Huntsville / Madison Open Mics & Jams

The definitive guide to Open Mics & Jams in Huntsville & Madison, Alabama

We created this guide to help you spend more time enjoying live music and less time looking! You'll find both facts and nuanced information on each of ten local Open Mics and Jams.

First, Definitions...

An Open Mic is where any musician - accomplished or beginner - can step up to a microphone and perform.

An Open Jam is similar to an open mic, except more than one musician can step up at a time and the dynamics of the group-of-the-moment determine what is played.

To be Included in this Guide...

The Open Mic/Open Jam must be at least a monthly event and have a Huntsville or Madison address -or- very close to either.

Rick 'Parker' Dieffenbach
Rick 'Parker' Dieffenbach, Creative Director, HuntsvilleMusic.com
For complaints, suggestions & praise, email parker@huntsvillemusic.com

ALL MATERIALS IN THIS GUIDE ARE (c) 2018 HuntsvilleMusic.com except certain photos. Those are copyright by their originators. If you find anything in this guide of concern or if you to want to reproduce it all or in part please contact live@huntsvillemusic.com.

Table of Contents

Sunday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

'As Scheduled'

Sunday

Rocket City Blues Jam

Hosted by Ardie Dean
Ardie Dean hosts the Rocket City Blues Jam. When he is not touring or opening for people like Robert Plant, he is the Musical Director and drummer for the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps blues musicians who have struggled get back on stage.

"When you host a jam for more than 20 years", says Ardie Dean professional Blues drummer and host of Rocket City Blues Jam every Sunday at Maggie Meyers Irish Pub, "funny things happen. You witness the shy beginner musician who had to be gently encouraged to walk up on that stage. A stage filled with friendly (yet intimidating) seasoned pros who's encouraging him to be the center of attention among a room full of strangers. It's magic when you see that same novice finally muster the courage, overcome their fears and tremble up to the microphone to pour out their heart for the first time….

...Fast forward to the present and that same beginner is now making a living as a confidant touring professional musician, riding out their dream… there's the magic again!"


Hosting a jam is not easy, one has to be a diplomat, a psychiatrist, a father, mother, brother, a cheerleader, consoler, counselor, conductor, a referee and dictator, all the while not being an asshole. - Host Ardie Dean


"There really is no other goal than to create an environment to plant the seed of pure magic and listen to it grow…. like I said, it ain't easy, but when that cosmic combination of passion, conviction and desire flows out from that stage in unison, no matter the talent level, folks, …it's abracadabra time!!!"

Parker's Comments:

Ardie has the gift of making musicians feel totally relaxed. It's about the love of music, and music is for everyone.

You can read our full write up about Maggie Meyers Irish Pub as well as find quick links to Maggie's Facebook page, etc.


Sunday Night Blues Jam

Hosted by The Blues Mercenaries (Freddy Faust, James Irvin & Matt Ross)
Sponsored by Lone Goose Saloon

Freddy Faust hosts Sunday Night Blue's Jam with help from friends James Irvin (a very popular area performer) and bassist Matt Ross. Read more about them.

Lead host Freddy Faust strives to make it easy for musicians of all skill levels to enjoy the Sunday Night Blues Jam. He says "We maintain a Blues format so that musicians are able to play together without necessarily knowing the song, but know enough of the structure, to be able to jam. We do make allowances for other genre's of music, but only if it is known by all the musicians playing it, and it's done well."


"The Sunday Night Blues Jam is Huntsville's longest running jam, starting at (the now closed) Kaffeeklatsch bar in the late 80's. For the last 3 years we've been at Lone Goose Saloon. Because of its longevity this jam is a great place to meet and network." - Host Freddy Faust


Freddy's performer tips: "Etiquette is key. Have your instruments tuned up or close so you don't spend someone elses time on stage tuning up. It is not fair to anybody. At a jam, don't hog the show. Let the music breathe. Let everybody have a turn to shine. Don't start soloing over the vocals. Back off if you have nothing to add. If everyone on stage is wailing, wide open... the end result sounds like a car horn. Work together for the music, and the rest will fall into place."

About 'Lone Goose Saloon'

Lone Goose Saloon is part of the Campus 805 entertainment complex off Clinton Avenue. They are a consistent supporter of live music. The patio is large, welcoming and appropriately dimly lit. Inside where bands play is also large with many tables and a huge comfortable bar as the central feature. Good acoustics inside and very unique wall decorations make for a fun evening!

Tuesday

Open Mic

Hosted by Greg Staggs
Every Tuesday 7pm-10pm (View music for next Tuesday)
Gregg Staggs hosts the Open Mic at Meridian Crossing and Eatery. He is a member of the Milltowne Band. Milltowne is an Americana band that acoustically blends the musical genres of folk, bluegrass, gospel, rock, blues, and country. FMI and to view his music schedule visit this page.

