Some do it to practice and refine their craft.
Some do it to gain experience in front of a crowd.
And some come to local open mics just for the fun.
"It's a great way to help people kind of conquer their stage fear," says Jeshua Marshall, bass player for Larry and His Flask, as well as the Hot Club of Bend and Guardian of the Underdog. "It's really good practice for up and coming artists and musicians, people trying to master their art, it gives that place and platform to feel the pressure and energy of the stage that you wouldn't get from playing in front of your friends. From my own personal experiences over the years, I've honed a lot from doing open mics around town."
In addition to performing in open mic nights, Marshall fills in as host of the open mic at The Lot when Jason Graham, aka Mosley Wotta, can't be there. Marshall loves that places including The Lot, Crow's Feet Commons and more create a safe space for artists to get things off their chest.
"In my early 20s, when Larry and His Flask first got our start, we wouldn't necessarily have a lot of shows, so when we had a night off we'd find open mic nights in the towns we were in and perform. We met awesome people and formed bonds that are strong to this day."
Local musician Tom Hudson runs the recently-formed open mic night at Kelly D's Irish Pub. Hudson has many years experience hosting open mic nights around town, dating all the way back to the '70s.
"My whole purpose for doing this is to inspire the music inherent in every soul," Hudson says. "In the '70s, I used to do a locals' night in town and I learned something from that experience. With really good equipment, a person who sounds OK sounds better, a person who is pretty good sounds better and the one who sounds great is phenomenal. I try to offer them the best sound possible."
In addition to providing emerging and seasoned artists with premium sound, Hudson enjoys teaching musicians new to the stage a few tricks of the trade.
"I'll give them feedback, better articulation, little bitty tiny things that make a big difference in the end result," Hudson says. "I love having that input and watch those differences as they are applied."
Marshall thinks of it as a social service, in a sense; musicians helping musicians in order to build a strong, thriving community of artists.
"It helps if the host is someone who has experience performing and can help you dial the sound in and be supportive even if it doesn't go well. Sometimes you'll bomb at it," Marshall says. "You can bomb, though, and it's all good."
With as many open mic nights as Bend is fortunate enough to have, it may seem daunting to choose which to attend. This rundown of Bend open mic nights should help you along the way. Hudson has a little advice for people considering coming to an open mic night:
"Have no fear. Have no fear at all, just go do it and you'll be surprised."
Astro Lounge, 939 NW Bond St., Bend
Ideal for all performers, especially musicians
Open Mic Monday
Kelly D's Banquet Room, 1012 SE Cleveland Ave., Bend
For musician singles, duos and trios, comedians, poets and more
Comedy Open Mic
Maverick's Country Bar & Grill, 20565 NE Brinson Blvd., Bend
Open Mic for the Storytellers
With Bill Power of Honey Don't
Crow's Feet Commons, 875 NW Brooks St., Bend
For musicians, poets and more
M&J Tavern, 102 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend
For musicians of all kinds
The Lot, 745 NW Columbia St., Bend
For every performer, from music to poetry
Checker's Pub, 329 SW Sixth St., Redmond
For anyone hoping to perform in Redmond
Acoustic Open Mic
Northside Bar & Grill, 62860 Boyd Acres Rd., Bend
For acoustic musicians
All Originals Open Mic
Strictly Organic Coffee, 6 SW Bond St., Bend
Karaoke & Open Mic with A Fine Note Karaoke Too!
Fat Tuesday's Cajun and Blues, 3105 O.B. Riley Rd., Bend
For musicians and those wanting to belt out a karaoke classic