This is the third instalment of an in-depth look at the open mic/open jam experience…the musicians who attend them, the people that host them, and the venues that offer their stages for our local talent to shine. For complete listings in the Ottawa area, check out open mic scene.
Welcome to the Atomic Rooster, located in the busy hub of Ottawa’s Centretown area on Bank St. just south of Somerset St….a moderately sized restaurant/bar featuring well prepared and presented pub-style fare, numerous draught beers from all over the world, and a great Sunday brunch. But what makes this place unique, is that it is also a live music venue and art gallery, offering events every night of the week. Tonight, I decided to check out their 0pen mic & jam for the first time…
Upon entering the Atomic Rooster, I was immediately surrounded by a multitude of artwork adorning the walls…even the table tops have been used as canvases, painted by various local artists. There is a different featured artist each month, complete with a vernissage and a public exhibit. Also once a month, there is a LIVE ART Show, where those with a flair for the talent, can bring their sketch books and partake in some fun creativity. Check out the Atomic Rooster’s calendar (also a work of art in itself) on their website for a complete list of events each month.
The open mic is hosted by Fabien Melanson, who himself, is a talented musician and sound tech. The open mic/jam gets off to a start around 9pm, and kicks off with the accomplished sounds of Fabien himself. He is very attentive to the musicians performing, making sure they are set up with what they need, and adjusting the sound to suit. On arriving, you need only to speak to him directly, as he carries the sign-up sheet in his pocket. He will call up each person or band on a first-come, first-served order.
There is a bass drum w/kick pedal, snare, and high-hat stand to provide ample percussion, although bringing your own breakables is welcome. If you’re a guitarist/bassist, you might want to bring your own amp, but many that bring acoustic guitars simply plug directly into the PA. Mics and stands are also provided.
The stage is at the front of the establishment, where the large window puts you in full display for passers-by on the street. Inside, the bar is packed with performers, those that are there to support, and local resident regulars and students that flock to the Rooster for some great food and/or a pint with friends. I was amazed by some of the talent that took the stage tonight, and warmed by the encouraging response of the audience. There was a certain energy, connecting the artists together, who would later mingle with each other after their performances. Each musician/band is permitted 4-5 songs, depending on the time factor and the number of artists on the sign-up sheet.
The Thursday KABOOM! Open Mic & Jam experience began in the fall of last year as a once-a-month event. Since the start of 2014, however, due to its popularity, it has become a weekly occasion…and it’s not hard to see why. There is an explosion of talent in this city, many of whom congregate here to shine on the Atomic Rooster stage. Fabien provides everything a good open mic/jam host should, offering a welcoming experience especially to those venturing in for the first time. Combined with a kicking sound system, a great menu, friendly staff, and a rich artistic atmosphere, I highly recommend this open mic/jam not just to those wanting to perform, but to anyone looking for a great night of entertainment.
KABOOM! Thursday Open Mic & Jam at the Atomic Rooster, 303 Bank St. 613-569-1000.