Like the finer things in life that only time can make better, open mic nights across St. Joseph’s bar scene have reached a point of maturity and it’s time to enjoy.
“It’s amazing the amount of talent that’s flowing through St. Joe right now,” local musician and Western graduate Drew Ames said.
Ames is one of St. Joseph’s many talented musicians that jams in an weekly open mic session at Magoon’s Famous Delicatessen.
Magoon’s is one of the three local venues that currently host weekly open mic jam sessions. The Café Acoustic and Bottoms Up Bar have equally successful open mic jams and all three venues are free of cover and open to everyone over 21 years of age.
“Everyone always talks about how there is nothing to do in St. Joe,” local singer-songwriter Marcus Words said.
Words, who goes to almost all of the venues on jam nights, hosts the jam at Bottoms Up and co-hosts the jam at Magoon’s. For him, the open mic nights are a way to help change peoples perception of the entertainment available in St. Joseph.
“It’s amazing how it’s starting to blossom,” Words said. “It’s more than St. Joe has ever had. It’s our scene… that’s all there is to it.”
Bottoms Up Bar
After reopening last year under new ownership, Bottoms Up has become the newest addition to the open mic circuit. Owners Bruce and Seth Hall, who are musicians themselves, wanted to be part of the open mic scene in St. Joseph. Every Thursday night, host Marcus Words kicks off the jam around 9:30 p.m.
“The really important thing to understand about what we do every Thursday is that it is a culture built around encouragement. The encouragement to get out of your basement, get off your couch and hang out with a bunch of like minded people,” Words said.
Encouragement is exactly what first-time performer Jon Bond got last week. Bond, with some encouragement from Words, made his open mic debut.
“It was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done.” Western graduate Bond said. “I got to check it off the bucket list.”
Be it the bucket list, or just a love for music, Bottoms Up Bar and Words are always happy to have new faces.
“You don’t have to be some guitar virtuoso,” Words said. “It’s more than fun… it’s therapeutic. It’s something we need to do as musicians and as music lovers”
“This is where it all started,” local singer-songwriter Chris Jameson said. “Every night of the week when they first opened it was open mic.”
Nowadays this is not the case, but every Wednesday you can count on Jameson hosting an open mic jam at the Café. You can also catch many other nights at the Café with an open mic format.
“I’ve been all over the world and this is the first place I’ve ever been to that had more open mic nights that anything else,” Jameson said.
The Café Acoustic has probably the loosest format for their jam nights. Musicians wanting to jam are welcome to let the host and/or owners know and arrangements will be made.
“You see a lot of people who wouldn’t normally jam with each other,” Jameson said. “It’s cool when you can make music together on that perfect spontaneous light of creativity.”
Jameson went on to explain that for him its all about the connection, admitting that he had met most of his friends jamming at the Café.
Jam sessions start at the Café around 10 p.m. on Wednesday nights. All of-age instrumentalists, vocalists and music lovers are welcome.
Magoon’s Famous Delicatessen
For over five years Tuesday nights at Magoon’s have been a destination for local musicians and music lovers.
“It’s the highlight of my week seeing some of the best musicians with the best equipment getting to let it wail,” said owner Barry Woodhall. “What I like about it most is the opportunity to see people grow. Since we started doing this I have seen tons of musicians blossom.”
Jams at Magoon’s are likely to include a trombone, saxophone and bongos in addition to the normal guitar, drums and bass guitar.
“It is an open jam, which means you can bring your instrument,” host Colby Walter said. “One thing I always enjoy about the jam is the variety of music.”
Magoon’s crowd on Tuesday nights is big. So big that Walter uses a sign up sheet to help keep things fair for the jammers. The jam begins at 9 p.m., but it is not unusual to see names on the sign up sheet hours before.
“Our crowd is a wonderful crowd, all self selecting mood music lovers, all respectful of different styles and personal tastes of different people,” Magoon’s bartender Doug Snyder said.
The blend of music tastes and styles at Magoons is what makes this jam so special.
“I think of Magoon’s as a community resource at times,” Walter said. “It a good place for musicians to gather and get to know one another. Jammers come back every week or few weeks and it turns into one big jamily.”
Drew Ames is a big part of the Magoon’s jamily. He hasn’t missed a week since it started.
“Every Tuesday it’s a break from my normal day,” Ames said. “Everyone here enlightens me with their wonderful abilities. Everyone should come down and enjoy it ‘cause it’s magical; for real magical.”