A Guide to Open Mics and Jam Sessions on Audiobarn.ca

* Due to COVID-19, open mics and jam sessions at bars and restaurants are temporarily suspended.

As you may have discovered, Montreal is filled with bars, restaurants and coffee-shops to play in as a musician. Here at AudioBarn, our goal is to detail these nights so you have an easier time finding where you want to play. Whether it’s by genre, crowd size, location or time, we’ve listed all these spots and many more are on their way. If we missed something, please let us know and we’ll add it to the list! For those who need some help navigating the site, here are some pointers…

1. Listed Genres Are Not Restrictive

The genres we mention are the most popular throughout the night. After all, an open mic is an open mic: all genres are welcome most of the time. If they’re not, it will be specified in the description.

Example: a Jazz night will usually be restrictive to Jazz sub-genres. Some places may not appreciate louder genres while others may not appreciate quieter ones. This will be specified if that’s the case.

2. Times and Locations May Change

Not every event is hosted by the bar, restaurant or cafe. Jam groups (like Urban Science) may change their location, dates or hours from time to time. Venues hosting events may do the same, so please keep an eye out for updates! If you think we’ve missed something, please let us know so we can let others know too! Follow us there to stay updated.

3. Not Every Night Is Consistent To Once A Week

Some events are held every two weeks or once a month, and this is specified next to the day listed. Just be sure not to miss it!

4. Know Your Expertise Level

Throughout our hunt for open stages, we’ve come across many different events and found that some don’t welcome beginners. With this in mind, we suggest you check the details of the night’s listing before playing. Some events are much more intimate and some are for players experienced in a specific genre. We’ve found that open mics tend to welcome all experience levels while small, intimate jams (of a particular genre like Jazz or Bluegrass) usually require higher levels of experience or chemistry. Please check our list for more details, or check the Facebook page of the event that interests you!

5. Crowd Sizes May Vary

Just how experience levels may very, so will crowds. Some weeks get busier than others. Some nights will draw a big crowd while others only a handful of people. That being said, you will always find the devotees who never miss a week!

6. Different Types of Performance Events

Although every event listed is performance based, not every event follows the same structure. We have open mics, open stages, jam nights and cyphers. Here’s a brief explanation of what each of these are:

  • Open Mics: Involve performing a small setlist in front of a crowd. This is usually a setlist of three songs or 10-15 minutes, and may welcome other performance arts like dance or comedy. Sometimes a free drink is rewarded to the artist. Sometimes the artist may play for longer depending on how busy the night gets.
  • Open Stages: Are similar to an open mic but don’t always follow the same time restrictions. In other words, you may have as long as an hour to play, or as long as you want until the next person wants to go up. These formalities are almost always specified by the venue or hosts.
  • Jam Nights: Are different to open mics as they don’t usually follow a rigid structure or subsequent performances. These nights involve jamming with other musicians and you may end up playing for much longer than at an open mic, or an open stage for that matter. The nature of each night varies: It may be hosted by a jam group that welcomes you to play right away, or by a band that invites you up after their first set. It may also follow a structure different to either of these. Preferred genres of the jam group are often specified beforehand (i.e. Blues Jam Night, Jazz Jam Night, etc.). If you see Jam Session listed, it’s the same thing as a jam night but has been listed like that to respect how the venue has titled it.
  • Cypher / Hip-Hop Night: A cypher can follow the same structure of all of the above but incorporates Rap, Hip-Hop and Spoken Word – freestyle or written.

We hope this information helps and that you have an easy time navigating the site. Most importantly, we hope that you find your favourite places to play! If you have any complaints or suggestions, please feel free to contact us!

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