Local open mic nights let ­musicians ‘do their thing’

Local open mic nights let ­musicians ‘do their thing’

Dave Hughes The Beat of DiabloCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Apr. 15, 2022) — Open mic nights usually occur on slower weeknights as an inexpensive way for the venue to feature live music, while giving local artists an opportunity to perform.

Different from karaoke or an open jam night, open mics are built around artists sharing their work to a captivated peer audience.

To allow time for all who’ve signed up, hosts often limit performances to two or three songs. Novices brave the stage to work through those nervous butterflies, while seasoned musicians – and sometimes comedians – try out new material or otherwise hone their craft. Successful open mics can foster community, build relationships, and even launch bands and projects.

Sadly, many open mic nights in our area are no more. In Martinez, a change in ownership halted the open mics at Roxx on Main, and the popular series at Creek Monkey Tap House ended when the business shuttered in 2020. In Concord, the Red Hat Sports Bar may have survived the lockdown, but their weekly open mics did not. The pandemic also took the wind out of the sails of Clayton’s open mic night, ending a 10-year run at the Clayton Club Saloon.

Here’s where you can find open mics these days:

Epidemic Ales

6:30-8:30 p.m. monthly on Wednesdays (roaming). Sign-up at brittany@epidemicales.com. Free; all ages. 150 Mason Circle, J, Concord.

Epidemic Ales has recently launched its own series, filling the brewery-based open mic void left when Ale Industries relocated to Oakland. The monthly open mics welcome musicians and comedians of all ages. Participants can sign up on the spot, although advance sign-ups via email are encouraged to ensure a 10-minute slot during the two-hour event.

“I just love that Epidemic is continuing to give local artists a place to do their thing,” says host Rachel Hanna. “It’s so exciting to see people working on their craft in front of a fun audience.”

Vinnie’s Bar & Grill

9 p.m.-1 a.m. Mondays. Sign-up sheet in front of the stage at 8:45 p.m. Comedy open mic 7:30-9 p.m. the third Mondays. Free; 21 and over. 2045 Mt. Diablo St., Concord.

Vinnie’s Open Mic Night has been going strong for more than a decade. Joey Nuñez has been hosting since 2018 and is now joined by co-host and bandmate Vincent Lay.

Nuñez is passionate about the open mic community. “It gives me the opportunity to nurture emerging talent and help people find their voice,” he says. “I love watching performers grow over the weeks and months.”

Typically joined by a few others as a house band, the hosts kick off each evening with two original songs, then proceed down the sign-up list – allowing two songs each. Occasionally, they’ll have a scheduled “featured act” that plays 20-30 minutes.

Expect professional stage sound and lights with a casual neighborhood bar atmosphere. Original music is strongly encouraged, but cover songs are welcome too.

Campbell Theater

6:30-9 p.m. monthly on Sundays (roaming). Sign-up sheet in the lobby. $2; all ages. 636 Ward St., Martinez.

The historic Campbell Theater has begun a monthly open mic series hosted by Jesse Reeves of Fooling Marie and Tyler McClellan of Accidents at Sundown. The vintage theater seats about 100 guests and provides a unique setting that manages to be both intimate and grand.

A $2 cover charge at the door can be applied to first purchases at the concessions counter. Proof of vaccination is currently required.

Contact Dave Hughes at MrDaveHughes@gmail.com.

Dave Hughes
Dave Hughes

Dave Hughes is a local music advocate with an extensive network of independent artists. He produces and hosts a local music program on KVHS called The Beat of Diablo, every Sunday at 7:00 PM on 90.5 FM. Dave also catalogs local music releases at ConcordRockCity.com.