The Evolution of S.B. Open Mike

Popular Spoken Word Event Gets New Night, New Digs

Jenny David
Courtesy Photo

October 2008: 24-year-old spoken-word artist Jenny David jumpstarted the Santa Barbara nightlife with her weekly open mike nights, a spinoff of the Live to Dream events she helped organize at Elsie’s. The goal of the event, now held every Thursday at 7 p.m. at Santa Barbara Roasting Company (321 Motor Wy.), was to expose unknown local artists to the community at large. Unsurprisingly, the venture was an overwhelming success. “We simply couldn’t contain the response,” said David. “We had to expand.” And less than a month ago, expand they did, with a second night of live music at a truly original location.

The new music-only night takes place every Sunday at 7 p.m. at Live Culture (11 W. De la Guerra St.). The venue is an odd combination of wine bar and frozen yogurt shop, and the eccentric setting has injected into the event an undeniably fresh vibe. The stage is higher, the amps are louder, and the beverages now contain alcohol. “The Roasting Company is very intimate; a lot of caffeine,” laughed David. “I think the alcohol helps people relax. It’s a much more social night.” There are also some logistical changes; performers are now allotted 10-minute sets instead of the usual five, and the event now runs past its previous 9 p.m. end time. If you’re worried the new venue might change what you love about David’s events, don’t. She insists the night is still “incredibly laidback and local.” Luckily, the price of admission is still free. For a few reasons to check out the new and improved offshoot of S.B. Open Mike Nights, read on below. And for more info, visit

1) Community Spirit: For contributing artist Fred Cichy, who describes his music as “acoustic reggae-rock,” there is much more to David’s events than just a hip atmosphere. “It’s all about our community,” he said. “The new night is a great way to get artists to connect with the community. They really feel like they’re a part of it. : [These events show] people that Santa Barbara isn’t just a bunch of rich old folks; there is some amazing local talent here.”

2) The Future of Music: As David points out, these open mike nights are helping aspiring young writers, actors, and musicians throughout the community to get up, get out, and get onstage to an audience of attentive listeners. “There are so many talented young artists who need support and feedback,” she emphasized. “[These events] allow the artists to really interact with people.”

3) Scrumptious Snacks: Lest you forget, Live Culture offers patrons a wide selection of both frozen yogurts and wines. Enough said.


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