Restaurants and cafes on Main St. in Keene, New Hampshire are taking advantage of local musical talents, giving smaller or start-up artists a starting point and established artists a place to express themselves, according to the owner of Brewbakers, Jeff Murphy.
Brewbaker’s Cafe is holding its third annual Open Mic Night on the first Wednesday of every month, starting Dec. 3.
Anyone is eligible to sign up, including but not limited to community members of Keene and Keene State College students, Murphy explained.
Murphy said the types of people and performances he has had and expects to have vary.
“We have had a lot of Keene State [College] students do acoustic, a lot of townspeople, some people read poetry, some people tell jokes. Mostly it’s singer/songwriters, but it’s very entertaining,” Murphy said.
He mentioned that Brewbakers is trying to get more of an outreach in the community of Keene.
“We’re trying to put more energy into it and get some more people, I would love to get Keene State involved,” Murphy said.
Murphy was originally interested because of his personal love of music — he plays a bass violin.
“I’m a musician myself, but I just think it’s really important that we keep accessible venues available for people in town who maybe aren’t ready to play the big stage or are just looking to get out and play a couple of songs here and there,” Murphy said.
Member of the local band Jake McKelvie & the Counter Tops and junior and political science major, Matt Bacon, said he likes the idea of local music venues to play at.
“Open mic nights are good because they give everyone a chance to play,” Bacon said.
An example of a band starting out that has made use of the local venues is Jake McKelvie & the Counter Tops, who have played at Local Burger’s music nights, college events, house parties and other venues local to Keene as well as other locations.
The band consists of three main members: Nick Votruba, who plays the bass, Jake McKelvie who plays guitar and Matt Bacon on drums. They classify themselves as indie-rock music.
Bacon explained that he would consider signing up for Brewbaker’s Open Mic Nights, because venues like that are “really accessible, they have a couple bars that are for twenty-one plus, but I like the venues that we play at that are established restaurants that anyone can be at. That’s really nice because a lot of our fans aren’t twenty-one yet, so it’s cool that it’s non-exclusive and that any band can play. It’s nice,” Bacon said.
Murphy explained the best way to sign up for Open Mic Nights is to e-mail brewbakersopenmic.com to reserve spots ahead of time, or to arrive at 6:45 p.m., before it starts and speak to the organizer of the Open Mic Nights, Emily Hague.
Each act gets a fifteen minute time slot in an order to be determined.
There are other local businesses that have live music as well, including Local Burger and Fritz Fries on Main St.
The formula to sign up for Fritz’s music nights is similar — perspective acts e-mail them before the date and they are put on the list.
Fritz holds its’ live music on Thursdays and gives each act a 20 minute time slot, according to their website.
Local Burger holds live music on the Fridays, according to co-owner Jeff Igeneri.
Local Burger and Fritz also draw from local performers and bands for their live music.
“There were not really many venues for live music, and people had been coming to us. The old owner of Armadillo’s was involved in music and we had a lot of requests for live music and we tried it,” Igeneri explained, as to why they have live music.
Local Burger has been playing live music for almost a year now and books only local acts.
“We support local everything as much as possible,” Igeneri said.
He continued, “It’s getting better all the time.”
Igeneri explained that Local Burger is constantly looking for more acts to book and perspective acts must leave a CD or their information in order to sign up.
These businesses are taking advantage of smaller local acts as well as booking larger names.
According to Brewbakers’ website, the next music act they are having is Sam Moss on Dec. 6 at 8 p.m.. He is an acoustic guitar player whose music is described as Americana and folk, and is New England-based originally, according to Brewbakers’ website.
“It’s not something we are looking to profit from, it’s about community outreach, giving people a venue to express themselves,” Murphy said.
Hannah Sundell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org