Entertainment & NightLife: Open up

You’re always singing in the car and telling bad jokes. Why not do it in front a crowd?

Tuesday night improv at Capitol Garage, where bros in shorts kill the stand-up bass while jazz geeks play solitaire in the front row. Nice!

Tuesday night improv at Capitol Garage, where bros in shorts kill the stand-up bass while jazz geeks play solitaire in the front row. Nice!

Photo By Nick Miller

For those of us who spent almost an entire decade watching Friends, we’ve got a messed-up perception of open-mic nights. We see images of blonde Phoebe Buffay strumming her guitar at that coffee shop with the grandma sofa. She’s out of tune, blissfully ignorant, and Jennifer Aniston and Co. lack the heart to tell her she sucks.

And while you really will discover Sacramento’s most unbearable musicians at the city’s open-mic nights, the majority of performers tend to be at least talented enough to make the trip worth it. Plus, isn’t this the summer when you were going to break out of your shell and take a stab at being a singer-songwriter yourself? Or at least down some beers and take in local tunes? Anyway, the following are the area’s best open-mic nights—all of them either free or hundreds of dollars cheaper than seeing Britney Spears lip-sync at Arco Arena.

Word 101

Bistro 33 Davis’ poetry and spoken-word nights begin each week with a featured writer, and at 10 p.m. the mic is open to the public. UC Davis English professors and other well-known literary folk frequent this joint, helping make this a place to be on Wednesdays.

When: every first and third Wednesday, 9 p.m.;no cover; all ages

Where: Bistro 33 Davis, 226 F Street in Davis; (530) 756-4556; www.bistro33.com/bistro33_davis

Two me once, no shame

Christopher Gene Twomey, of local rock troupe 2Me, hosts the Blue Lamp’s open-mic, which features mostly acoustic musicians, though spoken-word artists and poets occasionally perform.

When: Mondays, 7 p.m.; no cover; 21 and over

Where: Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Boulevard; (916) 455-3400; www.bluelamp.com

Jazzy booze

Sip some java—or whiskey—at one or both of Capitol Garage’s open-mics. On Tuesdays, performers jam with some of Sac’s finest jazz artists. Thursdays bring music from various genres, and C.G.’s staff chooses the musicians who play their shows.

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 p.m.; no cover Tuesdays, $5 Thursdays; 21 and over

Where: Capitol Garage, 1500 K Street; (916) 443-3633; www.capitolgarage.com

Like home despot

The Coffee Garden’s beautiful, plant-filled setting feels like chilling in the greenhouse department at Home Depot, which shades the area quite nicely on summer nights. The performers are younger—18 to 25—and play mainly their own solo tracks, but with an upbeat vibe reflective of up-and-coming artists.

When: Thursdays, 8 p.m.; no cover; all ages

Where: Coffee Garden, 2904 Franklin Boulevard; (916) 457-5507; www.thecoffeegardenonline.com

One jammin’ S.O.B.

At Corner Pocket Sports Bar, performers play solo sets, with a full band, or alone but jamming with Pocket’s house band, S.O.B. On its MySpace page, S.O.B. describes its influences as “Muddy Waters to Frank Zappa and beyond.” Yes, when I wrote “jamming,” I meant it.

When: Wednesdays, 8 p.m.; no cover; 21 and over

Where: Corner Pocket Sports Bar, 7777 Sunrise Boulevard, Suite 1400 in Citrus Heights; (916) 722-2582; www.pocket-pool.com

Get laid-back

The acoustic open-mic events at Fox & Goose have a very laid-back vibe. People hang out, drink beer and chill with their singer-songwriter friends. If you don’t have any musician friends before entering the pub, chances are you’ll at least have made small talk with someone trying to get you to go to their next gig.

When: Mondays, 7:30 p.m.; no cover; 21 and over

Where: Fox & Goose, 1001 R Street; (916) 443-8825; www.foxandgoose.com

Are you poor and suburban?

Variety is the key word at this open-mic. It includes pretty much every music genre there is, plus comedy and poetry. Poor suburbanites also don’t have to worry about making the drunken trip back from the grid.

When: Thursdays, 7 p.m.; no cover; all ages

Where: Java Cafe and Brew Pub, 11755 Fair Oaks Boulevard in Fair Oaks; (916) 961-2739

Visit Josh Fernandez

This popular poetry, spoken-word and music night in Midtown brings a large crowd—and many well-known local poets.

When: Thursdays, 8 p.m.;$2 or one-drink minimum; all ages

Where: Luna’s Café & Juice Bar, 1414 16th Street; (916) 441-3931; www.lunascafe.com

Grandpa’s open-mic?

The granddaddy of all local open-mics, Old Ironsides has every type of music you can think of. What sets this open-mic apart is not only that it is hosted in a Sacramento landmark, but also because full bands have the opportunity to play.

When: Wednesdays, 9 p.m.; no cover; 21 and over

Where: Old Ironsides, 1901 10th Street; (916) 441-1114; www.theoldironsides.com

Drinks that cure

This comedy open-mic brings the best of Sac’s stand-up acts all in one place—and for free. Come and laugh with them—or at them when a new joke fails. If you’re somehow not entertained, the bar serves strong drinks that can fix that problem.

When: Wednesdays, 8 p.m.; no cover; 21 and over

Where: Po’ Boyz Bar & Grill, 9580 Oak Avenue Parkway in Folsom, (916) 987-2886, www.myspace.com/poboyzblueshouse