You never know if the next singer you hear at an open mic night will go on to music fame and fortune. Take Nathaniel Rateliff, now a huge star with or without his band, the Night Sweats. He started out singing songs at open mics on the nights he wasn’t working in a Denver bottle factory. Lots of musicians got their start that way.
“Open mics are a great way to dip your toe into performing in front of an audience for the first time to see whether you like it,” says Longmont singer/songwriter Kevin Dooley, who played open mics in Boulder in his early days.
Longmont is becoming known as a hub for live music with eager audiences and weekly open mic opportunities at restaurants, bars and tasting rooms. There are plenty of spots hosting well-attended bluegrass jams where everyone joins in, as well. Open mics are more like performances, usually by a single singer or a few musicians with acoustic or electric instruments.
Dooley has some advice for newcomers. “Make sure you are ready to go. Nobody wants to listen to you tune. You usually only have time to do about three songs. Don’t spend 10 minutes telling us about the song, just jump right in,” he says.
These open mics are hosted, and musicians arrive early to sign up for the choice time slots. All ages of musicians are involved, with varying levels of experience, but open mics are always free — for performers and listeners. Some venues offer performers a free beer.
Dooley recommends stopping by various open mics to get a feel for the ambiance, which can range from noisy casual spaces to the big stage at Dickens Opera House.
Here are the top open mics taking place weekly or monthly in Longmont with a few suggestions for beverages to sip while listening for the next Billie Eilish.
6 p.m. Bootstrap Brewing. 142 Pratt St., Longmont. Hosted by Dennis Driscoll. bootstrapbrewing.com
Beverage suggestion: Bootstrap NutStrap Imperial Coffee Stout brewed with OZO Coffee’s Mocha Java beans
8 p.m. The Speakeasy. 301 Main St. Hosted by Brian Rezak. thespeakeasy.buzz
Beverage suggestion: Moscow Mule
6-9 p.m. On the second Wednesday of the month, Longtucky Spirits. 350 Terry St. Hosted by Emrys Hanley. longtuckyspirits.com
Beverage suggestion: Longtucky Alpine Dry Gin flavored with Colorado juniper, spruce, sage and lavender
7 p.m. Dickens Opera House. 300 Main St. Hosted by Brian Rezac. dickensoperahouse.com
Menu suggestion: The Dickens Pie: roast beef, onions and carrots with a topping of mashers and cheese.
GET IN A JAM (OR TWO)
If you have a ukulele or want to learn to play, join the weekly ukulele jam, 2-4 p.m. Sundays at Bootstrap Brewing in Longmont. All ages are welcome, and host Brian Rezac brings extra ukes along.
From 6-8 p.m. on Wednesdays, 300 Suns Brewing (335 First Ave.) is home to an acoustic music jam — meaning singing and playing together. Hosted by Tim Ostdiek. 300sunsbrewing.com
Beverage suggestion: 300 Suns Fortunate Squirrel Nut Brown Ale.