires you to progress," she said.

 

Anyone interested in jumping onstage should show up to the cafe by 8 p.m. on Saturday evenings.

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