"The Open Mic experience is kind of a baby pool or testing lab for some new songs you want to try out or maybe some songs that you just wanna keep polished and ready to go. It’s also great for musicians to experience different open mics, if they’re really interested, because it is quite different from practicing in the comfort of your living room! You start to learn about how your stuff sounds in different rooms and for different crowds. All the variables of a quiet audience versus a loud audience and different PA systems. There is so much to it."


I try to make Tuesdays at Meridian Crossing as simple and gentle and easy as I can for the people who want to get up and sing and play. - Greg Staggs


Parker's Comments:

Meridian Crossing Tavern & Eatery has an intimate feel about it - like you are playing to friends in a large comfortable living room. Two big windows adjacent to the entrance and stage bring in lots of light making this family-friendly restaurant-bar bright and cheery.

This new women-owned venue opened July 2018 and is located within a stone's throw of the larger Furniture Factory venue.

I've been to Meridian Crossing Tavern and Eatery three times and was highly satisfied with food and service.

Host Greg Staggs made my foree into the world of Open Mics easy. He's an easy going guy who is also an accomplished musician in bands like Milltowne. Milltowne is an Americana band blending folk, bluegrass, gospel, rock, blues, and country.


Open Mic

Hosted by Gus Hergert
Sponsored by The Bar at 805
Every Tuesday 7pm - 10pm (View music for next Tuesday)

Gus Hergert hosts the Open Mic at 'The Bar at 805'. He's a singer-songwriter performing classic rock tunes and originals. Catch him every Sunday at Pane é Vino. Various dinner gigs on Thursdays. Weekend gigs with The Smack Dabs, The So and So’s, or The Wet Bandits... FMI and to view his music schedule visit this page.

"Open Mic is all about having fun, no matter the skill level. At The Bar @ 805 we try to make that vibe happen. I’ll set up a little trap kit, bass, acoustic guitar, and a couple mics. Anyone who wants to play can put their name on the list, be it solo acoustic or full band."



"Management at '805 appreciates music and that makes it better for everyone. The atmosphere is laid back and the people are great. It's all about the fun of it" - Gus Hergert


About 'The Bar at 805'

'805 is centrally located in the heart of Campus 805 on Clinton Ave, situated with 4 other local breweries. So it's easy to find. They feature many varieties of craft beer and what is claimed to be the largest wine selection at Campus 805, and that is saying something considering the other venues there.

Leashed dogs are ok.


Open Mic

Hosted by Frank Mazzone
Sponsored by CD's Pub & Grill (Madison)
Every Tuesday 7pm-done (View music for next Tuesday)
Host Frank Mazzone

If you go to CD's Pub & Grill Facebook page you'll see their Tuesday night Open Mic billed as The New Music Therapy.

Host Frank Mazzone says: "The Music Therapy moniker expresses what we try to accomplish.... an entertaining way for folks to relieve stress in their lives through music... "

And he adds: "It's worked for me."

"Like many other Open Mics in town", says Frank, "All music genres and all talent levels as well as original and covers are performed here. We encourage beginners to test their talent in front of a microphone."


Sometimes, it’s magic. We’ll get a couple of accomplished players get together and jam. The results have been surprisingly good. I myself never played or sang in public until I started going to this venue. That experience has opened other opportunities to play in other venues - Host Frank Mazzone


Parker's Comments:

I haven't been to CD's, yet, but from an exploration of the CD's Pub & Grill Facebook Page it's clear they are a community gathering place. Also biker and veteran friendly. Looking forward to going there!

Wednesday

Musician & Poet Open Mic

Hosted by Will Drexler
Every Wednesday 8pm-11pm (View music for next Wednesday)
Will Drexler hosts the Open Mic at Maggie Meyers. He's a solo performer best known for his 'pop-punk' music. Think Mayday Parade or Go Radio.

Maggie Meyers Irish Pub is home to Will Drexler's Musician and Poet Open Mic. Will is passionate about having the Open Mic experience a positive one. "My first Open Mic was a turning point for me - it opened many doors", says Will. "I want the same for others."

This Open Mic is unique as it encourages both music and poetry reading. "We see a couple of poets each month - hope to have more", says Will. "When they start reading their poetry something very cool happens... the entire room goes silent. Everyone stops and listens. There's magic going on!"


"I want each musician - especially those just starting out - to have 'moments' like I experienced at my first Open Mic - which was here at Maggie Meyers Irish Pub! The crowd here encourages and supports each performer. It's really a special place." - Host Will Drexler


Parker's Comments:

I know exactly what Will is talking about concerning the supportive crowd at Maggie's - both times I performed there the encouragement was stand-out. It's got a great stage - a dance area - and lots of places to sit and enjoy.

We did a couple of reviews of Maggies. Go here to read them and use the links to go to their Facebook page, etc.


Open Jam

Hosted by Edgar Acosta

Edgar Acosta hosts the Open Jam at Graves Grocery. FMI and to view his music schedule visit this page.

