For musicians looking to hone their craft, test out a few songs, or just show off their skills in front of some warm bodies, there are more than a few opportunities to do so at the various open mic nights throughout Metro Phoenix.
Many performing artists around the Valley have become regulars at said events -- which are usually held on weekday nights at local bars and music venues -- and stop by to perform every week, helping to create relationships and a network with other musicians.
So whether you're looking for a little bit of the bar scene, something more on the relaxing side, or just a chance to be serenaded by an up-and-coming musician, here are 10 of the best open mics that Metro Phoenix has to offer.
10. Fatso's Pizza
The music offerings at Fatso's every Thursday night are definitely not overpowering. The North Phoenix establishment is a pizza joint, so the noise level gets loud for those who are there to eat dinner. Typically, the only people who pay full attention to what's happening behind the mic are the other musicians. People, however, do clap when the musicians finish their songs, so even though performances serve more as background music, everyone seems to know what's happening during the open mic, if only distractedly. The talent level here, however, is high. There are a range of genres being performed each week, which helps add a little something extra to the mix.
9. Rula Bula
This Mill Avenue mainstay's open mic night on Tuesdays may not be particularly busy, but the mood is always nice and the setup sounds fine. The music gives the place bar more of a relaxing, quiet feel even though it is as loud as most bars. People who are in attendance tend to chat while listening, pause to clap whenever the music finishes, and then go back to their conversations. Some customers throw out requests and are able to hear their song choice being performed.
This North Phoenix biker-friendly dive offers a smaller crowd and a handful of musician at its open mic on Tuesdays. That said, those who take the stage usually perform well and have fun with it. They talk to the crowd, create a fun and inviting atmosphere that would make even the biggest stranger to the bar feel welcome. Requests are usually thrown out, which performers will gladly oblige and even opt to invite some guests up to the stage to sing along with them.
Terroir Wine Pub in Scottsdale provides a relaxing atmosphere and friendly service as musicians play relaxing tunes that perfectly fit the mood. The music here is more of ambiance music than anything, as the songs people play are on the quieter side. There's a decent crowd that usually is engaged in conversation but remains fully aware of the music being played. This is a great place to enjoy a soothing night out with some friends while enjoying fine wine and beautifully performed music.
6. Joe's Grotto
Joe's Grotto in North Phoenix provides its patrons with a strong lineup of performers and a feeling of camaraderie among all those in attendance, whether they are musicians or just there to drink. Two open mics are offered weekly on Monday (offering a purely acoustic setup hosted by owner Joe Grotto) and Wednesday, which takes on more of a jam session feel and features full bands. The talent level here typically is high, and the genres performed stick mostly to rock -- with the occasional blues-rock performances -- but, really, just about any genre is welcomed.
Yucca boasts a stage with a sound system all set up and ready to go for musicians who come out on Monday nights for its open mic. The sound is louder than many on this list because of the Yucca's stature as a venue for loud rock bands on other nights of the week. And the sound is somewhat muffled among the din of the bar near the stage. Regardless, the open mic night still provides good local talent for those who enjoy hearing live music while they partake in a PBR or other adult beverages.
The Rogue is a small bar in south Scottsdale with a good turnout for its open mic night on Wednesday. The musicians who show up appear to be regulars, given their familiarity with bar staff. The crowd typically consists of friends of musicians and a few neighborhood drinkers.
That being said, there is some chatter, but it's not too bad because nobody was extremely loud and people actually do pay attention, for the most part. The Rogue also is spacious, considering how small it appears from the outside, and there is a big stage, so performers are easy to see from anywhere in the bar. The PA is nice here and the night shows off some good local talent.
SoZo Coffeehouse in Chandler was opened and modeled specifically for live music entertainment. Dubbed a "hipster haven" by its co-owner Lori Morgan, it's a place where people "come for the coffee and stay for the music." Sounds about right, since everyone who was there appeared to be finished with their coffee and simply sticking around to listen to the tunes being performed.
The music's volume is louder than what hear at most coffeehouses, so the place feels more like a nightclub. There's chatter among the crowd, but nothing too obtrusive for the performances. The artists can be seen talking to each other and swapping CDs after they get off stage, supporting Morgan's statement about the mutual respect offered here. Bands are also welcome to make an appearance at SoZo, as long as they call ahea. The stage is small, but it leaves enough room for a full band to come show what they've got.
Talebu Coffee in Chandler provides a spacious area for artists to showcase their talent for an audience that sits and listens while musicians stand in front of the large windows and sing. What is truly amazing about the night is that all the musicians get along and are friends, showing that Talebu provides a place where artists can network and share their music with others just as passionate as they are.
There is a nice setup of instruments and a sound system that is calibrated just right -- not too loud and not too quiet. The acoustics are spectacular and allow for a clear and crisp sound. It was a fun and enjoyable night being able to sit and listen to some relaxing live music and drink some delicious hot chocolate.
Tempe Center for the Arts provides a wonderful atmosphere and place where artists can perform knowing that the crowd is giving them their undivided attention. The music fills the room just enough to where it's an inviting and relaxing time as people sit and listen with their drinks and snacks. Hosted by esteemed Tempe music scene icon Walt Richardson, this open mic night is popular and just recently hosted its 3,000th performance after five years of existence.
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Walk-In Wednesdays, as its officially called, has youth performances from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and all-ages performances from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Signup for the all-ages performance starts at 5:45pm, but according to manager Don Fassinger, they have people starting to line up at 5 p.m. because so many want to participate.