There’s a song in your heart you need to play for the world, but the world isn’t exactly coming to your doorstep to hear it. You’ve checked the mailbox, and once again, there is no contract from a record label inside. With an overabundance of talent and nowhere to showcase it, where is an aspiring musician supposed to go?
Try one of the many open-mics available in Dallas-Fort Worth. For a newcomer to Dallas music, an open-mic helps you to familiarize yourself with other local musicians while you sharpen your skills in front of an audience open to hearing the rough cuts. If a packed show on a Saturday night is the destination, then the open-mic is definitely the journey.
It takes a good deal of courage just to step on the stage and share your work, but it can be just as challenging finding a stage that works for you. With that in mind, here’s a list of open-mics to help you work on new songs, meet some fellow musicians or just to grab a drink while listening to local music. Money can be tight for a future rock star, so all the open-mics listed are free to perform at.
The Abbey Underground
100 West Walnut St., Denton.
7 p.m. to midnight Sundays
In Denton’s Courthouse Square, The Abbey Underground opens its doors every Sunday night for one of the longer-running nights in the area. Local musician Bret Crow hosts the mic, introducing each act before it performs three to four songs for a maximum of 10 minutes. Get there early to sign up, grab a cheap drink and slip into a booth to enjoy the show.
Although Denton is a considerable drive from Dallas, it’s worth the trip to check out the thriving music scene and explore the numerous venues the city offers.
Deep Ellum Art Co.
3200 Commerce St.
7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays
While performers at most of these open-mic nights must be 21 or older to enter, Deep Ellum Art Co. has the distinction of being an all-ages open-mic. Deep Ellum Art Co. was designed to be a melting pot of artists of all types, and that spirit is continued in its open mic, which encourages the attending musicians to interact both onstage and off.
At 6:30 p.m. those looking to perform can start signing up and get comfortable before the featured artist for the day does a set at 7 p.m. Once that performance is finished, the open-mic will kick off at 8 p.m.
Main at South Side
1002 S. Main St., Fort Worth
7 p.m. until close Mondays
Main at South Side, or MASS, as it’s called by regulars, hosts an open-mic on its stage minutes away from downtown Fort Worth. The room is a picture of simplicity at its best with a few scattered tables, a pool table tucked in a back room and a large enough stage for the Polyphonic Spree.
Doors open at 6 p.m. every Monday, and the sign-up sheet is available at the bar for those looking to get a 15-minute performance slot. The show starts at 7 p.m., but it’s advisable to get there closer to 6 if you want to guarantee an early spot. Like all the mics listed, there’s no cost to perform, but musicians who want recordings of their sets can grab one from MASS for $10. Your friend could probably record for free, but the people at MASS don’t have the shakes from years of drinking.
Opening Bell Coffee
1409 S. Lamar St., No. 012
7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays
The Opening Bell coffee shop on Lamar has seen its fair share of music trends while hosting one of Dallas’ longest-running open-mics for more than a decade. Opening Bell sells beer and wine alongside its bean-related beverages, but you don’t have to be 21 or older to attend this mic.
Signup is at 6:30 p.m. Get there early — the list fills up fast. Although it’s a coffee shop, the types of music welcomed aren’t limited to protest songs and John Denver covers. Everything from jazz to hard rock to bluegrass is showcased on the Opening Bell stage, so whatever new song you’re working on will fit right in.
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House of Blues
2200 N. Lamar St.
6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays
The open-mic at the House of Blues is your chance to tell all your friends you performed at one of the premier venues in Dallas — and then promptly run out of the room before they can ask more questions. While you'd be performing for the customers in the dining room and not on the main stage for screaming fans, this mic will give you a taste of what it’s like to perform for a larger group of people.
Signing up for this one is a little different. Email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance to snag a spot on the show. If you show up without getting confirmation from the House of Blues, the venue will be happy to have you — just not onstage.
10838 N. Central Expressway
7 p.m. to close Wednesdays
If you’re just starting out on your journey to be a rock star, you know Sam Ash as a place to pick up some gear, but it’s also a place to perform. Every Wednesday, Sam Ash hosts its open-mic on a stage that can accommodate everything from singer-songwriters to a full band. Everyone is allowed to perform up to two songs, and they must be family friendly. That might sound restrictive to your art, but Sam Ash is trying to run a business — most places let you play zero songs.
As an added benefit, anyone that goes up at the open-mic gets a $10 Sam Ash gift card mailed to his or her house, so it’s almost like your first paid gig. Sam Ash recommends showing up early; the list is first-come, first-served, and you don’t get a gift card for browsing the store.