Open Mic nights strike a chord with Saint John musicians

Open Mics: Fostering Community and Talent in Uptown, Saint John

Uptown Saint John is home to many music traditions.


The venues, the musicians, and the music itself melt together to create a strong music community. When you start to take in the Uptown music scene, you realize how much these musicians lift each other up. One long-standing music tradition of helping musicians lift one another up is the open mic at McGill's in Saint John.


In some form, this open mic has been running for years; the last twelve of which have been hosted by local musician, Ryan Gautreau. When Ryan isn’t hosting an open mic at McGill's, you can catch him all around Saint John as a solo act, or in his band Radio Factory. I caught up with Ryan this past Tuesday and had a chat about how important open mic night is for the music community.


The Dawg: Thank you Ryan, for taking a minute with me. How did you get started with open mic?


Ryan: The open mic in some form was already running. McGill’s in Saint John had previously operated under a different name and the open mic started all those years ago. It was around twelve years ago I started hosting. And now Frank James (a musician who happens to also bar tend) and I work on the open mic.


The Dawg: Do you believe these open mics are important for musicians? For some of them to come work on their sets?


Ryan: It is incredible to think about the impact. In twelve years, I’ve seen many musicians come through. Some come through and then life scoops them up and you don’t see them for a bit. Then they are back. And others use the opportunity to grow their music. Saint John musician, Austin Eatman, is a good example. He started coming to open mics and now writes his own music and has a following.


The Dawg: I’m actually a huge Austin Eatman fan and as someone who got their start playing open mics, I’m encouraged to hear that is how he got going. Thank you, Ryan, for your time.


As a musician who moved to a new city and didn’t know anyone, I can also tell you how important these open mics are. Like many musicians across Uptown, Saint John, I attend the open mics to sharpen my skills, introduce new songs, and build a strong bond with all those who attend. This has led me to experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The open mics are important to the development of a music community. Especially this one in Uptown Saint John. You can catch Ryan every Tuesday night at McGills Open Mic 1 Market Square.

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