Open mic nights around Waco offer a stage unlike any other

Dallas senior Chukwuemeka Nzeakor raps during Common Grounds's open mic night. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

Open mic nights all over Waco draw crowds of varying sizes each month, giving independent performers a chance to contribute to Waco’s growing arts & life scene.

Common Grounds

Common Grounds, Waco’s traditional coffee staple, hosts an open mic every Wednesday night from 8:00 p.m. — 10:00 p.m. This event is exclusively for independent artists and entails 15-minute sets per person. Sign-ups are posted on a clipboard hanging inside the shop the preceding week, and they are open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each week, CG chooses a feature artist to play a 45 minute set at mic night. CG often books feature artists from neighboring cities in Texas, making Waco a desired stop for aspiring performers.

Talented hands are hard at work to make open mic night a reality each week. Ryan Higgs, playfully known as “Ry Guy” amongst his Common Grounds peers, has been the assistant venue manager for nearly two years. You’ll find Ryan plotting stage plans, setting up before shows and manning the sound booth during most live music events.

“I like open mic a lot because it’s not as much pressure. It’s just a fun time,” Higgs said. “Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a lot less stress.”

Ryan said he has seen acts from solo saxophonists, to stand-up comedians, to playwrights with original monologues. With a few rules, aside from using appropriate language and respecting the venue, CG open mic is a great platform to be free and expressive.

Waco Poets Society

Waco Poets Society and Rufi’s Cocina Mexican Restaurant have partnered to host Nuestra Voz Open Mic every second Saturday of the month at 1801 N. 25th St. Artists of all ages, skill sets and languages are invited to share poetry, spoken-word, music and more from 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. Event-goers are invited to dine before the performances begin at 5:45 p.m. Rufi’s Cocina created a special discount menu exclusively for open mic attendees. Sign ups officially start at 6:45 p.m., so get there early!

The Backyard Bar Stage and Grill

If you’re into country music, diverse crowds and deep fried foods, The Backyard Bar Stage and Grill at 511 S. 8th St. hosts an open mic night every Tuesday night. Beginning at 8:00 p.m., local performers are invited to sign up on a first-come, first-serve basis. Venue manager Brandon Moreno said attendees can expect mainly country, sometimes rock, and that each artist plays a maximum of 3 songs. But, mic night officially ends at midnight. If there is any time leftover, or sign-ups are few to none, artists are welcome to play more.

Many are under the impression that Waco’s performing arts opportunities are limited, but in actuality, there are options for artists of all kinds.

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