By Cecil Smith/Staff writer

While gazing at the impressionist inspired artwork adorning the walls of the Buddha Belly Bar & Deli, Ron Harris and the Knott Brothers warm up with some bluesy licks on bass guitar and saxophone. The relaxed atmosphere inside the bar lends itself completely to the anxious crowd of college students and local music lovers. As Open-Mic-Night begins in the Buddha Belly on a clear Monday night, the two-dozen or so audience members twitch in their leopard print seats and await their evenings entertainment.

“Let’s see if the dogs will howl for us tonight. . .” says lead guitarist/vocalist Ron Harris to the crowd. After his affable introduction, Harris administers the soulful licks of “Little Red Rooster.”

As bassist Matt Noell and drummer Sean D. groove their way through several verses, Harris paces through the narrow aisle of the bar while playing much of his guitar solo behind his head. As he approaches a table he rips out a few measures of the solo using his teeth as a pick.

“I love Open-Mic-Night” says Harris. “It keeps things fresh.”

Every other song or so, an audience member is invited to come up and showcase his or her talent if they so wish. Local guitar player/singer Lee Maranville from the band Inner Vision Collision stepped in on a few songs as did Brian Strange on saxophone and Jon Comgleton on harmonica.

During the summer, when Richmond’s night life grinds to a halt, the Buddha Belly stayed packed nearly every Monday night, according to Harris.

To aid the success of Mic-Night the bar is also sponsoring a guitar give-away. Mic-Night is completely open to any sort of talent anyone has to offer to the adoring public. From juggling to juice-harp; from poetry to plain old rock-n-roll.

But be warned young, aspiring musicians and poets; showcasing your “talent” is subject to critique according to Harris.

“One out of every 1,000 [performers] or so. . . you just have to ask them to stop.”