Links to useful open mic/jam session guides to Montreal:
Open Mic Montreal is a page with a few listings, but I’m not sure how well updated it is, and it seems to be open for anyone to contribute to. But still, it’s a good guide.
The Open Mic Montreal Twitter page is fabulous, though, as it is updated every day as to what is available that night. Still, having said that, I don’t think in my experience it is always 100 percent reliable. But for me it is still the first place I start looking for an open mic that night.
The five nights you must add to your to-do-list. I don’t know how up-to-date this is, but it looks cool, and fairly Francophone.
Open Mic Scene / Montreal, is a great list of open mics in the city, easy to read and well laid out.
Brad Spurgeon’s findings on Open Mics in Montreal:
Over the years I have performed at a lot more open mics and jam sessions in Montreal than I have listed here, but most of them have either closed down or I cannot find further trace of them or they have stopped their open mic, like one in an Irish pub the name of which I cannot even remember…. But what I have listed below is what I know exists now as I write and also where I have played.
Monday – Le Depanneur Café, 206 Rue Bernard Ouest, Montréal, QC, H2T 2K4, (514) 271-9357. This funky, laid-back café is more what can be called an open stage than an open mic. It is very well organized, it is open every day, and every day from 10 AM to 5 PM the stage is open for musicians. You just have to book your 1-hour slot – which can be done on the web site or there – and your name is chalked into your time period. The stage is yours, and you can put on a concert. I am only listing it here, rather than every day. But as I say, it is open daily.
– Medley Simple Malt, 6206 Saint-Hubert, H2S 2M2, Tel. 514-271-7887 Classic open mic. A great new open mic a little outside the center of the city, near the Rosemont metro station, in a fabulous, warm pub on a lively, long shopping street. It starts at 21:00 and is run by a great MC, and is open to any style of music. I liked the fact that it had a really good balance of French and English musicians and music – not just another “Anglo” open mic in Montreal.
Tuesday – Grumpys Bar, 1242 Rue Bishop, Montreal, QC H3G 2E3 514-866-9010. Classic open mic. This pub has a lot of character and its jam sessions and open mics are well worth attending. I have performed in both the open mic that combines music and comedy – my only criticism is there is usually too much comedy – and in the bluegrass jam session on Thursdays. See the main entry on Thursday, below.
Wednesday – Grumpys Bar, 1242 Rue Bishop, Montreal, QC H3G 2E3 514-866-9010. Jazz jam. This pub has a lot of character and its jam sessions and open mics are well worth attending. I have performed in both the open mic that combines music and comedy, and in the bluegrass jam session on Thursdays. See the main entry on Thursday, below.
– Crobar, 1221 Crescent Street Montreal, Quebec H3G 2B1, Phone (514) 866-6556. Starts around 9:30 p.m. Located next to Brutopia, where the longest running open mic in Montreal takes place on Sunday nights, the Crobar is in the same funky cool Crescent Street area, and it has a funky cool vibe too. But it is completely different: Crobar is much more a jam session for bands, or rock, than for quiet acoustic singer songwriter stuff. But if you really want to try it – and everyone should – then be happy to hear that it is also completely open to any kind of musician, and solo artists are welcome. Just be prepared to be in the minority.
Thursday – Grumpys Bar, 1242 Rue Bishop, Montreal, QC H3G 2E3 514-866-9010. Bluegrass jam. This pub has a lot of character and its jam sessions and open mics are well worth attending. I have performed in both the open mic that combines music and comedy, and in the bluegrass jam session on Thursdays. But beware. This Thursday bluegrass jam session is mostly just that – bluegrass and “old time” music. Don’t expect to get the mic alone, either, as there can be anywhere from three to a dozen or more musicians playing at once. A mic sits in the middle of the circle. Fiddles, banjoes, guitars, mandolins, all the usual bluegrass instruments and sounds. The bar, by the way, was a favorite of Mordecai Richler, and featured in a film of his book Barney’s Version. Worth the experience.
– Mariposa Café, 5434 Cote St-Luc rd., Montreal, Quebec, 514-699-5951. Starting early, at 7pm and finishing early, at 11pm, the Mariposa open mic has a real unique feel to it, a kind of old-time feel, like even a 1960s hippie feel to it. It takes place in a very cool café/bar/restaurant with photos of rock, pop, folk stars – Dylan, Joni Mitchell, that kind, on the walls. The sound system is quite good and controlled with care by the MC. It is run with very tight scheduling, each performer having a slot marked on the blackboard, and lasting 10 minutes. If there is enough time – i.e., not enough musicians – then they make the rounds again, so you get to go up more than once if things warrant it. The night I was there, it tended to be an older crowd of musicians – but not exclusively.
Sunday – Brutopia, 1219 Crescent which is between Ste. Catherine and Rene Levesque. Tel. (514) 393-9277 A classic and longstanding open mic in a classic pub with a cool stage next to the front window. There can be a long list, so it is best to show up and sign up at between 9:00 PM and 9:30 PM, although the open mic only starts around 10:00 PM. A warm and convivial evening, but there can be a lot of audience chatter, too. All in all, it’s an open mic not to be missed in Montreal.
– Bar de Courcelle, 4685 Notre-Dame O., Montréal, Qc. H4C 1S7, Métro Place-Saint-Henri, T. (438) 382-4685, firstname.lastname@example.org Here’s an open mic to compete with Brutopia, which has been the longstanding main event of the open mic nights on Sunday in Montreal. One of the deciding factors between a choice of the one or the other might be that Brutopia is located right downtown on Crescent St., whereas Bar de Courcelle is on the western edge of the city. But the little trip from downtown on the metro is definitely worth it, for a wild and crazy time at the Bar de Courcelle open mic, which has become a gathering point for singer songwriters and bands, in a well-run open mic with a pretty good sound system. As I pointed out in my blog item about this, though, it can be more fun in the audience than on stage, as the talk level is very high during performances. Still worth a visit, though. Starts around 21:30, and runs late….