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Open Mic Nights in Seattle

A list of recommended open mic nights for folk artists in Seattle, WA

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Seattle's open mic circuit is growing by the minute. Seattle has a burgeoning folk and roots music scene, and you can find plenty of opportunities to join not only open mic nights, but also community jam sessions, song circles, hootenannies and song swaps. Here's a guide to the open mic scene in my hometown of Seattle, Wash.

SUNDAY

Conor Byrne Pub
Ballard (7 PM sign-up, 7:30 PM start)
This old Irish pub in the heart of Seattle's historic Ballard Ave. neighborhood presents excellent live roots music every night of the week, and is a center of activity in the local folk music community. Sunday night's open mic is often well-attended by players from this most folk-music-saturated neighborhood in town.

Pegasus Coffee House
Bainbridge Island (7 PM)
Bainbridge Island may be a bit of a trek from downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, and Ballard, but this community is highly appreciative of its artists, and plenty of singer-songwriters from Seattle make the trip on Sundays. It's worth a stop.

MONDAY

Trabant Coffee & Chai
University District (8 PM)
This relaxed coffee house and chai lounge in the U-District attracts a lot of UW students (go figure), singer-songwriters, and poets alike.

TUESDAY

Conor Byrne Pub
Ballard (9 PM)
As already mentioned, Conor Byrne is a great center of activity in Seattle's vibrant folk community, and Tuesday nights at this bar see an old time music jam. For updates to the playlist, you can visit OldTimeSeattle.com.

Q Cafe
Interbay (5:45 sign-up, 6:30 start)
This is one of the many open mics run by local group Victory Music, which is a community of musicians and music lovers who support roots music in the Northwest.

WEDNESDAY

Hopvine Pub
Capitol Hill (8 PM)
This is, I believe, one of the best open mic nights in the country. There's always one or two performers who won't blow your mind, but the quality of artists who show up at the Hopvine every Wednesday is really impressive. It's usually packed, the food is good, and the list can get long quickly, so keep your eye on the stage and jump in line as soon as sign-up begins.

Skylark Cafe & Club
West Seattle (8 PM sign-up, 9 PM start)
Even though you have to go "all the way" to West Seattle, the Skylark is one of the best clubs in town for hearing acoustic music. The sound system is fantastic, and the staff is nice. There are usually plenty of really talented songwriters on the list.

THURSDAY

Columbia City Theater
Columbia City (7 PM)
This venue consists of a front bar attached to a small Vaudeville-style theater in the back. Open mic takes place in front of the bar, and is usually well attended by the small but loyal community of singer-songwriters in Columbia City.

Cafe Metropolitain
Capitol Hill (9 PM)
This Capitol Hill bar hosts a well-populated weekly open mic. Your performance will be videotaped for ITVNW, and broadcast on their Web site and on YouTube, so be ready for the camera.

Mr. Spot's Chaihouse
Ballard (7 PM)
Open mic at Mr. Spots isn't limited to singer-songwriters, and often includes some of the dedicated and talented members of Seattle's equally vibrant slam poetry scene. You never know what'll happen, or how long it can go, but this is a very well-attended open mic.

Crossroads Shopping Mall
Bellevue (5:3 PM sign-up, 6 PM start)
Yes, it seems odd to have live music in the middle of a mall, but Crossroads is actually an excellent venue that's frequented by all sorts of local musicians. This is another open mic sponsored by Victory Music.

SATURDAY

Hattie's Hat
Ballard (11:30 PM)
This storied Ballard restaurant and bar holds a hootenanny every Saturday night at 11:30 PM in their dining room.

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