The phone calls usually start Thursday morning and continue throughout the day on Friday: "Do you guys do Open Mic?" "When does it start?" "How does it work?" "Is it free?" "How many people usually show up?"
Modern Times Coffeehouse started our weekly Open Mic session almost seven years ago. The event has been held every Friday night since nearly the beginning of Modern Times itself. Besides the rare night off when it falls on a holiday or an emergency sickness, this event has been organized and hosted by Maureen Nelson and a small group of DC-based musicians. They have been committed to holding this event, free of charge and all ages, every Friday night from 7:30-10:30 in the coffeehouse's intimate space. With no microphones, no PA system, and no stage, they have been able to create a welcoming atmosphere for performers of all types and talent levels to share with a diverse crowd. Read this piece in the Washington Post Weekend section about the event.
In addition to all types of music, there is always a healthy mix of poetry, spoken word, book readings, and even standup comedy to go around. We are partial to the poetry readings of coffeehouse regular, Alex. Most times you can find the unassuming Alex quietly reading the paper on a Sat morning or working on a top secret scientific project on his computer, but at Open Mic Night he puts forth a commanding presence, wildly gesturing and projecting his voice so that any passerby from the bookstore has no choice but to stop and listen. (My personal favorite is his rendition of William Blake's The Tyger.) Recently, several students from a nearby music school have been coming to try out their hands at performing in front of a crowd. It's a joy to see these very young folks perform with their families in the audience and getting cheered on from veteran musicians.
Open Mic Night at Modern Times Coffeehouse is held every Friday unless otherwise noted. Sign-ups to perform are taken in-person only at 7:30pm. (No phone sign ups please). The evening begins promptly at 8pm. There are no microphones or PA system, however small amps and electronic instruments are allowed (bring your own cords). Most nights, all performers are limited to two pieces. If there is time left over, performers are allowed to go again. The coffeehouse and bookstore close all sales at 10pm, however the coffeehouse doors are open and music can go until 10:30. No patrons will be allowed into the bookstore past 10pm and everyone must exit into the back parking lot at 10:30.
For more information, call the coffeehouse or submit a question on the group's facebook page.