Issaquah Open Mic night steams to train depot
September 25, 2012
By David Hayes
Doug Browning knew he had a good thing going with open mic night. Now if only he could convince the owner of a venue to give his event a permanent home.
After a virtual game of musical chairs in locations in restaurants around town, Browning believes his group has struck a deal to keep a musical evening for amateur singers in a permanent home for the foreseeable future.
The Downtown Issaquah Association is now co-sponsoring the event along with the Issaquah History Museums and the Issaquah Valley Senior Center, Browning said.
It was much like a three-team trade — the open mic guys get to use the depot museum and the history museums gets to use the senior center in return. Everybody wins.
Now, once a month, any amateur musician can pull up a stool and belt out his or her favorite tune, anything from rock and blues to folk and reggae. Because Browning provides the sound system and mics, there are a couple of rules in addition to musicians must bring their own instruments.
If you go
Issaquah Open Mic Night
“This event will be a purely musical event with no poetry or standup comedy,” he wrote in an email. “No food or adult beverages will be served per agreement with the historical society that owns and operates the depot.”
Rather, Browning would like his program to become a magnet to draw residents to the downtown corridor to enjoy a family meal before or after their event.
The depot museum also provides other benefits to the venture:
- Plenty of nearby parking
- Acoustics are better than restaurants
- Capacity is about 50 to 60
“We’ve built up a following averaging in the 40 to 50 range,” Browning said. “The depot’s about the perfect size for us.
“Plus, there’s no clinking glasses or servers making background noise you get in a restaurant,” he added.
What you do get are a lot of talented, local musicians, usually about 15 to 20 a night, playing music the whole family can enjoy.
After researching open mic venues across the country, Browning discovered Mondays were actually the best night of the week for attracting interested parties. But to avoid running into conflicts with Monday Night Football, he changed the event to Tuesdays, and the free event has taken off since.
“There is no cover charge. However, donations to the historical society are encouraged — and a donation bucket will be left out or circulated for those who want to donate,” Browning said.