The Office has a liberal policy for newcomers. Whatever you want to perform is acceptable, original or not. The only expectation is to put your heart into your music and make it meaningful, according to Holder.
“We don’t care what kind of material it is,” he said. “The crowd will let you know if they don’t want to hear your music.”
The Office is located at 901 Carter St. Open mic begins at 9 p.m. On Thursdays. For more information, call (423) 634-9191.
Raw Sushi Bar
This is a relatively new venue for open mic performances. Every Wednesday night from 8 p.m. to midnight, performers hit this sushi bar’s stage with host Michael “Open Mic” McDade overseeing the lineup. The vibe is laid-back and the stage is open, McDade said.
“At Raw, we keep it a very relaxed venue for open mic performers,” McDade explained. “Anyone who wants to perform music, poetry or comedy has a flexible 15-minute window to do it in a very non-restrictive and non-competitive environment.”
Like The Office, Raw has no established rules for performers. Play whatever you like and give it all you’ve got.
Raw is located at 409 Market St. Open mic night is Wednesday and is now featuring a five-week bass and guitar contest. For more information call (423) 756-1919.
Here is another intimate venue that packs in the talent. Again, Chattanooga’s own Michael McDade hosts the show and beams with pride over these Tuesday night shows.
“You never know who will show up on an open mic night at the Tremont Tavern,” he said. “Once a man dressed in a business suit approached me and said he was an orator. For 15 minutes he was on stage talking about the positive aspects of the Republican Party. But on the other hand, with performers coming to play the Tremont from as far away as Alabama and North Carolina, you never know whether or not you’re watching the next Elvis.”
During a recent visit on Valentine’s night, McDade opened the show with a Neil Young number and finished his short set with Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Right on his heels was a young man from Dayton who had never played an open mic gig before. Derrick Keeton sang a couple of original pieces and finished up with Del Shannon’s “Runaway.”
“I sing songs about love but not necessarily love songs,” said performer Jessie Knowles, New York City native who moved to Chattanooga after earning a theater degree from Boston’s Emerson College and a short stint in Los Angeles. Brandishing her black Yamaha guitar, she hit the small stage area and performed two original songs: “Just Friends” and a rather brilliant piece entitled “Walkabout,” which was written using the title as a metaphor for life.
But the real treat came when she sang a cowboy song that truly showed off her vocal range and her talent for that genre. As she warbled and yodeled her way through the song, visions of the prairie came to mind and for a moment, she transported the audience to the wild west of yesteryear. Influenced by artists like Alanis Morissette, Shawn Colvin and Tracy Chapman, Knowles played a set filled with bountiful emotion.
The Tremont Tavern is located at 1203 Hixson Pike. Open mic nights begin at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays. For more information call (423) 266-1996 or visit tremonttavern.com.
Vaudeville Cafe (138 Market St.) is the place for open mic comedy on Tuesday nights in Chattanooga. Test out your material in front of a live audience. For more information call (423) 517-1839 or visit funnydinner.com.
Market Street Tavern (850 Market St.) hosts a singer-songwriter night on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., but you can’t just show up, axe in hand and ready to play. Local musician Jordan Hallquist hosts the showcase with his guests. Songwriters have to book themselves and put on a 45-minute performance for the dinner crowd. For more information, call (423) 634-0260 or visit marketstreettavern.com.
Signal Mountain Opry (2501 Fairmount Pike) offers more of an open bluegrass jam than an open mic night at 8 p.m. on Fridays. Musicians need to bring their instrument of choice, express interest in playing, and wait until they are called to the stage. Impromptu jams can erupt out of nowhere and a good time is almost a certainty. For more information call (423) 866-3252.
The Palms at Hamilton (6925 Shallowford Road) features “Sunday Night Live,” an open mic night for singer-songwriters, track artists, covers and originals beginning at 7 p.m. every Sunday. For more information call (423) 499-5055 or visit the palmsathamilton.com.