It’s Wednesday night on Market, and your host for this evening is Melissa Bernard.
Melissa is a performer herself. In the past, she’s appeared on Delaware stages as an actor and a stand-up comic. But on Wilmo Wednesdays at Ernest & Scott, she’s the consummate host. She welcomes and guides the audience through a program that could include slam poets, singer-songwriters, thrash bands and the occasional magic man.
What will Gable Music Ventures pull out of their hats next? Seemingly anything can happen on a Wilmo Wednesday, and when it does, Melissa will be ready for it.
“I have been performing in some way since I was about 16. And I always wanted to do stand up comedy, but I never had the courage until I was about 41 or 42. I think once you hit a certain age, you get to a place where you want at least a modicum of risk in your life. It seems like around 37, everyone goes crazy and starts to change their life and switch directions. I think it's healthy, especially if you can find a positive outlet, something that makes you feel good.”
“I deliberately begin every Wednesday talking to the audience as if I'm one of them, and I'm sharing with them this really cool thing. Hosting is definitely an acquired skill. I figured out pretty quickly that the stand up that I had been doing didn't really apply to this night. Hosting requires what I call “bump and set,” like in volleyball. I get the audience excited to see new music, tell them something personal and interesting and specific about the artists, and then celebrate them when they get off stage.”
“I love any artist who's so committed to their art form that whatever is going on, people just have to stop and turn and face them. Everyone has different tastes. That’s to be expected. But one of my favorite things is to see the other musicians in the audience turn to each other like ‘And you hearing this?’ It's a really sweet, beautiful state of reverence.”
“Are there bands that I love? Definitely. Anatomy of an Outcast is one of my favorite local bands. Their name is about how a lot of creative people feel like they don't fit, like they don't have a place in the real word, in real society. And these 18, 19 year old kids just have a loud, important sound. They're playing a genre of music that feels so different compared to the way they look, and they work hard to make it fluid. And they're really committed to their careers. I also love The Susquehanna Floods. I can't believe we've had that band in our town at all. I really can't. A lot of the artists that come through any Gable event, I feel so grateful to have them while we do, because they're confident, and technically and musically talented, and creative, and now they have all this great opportunity to get on stage and work it out.”
“I'm a born-and-bred Wilmingtonian so I love being in town. I love to see people on Market. I've been hosting Wilmo Wednesdays almost four years now. I went in at a certain mature age, thinking I knew what direction my life was going. But what I ended up finding is that I had this time, these great Wednesday nights, to figure out my voice, just like the other artists that I was introducing. I had an opportunity to find my baseline is as an entertainer. Do I want to take on a character? Do I want to do bits? Do I want to do one liners? Do I want to set up punch? Or do I want to share with these people who I am and what my experience is and be right here, right now, with them? And that has been the most valuable lesson. It's allowed me to hear and hone my own voice, confidently, unapologetically and clearly.”