A few of Boulder County's open mics

BOULDER

The Attic, 949 Walnut St., Boulder, 8 p.m., Tuesdays; atticbistro.com

Dannik's, 6525 Gunpark Dr., Boulder, 6 p.m., Sundays, hosted by Mark Arroyo; danniks.com

The Lazy Dog, 1346 Pearl St., Boulder, 10 p.m., Tuesdays, thelazydog.com

License No. 1, 2115 13th St., Boulder, 9 p.m., Mondays, hosted by Foxfeather; license1boulderado.com

KMG Life, 3063 Sterling Circle, Boulder, 7 p.m., first Monday of the month; facebook.com/goodalienmusic

Oskar Blues, 921 Pearl St., Boulder, 7:30 p.m., Tuesdays, hosted by Danny Shafer; oskarblues.com/breweries/boulder

Outback Saloon, 3141 28th St., Boulder, 9 p.m., Thursdays, hosted by Roni Zagoria; outbacksaloon.net

Twisted Pine, 3201 Walnut St., Boulder, 6 p.m., Tuesdays, hosted by Jim Herlihy;

twistedpinebrewing.com

VisionQuest, 2510 47th St., Suite A2, Boulder, 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays, hosted by StarWater Collective

LONGMONT


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300 Suns, 335 1st Ave., Unit C, Longmont, 6 p.m., Wednesdays, hosted by Tim Ostdiek; youth open mic 1 p.m., last Sunday of the month, hosted by Scott Ramsaur; age 18 and under; 300sunsbrewing.com

Dickens Opera House, 300 Main St., Longmont, 7 p.m., Thursdays, hosted by Brian Rezac; dickensoperahouse.com

Liz Berube, who plays with The Wooden Spoons, performs during the open mic night at the Oskar Blues Boulder Taproom.
Liz Berube, who plays with The Wooden Spoons, performs during the open mic night at the Oskar Blues Boulder Taproom. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

Longs Peak Pub, 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays, hosted by Eric Wiggs; mountainsunpub.com

Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids, 1555 Hover St., Longmont, 7:30 p.m., Mondays, hosted by Boa and the Constrictors; oskarbluesfooderies.com

Skeye Brewing, 900 Hover Road, Longmont, 6 p.m., Tuesdays, hosted by The Praire Scholars; skeyebrewing.com

The Speakeasy, 301 Main St., Longmont, 8 p.m. Tuesdays, hosted by Brian Rezac; thespeakeasy.buzz

Most open mic events start sign-ups 30 minutes in advance; check with venues ahead of time in case of private party bookings.

When he moved to Boulder more than a decade ago, musician Ben Hanna recalled the first time he walked into the now-defunct Conor O'Neill's to sign up for a 15-minute slot to play at Danny Shafer's Open Stage.

Shafer sent him home.

"It's funny, Danny probably doesn't even remember, but he kicked me out," said Hanna, laughing. "I mean, I was only 18, I was underage."

So, "probably the very Tuesday after I turned 21, I went," he said. "Then the week after that, and the week after that, and the week after that, and so on."

Nearly every week since, Hanna said.

Cary Morin plays a couple of songs during the open mic night on Nov. 14 at the Oskar Blues Boulder Taproom.
Cary Morin plays a couple of songs during the open mic night on Nov. 14 at the Oskar Blues Boulder Taproom. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

But when Boulder's Irish pub shuttered in April, one of the town's longest-running open mics was left without a stage for months — until November, when it was resurrected at Oskar Blues on Pearl Street. Shafer's Open Stage is back downtown at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, with musician sign-up at 7 p.m.

"The 16-year run we had at Conor's, we had a great crowd for those last years," said Shafer. "When it stopped, I wanted to take the time to find the right place for us to be. The first few weeks at Oskar Blues have been amazing, a lot of people have come to play and a lot are coming out to listen. The sound is good, the staff is great. The personality of the place really makes the music work."

The credit lies with Shafer for the success of an event that gives musicians — from amateurs to professionals — a chance to perform on stage for 15 minutes every Tuesday night.

"Danny's an amazing storyteller," said musician Liz Berube, who has been playing at Open Stage since she moved to Boulder in 2010. "He makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated. There'a s a lot of warmth at his open mics."

That's because Shafer said it's not just the "pros" who come and play, and it's not the touring musicians in town who pop in to jam, but it's the first-timer who walks in with no experience and plays the best song of the night.

"You never know who's going to walk in the door," said Shafer. "It's all about making them feel comfortable, it's about community. Everybody's equal at open stage."

With each musician allotted a 15-minute set, Shafer runs a pretty tight ship, he said. It's not hard, though, he added, as most who sign up are there to play. They take it seriously.

Hanna, whose music embodies comedy and brutal honesty ("I wanna be social, but I hate people, they just don't do it for me," from "No Romance," a track from June-released album "Kick Your Legs Out"), said he has a tendency to be sensitive, sometimes a loner and definitely thinks weird thoughts, but the music gets him on stage and out of his mouth.

"My favorite thing to do is get in front of people with my songs, it feels natural to me," said Hanna. "It's a good opportunity to test pilot new songs. The music comes down to community, and all the open mic nerds around town have basically become family."

Berube, who often serenades Colorado through song, said she loves the friendships, community and collaboration she finds at open mics. Two bands she performs with — Copper Leaf and The Wooden Spoons — originated at Conor's during Shafer's open stage.

"(Open stage) brings people of a lot of different walks of life," Berube said. "You get a lot of exposure to different kinds of music and everybody is rooting for each other. You gain experience in a safe setting and can get up and perform. It opens up a lot of different doors."

Shafer, a musician in his own right who once played up to 275 shows a year in his heyday, but nowadays spends more time with his family, said he likes to be connected to the music scene by hosting the open mic and listen to talented musicians.

"It's where a music scene can really happen," said Shafer, a Boulderite of nearly three decades. "Open mics are breeding grounds for a music scene. It's where it all starts."

Berube, who can be found on Facebook, is performing a solo set 10 p.m. Sunday at the Laughing Goat, 1709 Pearl St., Boulder, and will perform with The Wooden Spoons 6:30 p.m. tonight at Chuburger, 1225 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, and Copper Leaf 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, at Laughing Goat. Hanna is performing 10 p.m. Saturday at No Name Bar, 1325 Broadway, Boulder.

Or catch both of them on stage when they can make it to Shafer's open mic night on Tuesdays at Oskar Blues.

Christy Fantz: 303-473-1107, fantz@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/fantzypants