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The Open Mic Community: Southern Oregon’s Open Mic Scene

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Gillian McPheteers performing at the open mic at the Phoenix Clubhouse. Courtesy of the Phoenix Clubhouse

The Phoenix Clubhouse has been hosting open mic events since 2015 and Organizer Christine Totten says each one has an eager, listening audience. She also says open mic hosts usually attract an audience similar to his or her music style, setting a tone for the evening, as well as warming up the evening by playing his or her own music.

Coleman Antonucci will host his first open mic at the Phoenix Clubhouse March 13, but he’s not new to performing at the venue. “The Phoenix Clubhouse is one of my favorite places for open mics,” he says. “Every time I go there to play I have an amazing night. The Phoenix Clubhouse is run by two of the nicest people I have met. The venue they provide is a friendly and open atmosphere and there is usually a great audience that stays for the whole night. I should know I usually get there late and sign up last on the list.”

He expresses open mics are crucial to local musicians because of the community it creates. “Open mics and open jams build communities of musicians, people who would maybe never have met each other, and gives them the opportunity to collaborate with other local musicians.” He adds one of the most important things about open mics is it allows people to perform live. While this is Antonucci’s first time hosting open mic at the Phoenix Clubhouse, he hosts a monthly open jam every third Thursday at the Wild River Pub in Grants Pass. Hosting this monthly event has built a family that otherwise would probably never would have come together if not for open mic.

“It doesn’t matter if we mess up on stage,” he says. “We are only there for fun. It doesn’t matter that we sing the same song too close out to our show every month. What matters is that we all get together and we have a reason to see each other again.” Not everyone who regularly come to this event perform, but enjoy listening to live music performed by friends. He says this monthly event has everyone looking forward to it month after month. “We laugh, we sing, and look forward to seeing each other again the next month. Open music events provide a level of family and community that is not found anywhere else.”

Brady Bowker, local spoken word performer and writer, says his favorite part about open mics is being able to do what he loves to do and become more comfortable performing in front of an audience. He says Rise Coffeehouse is a “super cool” open mic venue. The person who runs the events he says “is an incredible guy that is passionate about giving artists a platform to be able to present and work on their craft.”

Totten encourages those interested in performing at an open mic to first attend as an audience member. She also says to do your research beforehand so you know your audience. “Prepare a set list according to the event guidelines and practice, practice, practice,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and if you do, just keep going…Enjoy the other acts and try not to worry so much, it’s just open mic.”

Some may think open mics mostly consist of people playing covers, but Antonucci appreciates the amount of original music played. Open mics are opportunities for musicians to put themselves out there, to garner fans and support, and to find the ever-evolving local music community. “We all share the unspoken struggle of being a unique performer in an area with little to no saturation or market for original songs and even styles,” he says. “Because of that, many people stray away from their original music. In a time where we need original music and styles more than ever, open mic nights and open jams are great to help foster more of the original songwriting.”

From Oberon’s to Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant to the Phoenix Clubhouse, open mics are ubiquitous in the Rogue Valley. To find dates, locations, and times, check out the Messenger’s Calendar section or like venue’s Facebook pages to stay up to date on the next event.


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