Chris Earp, Broadside Correspondent

Happy to get out of the October drizzle, I ducked into the warmth of Jazzman’s.

Not many people were there, save for some film students taping the show and a couple of coffee drinkers.

It seemed that the only people intently eyeing the “stage” (which was simply the corner opposite the entrance) were directly related to the event in some capacity or another.

For those who don’t know, every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., the Program Board hosts a “jam” at Jazzman’s, a coffee shop located on the ground floor of the Johnson Center at George Mason University.

I took a seat close to the PA and glanced around, trying to find someone affiliated with the Program Board. I finally identified her after hearing her talking to the film students.

Interdisciplinary Studies major Sho Roberts, a Mason grad student and first-year member of the Program Board, happily explained the idea behind Tuesday Jams.

“The idea is basically to give students a relaxed environment that they can hang out in and support local music. We alternate who plays weekly; first we’ll have an open mic type setting, then we’ll feature a [Mason] student, and finally we showcase a local artist,” she said.

Just as she finished, the musician started another song, the chord lingering before his voice joined it.

His name is Miguel Fenicela, Jr. At just 17, he has representation and plays gigs around the area. His stage name is Baby Grand and he certainly lives up to it.

Despite his slight stature, the music he makes comes through loud and clear, honest and original. His style is an interesting mix of Conor Oberst after his Bright Eyes project and Jack Johnson’s early work.

He sounds calm and in control much like Oberst, (even employing his signature light tremolo on longer notes) with Johnson’s command of the guitar. It was refreshing to hear acoustic pop-type music that employed thoughtful chords and key changes.

In short, Grand didn’t get boring. The most appealing thing about his stage presence was the fact that the audience could tell that he was having fun.

The people who had stopped by just for coffee all seemed pleasantly surprised, whether they were bobbing their heads, tapping their feet or just smiling. After his set, I got a chance to speak with Fenicela.

When I asked how he found representation and booked gigs, he laughed. “Just as I started really writing music, my mom and sister formed this promotion company,” he said. “I helped out and kept writing, maintaining relationships and here I am.”

During our conversation, I learned that he is self-taught and that the thing he finds hardest in live performance is achieving control over his audience’s emotions.

After our conversation, I looked around one more time and frowned. I was genuinely shocked by the sparseness of the audience.

In total, I counted just four people that were in no way related to the event and were sitting to listen. This kind of special, yet regular, event often goes unnoticed, but certainly deserves attention.

To get a glimpse of Baby Grand, visit his page at