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Introducing Castlegar Open Mic Nights

Blackout Summer: Rhyan Johnstone, 15, Reid Erickson, 14, and Dakota Pearce, 19, playing at the April 13 open mic.

An eclectic band of Castlegar creatives with mixed artistic backgrounds recently came up with an idea for a multi-disciplinary open mic night that is open to musicians, writers, speakers, comedians, dancers, and other performers.

Castlegar is a small city full of low-key, hidden gems, whether those gems be the creatively-talented locals, the tucked-away nature spots, or the funky, homegrown businesses. Castlegar isn’t generally a place that blows its own horn too loudly, and that genuine humility is one of the many things that make this city a great place to be. In light of all the rich creative talent busting at Castlegar’s seams, however, we needed a place where creative people could get together to mix and mingle and publicly do their thing. We needed a regular public forum for all the creativity that was quietly percolating behind the scenes.

From a backdrop of old school vinyl booths and retro stylings at Trackside Bistro in downtown Castlegar, the West Kootenay Writers Social Group started meeting in February 2019 and within a short time, we had organized an open mic night in Castlegar.

In just a few weeks, we had gathered organizers and performers. Derrek Kittson, owner of Trackside Bistro and Central City Shoes in Castlegar, offered a venue above Trackside Bistro to get us started for the first couple open mics.

Our first Castlegar Open Mic Night was held Saturday, March 16, 2019 and was by all accounts a fun and successful night. It was a cozy space, and with family and friends, we filled the place strictly by word-of-mouth.

Our second Open Mic Night was April 13, again above Trackside Bistro, and it was even better than the first. The whole night was a blast of amazing creative energy and fun from start to finish. The night involved a mix of rock-and-roll, punk rock, poetry, zines, comedy, traditional bone flute music, and a drum circle, along with lots of laughs and many good conversations.

Now that we find ourselves in the warmer months of the year, the open mics will be held at the outdoor Castlegar Public Library Amphitheatre in downtown Castlegar one Saturday per month. They will start at 7 p.m. and wrap up by 10 p.m.

Our first outdoor open mic is scheduled for Saturday, May 11. In case of uncooperative weather, we will hold the open mic in the basement room at the library.

Please check our Facebook group, ‘Castlegar Open Mic Nights,’ the local Facebook events pages, or area bulletin boards for details or for any changes.

To cover the costs for the basement room rental so we can continue the open mic in fall and winter months, we’ll be charging a $2 per person entry fee. We will also be selling a Castlegar Open Mic Nights Zine for $4 per copy, and people can purchase the zine to help support the open mic, as well.

We also plan to have artist/artisan tables, and various other elements will evolve over time. We’ve only just begun!

Castlegar Open Mic Nights are a fun way to connect with the local independent arts scene. These nights are open to performers of any discipline, from amateur to professional and everything in between. If you have something you’d like to share, feel free to join in. This is a welcoming and friendly mix of people.

There is a limited number of spots for performers, so please come early to sign up. First come, first served.

For preparation of your material: bands have a time limit of 20 minutes per set. Writers and other performers have a time limit of 10 minutes.

Or if you’d like to come out as an audience member to see what humble and low-key Castlegar has to offer creatively, please join us. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!