I can remember going to local open mics when I was a much younger musician for a chance to strum my guitar in front of a crowd of people. However, it was more like just playing guitar for my mom who drove me to the venue and had to stay there with me because I was underage.
Open mic events have evolved since then and now feature quality sound systems, food and drink specials, and a larger talent pool. These artists come together at various venues to bring some really great original, and often improvised, live music.
Here are some of my picks for top open mic spots in our area
Hosted by John Kelly, Spring Gate Vineyard presents open mic nights on the second Wednesday of every month. Enjoy local food, beer, wine, or cider while taking in a collection of local talents on the brewery stage from 6-10 p.m. You’ll enjoy the beautiful grounds and comfortable environment at Spring Gate who hosts great food and music inspired events all year long.
Wednesdays at 8 p.m. River City Blues Club and Dart Room hosts an open mic/jam session bringing together some of the areas best blues and jazz musicians. What I find exceptional about this style of open mic is the collective of musicians who perform in an improvisational session riffing right off the cuff! River City is one of the best live music venues in the area, sporting professional lighting and sound with a relaxing atmosphere perfect for a gin and tonic and a mellow night of live original music!
There isn’t much surprise here that a local foundation for live music also hosts one of the best open mic nights in the area. With the Stage on Herr as the hosting venue, musicians will love the professional sound and lighting while breaking out some of their best original music. You can find some of my favorite local musicians hitting the stage any given Tuesday night at HMAC!
Alright, so this isn’t live music but, if you’re looking to switch it up, head down to Harrisburg Comedy Zone Thursday nights from 8-10 p.m. to check out some open mic comedy. You can order some delicious food from one of my favorite “out of the city” spots, Boomerang Bar and Grill, and enjoy some happy hour specials including $1 off all drafts, wine and, liquor. Something to give you a laugh on what I call “Friday Eve” as you make your way towards the much needed weekend.
A short drive down the highway, and you’re in my old stomping grounds of York. Nikki Sullivan hosts the open mic that brings in musicians from all over the area! One of the best places you’ve never heard of in, dare I say, this entire area is First Capital Dispensing. Located in the heart of downtown, surrounded by other great bars and venues (Holy Hound Taproom is right up the block) located in what looks like someone’s house is what we locals call, “First Cap.” Small and intimate, the craft beer selection is solid and but the food is absolutely amazing. Get the soup. Regardless of what kind is on the menu that day.
Open mics give musicians — both established and new — the opportunity to sharpen their skills and test out new material. Often times when you go to an open mic you are seeing the musicians learning a lot about their own craft and their own songs. Change it up a bit and check out some live, local music at an open mic near you!