Ready to Sing? Open Mic Nights in New York City

March may be “Music in Our Schools Month,” but you don’t have to actually be a student to celebrate here. Whether you’re an aspiring songwriter or simply eager to break out from beyond the confines of performing in your shower, Manhattan gives you lots of opportunities to step into the spotlight and sing or speak your heart out at an “open mic” evening. Start rehearsing and banish any thoughts of stage fright: you might even be discovered. And it’s easy on the pocketbook.

The Duplex: This legendary piano bar and cabaret in the West Village hosts open-mic every weeknight after 9pm. You can be “the audience,” if you prefer before 9 and enjoy their fabulous Broadway-style entertainment and listen to your bartender croon your favorite tune at the Piano Bar. www.theduplex.com, 212-255-5438, 61 Christopher Street

Baby Grand: This tiny space is the karaoke hotspot to visit in Little Italy. After singing and acting out one of the 18,000+ songs on the line-up, grab a bubble tea cocktail at the bar (that, of course, looks like a baby grand piano). Don’t forget to check out the monthly rotation of 24 one-inch slides in its tiny “gallery” space. www.babygrandnyc.com, 212-219-8110, 161 Lafayette Street

Sidewalk Cafe: Known as the “anti-folk stomping ground,” the East Village’s Sidewalk Café hosts open-mic on Mondays starting at 7:30pm, with a two-drink minimum. The system is lotto-style, so the party lasts all night. If you’ve ever wanted to check out the underground music scene in NYC, here’s the place to do it!
www.sidewalkmusic.net, 212-473-7373, 94 Avenue A

Nuyorican Poets Café: Gritty Alphabet City brings you a true multicultural experience at the Nuyorican (New York Puerto Rican) Poets Café. Not only does the café feature open-mic, it is also home to an über-popular poetry slam, literature readings, hip hop, and visual arts presentations. Audience participation is encouraged on the first Wednesday and the first Saturday of each month.
www.nuyorican.org, 212-505-8183, 236 East 3rd Street



Nightingale Lounge: If open-mic could be sexy, this is the place for it. Also, in The East Village, the sultry Nightingale Lounge offers its Saturn Series open-mic poetry readings every Monday at 7:30pm. There is a $3 suggested donation and a $10 drink minimum.
www.nightingalelounge.com, 212-473-9398, 213 2nd Avenue

Birdland: Come see why ABC-TV called Jim Caruso’s Monday night Cast Party “an extreme open mic!” Starting at 9:00pm, showbiz pros and newcomers alike are welcome on stage for an evening of non-stop entertainment. Jim starts collecting names at about 9:15, so get there early to secure your spot… and have a stage-fright calming cocktail. The cover is a whopping $10. www.birdlandjazz.com, 212-581-3080, 315 West 44th Street

Brandy’s Piano Bar
: This Upper East Side piano bar is the place if you love Broadway and cabaret tunes. On Monday nights from 9pm until closing, the bar hosts open mic at the piano with no cover. On other nights, it’s the waiters and bartenders who provide the entertainment while the audience participates by singing along. Broadway performers have a habit of dropping in, too, to perform after hours. There’s no cover but tips are encouraged and there’s a two-drink minimum per set. www.brandysnyc.com, 212-744-4949, 235 East 84th Street

Cleopatra’s Needle: For a more serious open-mic evening, take a date to the Upper West Side to Cleopatra’s Needle, the jazz bar and cabaret named for the landmark Egyptian obelisk in Central Park (and in London). On Sundays from 4-8pm and Wednesdays from 7-11pm, the open-mic performances will wow you, as Cleopatra’s Needle attracts more seasoned performers. Cleopatra’s needles charges a minimum of $5 for vocalist and $10 for regular customers. www.cleopatrasneedleny.com, 212-769-6969, 2485 Broadway

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32 Responses to “Ready to Sing? Open Mic Nights in New York City”

  1. How often do you write your blogs? I enjoy them a lot 7 7 3

  2. Steve says:

    Renowned New York City singer/songwriter Lach, the legendary founder of the Antifolk movement, will be bringing NYC’s longest running open stage, The Antihoot, to Webster Hall (125 East 11th Street, NYC) every Tuesday night beginning March 16th. Doors open at 7pm. Performers should arrive by 7:30 to sign-up to perform. Show starts at 8pm. Admission is free. Age limit is 18+ (21+ with ID to drink). In addition, beginning March 24th and every Wednesday thereafter “Lach Presents…” will feature five acts for five bucks; bringing Webster Hall back to the East Village where it belongs!

  3. This is a good post, I stumbled across your article while looking for music downloads. Thanks for sharing, I’ll be sure to return regularly.

  4. how to sing says:

    I couldn’t understand certain points of this post, but I guess I only need to learn a bit more about this, because it sure sounds interesting and kind of though-proviking! By the way, how did you first get started with this?

  5. Are you more interested in singing or reciting poetry? Soak up the culture in NYC — you’ll soon find yourself wanting to be a participant and not just a spectator. Take a look at http://www.travelandfoodnotes.com for other ways to immerse yourself in the culture of NYC.

  6. Thanks for your comments, Pearline. I’m a music fan, and NYC lets you listen, absorb, and join in by performing yourself. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional, just as long as you’re having fun, agree?

  7. That’s wonderful news — March 16 at Webster Hall for The Antihoot. $5.

  8. Hi Henrietta, I write here once a week and at http://www.travelandfoodnotes.com several times per week. I hope you read both sites. I look forward to your comments.

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  11. The links are now live for this article, so you can visit all the wonderful Open Mic locations on the Web.

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  20. Minjie says:

    Another great place to discover new poems is the new spoken word poetry album “Poetic License: 100 Poems/100 Performers” featuring Jason Alexander, Patti LuPone, Michael York, Kate Mulgrew, Paul Provenza and 95 other top performers reading a poem of their choosing. If you know anyone who claims that they don’t like poetry, you should get them this album so they can hear the magic that you already see on the page.

    For more info, to read the amazing reviews, or to purchase the album, visit GPRRecords.com.

    “Poetic License” is available for purchase and preview on iTunes. Here’s a link to Part 1 of the album: http://bit.ly/poeticlicense_itunes

    More info:
    Said Trav S.D. on his blog Travalanche:
    “Three of my favorite poems happen to occur all in a row: Poe’s Annabel Lee, Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Tennyson’s Ulysses — it’s like back-to-back hits on the poetry Top 40. Furthermore, the indiscriminate mix of bold-faced names and literary classics produces more than usual interest. Florence Henderson reads Longfellow! Barbara Feldon reads Margaret Atwood! And a long list of others: Christine Baranksi, Jason Alexander, Cynthia Nixon, Charles Busch, Michael York, JoBeth Williams, Paul Provenza, Richard Thomas, Kate Mulgrew, etc etc etc.”

    More Links:
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  25. karen says:

    Hello i’d like to publish our New
    Every Thursday Night from 6:30-8:00pm
    Collective of Singers Open Mic at the ZInc Bar in NYC @ 82 west 3rd st. (btw thompson+sullivan st) Hosts Lucy Galliher on Piano and Karen Lee (that’s me) Come and sing Jazz Standards or bring your own sheet music to perform anything else. $5 cover/donation to pay our pianist- Thank you (that’s the info–what should i do? )

  26. Karen, Thanks so much for sharing this information with us. We’ll look forward to joining you at Zinc Bar soon.

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