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Coffee-shop crooning

Local coffee shops’ open-mic nights offer entertainment on weekday nights for the price of a cup o’ joe.

The events are open to many types of performance art, typically with the intent to foster an open-minded, supportive environment. Instead of a cover charge, guests are required to buy a drink.

In an age in which many independently run coffee shops have been replaced by the green-and-white mermaid logos of Starbucks, local poets, singers and other performers may find it challenging to find venues to share their craft.

Open Mic Entertainment’s Web site,, assists artists in finding such places.

The company’s president, David Craver, said he started the company and site because of his frustration as a musical artist to find venues after his local open mic was shut down.

“The difference between a good open-mic venue and a bad open-mic venue is in the manner in which the host operates the event,” he said. “The host should be organized, (have a) sign-up schedule for time and amount of time (and) amount of songs, and stick to the schedule.”

Craver draws a line between open-mic and open-jam events.

“Bands should be allowed to play songs that are three to four minutes long, and that’s it,” he said.

Anything longer is an “open jam” and is not a lot of fun for the audience, Craver said.

In Tampa, Cafe Hey, Black Coffee Gallery, Tre Amici @ the Bunker and Sacred Grounds Coffeeshop offer open-mic nights.

Cafe Hey
Nyssa Hanger, co-founder of Door Stop Productions, which hosts open-mic night at Cafe Hey, started the event after making the suggestion to co-owner Cheong Choi.

“All of the open mics I have attended in Tampa in the past are no longer in existence,” Hanger said.

Cafe Hey open mics usually include a variety of performance art, including poetry, spoken word and music.

“Its an all-ages show. We have all kinds of acts and a very supportive atmosphere,” she said.

Though space is limited in the cafe, an average of 12 to 20 people attend the event, Hanger said.

Open-mic nights at Cafe Hey are held Thursdays from 7 to 9 at 1540 N. Franklin Ave. in Tampa.

Black Coffee Gallery
Black Coffee Gallery is a new coffee shop scheduled to open Friday and is located in the space formerly occupied by Sound Idea, a punk record store.

The first open-mic event on Sunday is specifically geared toward spoken word, but the gallery has plans to schedule an open-mic event open to any kind of performance art.

According to, the gallery will be an all-ages venue and an outlet for creative expression.

The owners of the gallery, Phil Taylor, 18, and Hans X. Charles, 19, formed it after Sound Idea closed and said they wanted to give others the chance to meet people.

“Sound Idea really was a big part of our lives,” Charles said. “I want to give someone else the same opportunity.”

Charles and Taylor said they are trying to appeal to fans of any musical genre and “want to promote a more diverse scene.”

The open mic will give performers 15 minutes to express themselves and will occur every two weeks.

Black Coffee Gallery is located at 113 H E. Brandon Blvd. in Brandon.

Sacred Grounds Coffeeshop
Sacred Grounds Coffeeshop hosts an open-mic night every Monday and Wednesday at 8.

The coffee shop’s open mic is open to all types of performers.

According to, “Sacred Grounds is committed to providing a safe, friendly, positive community environment for all who have an open mind and are accepting of all ways of life.”

Sacred Grounds is located at 4819 Busch Blvd in Tampa.

Tre Amici
Tre Amici @ the Bunker hosts open-mic nights every 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Wednesday of the month from 7:30 to 9.

The venue’s MySpace page states that its open-mic nights were created to serve one purpose — “to provide a positive forum for artists of all genres to express themselves.”

The page details guidelines artists are required to follow, which include respecting other performers and excluding vulgarity from their performances.

Tre Amici @ the Bunker is located at 1907 19th St. North in Tampa.