If you walked through the front door of Art's Bar & Grill on a Monday evening, you'd probably brush past a very busy man, occupied with assembling mic stands to the side, setting up amplifiers and guitar stands along the front window, and attaching a sign-up sheet clipboard to the nearest P.A. speaker cabinet.
It's been over a year since local guitarist Everette Bigbee assumed the duties as the emcee and ringleader at the weekly "Open Mic" events on Monday evenings at Art's in Mt. Pleasant — and he's still pluggin' away with giddy enthusiasm.
"I know I've had a good night the less I play," he says. "I like the job. It can be a bit tedious at times, but it's a fun gig, especially when a lot of different players participate."
Bigbee, 42, has been involved with a lengthy list of acts in recent years, including Monster, Big Stoner Creek, Swank, and Smoking Section, among others. His newly formed blues-rock quintet, Big J. Hosaphat, made their debut last month at the Checkered Flag Bar & Grill and followed up with two recent gigs at Art's. The band features Bigbee and Neal Haga on guitars, Shane Niles on lead vocals, David Clark on drums, and Don Bailey on bass.
"You know, I didn't intend to get my name known as the 'open mic guy' in town — that was never my intention," says Bigbee. "But I understand why it kinda happened. I really enjoy being able to spread the joy of music and playing music. That is cool. That's what my brother got me into: the idea that it didn't matter who was there, as long as you played and had a conversation through music."
Bigbee started playing guitar when he was 8 years old. Growing up in McClellanville and Mt. Pleasant, he took after his older brother, Chuck Bigbee, a fine blues-rock guitarist who played in town for years. Unfortunately, Chuck passed away last summer after a sudden heart attack. He was a revered player on the scene, performing at monthly blues jams at Cumberland's and other clubs around town with various musicians (members of Smoky Weiner & The Hot Links and other veteran blues-rock cats), and at jam sessions, and other events.
"Everette's an incredible talent and really cool guy," says local musician Stuart Johnson, booking agent and musical overseer at A Dough Re Mi and a frequent musical collaborator with Bigbee. "He can play with a three-piece band and make it sound like a full band — or he can play by himself and make it sound like a full band. He and Graham Whorley are about the two best loop/sample players I've ever seen."
Everette's experience on and off stage at enhanced not only his technical know-how and chops, but his people skills as well.
"All the years of making sure that on top of being a good guitar player, I was also a god roadie and sound man — that's really come in most handy," Bigbee says. "Most of the work with an 'open mic' isn't the playing — it's the task of taking care of the technical issues and the organization."
Bigbee conducts "Open Mic Nights" at 8:30 p.m. on Mondays at Art's Bar & Grill (413 Coleman Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, 849-3040), and at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday nights at the Checkered Flag Bar & Grill (2366 Ashley River Rd. in upper West Ashley, 225-5322).