Ever on the hunt for the new up-and-comers in mountain area music, I was thrilled to learn that some of my latest connections have made their way through the local open mic circuit. It’s an event you know is happening somewhere nearby, but I only ever seem to stumble upon them. I wanted to learn more about how to find out where the open mics were happening and who was going to be there.
And so, this month I had a chat with Andy Potter who, along with Mark Swaim, mandolin player of The Wrecklunds, has been organizing and hosting open mics around Evergreen and Conifer for the last several years. They also get some help from another local musician, Drew Dvorchak, who acts as a third host when needed.
Andy, a musician and singer himself, recognizes that open mics are important far beyond curating local talent. “I started going to Muddy Buck years ago and they had this fantastic supportive atmosphere,” Andy remembers. “I loved the age range that Muddy Buck had—teenagers to 70-year-olds all socializing together, which felt like a church-type of community, but it was the music that was bringing us together. It was a very special thing. Many people thought that was the best open mic around Denver.”
When Muddy Buck changed ownership, Thursday open mic night found many new homes including Little Bear, Revival Brews, Evergreen Brewery, Stagecoach Grill, Woodcellar and Cactus Jack’s. To accommodate the various restaurants’ needs, Andy created a rotating schedule and a weekly text for the musicians and fans to keep track of locations and times.
“It was important to me to keep open mic night going,” says Andy, because it was a community that, for him, had been personally formative. “I would get away from my regular patterns, would meet new people, and get to play music with some of them. It was a way for me to work on my own craft as a musician while also making a new network of friends.”
Music, in general, has a way of doing this, and by providing open mics, Andy recognizes that he is helping to build confidence, craft and community. While this is necessary for any human, it’s especially meaningful to the younger performers who find their way to open mic night. “Part of why I do this is to help these kids realize that they have talent, giving them the option to pursue it as a career or a lifelong hobby.”
Now that summer is in full-swing, Andy and Mark have launched a fairly fixed Thursday night schedule for open mic nights that looks a little something like this: first and third Thursdays at the WoodCellar in Evergreen; second Thursdays at Ebony & Vine in Conifer; fourth Thursdays at Genesee Pub & Grill; and fifth Thursdays floating among a few different venues. Sign-up begins on-site at 6:45, with performances usually kicking-off around 7 pm.
Open mic is open to any and all who want to participate. “It’s an incredibly supportive community,” Andy reassures everyone. “A fun part of the culture of open mic night is: who else is going to jump up, play and sing? Sometimes people aren’t comfortable in the spotlight, so it helps to have someone up there with them. Mark can play lead on any song, I can help on rhythm and harmonies. It’s really fun for us to play with whomever wants us, or we’ll take a seat and enjoy the show.”
From week-to-week, the crowd varies, but Andy says there are consistently about 15 acts per night, some the open mic faithful, some alumni, some brand-new on the scene. “It’s like a train where people keep getting on and off, but it’s running all the time. We’re still here.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the open mic schedule, just to listen or to play, text the keyword ‘OPENMIC’ to 833-744-0583 to be added to the text list, or visit and ‘like’ the public Facebook group, Evergreen (Colorado) Thursday Night Open Mic.