ELKO — It’s difficult to squeeze into Gallery Bar on Open Mic Night. A full bar and crowded tables show how popular this monthly event is.
Open Mic Night happens at 7:30 p.m. every second Friday of the month and is open to anyone. Artists take the stage on a first come, first served basis and may do anything from reciting poetry to playing the banjo. Liquid courage is available at the bar in the form of an extensive wine list, beer, and cocktails.
Joan Anderson and Jacques Errecart opened the Gallery Bar, 615 Commercial St., in 2002, but didn’t start doing an open mic night until 2004. Anderson said having the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko once a year wasn’t enough for all of the local artists. “We knew there were a lot of local people in town that are poets,” said Anderson, “and there really wasn’t a venue in town for people to recite poetry.”
One important aspect about the open mic is how much variety there is. “The only consistent thing about poetry night is that it is always different,” said Errecart.
Thelma Homer, who has published four books of poetry, has been reciting at the Gallery Bar since the very first open mic. “It’s grown a lot,” said Homer. “There’s a lot more music now.”
One act, a four-piece country/folk band called Nevada Rose, played a few songs before relinquishing the stage. “This is the only place artists can walk in and play anything,” said singer/songwriter Billy Rose. “There really isn’t any judgment here.” Rose has been playing at the Gallery Bar for five to six years, and it’s the only place he plays, other than ranches and the Western Folklife Center.
While the open mic starts early, it tends to last late. “There’s never a night where I’m not here until midnight,” said artist and manager Jennifer Anderson.
To participate in open mic night, all one has to do is show up, sign up and get on stage.