Nashville’s Three Best Open Mic Nights

Nashvilles Three Best Open Mic Nights

If you’re a musician, you’ll find plenty of companionship in Nashville.

One of the best ways to meet and greet that companionship is by heading to open mic nights.

Open mic nights occur all over Nashville, and while they aren’t really the places to go and be discovered that they may once have been, they remain fantastic opportunities to hone your craft, practice performing and meet other dedicated musicians.

With all the possibilities out there of open mic nights to attend, how do you choose? Well, you could take the approach of attending each and every one no matter what, and there’d be a lot to praise in such a full-power committed approach.

But if you have to budget your time wisely and only attend the “best” open mics, then these are my recommendations for the three best Nashville open mic nights:

1. The Bluebird Cafe’s Monday Open Mic

Barbara Cloyd has hosted this open mic since 1986. The open mic night at the Bluebird has a long and illustrious history at this point, and it’s well worth checking out if you want to get your feet wet in Nashville’s singer-songwriter scene.

Arrive early, and be aware that you’ll often not get the chance to play. You can always take a pass that you can bring back another week to get the chance to play, though.

The talent at the Bluebird’s open mic can be intimidating, but there’s plenty of room for anyone with the courage to get up onstage and try their best. The Bluebird’s strict no-talking policy applies even on its Monday night open mics, so your audience will be quiet and respectful.

2. Douglas Corner Cafe’s Tuesday Open Mic

Donnie Winters hosts this open mic, which also has a long history in Nashville. If you head to the Bluebird on Monday and then follow that open mic up with the Douglas Corner Cafe’s Tuesday night open mic, you’ll experience quite a contrast in styles.

The Douglas Corner Cafe has much more of a bar feel, it is much more cavernous, it’s darker, and your audience will most definitely be talking unless you just blow them out of the water (and even then, I doubt you’ll be able to hear a pin drop!).

This is a supersocial open mic, so it’s a great one to attend if you want to have a chance to meet and chat with your fellow open mic attendees.

3. Ri’chard’s Louisiana Cafe’s Many Open Mics

Ri’chard’s Louisiana Cafe hosts an open mic almost every day they’re open–5:30 most weekday evenings–as well as a Saturday afternoon open mic from 1 to 6.

Ri’chard’s is a 20 minute drive North of Nashville in Whites Creek, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported a lot further away than that if you make it out to this venue.

The crowd is friendly and ready for some good music, the food is spicy and the general vibe is laid back and fun.

If you’re in Nashville and curious about where you should go to try your stuff onstage, those are my recommendations. Try them out, and please let me know what you find in the comments!

3 Responses to “Nashville’s Three Best Open Mic Nights”

  • chris Says:

    Open mic nights in Nashville need proper labeling. There are a lot of writer’s nights and very few jam sessions. As a jazz influenced finger-style guitarist who is not a songwriter or singer; I’ve been disappointed many times in this town by the “open mic night”, which only has place for your acoustic guitar and your vocals on your original song that you wrote.
    I wish there were an open mic night for a musician who just wants to play their instrument. There are a few scattered blues jams, most of which aren’t run all that well. The Tootsie’s open mic/jam session is really a rock and roll audition for singers. The Five Spot Wed night jam sucks, first time I went I showed up when the website said it begins and both the front and back doors were locked….
    For a guitar player who enjoys traditional country music and jazz, it’s hard to believe there is no place in Music City for me.

  • Matt Says:

    I think I agree with you, Chris.

    When I travel to other cities and sit in on jam sessions and open mic nights, there’s so much more freedom and room to play whatever music I feel like. The situation in Nashville is very warped around the music industry and the attempt for aspiring singer-songwriters to be heard by someone in the industry mix.

  • Castrato Says:

    I’m going to be playing open mics every night they are available for the next two months in order to kill a minor case of nerves. Open mics are nothing. They are only tools meant to be used by YOU, the musician. Do what you want. What’s the worst that could happen?


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