A Guide to Open Mics and Jam Sessions on Audiobarn.ca
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, meaning that 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 and a cypher will usually be restrictive to Hip-Hop and Rap. Some places may not appreciate louder genres while others may not appreciate quieter ones. All this will be specified if that’s the case.
2. Times and Locations May Change
Not every event is hosted by the bar/restaurant/cafe. Jam groups (like Urban Science, Balagan Jam, etc.) may change their location, dates or times from time to time. Venues hosting events may do the same so please keep an eye out for updates! If you think we missed something, please let us know so we can let others know too! Changes will quickly be announced on our Facebook page. 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! If we hear a night has cancelled one week, we’ll let you know through our Facebook page.
4. Know Your Expertise Level
Throughout our hunt for open stages, we’ve come across many different events and found that some aren’t welcome to beginners. With this in mind, we suggest you check the details of the night in our catalogue 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) often require higher levels of experience and/or chemistry. Please check our catalogue for more details, or check the Facebook page of the event that interests you!
5. 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 Mic: An open mic involves performing a small setlist in front of a crowd. This is usually a setlist of three songs and the night may be open to other performance arts like dance or comedy. Sometimes a free drink is rewarded to the artist. Sometimes the artist may play for longer given how busy the night gets.
- Open Stage: An open stage is similar to an open mic but doesn’t always follow the same time restrictions as open mics. 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. This is almost always specified by the venue or host(s).
- Jam Night: A jam night is different to an open mic as it doesn’t usually follow a rigid structure of one performance after another. 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 to jam after their second set. It may also be completely open and follow no particular structure. The 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 by the venue/group.
- 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).
6. Crowd Sizes May Vary
Lastly, we’d just like to specify that some weeks get busier than others. Sometimes the night draws a big crowd while others draw a handful of people. That being said, there are always find the loyalists: performers who never miss a week!
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!