Drop by World Famous Woody’s Tavern on any given Wednesday night and you’ll be greeted by the sound of local and touring musicians performing some of their favorites for an intimate audience.
Strands of lights and tapestries hanging behind the artists create a colorful atmosphere as some audience members cozy up on the couches placed in front of the stage.
This is Open Mic Night at Woody’s Tavern, an event that kicked off in March and has been a popular weekly tradition for locals ever since.
Not only for music, the open mic set often features a variety of performances, such as spoken-word, hip-hop, poetry, comedy and a Native American drum and flute duo.
“The goal of Wednesday Open Mic Night is to provide the Moab nightlife with a context to share more than a drink,” said Open Mic Night Host Jenna Talbott.
“At Open Mic Night, anything is possible,” facilitator Chad Cummings said. “Communication is from person to person, in a safe space free from censorship, and that’s why it’s so popular.”
This sentiment shows up in the atmosphere at Open Mic Night, where laughter from the audience often echos in the performance on-stage.
“I like going to Open Mic Night because I get to see a lot of my friends and it’s a super relaxed atmosphere,” said Stephanie Hamborsky, a frequent open mic attendee. “Plus, there’s a really comfortable couch in front of the stage, which I think may be the second biggest highlight of open mic, aside from the music.”
Anyone is welcome to share a song or story on stage, so long as they put their name on the sign-up sheet that sits on stage throughout the night. The registration for performing at Open Mic Night often boasts a long list, as musicians also find it to be a creative and welcoming space.
“Some of my friends are the ones putting it on and I really appreciate the energy it has. The open mic is kind of an experiment, as I approach it,” musician RachelAnne Kersh said. “It started out, I was just doing covers and getting comfortable being on stage again, and it’s evolved into me bringing out some originals. It allows me to explore the musical side of myself and bring it to the community at the same time.”
The audience picks up on this energy, often dancing, singing along or participating in some way.
“I think people have the space to do quirky, creative things because it’s a super casual setting and there’s no pressure.” Hamborsky said.
Kersh said she has a similar feeling about Open Mic Night at World Famous Woody’s Tavern.
“I really like when the crowd interacts. I feel so alive when I get to play the crowd rather than just for the crowd,” Kersh said. “When people show up and they’re there, and they’re dancing, that’s my favorite part. Even if I’m not the one singing and they’re dancing to someone else, I can just join in.”
Many new faces perform each week and mix with the regulars. Often turning observers into performers, the open mic offers people the opportunity each week to step out of their comfort zone.
Another community music night takes place in Moab during a similar time on Wednesday evenings at the Blu Bar inside The Blu Pig restaurant.
Lisa Justice hosts a Community Music Night and both she and Talbott cross-promote each event, believing that live music should transcend competition and fill every avenue, Talbott said.
“This is an essential part of the music community in Moab and we are greatly appreciative of that event and its host,” Talbott said.
The weekly Open Mic Night at World FamousWoody’s Tavern is open to anyone who wants to perform, and certain instruments are provided for the performers in case they don’t have their own, or in case spontaneity kicks in.
“We provide two vocal microphones, multiple inputs, an acoustic electric guitar, a ukulele and an input for backup tracks,” Talbott said. “All instruments are welcome, but full drum kits need to be approved ahead of time.”
Sign-ups for the evening begin at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday. Music begins at 9 p.m. and is scheduled to end at midnight, but the event occasionally carries over until last call at 1 a.m.
Local and touring performers share songs and stories at Woody’s Tavern and The Blu Pig
“The open mic is kind of an experiment, as I approach it. It started out, I was just doing covers and getting comfortable being on stage again, and it’s evolved into me bringing out some originals. It allows me to explore the musical side of myself and bring it to the community at the same time.”
Where: Woody’s Tavern, 221 S. Main St.
When: Every Wednesday, 9 p.m. to midnight; registration opens at 8:45 p.m.
Info: Like and follow the Facebook page “Wednesday Open MIC”
Where: The Blu Pig, 811 S. Main St.
When: Every Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Info: Visit blupigbbq.com