The Everlasting Open Mic

Open mic open jam

The wandering poet scoured the Tampa Bay area in search of refuge and a place to share his craft, when the kind words of a friend pointed him in the direction of Busch Boulevard. He arrived at a small storefront where the lights, soothing smells of brewing tea and coffee, and jovial laughter drew him to take a closer look. As he peered into the window and witnessed the brilliant artwork and friendly faces permeating the room, he know in his heart that on this Monday night, he had found his new home.

This is definitely not a dramatic retelling of my own journey to the Sacred Grounds Coffee House that you all know and love, by the way.  Yet, it is a very common scenario. Yes, for those of you who have never heard of the everlasting magnificence of the open mic scene, you will find no safer haven and no more hospitable stage than Sacred Grounds. This meeting of the artistic minds occurs every Monday night beginning at 8PM, with sign-ups opening up at 7:30PM.

What exactly is this glorious open mic this Mad Poet keeps ranting about in his big words? Well, it is more than simply a place for musicians, poets, comedians, and performers of all ilks to take the stage and show the world what their passion is. No, it is also a place for the aforementioned artists to have a space in which they can freely express their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs without fear of criticism and rejection. Here at Sacred Grounds, we believe that every person should not only have a voice, but have that voice proclaimed with acceptance and loving support. That is the vision of the Sacred Grounds weekly Open mic.

Jeremy Gloff and friends (2004)

Jeremy Gloff and friends (2004)

This Open Mic was founded in December, 2004 by local legend Jeremy Gloff himself. Over the past twelve years or so, it has transformed from a simple meeting place for a few artists to a grand stage where anyone can feel welcome and comfortable to present their craft. Whether you are an accomplished musician with an album or two out or a comedian just trying out a few jokes for the first time, this Open Mic is the place to be and we’d be thrilled to add your talents to its long-standing history!

So how does it all work? What is the process and procedures for this grand stage of which I speak? Well, as mentioned, sign-ups start promptly at 7:30, so be sure to be there in a timely manner because the slots fill up quickly. While there is no hard-numbered limit for how many can perform in a night, if you want to get an earlier time slot, it’d be in your best interest to be there at 7:30 or earlier to ensure you can sign up. But hey, after that you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy some of SG’s premium coffee and tea selections!

The sign-up list is divided into two parts: half of it is devoted to musicians and those with musical accompaniments and half is devoted to the collective group of poets, comedians, and all other performance arts. Hey, don’t laugh at my “other” category; we once had a record-holding, world-known, guinness world record holder sword swallower, Bill Berry. No joke!  We have also had a magician, Blake Vogt, who has worked with and for David Copperfield and Penn and Teller.  

Keyboard Cathy

Keyboard Cathy

The first person to go on around 8PM would be a musician, usually another local legend and long-time friend of the house, Keyboard Cathy, whom I highly recommend coming to see and enjoying her tunes. After that, a person from the other side of the list will perform and we will go back and forth from there. Musicians are allowed about 15 minutes or three songs, while all other performers receive approximately 10 minutes.

Any special rules you should know about? Well, the first rule is that James W. A. is always the best performer there… just messing! But no seriously, there are three very important things to remember when attending the Sacred Grounds Open Mic. The first is that this is an ORIGINALS only venue, which means that NO covers will be allowed on our stage. But James, you may be saying, that’s not fair! Well too bad! The point is that we want to encourage artists to think for themselves and create their own works that really speak from their own souls. We don’t want to hear what’s been done before dozens of times; we want to hear YOU and what you have to offer the world.

The second thing to remember is that we do not tolerate any oppressive material at our venue. This include racism, sexism, ageism, religionism (if that’s a word), and any other discriminatory -ism, real or made up that you can think of. While we like to encourage free thought, we also want to keep our abode a haven for all peoples and, as such, we don’t want to promote anything that puts down another individual or group of people. Remember, one of the key trademarks of our Open Mic is the desire to create an environment that is safe and comfortable for all ages and that means total acceptance and respect for all people, creatures, and things.

Group love at open mic!

The final little point in the open mic proceedings is that almost every Monday night, we have a featured act that goes on right around 10PM. The chosen performers are selected in advance and exhibit specially chosen talent that embodies what we want to see here at Sacred Grounds. As such, they will do a 30 minute set and will no doubt enjoy every moment of it. Think you have what it takes to be one of our featured guests? Well then, go ahead and shoot us an email or phone call!

Whether you are featured or not, or even if you don’t feel like performing at all, we welcome you to our home and encourage you to take a little time to rest and hear the extraordinary talent we’ve gathered from all around the Bay. Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t give many thanks to the various hosts that facilitate the weekly Open Mic at Sacred Grounds.

We rotate weekly through a handful of elite local artists that keep the party going all night until everyone has had their opportunity to grace the stage. There is of course the prime host of our kind, Jeremy Gloff, who has been hosting since the mic’s inception, but over the years we’ve added jamming juggernaut Rob Casciotta, rising superstar Johnny Shaw, the hilarious crew from the improv group Post Dinner Conversation, comedic phenom Tommy Gill, and last but not least, yours truly. I would be amiss to believe that the Open Mic could continue as is without the guidance and support of these dedicated hosts, as well as Sacred Ground’s beyond dedicated owner Karen. Oh, and then there’s that other James (Geiger) too, but he only does little things, like making sure that this and every event runs smoothly and new talent is constantly dazzling our guests and manages this website and pretty much everything else that goes into making SG the place to be. No biggie. Seriously though, thank you all!

But of course, I would also be amiss to not thank the truly most important people who attend the Sacred Grounds Open Mic: you! Without fresh comedy, music, and poetry (and the occasional magician) and focused patrons who watch and enjoy our displays and tea, the venue wouldn’t be the same either. So thank you, and if you’re not a part of this legacy yet, come on out any Monday night at 8PM and let’s have fun!