The post-COVID return of open mic nights in Michigan

The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down more than concerts and tours.

It’s also upended dozens of open mic nights across Michigan — and across the country — killing opportunities for aspiring songwriters and musicians to show their stuff, test their original material, and otherwise engage an audience to find for their music.

More:Open mic night returns to Park Theater with new host and booking system

Almost three years after the coronavirus reared its ugly head, some bars and clubs have still not gotten around to hosting open mic sessions, while others have stopped offering live music at all.

On the other hand, popular venues with a solid reputation for open mic nights are again finding heavy participation from artists and fans alike for their open mic nights.

These include Holland’s Park Theatre, where musician and presenter Jairimi Driesenga of the band Brother Adams called Tuesday night’s Open Mics “an unprecedented weekly celebration of self-expression and community”.

Park Theater hosts an open mic for music, comedy and poetry on Tuesdays at 8pm, doors open at 7:30pm

It has become a well-loved weekly event, Driesenga said.

Grand Rapids artist Benvillage performs for the audience during Park Theater's Open Mic Night on Tuesday 15th November 2022 in Holland.

“We really have something very special and unique going there and I’m putting my heart into it,” said Driesenga. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve had an average of 125 to 175 people every Tuesday.”

Not only that, Park Theater’s Open Mic has partnered with the Ottawa County Fair to bring sessions to the fair each year, and launched a quarterly “Junior” Open Mic event for performers under the age of 21. There is also a monthly karaoke night.