Local teens have 'Spoken'



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High school junior Danica Baxter shows off her vocals during an event dubbed “Spoken” in Gilford last Friday. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
April 20, 2011
Different venues are now offering teens different ways to express themselves in after school hours, encouraging students to branch out to the greater community when it comes to showing off their talents.

The Gilford Library is just one of these venues, and with a few new staff members on hand, including assistant librarian Abi Maxwell, more and more teen catered events are popping up on the library calendar.

Last Friday, the library hosted their first ever open mic for teens, dubbed "Spoken" by Maxwell, who hopes to integrate similar programs geared towards youths into the library agenda during the remainder of the school year.

A dozen local teens attended "Spoken" last Friday night in a quaint, coffee shop-like setting and showed off their guitar skills, vocals, and more. While most students at the first open mic performed original tunes, Maxwell said she hopes to attract young poets and storytellers as well, inviting all teens to express themselves through writing and music.

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Junior Joshua Ritson jumped at the chance to perform at an open mic at the Gilford Library last week, catered to teens. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
"We just want to get more teens involved at the library," said Maxwell, who also runs writing workshops and various teen activities. "We encourage original songs, poetry, and stories at this event. If this is successful, we will certainly hold another event soon."

Since local youths did show an interest last Friday night, Maxwell is looking to hold another "Spoken" open mic in the next couple months. She encouraged performers to chat with their peers about the event, and added that the librarians are always open to consulting and collaborating with interested teens.

Gilford High School freshman Sally Tinkham acted as the official MC at the opening of the event, which morphed into an acoustic café of as the library closed down and set the stage with mood lighting, coffee, treats and all.

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High school junior Derek Guay is a fan of open mics, and made it a point to perform at the most recent teen mic in Gilford last week. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
GHS junior Derek Guay is no stranger to the guitar, and showed off his talents on Friday night, singing and providing music for several of his peers and fellow band mates throughout the night. Guay is already an advocate for music, and found the library's new perspective on teens to be a refreshing change of pace.

"I heard about this event at school. I am also starting up an open mic at the Gunstock Inn, and figured this was up my alley. I also play at local venues," said Guay.

Singer and music enthusiast Danica Baxter of GHS find out about the event "Spoken" through her peers, and was excited to show off her vocals right downtown.

"It's something to do at the end of the week, and sounded really fun, so I jumped at the chance. I've been singing for a few years; the first time I ever performed in public was at a fifth grade talent show," said Baxter. "I love singing in front of people."

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High school junior Connor Mcgaffigan shows off an electric guitar solo during the “Spoken” event last Friday night at the library. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
Baxter's peer and GHS junior Joshua Ritson said he also appreciated the opportunity to perform at a local venue, such as the library.

"I was surprised to see that the library was holding an open mic. When you think of the library, you don't necessarily think of music, so this is a different experience performing here," said Ritson. "I'm here to play guitar and perform in front of the community. I can never pass up on open mic."

Ritson said the library also provided him with a less intimating, friendly environment, and gave him a chance to jam with his peers in a more relaxing atmosphere, while still showing off his talents to the world.

While each teen displayed individuality through original music, self-expression and themes of youth, young love, and life struggles were also evident and well "Spoken" during a first, of perhaps many, local open mics.

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