Creativity Brews at Java Junction Open Mic


Photo by Lillian Tate

{left to right} Jack Roccaro, Steven Houser and Connor Sloan perform the original song, “Untangle MY Mind,” during their set at the Open Mic Night at Java Junction.

Written by Lillian Tate, Reporter

  On April 7, locals filled the seats of an open mic hosted by Eddie Osborne and Scott Humphries at Java Junction. The evening was filled with performances ranging from emotional spoken word to a country/rock band.

  The open mic event started in 2010. Osborne said the owner of Java Junction, Art Ozias, is one of the biggest supporters of the open mic, and they wanted to give money to him and his business as a thank you for being a patron of the arts. 

  Osborne said he was inspired to host open mic events because he wanted to provide a space for all kinds of artists to perform. 

  Lydia Easterwood was among the first to perform that night, performing an original song on her acoustic guitar. Raised just south of Warrensburg, Easterwood has been writing music for almost six years and said she finds a sense of therapy in singing about her experiences. 

  “Ever since I started going to the open mic in 2017, it became my therapy in a way … I’ve used music to process my childhood abuse, to process relationship abuse, loss of friends and family, jealousy, mess-ups and downfalls and so on,” Easterwood said. “I know the open mic is a safe space to share my music.” 

  Easterwood’s original piece, titled “Emma’s Song,” is written about Easterwood’s late child Emma and Easterwood’s experience of getting out of an abusive marriage. Her father has always been one of her biggest supporters, especially through the loss of her child, and helped her find support at the open mic

  “I plucked up my courage and [dragged] my measly, old pawnshop guitar down there and played a couple of my songs,” Easterwood said. “They were well received by the people who attended, so I kept writing and coming back.” 

  Easterwood said she developed an immense love for the regular performers. 

  “The other performers always have a way of touching your soul,” Easterwood said. “Everything is always deep, genuine and truly from the heart. That’s a rare quality nowadays, which breaks my heart. I find solace in the open mic because it reminds me that there are still real, genuine people in the world who are uniquely beautiful and non-conforming to societal norms.” 

  The next performer, Tony Wood, is a father from St. Louis who recently moved to Warrensburg. He delivered a vulnerable, spoken word regarding his youngest son who recently overcame cancer. The piece titled, “This Is the Easy One” is inspired by his many hardships in life, and how dealing with his son’s illness felt like it was the easiest to handle. A friend of Wood’s was his motivation for sharing his spoken word. 

  “This is my first open mic night ever,” Wood said. “I’ve sung in front of people, but I’ve never spoken my poetry. The people I shared it with before said that I should share with others because they felt it was something that was a good message.” 

  Wood said sharing his art with others was fun, and he wants to return to Java Junction’s open mic nights. 

  The majority of performances that night were solo, except for one band composed of UCM students. Houser and the Hitchhikers is a band composed of senior music tech major Nick Sloan, junior horticulture major Jack Roccaro, junior secondary education major Steven Houser, freshman music tech major Connor Sloan and junior digital media productions major Luke Jenkins. Houser and the Hitchhikers performed three original songs, “Devilbound Blues,” “Whiskey Before Breakfast” and “Untangle My Mind.” The band has been playing together since October 2021. Roccaro describes the band as country-rock with some blues and funk influences.

   “We didn’t set out to write anything, but we started as a country/rock cover band,” Nick Sloan said. “And then somebody would do a good bass or funky guitar line, and we’d just build from there.”

  Roccaro said the band had a positive experience playing at Java Junction.

  “We’re always happy to share our music whenever we can, and it felt great to be embraced by such an active community,” Roccaro said. “We can only hope to receive more opportunities like this.” 

  Houser said they performed their music differently than normal while they were at the open mic, specifically by having a more acoustic sound. 

  “I truly enjoyed the performances of the night,” Osborne said. “There was humor, there was pathos, [the event] really ran the gamut and my toes even tapped a couple of times.” 

  Osborne even performed an original essay piece for the night, as a closing act. 


For any artists wishing to visit this event, the next open mic will be on May 5 at Java Junction.