Kalamazoo’s thriving scene for amateur live performance arts includes open mic nights at bars, restaurants and cafes throughout the city on every single day during the week. Whether music, comedy or poetry, Kalamazoo has an open mic to fit any person’s needs.
On Monday nights, Lotsa Little Things Gallery, on the corner of Forest Street and Westnedge Avenue, hosts an open mic beginning at 7 p.m. The open mic is open to “music, poetry, or whatever cool talent,” according to their website. Lotsa Little Things also hosts a poetry slam on the third Friday of every month, starting at 7 p.m.
On Tuesdays, Branden Mann, of the band Branden Mann and the Reprimand, hosts open mic nights at Old Dog Tavern on the corner of Kalamazoo Avenue and Water Street. Sign up for performance slots starts at 7 p.m., and the music goes from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Also on Tuesdays, Louie’s Trophy House Grill on the corner of North and Walbridge streets hosts comedy open mic nights. The laughs start at 9 p.m.
Wednesday nights are the biggest nights in Kalamazoo for open mics. Open mic night for musicians at Louie’s goes from 9 p.m. to midnight. The 411 Club on Westnedge Avenue, just north of Kalamazoo Avenue, has an open mic hosted by Adam Poling from 9 p.m. to midnight, with sign up starting at 8:30 p.m.
The newest bar in town, Rupert’s Brew House, hosts open mic night on Wednesday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., with sign up starting around 3 p.m. Rupert’s Brew House is located in the same building that the Strutt formerly occupied, on the corner of Academy Street and Stadium Drive.
On most Thursday nights, Shakespeare’s Lower Level has open mic comedy, hosted by Bob Fredericks.
Arcturian’s café, at the bottom of Westnedge hill, hosts open mic nights on Fridays, starting at 7 p.m. Poets, comedians, and acoustic musicians are all welcome to perform.
For those who are looking for less public venues, there’s a community of Kalamazoo-area individuals who host events in their own basements and other off-kilter spaces, called Do It Together Kalamazoo. It’s an all-inclusive community of people who simply appreciate live events.
Katy May, a 22-year-old journalism major at Western Michigan University, played at a lot of open mics at the Strutt when it was open. She still performs at open mics and at scheduled shows throughout the Kalamazoo area.
“It’s great because there are so many different bands around here and so many different kinds of sounds that it’s hard for people to be able to fit into a specific show all the time,” May said. “Like, the stuff that I do, it’s kind of hard to find a bunch of other bands that do that. So when there’s a bunch of open mic nights, it gives you the opportunity to go out there and put your name out there.”
May plays a variety of instruments and implements computer programs to create her unique sound.
“Everyone’s always really welcoming,” May said of the atmosphere at open mics. “And if music is something that you’re passionate about, then there’s no better way for free exposure.”