Open Mic Night: sure, it’s usually the place to go to hear acoustic odes to lost lovers and heartfelt poems about life and what it doesn’t mean to be alive. But it’s also the place to go to feel the pulse of the city and truly tune in to what people in the community are thinking about, writing about, or doing something about.
“I think just from the standpoint of artists and performers, just having a place to go is valuable,” said Scott Huhn, Open Mic Night co-host. “I think that a lot of the time, it’s hard to create with no end in sight or no audience in mind to perform for—having this audience can be helpful.”
Open Mic Night is held every Wednesday, at End of the Line Café. Sign-up is at 7 p.m., and performing starts at 8 p.m.
“Chris Cotton and I have been hosting it since August, but they’ve been doing it at End of the Line for years,” Huhn said. “Chris and I went to participate one day this summer and nothing was really going on, so we asked the lady behind the counter about it.”
Huhn and Cotton were told to call Jen Knight, owner of End of the Line Café, and eventually fell into the role of hosting the renewed Open Mic Night.
Open Mic Night at EOTL was extremely popular several years ago. Participants were encouraged to get there early or they’d have no space to sign up and no place to sit down. On many nights the café was filled to the brim, leaving people standing in walkways or watching from windows.
“We’ve been kind of hot and cold, but it seems to be ramping up as of late,” Huhn said. “Last week we only had about six performers, but the week before that, the entire list was full and we even had to cut the last few because we ran out of time.”
Although most of the performers play some kind of music, any and all other talents are encouraged.
“It has definitely been musician-heavy, but a couple of people have come and read poems or short stories,” Huhn said. “We like many different talents, just for varieties’ sake.”
The low lighting and relaxed environment make EOTL a good place for people to come and open their mouths, or their minds.
“There’s kind of a vibe that we try to go for—friendly and supportive,” Huhn said.
Huhn’s and Cotton’s first time performing publicly was also at Open Mic Night.
“I play the ukulele and sing and Chris plays the bongos, and we just thought, ‘Hey, it might be fun to give it a shot,’” Huhn said. “I like that it’s there for other people to try too.”
Huhn and Cotton still perform regularly at Open Mic Night, sometimes when there’s a lull in the action and sometimes when they just want to play.
Whether this cycle of Open Mic Nights develops into the thriving, outspoken event it has been before, or even if it stays at a more intimate size, the fact remains the same that anyone in town can speak their mind or sing their heart out as they see fit on Wednesday nights—as long as it’s before 10 p.m.
“Come play a song, or read a story, or do some comedy,” Huhn said. “I just think it’s good that somebody has a place to go to sing their song.”
And if you don’t get up on stage, you can still listen, which is just as important and just as fun, especially around election time or Valentine’s Day.
OPEN MIC NIGHT
WHEN: 8-10 p.m., each Wednesday night
WHERE: End of the Line Café, 610 E. Wright St.