Open Mic Night

London Legends: Our Guide To The City’s Infamous Open Mic Nights

13 Jun 2024

From intimate jazz jams to lively blues sessions, open mic nights offer the perfect platform to test material, build confidence and connect with fellow artists. Whether you’re taking your first steps on stage or looking to refine your live performance, these venues are where the magic happens.

Here are some of the city’s best open mic nights.

Troy Bar, Hoxton, N1 6NG

Slap bang in the heart of Hoxton, Troy Bar is known for its eclectic mix of musical genres and high-energy performances. Framed by low ceilings and an intimately positioned audience, the venue’s ‘Hoxton Jam’ nights are a staple for local artists and enthusiasts alike. Despite the cosy arrangement, Troy Bar is no stranger to six, seven and even eight-piece bands, conjuring an atmosphere of experimentation and free-flowing creative collaboration.

Thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and supportive community, Troy Bar offers musicians a chance to showcase their talents alongside like-minded musicians. Whether you’re into jazz, funk, soul, folk or rock, this venue provides a stage for every taste. 

Ronnie Scott’s, Soho, W1D 4HT

A venue that needs no introduction, Ronnie Scotts is widely agreed as one the most iconic live music spots in London, playing host to many of the world’s greatest jazz musicians. From Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Ella Fitzgerald to Art Blakey, Stan Getz and Duke Ellington, countless creative geniuses have graced the stage.

As far as open mic nights go, Ruby Sings at Ronnie Scotts rivals the best, offering an array of vocalists a chance to hone their skills alongside a live band. Whether you’re into R&B, hip-hop, neo-soul, pop, jazz or funk, the club’s rich history and intimate setting make it a must-visit for any music lover.

The Blues Kitchen, Camden, NW1 7JN

If you’re looking for a spot with a lively, enthusiastic atmosphere, The Blues Kitchen in Camden is the place to be. Known for its regular “Sunday Blues Jam” sessions, this venue is a paradise for blues lovers and musicians eager to dive into the genre. The open mic nights here are a blast, with dynamic performances and plenty of opportunities to jam with talented artists. The rustic decor and soulful vibes set the perfect stage for a night of music and good times. Whether you’re up there playing or just soaking in the sounds, The Blues Kitchen guarantees an unforgettable experience.

The Spice of Life, Soho, W1D 5NA

Sat on the corner of Moor St, Soho, The Spice of Life is a gem for music lovers, offering a variety of events, including the popular “Jazz Notes” jazz jam. This spot is famous for its eclectic mix of acts and is known for welcoming new artists with open arms. The open mic nights here are perfect for musicians wanting to try out new material and connect with an open-minded audience looking to experience real musical variety.

With its intimate setting and lively crowd, The Spice of Life is an ideal place for artists to refine their craft and gain valuable performance experience.

Open Mic Nights: A Rite Of Passage

Open mic nights are an integral part of the UK’s music scene, acting as a stepping stone for musicians of every persuasion. Countless internationally acclaimed artists cut their teeth in dimly lit bars and energetic backrooms, laying the foundations for hugely successful careers. The likes of Bob Dylan, Adele, Tracy Chapman and ACM’s very own Ed Sheeran kicked off their careers at these grassroots events, honing their skills and building confidence in front of live audiences. 

These nights aren’t just about performances; they’re a long-standing tradition that encourages creativity, collaboration, and growth. If you’re umming and ahhing, here are three reasons to make the leap and take to the stage:

Testing New Music

For songwriters and instrumentalists alike, open mic nights are a chance to test new music and arrangements in what would generally be considered a low-stakes, supportive environment. That’s not to say you shouldn’t give it your all, but there is certainly less pressure than that of a headline show or big gig.

Whether you’re looking to experiment with alternative compositions, road test new material or refine your live performance, open mic nights offer an invaluable opportunity to grow as an artist. 

Building Confidence

Ask any professional musician and they’ll tell you that the only way to get used to playing in front of a crowd, is by playing in front of a crowd. There’s no way around it. If you’re looking to begin your journey as a live musician, regular performances are the best way to develop stage presence and confidence. The supportive environment of open mic nights allows artists to overcome the anxiety of expression and become more comfortable performing live.

Making Connections

Of course, it’s not all about the time you spend on stage. In fact, you may find that true opportunity lurks in the audience or by the bar. Musicians, promoters, publishers, venue owners and industry professionals are often found at open mic nights, enjoying local talent and keeping an eye on up and coming artists.

Taking the time to talk to other musicians and audience members is among the most beneficial aspects of an open mic night; conversations can lead to connections and these connections can lead to collaborations, gigs, and even recording opportunities. After all, you never know who’s watching. 
Looking to take your first step towards a promising career in music? Discover the courses that ignite careers here at ACM.