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‘Open mic’ night spotlights talent, draws crowd

April 29, 2010

Many bars along Main Street in downtown River Falls host open mic nights where people are allowed to come in and play their music at no cost to themselves or others. People are also welcome to recite poetry, spoken word and perform comedy sketches if they would like. The popularity of these events has been growing recently in some places more than others, but students seem to agree that open mic nights are a growing venture in River Falls.

“Open mic night is a good night to go out because its gives students and residents a place to socialize and hang out earlier in the week and watch talented performers free of charge,” said fourth-year student Dennis Gunderson.

Local bars such as Junior’s, located at 100 Spring Street and South Main Street, have been hosting open mic nights on Tuesdays for several months, starting at 8 p.m. every week. These events are MC’d by performers themselves and feature lineups usually ranging from about five to 10 performers, according to open mic performer Matt Mitchell.

“It’s definitely become more popular since it began” said Mitchell.

Last Tuesday’s open mic event at Junior’s drew a crowd of over 30 spectators, including many students and residents of the city and neighboring communities as well. Performers such as Mitchell and Joel Kachel, as well as many others, took the stage to entertain with acoustic guitar performances.

“My favorite part is when I’m playing a song and people in the bar start singing along; it gives me shivers every time,” said Mitchell.

The stage occupies the majority of a single banquet room and features a double speaker PA system. In addition, a lighting arrangement exists to create a concert feel, according to Best Western Operations Manager Dustin Hanson.

“Open mic night is my favorite night of the week. I don’t care if there’s not nearly as many people here, this is the funnest night of the week,” Hanson said.

In addition to the many musical performances, there was also a comedy sketch performed by fourth-year student Gary Klaput.

“Having my friends there is nice; it’s a way to get people out and have a good time,” Klaput said.

Some of the performers, such as Klaput, feel that the events that are hosted have grown but still feel there could be more people there. “It’s difficult, because it is a bar. There are legal issues with people not being able to go that are under 21. However, I do think they’re doing everything they can,” said Klaput.

This view is also shared by performer Matt Mitchell, but with a slight change in perspective.

“I think Junior’s so far has done everything right. If they wanted to be more popular they’d do more of what I hate, which is become more trendy, like they do on Thursday nights,” said Mitchell.

On Thursday nights Junior’s hosts a ladies night, which is also done by many other bars in River Falls on the same night.

Hanson said he is planning on making a bigger advertising push for music performances in the near future and is planning an event featuring both Mitchell and Kachel in an all-night event on Friday, May 7. Both musicians will be playing all night, and Hanson hopes to draw a large crowd at a show which will charge no cover to people interested in watching the performances.

There are not many other bars in town that offer open mic nights, though the Corner Saloon and Emma’s Bar occasionally host live music performances. Locations such as Hot Spot and the Kinni Lounge used to host open mic nights before they closed their doors last year.