Performers are greeted with an attentive, hushed silence, rather than competing with the sound of clanking glassware, swells of chatter, and other background noise typically heard at traditional open mic venues.
For organizer Aja Livezey, the monthly open mic at Change on Third in Easton has become more than a showcase of talent; it is a safe place where those who want to share their talents -- be it singing, standup comedy, poetry, or any other artistic passion -- can do so in a space free from distractions of the bar scene.
"Music, if you ask me, is one of the keys to happiness," Livezey said. "I think when you're around talent, in any sense of the word, it is very inspiring, especially at the open mic when people sing or read poems about their own personal struggles, it gives the entire room, whether they're people in recovery or anyone from the community, it gives them their experience and spreads strength and hope to everyone. It's relatable and it brings everyone together."
After losing a young friend to a heroin overdose, Livezey decided it was time to become the change she wanted to see. Drawing from her own struggles, while watching family members and friends battle alcoholism and drug addiction, Livezey sought out Change on Third in early 2017.
Since getting involved with the organization, Livezey has become a strong and vocal supporter of the Easton-based nonprofit. She organized its open mic night, the first of which was held in May 2017, and has helped promote other activities held at the center.
The goal of Change on Third, Livezey said, is to raise awareness of mental health and substance abuse, while promoting sober and healthy living. Livezey said the organization facilitates recovery and advocates sobriety and well-being in the community. (Change on Third opened in July 2016.)
"It called to me as something I needed to do something about," she said. "It's shown me how much of a problem (addiction) is. It definitely opened my eyes to the amount of people who suffer from addiction and a lot of them don't even know it."
Livezey said Change on Third, and in turn, the open mic night, provides the opportunity for human connection and face-to-face interaction, something that has become increasingly lost with advancements in technology and social media. The open mics, which are open to all ages, are preceded by a social hour of casual discussion and light fare.
"You get that person up there, you've never heard them share their talent before and you're completely blown away. It could be the most quiet little meek girl in the corner and suddenly she's up on that stage and she's somebody else," Livezey said. "That's amazing and inspiring."
The next open mic will be held tonight, starting at 6 o'clock, at Change on Third, 117 N. Third St.