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Taking the Stage

    Open mic nights have so often been an underground enterprise.  Rarely are they advertised as much – or attended as often – as feature acts.  Yet the talent pool is not necessarily that different.  It’s likely that you can find a guitarist who plays tasteful Clapton-esque licks at an open mic.  Or a songwriter who pens sardonic tunes in the vein of John Prine.  Or a singer whose emotional range can hold a candle next to the likes of Jackson Browne.

    Connecticut’s shoreline, from New London to New Haven, offers performers the chance to not only hone their craft, but to build a network of like-minded talent.

    The Octane Cafe in New London hosts an open mic every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.  Known as much for Taco & Trivia Tuesday, the Octane Cafe has turned the middle of the week as the place to hear new and emerging local talent.

    Niantic’s The Black Sheep holds an open blues jam every Thursday night at 8:30.  The quaint Irish pub, with over a dozen craft beers as well as outdoor seating, is a haven for fans and performers of blues-based music.

    Old Lyme’s Nightingale’s Acoustic Cafe has their open mic each Tuesday night at 6:00.  Endearingly referred to as “pickin’ parties,” these loose gatherings are described as drums circles with guitars!  Hosted by Ramblin’ Dan Stevens, this event has become one of the shoreline’s most frequented of its kind.

    The Ivory in Deep River hosts not one, not two, but three open mics!  Acoustic instrumentalists can have at it every Wednesday night at 7:30; for those with perhaps a broader musical palate, it’s Thursday at 9:00 p.m. as well as the first Saturday of every month; the latter of which provides artists with a demo recording of their performance.

    East Haddam’s La Vita, located just across the street from the Goodspeed Opera House, invites open micers every Tuesday night at 7:00.  The cozy makeshift stage by the fireplace may not be enormous, but that doesn’t stop all kinds of musicians from stopping by to fill the place with heartfelt performances.

    From comedy to trivia to karaoke to music, June’s Outback, located in Killingworth, has become a one-stop entertainment hub.  Acoustic musicians can bring their instruments on Monday night at 7:30 to play their originals or classic covers to an always enthusiastic crowd.

    Donahue’s in Madison offers an open mic night every Wednesday at 8:00.  With a piano on its stage, and a state-of-the-art sound system, Donahue’s has been primed for live music since they opened their doors back in 2009.  Co-owner Chris Donahue may even ask to sit in on keys!

    Guilford’s Country Tavern hosts their open mic night the last Wednesday of every month.  The homey small town tavern is known not only for their 9 oz burger, but for their intimate live performances that run the gamut from folk to rock to Americana.

    New Haven’s Stella Blues, known for its jam-oriented bands – the place takes its name from a Grateful Dead tune! – invites eager participants to perform every Tuesday night at 8:00.  The venue not only has a built-in stage, but a capable engineer at the soundboard.

    Whether you’re a budding musician, a seasoned pro, or someone looking to expand your musical contact list, open mics are a viable source of musical solidarity as well as entertainment.  For a confirmation of dates, times, and details, please visit the websites of the aforementioned venues.

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