|Brendan Birch and Nick Holland, Hodi’s|
This past week a couple new weekly events made it onto my schedule, including a new comedy open mic and a new-for-me music open mic. With all the CSU crowd away for the summer, many of the regular open mic performers are also gone for summer, and the Avo’s Open Mic has been slower for weeks, so I figured I might as well check out an open mic where some of ‘our’ regulars also perform, the Sunday night open mic at Lucky Joe’s. In addition to this open mic, I also made it to the new comedy open mic at Pateros Creek Brewing on Friday, in addition to the comedy open mic at Hodi’s that I have been attending again recently. While none of these open mics offer the depth and consistency of a single-act show, all four of the open mics I’ve taken in this week offer a pretty decent array of entertainment that non-performers could appreciate. All four of these events happen every week, are free, and are worth checking out if you want a fun relaxing evening where you can sit around enjoying a few drinks while watching people perform for you.
Avo’s Open Mic
This week’s open mic at Avo’s was middlingly good, with a few solid performances including music from Jordan Coleson and B. Nash, two fellows who has been steadily improving every week he’s played since his first appearance. We’ve had a few artists at the Avo’s Open Mic over this past season who have used this weekly stage as a significant tool to develop their music, and it is always fun watching the progress of these talented people as they go from nervous new performers with very few songs roughly mastered to solid performance artists who are ready to play a full set at other venues or at Avo’s. Not everyone has the time, dedication or skills to make this transition, and there have been quite a few artists on the Avo’s Open Mic stage who only turned up once and will probably only ever play their guitars in private for a while longer. Hopefully some of these other talented folks will take advantage of the sparse audience and the fact that fewer artists are competing with them for good time-slots at open mics- this is a great time to start focusing on mastering stage music performance, while school is out and it is easier to find time to practice and learn new songs before each week’s open mic.
Avo’s Open Mic runs every Tuesday from 8-11ish, and is located in the middle room on the indoor stage. Some weeks there is a featured artist, and those weeks the music starts a bit earlier, at 7:30. Sign-up for this open mic is at 7pm. Performance slots are 20 minutes except for the 50 minute featured artist spot. This is a primarily acoustic open mic, with low audience noise and a good space for acoustic sets and spoken-word acts. There are a few folks at this show though who have played non-acoustic sets successfully at this open mic. The room also has a piano, which is reasonably in-tune and available for the open mic. One huge plus for this show is that it is an all-ages show, unlike the other three in this post. Hodi’s, Pateros and Lucky Joe’s are all bars, while Avo’s is a music venue with a bar in just one room of the venue. Thus Avo’s offers a better open mic space for the whole family to hang out and watch you perform.
Lucky Joe’s Open Mic
If I had not gotten drawn in to the Avo’s open mic crowd through a comic friend of mine, I might have latched on to Lucky Joe’s as my open mic of the week. The first one I attended, last week, featured several artists I already know or have encountered before elsewhere, and several of the Avo’s performers regularly attend the Lucky Joe’s open mic as well. The room at Lucky Joe’s is a bit different, an American version of an Irish pub, rather than a performance oriented space in a dedicated music venue, and as such the Lucky Joe’s open mic is not always as great a fit for some of the folk and singer-songwriter acts that turn up at Avo’s. Lucky Joe’s is also just a music open mic, so the comedy, poetry, and other non-music acts that we see occasionally do not appear at Lucky Joe’s on Sunday nights, nor would they be likely to fit the atmosphere there.
But, Lucky Joe’s is just one room, not three, and there is no patio show to compete for audience members, so even on a fairly dead night like last night, there are always a few people in the room to play to. Since the bar at Avo’s is next door to the indoor stage, there are more options for people to patronize Avo’s without being around to hear the open mic. Lucky Joe’s has a bigger captive audience- people who are at the bar to drink, not to hear music. Yes, this also means that people will be talking and ignoring the musicians on the stage all night, which can be very frustrating for many artists, but the alternative at Avo’s is to play to just the 5-10 people who are actually listening while everyone else remains in other rooms.
Lucky Joe’s Open Mic starts at 9, and sign-up is by phone. Performance slots are ~20-30min, so plan for 20 minutes with a few extra songs available in case you have time for more (always a good plan anyway, to have extra songs prepared). A few performers who are regulars to this open mic do grab spots just by hanging around on Sunday nights when it is slow and there are still vacant spots, and if it is slow enough I’d bet even newer performers might be able to snag a spot as walk-ins if they catch a night when the show runs out of performers.
Hodi’s Half Note Comedy Open Mic
Are you a stand-up comedian? Do you daydream about being one? If so, Hodi’s might be a great place to check out on Monday nights. This show presents its audience with a fast-moving array of comedy, at 5 minutes per set. The first comedy show I saw at this venue was really raunchy and not very funny, a collection of cheap laughs and other forms of lazy comedy that left me not all that interested in going back. Months later, though, I caught another of these shows as the precursor to a night at the Funk Jam which happens every week after the comedy show. This time the majority of the comics were actually funny. Their material was better developed, and they didn’t all sound like cranky sex-obsessed misogynists. After several in depth conversations with some of the comics about these shows, I am not ready to say just yet what made the more recent show so much better; I’m just glad it improved. The audience is much bigger now, too, and includes a lot more women, a definite good sign in my book. Many of the comics who regularly do sets at Hodi’s also perform at the new open mics around town, at the Drunken Monkey on Thursdays or at Pateros Creek Brewing on Fridays.
|Open Mic Host- Captain Jsin|
FoCo Free Funny Fridays- Comedy at Pateros Creek Brewing
Last time I was inside this bar it was dark, noisy, dirty and generally not a place I wanted to stay for long. It is already tucked away past a dark parking lot near the north end of Old Town, in a part of downtown Fort Collins that seems a bit sketchy some nights. But, this past Friday I made it to this bar again for the new comedy open mic show, which like the Drunken Monkey show has just had its second show. This show was a pleasant surprise, with good variety in the comedy, and a well-lit comfortable room. I am not so fond of the wheels on the table-legs, as I always forget the tables roll, but as a device to make the room more flexible those wheels are probably a great idea.
This show starts at 7:30 (comic sign-up at 7), and has a featured artist as the final performer each week. These are generally comics who have demonstrated that they can keep a comedy set going for longer than 30 minutes, so they are pretty good. There were no women performing at this past week’s show (though I have only seen 4 female comics so far at any show in Fort Collins- ladies, if you want to try your hand at comedy, you can’t be worse than some of the fellows I’ve seen, really…) but perhaps we’ll have one female comic this next week.