It’s hard to get up in front of a group of complete strangers, tune your guitar and break into song. Sure, for the professionals, it’s not all that hard, but for the better than average musicians who want to spread their wings—it’s tough.
But, playing in public is also one of the best ways to get better. And after your knees stop shaking, it’s fun.
That’s where open mics come in. Those kinds of low key opportunities to get up in front of an audience and experience what it’s like to perform for the public.
There are a couple of excellent open mic venues on the Outer Banks now and even a once a month literary open mic that is worth checking out.
Beach Road, Kitty Hawk
We’re going to start with Art’s Place, an iconic semi-dive hamburger place along the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk.
It’s small. It’s intimate. And it’s a great atmosphere for musicians.
Art’s Place was the first bar or restaurant on the Outer Banks to offer an open mic. Hard to say just how long they’ve been at it but at least eight or nine years.
Expect a lot of different styles of music. During the week, Art’s Place often features jazz musicians, so there is often a jazz flavor to the open mic, but it is not limited to that at all.
Usually hosted by Monte Hooker, Art’s Place is a great location to hear some very talented amateur musicians as well as a few who are hoping to spread their wings and get to the next level.
Jubilee Music Store
Seagate North Shopping Center, Kill Devil Hills
When Jubilee Music moved from their old cramped quarters to their new location, all sorts of possibilities opened up. A lot of instruments went up on the walls, there were places to sit and try an instrument—and a small stage was built that can handle three or four musicians. There is also a very good sound system.
Particularly nice at Jubilee, Chris Whitehurst, who one of the best sound engineers on the Outer Banks, is usually on the soundboard.
Also, because it’s a music store, there are spare instruments to try, just in case a string breaks or some accessory is needed, it’s right there.
There’s no food or drink sold in the store, but Two Roads Tavern is right next door and they keep the kitchen open and pour beer into plastic cups.
The music tends toward country and acoustic sounds, but there have been some purely electric musicians.
It’s probably a little more low-key than Art’s Place with a different host every week. A great place to spread your musical wings.
Literary Open Mic
Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery, Nags Head
Second Thursday of the month
Poets, essayists, novelists, short story writers, shake out the cobwebs in the shadows of your minds and check out this literary open mic.
Sponsored by the Dare County Arts Council and now into its 10th year, the readers are very supportive and welcoming to writers of anything literary.
The range of material that is presented is astonishing. Children’s poetry has been read; parts of novels and short stories. Political essays are sometimes at the podium. Occasionally very mature themes are broached—there have been a couple of readings that examined drug addiction and child abuse.
Because the range of topics is so wide, the evening can often be the springboard to broader discussions.
Although it usually occurs on the second Thursday of the month, there are times when scheduling conflicts cause it to be rescheduled, usually to the second Wednesday of the month.