The Broke Music Fan's Guide to Denver: Open-Mike Nights

Ian Gott at an open mike at Ziggie's.
Ian Gott at an open mike at Ziggie's.

At the end of March, we published the first "Broke Music Fan's Guide to Denver," packed with handy hints and tips for enjoying live music on the cheap in this great region. We want this to be a regular thing, so allow us to present our guide to the dollar-saving treat that is the open-mike night.

Often ridiculed by those who don't know any better, when you live in a culturally rich region, as we do, an open mike-night can be a great way to see and hear a whole load of talented local musicians, not to mention poets, comedians and storytellers, for a very cheap cover, if not free.

Whether you live in Denver, Boulder or a 'burb, these events can be found in coffee shops, bars and restaurants all over the place. Pro tip: Walk in with an open mind. If you're as happy being entertained by traditional Irish folk or militant political poetry as you are by freestyle beatbox or an art project that involves a guy screaming while wearing a football helmet, then you're going to have a better time.

A fairly comprehensive list of venues can be found at openmicdenver.com, and there are a ton to choose from, such as Ziggie's, Blue Spruce Brewing and the Monkey Barrel. You never know what sort of greatness you might glimpse in these early stages; as recent legend has it, the Lumineers got their start at the Meadowlark's weekly open mike.

Wednesdays and Thursdays have always, no matter what city you're in, been popular nights for open mikes, probably because people generally go to what is perceived as a regular concert on the weekend, and stay in on a Monday or Tuesday unless there's a show on one of those night that they simply can't miss. A bonus when going out for music mid-week: Venues often have mid-week drink specials. 

Get out a little farther, and places like the Pearl Street Pub, Twisted Pine Brewing Company, the Laughing Goat and License No. 1, all in Boulder, have great open mikes. In Longmont, there's the Long's Peak Pub, Skeye Brewing, the Speakeasy and Oskar Blues. Then there's Waterloo in Louisville. And we've only scratched the surface.

Get out there and check your local listings. And when you can afford it, budget in a contribution to the performers.


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