Host Edgar Acosta hopes to grow his 'modified' open jam to draw more musicians from Huntsville as well as other towns - even those from away.

"It's about providing a place for people who love music that is inviting and enjoyable. In fact, we have people coming quite far to play music with us. It's like we're home in a living room jamming with friends."


There are a couple of unique features in Edgar's jam. First, only acoustic instruments are allowed. "This provides the most enjoyable sound and keeps everything balanced", says Edgar. The second is this: even though it's technically a jam, the group will pause to listen to a performer who wants to play a song solo, ala Open Mic.


On the Graves Grocery website they say "In June 2013, our family embarked upon a sweet journey of ministering to our local community. It is our desire to bless you with good food, great fellowship, and bring a sense of community to our little area nestled along the Tennessee River."

Graves Grocery is a country store, deli and restaurant with live music jams.


Jazz Jam

Hosted by Josh Couts
Sponsored by Mad Malts Brewing

Josh Couts hosts the Open Jazz Jam at Mad Malts Brewing. He's an accomplished Jazz Guitarist and can often be found performing at Cyn Shea's Cafe at brunch. FMI and to view his music schedule visit this page.

If you are looking for something different in music jams look no further than Josh Cout's Jazz Jam at Mad Malts Brewing. There's simply not enough Jazz music in Huntsville.

Josh often has his trio form the core of the jam. Players can get in on the fun with a full band. The result can be pure enjoyment.

Bring your instrument of choice and join the Josh Couts Jazz ensemble for some jazzy fun!

Mad Malts Brewing is a strong supporter of live music, and is a nice community meeting place. There's a lot more audience room than the picture above shows, and there is a very large outside patio area.

Oh and did we mention the brews are yummy? Read our full write up to learn more.







Thursday

Open Mic with Optional 'Backing Band'

Hosted by Andrew Sharpe and Jefferson Lawler
Thursdays 9:30pm-12:30am (View music for next Thursday)
Andrew Sharpe and Jefferson Lawler host a 'modified' open mic at Voodoo Lounge Bar & Grill. Andrew is a member of ToY ShoP where he sings and plays bass or keyboard. Jefferson Lawler is a drummer.

Although the stage and music listening area in Voodoo Lounge is physically small, it has a large following of regulars, many of which have been coming there years and years. Perhaps this is why performing open mic at Voodoo is so inviting - it's like you were invited over to a party at a friend's house... and you decide to play a few tunes.


There's something special about the way hosts Andrew Sharpe and Jefferson Lawler run their open mic night...


The open mic performer can have his/her own 'backing band' (consisting of hosts Andrew and Jefferson) follow along - even for original songs! Andrew is an accomplished keyboardist and bass player and Jefferson pounds the skins. Give them a few seconds to acclimate to the song and before you know it you are the leader of the band!

This can be a lot of fun for both open mic pros and newbees. Of course, if you'd rather play solo, do so.

Parker's Comments:

Voodoo Lounge Bar & Grill has one of the most sustained records of nightly music we have seen over the three years HuntsvilleMusic.com has monitored area music calendars. This is especially notable considering it's not a large venue. The place can be packed especially on Friday and Saturday nights and you'll often see the same faces returning again and again. In a word, 'community'.

Community also spills into Thursday night - I'm returning now to the 'party at a friends house' metaphor: The hand claps are loud and the support for the performer says a lot. Newbee musicians will leave with a high. The legal kind.

As-Scheduled

Singer/Songwriter Night

1-2 times per month as scheduled (View music schedule)

Sidetracks Music Hall Singer/Songwriter Night is open to all performers, even newbees, because it is the quality of the song and not the singing/playing that is judged.

Each event is limited to 10 performers. You must notify SideTracks ahead of time via booking@hsvsidetracks.com of your desire to be included. Be sure to include the specific date of the event you'd like to participate in in the subject line. They will return with a confirmation email.

Since this event is 'as-scheduled', you must review their events list on Facebook to find upcoming Singer/Songwriter nights. They plan on 2 events each month.


There are a minimum of two judges and you can expect 1 to 2 singer/songwriter nights each month on an as-scheduled basis. Usually you are allowed two songs.


NOTE: Be sure to bring two copies of lyrics for use by the judges. All participants must be on site by 6:15pm the day of the event.

Parker's Comments:

This is a great opportunity for any songwriter to perform their work. Even if your playing and/or singing isn't top flight, you can enjoy participating because it is only the song that is judged.

I had participated as a contestant (took 3rd place, yeah!) and found the whole night enjoyable. The camaraderie between the 10 contestant musicians was elating. Some of these musicians were highly respected gig-getters you'll probably run across in Huntsville. Others, like myself, hobbyists who play just for the love of music.

SideTracks gave 1st, 2nd and 3rd gift certificates the night I attended which was a nice touch. Also, all performers received a whopping 25% off their tab.

Huntsville is better because venues like SideTracks support live music.

We've done a review of SideTracks in general.