Los Angeles overflows with musicians who will one day be famous - and many more who will disappear into the ether. Everyone's trying to make it, and searching for the right crowd to show off their stuff.
Thankfully, our city is blessed with lots of open-mic nights, where, for anyone who can work up the courage, a stage awaits. Here are ten of our favorites.
Pig 'n Whistle
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 7pm to 9:30pm
Let's start off at the aspirant's Ground Zero: Hollywood. Pig 'n Whistle has been around since 1927 (and so have some of their regular clientele). Their open mic night draw quite a few axe-wielders in training from the nearby Musician's Institute, where shredders are made, not born. 6714 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 90028; (323) 463-0000
Who doesn't want to sing along with the freak-jazz stylings of Marty and Elayne? You did see Swingers, right? Every Tuesday you can join Elayne and a rotating cast of musicians for a song. That freaky keyboard alone makes it worth it. 1760 N Vermont Ave, Los Feliz, 90027; (323) 665-4294
The Cork Lounge
For the sappy types and those who love them, this Valley haunt features an unplugged singer-songwriter showcase every Thursday. It seems to attract the more clean-cut aspiring Jason Mraz types than windswept old folkies, but it beats singing in your shower. 5043 Van Nuys Blvd. Sherman Oaks. 91403. (818) 788-5110
This show attracts everyone from spoken word slam poets and comics to traditional music open mic-ers. The size of the stage, the quirky beauty of the venue and the batshit weird entertainment all make the $5 cover worth it. 4212 W Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 90029; (323) 668-0318
The Baked Potato
Mondays, 9:30pm approximately
This esteemed Studio City jazz club opens its Monday night jam sessions to anyone who brings their own guitar. It's the closest thing you can find to an immortal jazz shack this side of the San Andreas Fault. Oh, and they actually serve baked potatoes. With toppings. 3787 Cahuenga Blvd., Studio City, 91604; (818) 980-1615
Sundays, 5 pm (resumes in March 2014)
Silverlake Lounge has recently scrubbed off a little grime (only a tiny bit, really) and added professional booking. Their hodgepodge open mic series "Wasted Afternoons" is currently on hiatus, but will return in March to be again hosted by the funny-as-fuck Andy Sell. So, if you can't sing, you can at least try to make jokes. 2906 W Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 90026; (323) 663-9636
Canter's Kibitz Room
Back in the day, the seats of legendary pastrami spot Canter's cocktail lounge, The Kibbitz Room, saw some pretty famous folks: Guns 'n Roses, Frank Zappa, Red Hot Chili Peppers, shit, even Joni Mitchell, to name a few. You won't see those people these days much, but plenty of others grace those seats every Sunday waiting for their five minutes. 419 N Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District, 90036; (323) 651-2030
Sunday through Thursday,7pm to 10:30pm
Most Saturdays and Sundays, 4pm to 7pm
Once filled with white-guy dreads, Tribal Cafe now has a pretty good showing of charmingly weirdo noise people and indie it boys in training most nights. Every second Saturday, there's even an all-Spanish stage. Since there's no alcohol, you'll have to opt towards the herbal. 1651 W Temple St., Westlake, 90026; (213) 483-4458
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Tuesday Night Cafe
1st and 3rd Tuesdays, April Through October
Little Tokyo's Tuesday Night Café outdoor performance series might actually be the best opportunity to behold LA's extremely eclectic talent-base. It has a pretty nice variety of folk, hip-hop, dance, improv, and stand-up. While it's especially involved in promoting artists of Asian and Pacific-Islander descent, everyone is welcome and they show up in droves. Union Center for the Arts, Aratani Courtyard, 120 Judge John Aiso, Little Tokyo; 90012
This Tarzana watering hole caters more to experienced drinkers and seasoned adults than young pups on the prowl. Their open mics are actually open jam sessions for rock-oriented heads and fans of classic jams, and has the feel of the best kind of neighborhood garage or basement sesh. You to bring your own instruments or sticks and they take care of the amplification. 6025 Reseda Blvd., Tarzana, 91403; (818) 708-7773