The Official Guide to New York City Open Mics
No doubt, in the past two years, you have witnessed the complete decimation of the open mic system in New York City. Some open mics managed to find new life as streaming open mics, which we have covered before. But in the last year, a few open mics have opened back up in person (albeit with a brief hiatus due omicron). We present here a list of open mics that are currently in operation – as per our previous standards, the open-mics listed: (1) do not charge a cover, (2) do not have any genre or format restrictions (such as acoustic-only). This is to say that these open mics are, well, “open”. mics
Pete’s Candy Store (Sundays – 4pm Signup / 5pm start / 709 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY)
A long-running and well-attended open-mic in Williamsburg, Pete’s Candy Store has a good number of high-quality singer-songwriters who perform on a regular basis. Unlike most other open-mics during the week, the open-mic at Pete’s starts earlier in the day (4:30 pm) though rumor has it that the sign up sheet has been going up as early as 3 pm. Space is a bit cramped, but the room is also very quiet, meaning that performers get a good listen out of the audience. It’s positioning on a Sunday also makes it ideal for people who can’t easily make it to an open-mic in the middle of the week.
The open-mic is hosted by Bruce Martin, who is affable and keeps the open-mic low key. Signup for the open-mic, though, can be somewhat of frenzy. The signup is done by way of signup sheet, and the line for the signup sheet can be ambiguous, so keep an eye for when it is put up, otherwise you may end up with an undesirable slot. Performers range from singer-songwriters to comedians, and tends to have less performers doing covers than other places.
Pete’s serves sandwiches, and the beer and liquor selection is affordable. The venue has a separate bar and patio which make it relatively easy to talk with other musicians without interrupting the performances.
Freddy’s Bar (First and Third Sundays, 4-6:30 open-mic / 627 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY)
Freddy’s Bar currently has what appears to be the only true open mic in the central Brooklyn area near Prospect Park. Within walking distance from the D, N, R, W, F and G trains, the mic is fairly easy to access from all over the city, though the mic presently runs only on first and third Sundays. The mic is hosted by Mimsey Mack.
The Hop Shoppe (The Table Open Mic) (Sundays, 7pm signup / 372 Van Duzer St., Staten Island, NY)
The Table Open Mic, hosted by Donny, is located at The Hop Shoppe, a gastropub with an ample food, beer and cocktail menu, not far from the Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Performers get typically 7-10 minutes. There is no fee to perform, but the venue encourages performers to purchase $10 of food or drink as a courtesy.
Irish Haven (Mondays, 8pm signup / 8-11pm / 5721 4th Ave., Brooklyn, NY)
Right next to the 59th St. stop on the N and R trains, Irish Haven is a longtime Irish bar on the south end of Sunset Park. The open mic is run by K-Mack and takes place in the bar area which has a nice crowd of generous listeners. It’s a nice and welcoming place to try out new material and the drinks are a good price.
Bar Freda (Mondays, 8pm signup / 8:30 start / 801 Seneca Ave., Queens, NY)
Near the Seneca stop on the M train, Bar Freda is a neighborhood bar that features music at its basement stage. The mic is co-run by alumni from the Little Skips open mic (formerly the Looking Glass open mic, formerly the Goodbye Blue Monday open mic, formerly the Tuesday Teacup), Adamegan Fernandez, Miles Stenhouse, and Colleen Celsor.
Starr Bar (Mondays, 6:30 and 9:30 signup / 7pm start / 214 Starr St., Brooklyn, NY)
Starr Bar is near the Dekalb stop on the L train. Starr Bar emphasizes support for social justice movements, has an ample drink menu, and is located next to Monks Vegan Smokehouse. The mic is hosted by label The Wastrel Society.
The Wild Goose (every other Monday, 7:30pm signup / 8pm start / 5420 Roosevelt Ave., Queens, NY)
The Wild Goose Pub is a draft beer and craft cocktail joint near the 52nd St.-Lincoln Ave. stop on the 7 train. The open mic is run by the Astoria Music Collective, a community-based grass-roots organization of Astoria local and outerboro musicians.
Cargo Cafe (Tuesdays, 7:30pm signup / 8:30 start / 120 Bay St, Staten Island, NY)
Hosted by Phoebe Blue and Nanci Richards, the “Open Mice” mic night, formerly at O’Henry’s Publick House has moved to the Cargo Cafe, just a few blocks away. An eclectic hangout offering refined pub grub amid surreal artwork, Cargo Cafe is located just a few minutes from the Staten Island ferry.
Paddy Reilly’s (Wednesday, 6:30 signup / 7pm start / 519 2nd Ave., New York, NY)
Paddy Reilly’s is a long-running open-mic, located near the intersection of 29th and 2nd Ave. in Manhattan (accessible via the 4, 5, 6 trains). Paddy Reilly’s is a traditional Irish pub, serving Guinness and other rotating drafts on tap.
Otto’s Shrunken Head (Wednesday, 7:30 start / 538 E. 14th St., New York, NY)
Otto’s Shrunken Head is one of only a few tiki bars in New York City, which serves a variety of strong rum-based cocktails. The event, hosted by Ira Zadikow, is an open-mic/open-jam, with the open mic beginning at 7:30 and the open jam beginning around 9-9:30, so show up early if you want to participate in the open mic portion. Because of the open-jam element, there is a full backline available, and if you’re looking to hear what a song might sound like with additional musicians, this might be an interesting place to check out. (event link).
The Shillelagh Tavern (Wednesday, 7:30 signup / 8pm start / 47-22 30th Ave., Astoria, NY)
The Shillelagh Tavern (pronounced “shuh–ley-lee”) in Astoria is home to an open-mic run by the Astoria Music Collective. Hosted by Miguel Hernandez, the open-mic is the largest of the open-mics run by the Astoria Music Collective, and is located next to the E, M and R trains. The Shillelagh Tavern has an ample menus of beers and whiskey, as well as an affordable selection of finger foods and personal pan pizza.
Kitty Kiernans (Thursday, 9pm start / 9715 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, NY)
Kitty Kiernans is a cozy Irish bar serving draft beer and mixed drinks on a beautiful wooden and marble bar in Bay Ridge. The open mic was restarted in July 2021 but has been otherwise active since 2016. Hosted by Antonio Mancilla in the adjacent lounge area, Kitty Kiernans is right next to the last stop on the R train, and serves coal-fired pizza from local Table 87.
Bar Nine (Saturdays, 4-7pm / 807 9th Ave., New York, NY)
Bar Nine is a venue on the west side of midtown Manhattan, which hosts dueling pianos events, as well as Broadway karaoke and drag brunch. The open mic is run by Ron Rothschild, and is easily accessible via the A, C, E, B, D, 1 and 2 trains, though if you need keys, you will have to bring your own.
The Local Bar (Saturdays, 3:30pm signup / 4pm start / 41-04 31st Ave., Queens, NY)
The Local Bar is a craft beer bar in Astoria, near the 46th Street stop on the E, M and R trains. The Saturday Songwriters Open Mic is run by the Astoria Music Collective. Hosted by Miguel Hernandez, the open mic takes place in the back half of the bar, and has an ample sound system for the space. The atmosphere is casual and welcoming, with a respectful community of musicians that makes for a good experience.
The list will continue to be updated with new venues and revised descriptions on a semi-regular basis.