Jackson Avenue Coffee celebrates 12 years of open-mic nights


Thalia Rouley | The Daily Eastern News Open mic night is held at Jackson Ave Coffee on Thursday night. The event included performers who started the night off with some winter themed music.

Eddie Hacker, Contributing Writer

Ringing in 12 years of business and closing in on over 500 open-mic nights, the Jackson Avenue Coffee has been one of the longest standing weekly venues for local performers.

Jackson Avenue Coffee, commonly known as The JAC to those who frequent it, offers coffee seven days a week.

From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays at 708 Jackson Avenue, however, the focus shifts to music.

Thalia Rouley | The Daily Eastern News
People from the area attend open mic night at Jackson Avenue Coffee Thursday night. Everyone is welcome to attend open-mic night, including musicians, poets, actors and more.

This summer the open mic was the only option for amateur musicians.

Colin St. Michael, one of the organizers of the open-mic nights, said the eclectic audience the venue brings in makes it an ideal spot for performances.

“I fell in love with the vibe the first time I went. You had such a range of ages of people from senior citizens and retirees from children,” St. Michael said.

It all began on Aug. 18, 2005 when Eastern students organized the JAC’s first open mic night. Since then, it has turned into a Thursday tradition.

St. Michael handled the sign-up process and performer introductions after the original organizers graduated in the summer of 2006. He has been hosting it ever since.

He said though the open mic is only set to go to 9 p.m., some performances continue until nearly 10 p.m.

St. Michael said the open mic has lasted so long because keeping the same day of the week and start time has allowed the crowd to grow.

“Most weeks we can get about 12 people, which is pretty remarkable to get that many new people each week in such a small town,” he said.

Continuing for 12 years has been no easy feat, St. Michaels said. He said during the summer months, as little as five people may show up, but every week seems to bring at least one new person.

Depending on how many people sign up, people can play up to three songs. As many as 30 people can sign up each week to perform.

Artists can be found sketching their work and writers jotting down poetry, all while musicians perform on a stage.

Thalia Rouley | The Daily Eastern News
Two musicians perform winter-themed songs to kick off open-mic night at Jackson Avenue Coffee Thursday night.

Charleston resident Cainan Martin said he enjoys going to these open mic nights to familiarize himself with other local musicians.

“The JAC has so much to offer. I’ve met some cool people just performing and then making plans to jam later,” said Martin. “It’s a place I can go and know there are other people homing in their art.”

After coming to the open mic nights for over 5 years, they have become Martin’s favorite performances to play.

“It’s just crazy to me. I can walk in and always count on meeting at least one person I didn’t know was practicing music in town,” Martin said.

Eddie Hacker can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].