This is an open mic review article written by Tim Weir, a local musician whose goal is to play at and attend every open mic in Erie and Niagara Counties. What he has found is a wide variety of musicians, styles, sound systems, venues and crowds. The hope is that these reviews and the website devoted to this project will help people know where to go any day of the week for an open mic in the area, and find an open mic that best suits what they are looking for. There are currently at least 42 known open mics within the two-county area, and currently over 28 of them and counting have been visited by this reviewer.
The Anchor Inn, 2437 William St.
A most surprising, delightful thing happened on my visit to a cozy little neighborhood bar and grille—the Anchor Inn (not to be confused with the Anchor Bar downtown) in Cheektowaga/Sloan on William St. Their weekly open mic starts at 8pm (and goes until 1am) Wednesday evenings. The facility is clean and comfortable, with a cozy, charming and intimate feel. They have a decent-size crowd but one with an incredible enthusiasm for each and every performer, on every song. The patrons of the open mic tend to be 40-plus but all age groups are represented and welcome here. Common in the bar is for people to get so excited with the music that they try to shake the performer’s hand in the middle of the song. I am not sure what appendage a guitar player is supposed to shake with during a song, but the enthusiasm is greatly appreciated just the same. If the bar had rafters, there would have been many times that people would be swinging on them at times.
Oldies/Classic Rock-n-Roll is the most common music heard here, but that will vary depending on the performers. The sound system is more than adequate, and the hosting by JC Thompson was exceptional. Although it is an open mic, JC, the host has some nights where the open mic turnout by musicians is very low. As a result the patrons, who are very receptive to listen to any artist, do get spoiled on occasions when JC plays the entire open mic night by himself. He has such a sense of humor and a great way of interacting with the crowd that it makes a whole evening pass very quickly. When other artists are singing or playing, he has the ability to sing great backup harmonies. I have never heard so many people sing along with so many songs. Although this was based on only one visit, I enthusiastically recommend this bar to any musicians who are looking for a very rewarding place to play, or patron looking for good music and great entertainment. —Tim Weir