In the corners of Durango’s favorite hot spots and cozy stops, residents and travelers gather to perform and garner feedback from an audience at special open-mic events.
Traditionally, open mics are live shows held at a bar, club, pub, coffee shop or cafe. These events invite amateur artists on stage for specific increments of time to entertain customers.
In Durango, most venues do not have a true stage; but much like the participants, businesses are able to improvise their set to please the crowd.
Most weekdays, you’re sure to find a place welcoming brave individuals to step up to a microphone plugged into a P.A. system tucked in a corner.
On Tuesdays, Moe’s hosts open mics beginning at 8 p.m. To sign up, show up. The early spots fill up quickly, and people who sign up have 15 minutes to showcase their talent. Each participant receives one free drink for performing.
Rayne Grant is a independent documentary filmmaker and helps coordinate and host Moe’s open mic each week – she also performs. Grant said the atmosphere most nights is laid back and casual.
As for the kinds of artists who find their way to the open mic, Moe’s employee Matt McDermott said audiences can expect to see solo acoustic performances, bands, stand-up comedy and the occasional rap, freestyle or spoken word.
McDermott said the event often runs late, and some participants are invited to perform a second time after those who signed up finish.
“It’s good for locals to have a place to share their talents,” McDermott said.
Owner of Eno Wine Bar and Cocktail Lounge Alison Dance loves good food, good wine and good music, so at 6 p.m. every Thursday during the fall, winter and spring, Christena Harlow hosts an open-mic event inside.
During the summer, there is live music on the patio instead.
Harlow said without the presence of a stage, the open-mic night at the venue feels cozy and comfortable, like people hanging out in a living room.
“It’s really nice because it is a smaller space,” Harlow said. “Even if we can’t get everybody plugged in or on a microphone, you can still hear what is going on.”
To sign up, show up. Each artist gets 15 minutes to play and early spots fill up quickly. Even though the event is advertised from 6 to 8 p.m., Harlow said people still collaborate and play until closing time.
“It’s fun because people have very different and specific styles,” Harlow said. “I love seeing people collaborate that have never even met.”
On the third Thursday of every month, The Underground hosts an open mic for comedians.
Dan Korman, owner of Alpenglow Properties LLC, said the venue is fantastic because it is a true black box theater and customers have space to move around. This event used to be held in the Steaming Bean but grew to standing room only. Now the event has five to seven regular performers and at least one person trying it out for the first time on average.
On Fridays, when Steaming Bean is not hosting a private party, it welcomes people to entertain customers from 7 to 11 p.m. It’s a casual, well-organized event with a variety of solo artists and bands.
Other venues schedule open mics from time to time, including El Rancho and Balcony Backstage Bar and Grill. Most venues advertise these events through social media and flyers, yet draw an eclectic crowd and handful of entertainers with day jobs week after week.
“The talent here is incredible, and I get new performers all the time,” Harlow said. “It’s awesome.”