By Amanda Lowe

Illustration by Kaylie Seaver

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran to the music scene, there’s an open mic for everyone—every single day, for free!

While I was compiling this list, I realized that Ottawa’s businesses have a lot of work to do in order to make them more inclusive and accessible. Most of these venues are not wheelchair accessible, but many of them could be with a detachable ramp, similar to the one at Pressed. Also, as most, if not all, of these businesses serve alcohol, it can be really hard for our under 18 youth to feel part of our music community. The following is not an extensive list, but one to get you started on your open mic exploration!

MONDAYS
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Woody’s Pub (330 Elgin Street, 9 p.m. – 10 p.m.)
Hosted by Fabien Melanson, and open to musicians and singers, primarily at the beginner level. Has a very intimate atmosphere, with live sports coverage as well.

Sign up at 8 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible.

19+

Rainbow Bistro (76 Murray Street, 9 p.m. – 12 a.m.)
Hosted by various live bands, and open to music, poetry, and comedy. Performing at this open jam is a great way to book gigs at the bar.

Sign up at 8:30 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible.

19+

Whispers Pub & Eatery (249 Richmond Road, 7 p.m. – 12 a.m.)
Hosted by Sjef Frenken, and co-presented by Spirit of Rasputin’s Open Stage. It’s primarily focused on music. Known for it’s “listening environment.” Performers that stand out from this open stage get selected for Rasputin’s Next Stage series.

Sign up at 6:30 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible.

19+

TUESDAYS
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Open Mic TUNESday at Live! On Elgin (220 Elgin Street, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.)
Hosted by Matt Powell, and seen on channel 22 Rogers TV Ottawa, with new episodes Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Has a large stage, is busy, and has an attentive crowd. Local featured acts every week.

Sign up at 8:15 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible.

Chateau Lafayette/The Laff (42 York Street, 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.)
Hosted by Birdie Whyte, and has been around for 10 years. Open to music and poetry only. Has a warm and supportive audience. Weird and whacky giveaways are won by guessing the host’s favourite colour of the week.

Sign up at 8 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.

19+

Royal Oak on the Canal (221 Echo Drive, 9:30 p.m. – 1 a.m.)
Hosted by Eric St-Cyr, and caters to all types of talent (even comedy and poetry). Has a warm and welcoming crowd. Every week there’s a featured act at 9 p.m., with the open mic to follow.

Sign up at 8:30 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible (small step at entrance).  

19+

 

 

WEDNESDAYS
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Daniel O’Connell’s (1211 Wellington Street West, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.)
Hosted by Jamieson Mackay, and is for music only. Has a fun and cheerful atmosphere. This open mic is also an open stage.
Sign up at 8:30 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.

19+

Grumpy’s Pub & Eatery (4000 Bridlepath Drive, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.)
Hosted by Steve Canadian, and open to all types of talent. Some experience is required to play this open mic.  
Wheelchair accessible.
19+

The Cross On Elgin (360 Elgin Street, 9:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.)
Hosted by Chris Zimmerman, and open to all types of talent. Has a very warm and fun atmosphere, with various house instruments.

Sign up at 9:00 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.
19+

 

 

THURSDAYS
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Café Nostalgica / uOttawa (601 Cumberland Street, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.)
Hosted by Amanda Lowe, and is open to all forms of talent. Local featured act every week, and giveaways to participants. Can get busy, diverse styles, and warm crowd. After the list has run through, turns into an open jam.

Sign up at 8:30 p.m.

Wheelchair accessible.
All ages/19+

Kaboom Open Mic & Jam / Atomic Rooster’s (303 Bank Street, 9:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.)
Hosted by Fabien Melanson, and is very accommodating to any level of talent/skill. Focus is primarily on music, and has a very receptive audience.

Sign up at 9 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible (half step at the entrance).

19+

The Brass Monkey (250A Greenbank Road, 8:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.)
Hosted by Jumpin’ Jimmy, and focus is primarily on music. They have a house drum kit, bass amp, and big stage which is great for bands. Pre-booking a spot on the sign up list with the host is best.

Sign up at 8:30 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible.  

19+

 

FRIDAYS
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Tea Store (53 York Street, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.)
Hosted by The Way Collective, and is open to all expressions of music and art. There is a featured act every week, warm crowd, and the evening ends with an open jam.

Sign up at 6:30 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.
All ages.

Tea Party Café (119 York Street, 8 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.)
Hosted by Leeny Jones, and is a mix of an open mic and an open jam. Those interested can sign up, or join in on the jam session taking place. Music, poetry, and comedy are all welcome.
Not wheelchair accessible (stairs at entrance, but staff is always happy to help with accessibility needs).
All ages/19+

 

Prime Burger Bar (780 Baseline Road, 10 p.m. -1 a.m.)
Hosted by Patrick Webb, and is open to music only. Some experience is required to perform. Very creative and friendly atmosphere.  

Sign up at 9:30 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.
19+

SATURDAYS
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Irene’s Pub (885 Bank Street, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.)

Hosted by Sean Tansey, and is an interesting concept. Open mic brunch with a Vinyl swap. They take place every second Saturday. Very welcoming and fun environment.
Sign up at 12:30 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible (small step at entrance).

All ages/19+

Bowman’s Bar & Grill (1170 Carling Avenue, 9 p.m. – 12 a.m.)
Hosted by, and very family friendly. You are welcome to bring the kids or bring them to the 24-hour Child Care Centre located next door! Open jam style is also welcome.   

Sign up at 9 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.
All Ages/19+

Black Irish Pub / Tunes After Noon (15 Selkirk Street, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
Hosted by Greg Kelly, and has a very interactive concept. Host opens the afternoon with a half hour set, followed by a featured performer. The open mic starts shortly after. Family friendly as well.

Sign up at 12:30 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.
All ages/19+

 

 

SUNDAYS
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Fatboys (34 Murray Street, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.)
Hosted by Eric Hitsman and Erik Samuel. Open to music, poetry, and comedy. You can email openmic@fatboys.ca for a guaranteed time slot or stop by to sign up.
Not wheelchair accessible (small step at entrance).

19+

Ashton Brew Pub (113 Old Mill Road, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Hosted by Kelly Sloan, and runs most Sundays. Open to music only, and some experience required. Fun and cozy atmosphere.

Sign up at 1:30 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible.
All ages.

Quinn’s Ale House (1070 Bank Street, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.)
Hosted by Brian Lee and Robbie Turk, and open to all types of talent. Beginners and seasoned musicians are all welcome to perform. Very welcoming atmosphere.
Sign up at 8:30 p.m.
Not wheelchair accessible.

19+