If you want to, you can go to open mic every single night of the week in New York. Trust me, I've done it. It's a great way to keep yourself in tip-top performer shape, which is necessary when you're competing for that 11:30 PM half-hour slot on a Wednesday night. Some of these places I've been to, some have popped up since I left NYC, and I've heard great things from my friends there. Good luck, and make sure you bring your CD with you wherever you go!
Pete's Candy Store
Brooklyn/Williamsburg (5-8 PM)
Pete's Candy Store is a great club in Williamsburg. Full of hipsters. I've never been to their open mic night, but the shows they put on there every other night of the week always feature some of the best local and regional bands.
Vox Pop Coffeeshop
Brooklyn/Flatbush (7:30 PM)
This left-wing coffeeshop welcomes folksingers and poets for it's fabulous open mic. Of course, get there early for sign-up.
E. Village/Ave A (9 PM)
The Perch Cafe
Brooklyn/5th Ave btw 5th & 6th (7 PM)
W. Village/Jones St. (7 PM)
Cafe Vivaldi has the reputation of drawing some of the best songwriters around. Get there early for sign-up, and get ready to be intimidated by the talent.
E. Village/Ave A (7:30)
The king of NYC open mic nights. Sign up is at 7:30 (don't be late!) and is done lotto-style. My first time there, I was number 47. It goes all night (literally - til 3 AM sometimes), and you should be ready for an open mic experience like no other.
Brooklyn/4th Ave btw President & Carroll (9 PM)
Sign up is at 8, there's a featured player until open mic starts at 9, and the show is hosted by Ilan Lieman and Caroline Murphy. $3 cover.
Brooklyn/Williamsburg (9 PM)
The Lucky Cat
Brooklyn/Williamsburg (7 PM)
Like any good open mic night, you should show up early - in this case, the sheet goes up at the bar at 6:30, and it fills up quickly.
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
E. Village/E. 3rd St. (9:30) (first Wed. of each month)
If you haven't been to the Nuyorican, GO! It's a great opportunity to hear some seriously fantastic poetry and hip-hop freestyling. Feeling gutsy? Get up and recite your song lyrics. It's a nice break from the same ol' same ol' open mic scene.
Living Room Lounge
Brooklyn/S. Park Slope (9 PM)
This is another open mic/audition sort of situation, and a nice departure from the East Village and Williamsburg scenes.
Mic Club at Lucky Jack
Manhattan/129 Orchard St. (7:00 PM)
This open mic has popped up long since I moved out of NYC, but takes place in the basement at Lucky Jack's every Thursday night. The LES bar stretches an entire city block, so it's hard to miss.
UWS/Columbia University (second Friday each month) (9 PM)
This probably ranks number two on my list of the best open mics in New York. It's totally acoustic (no mics!) and a great community of folks. The fact that it's only once a month makes it hard to remember, but it's worth the Outlook reminder once a month. Sign up is at 8:20 sharp!
Take a day off, for goodness sakes!