The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Rachel Vogelzang jumps on the mike with guitarist Hank Osbourne and bassist Charles Mitchell at True Brew Barista. Photo by Austin Sorette.

Open mike nights

Giuseppe’s: 312 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, at 7 p.m., 279-3313
Rack’s Bar & Grill: 20 Plaistow Road, Plaistow, at 6:30 p.m., 974-2406,
The Stone Church: 5 Granite St., Newmarket, at 7:30 p.m., 292-3546,
Henderson’s Pickin’ Parlor (rock and blues night): 179 Raymond Road, Candia, 483-5001
J’s Tavern: 63 Union Square, Milford, at 8 p.m., 554-1433,
Shaka’s Bar & Grill: 11 Wilton Road, Milford, 554-1224
Top of the Chop: 1 Orchard St., Dover, 8 p.m., 749-0006,
Tower Hill Tavern: 264 Lakeside Ave., Laconia, 7 p.m., 366-9100,
Whippersnappers: 44 Nashua Road, Londonderry, 434-2660,
Tandy’s Top Shelf: 1 Eagle Square, 
Concord, at 9 p.m., 856-7614
Thirsty Moose: 21 Congress St., Portsmouth, at 7:30 p.m., 427-8645,
Wild Rover Pub: 21 Kosciuszko St., Manchester, at 8 p.m., 669-7722,
Alan’s: 133 N. Main St., Boscawen, at 7 p.m., 753-6631,
Blue Mermaid Island Grill: 409 The Hill, Portsmouth, at 8:30 p.m., 427-2583,
Coffee Coffee: 326 S. Broadway, Salem, at 6 p.m., 912-5381, find on Facebook
Contoocook Covered Bridge Restaurant: 16 Cedar St., Contoocook, at 8 p.m., 746-5191,
The Draft: 67 S. Main St., Concord, at 8 p.m., 227-1175
Harlow’s Pub: 3 School St., Peterborough, at 9:30 p.m., 924-6365,
The Lil Red Baron (first of the month): 8 Airport Road, Newport, at 8 p.m., 
Riverwalk Cafe: 35 Railroad Square, Nashua, at 7:30 p.m., 578-0200,
Common Man: 60 Main St., Ashland, at 8 p.m., 968-7030
Chapanga’s: 168 Elm St., Milford, at 8 p.m., 249-5321,
Coffee Coffee: 326 S. Broadway, Salem, at 6 p.m., 912-5381, find on Facebook
Henderson’s Pickin’ Parlor (folk and bluegrass night): 179 Raymond Road, Candia, at 7 p.m., 483-5001
Hen House Sports Bar and Grille (every other Thursday): 85 S. Main St., Newton, at 8 p.m., 382-1705,
The Hungry Buffalo: 58 Route 129, Loudon, at 7:30 p.m., 798-3737,
Salt Hill Pub: 2 S. Park St., Lebanon, at 9 p.m., 448-4532,
The Singin Bowl: 10 Bridge St., Pelham, at 9 p.m., 508-6010,
True Brew Barista: 3 Bicentennial Square, Concord, at 8 p.m., 225-2776,
Tavern 27: 2075 Parade Road, Laconia, at 6 p.m., 528-3057,
Back Room at the Mill: 2 Central St., Bristol, at 7:30 p.m., 744-0405,
For more information on open mike nights, check out the “Nite” section. If you’d like to submit information about your favorite local open mike night that’s not listed here, contact

The Bar Scene
Open mike it till you make it


 Let’s say you just received an acoustic guitar, learned how to play basic chords and practiced two or three of your favorite tunes in the sanctity of your bedroom, garage or basement. Now you’re looking for another set of ears to listen to your music.

You could try your hand busking in the local town square — or you could test out your chops at an open-mike night.
Open-mike nights are, arguably, the most common first step that a musician takes when heading toward the dream of rock and roll stardom. Typically, amateur musicians can sign up on the spot to play a few songs and are allowed about 15 to 20 minutes of stage time before the next performer takes over.
Todd Tousley, owner of the Penuche’s franchise, started his Sunday open mikes when he first opened his bar in Concord because he felt a personal connection to that sort of outlet — he himself had started a music career at open mikes. 
“One of the reasons we started our open mike is to host musicians who maybe aren’t good enough to be in a band yet but who want to sing in front of people for the first time in their lives,” said Tousley. “You’re not just sitting around the campfire; you’re staring at people you don’t know, getting over your fear and learning to sing correctly into the mike. It’s a great way for musicians to get over the first hump.”
Open mikes are not always completely amatuer-driven, however. Some veteran musicians will go to open mikes to work out new material for headlining gigs.
“I could practice new songs 20 times at home, and there’s no question in my mind that I won’t play it the same way in front of people for the first time,” said Rachel Vogelzang, a seasoned musician who runs the Thursday night open mike at True Brew Barista in Concord and one on Tuesdays at Tandy’s Top Shelf in Concord. “I won’t play anything [at a show] before I’ve played it at an open mike.”
Abby Winzeler, the general manager of the Stone Church in Newmarket, said that the smartest thing a musician could do would be to attend an event first to get a feel for the vibe of the crowd and the other performers.
“I would say about 25 percent of our attendees are musicians coming to scope out [the open mike],” she said. “You don’t really see someone play the first time they come in.”
When you finally make it onstage to perform, one of the most difficult things to do is to capture the attention of the entire crowd, especially if you’re one of the last performers of the night.
“Generally, people are going to a bar and it just so happens that an open mike is there [that night],” said Vogelzang. “It really depends on the bar, but [musicians] shouldn’t go to an open mike expecting people to be wrapped up in paying attention to you, ‘cause that’s not always the case.”
After years of performing at open mikes, Vogelzang said one of the most effective ways to win over a crowd at her open-mike nights is to play ’90s covers.
“If you can play some really fun cover that everyone will sing along to, it’ll get their attention,” she said. “If you’re a guy and you do an outrageous song by a girl, you’ll have everybody singing along.”
Vogelzang said performers typically do about half a set worth of covers and half originals. “People are afraid to play their own songs,” she said. “That’s really scary. People will start with covers and as they get more comfortable, they’ll incorporate original songs. Believe it or not, people [in the audience] are so impressed by original songs.”
Winzeler said sometimes playing original music at an open mike can lead to bigger things for a band. Badwolf started out by playing originals at Stone Church’s open-mike nights, trumpet player Jack Paone said. A few months in, Badwolf was recommended by the staff to perform at the club’s battle of the bands, which it ended up winning.
“I was just doing band geek stuff [before Badwolf] so I was terrified the first couple of times,” Paone said. “I didn’t have good stage presence, I looked at my feet a lot. But I had a blast, and I dramatically improved. It’s just like public speaking; the more comfortable you get, the better you’ll be.”
Winzeler said that whether you can get club regulars to keep coming back to hear you play or just get friends and family to come out, they key is to generate a crowd and play your heart out. “You could see the greatest talent in the world, but if they don’t bring a crowd, your club won’t bring in money,” said Winzeler. “Not only do you have to play well but you also have to be able to bring a crowd into a bar. You only get 20 minutes to sell the crowd, and if you get people dancing after five minutes, it’s like ‘right on!’” 
As seen in the November 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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