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Artvoice pic of open mic3 1 30 15When talking about open mics in the Buffalo area, the conversation eventually turns to one of the most popular and successful open mics in the area: the Clarence Center Open Mic, Tuesday evenings from 7:30-10:30.

The facility is a little on the small side, and the parking is sometimes at a premium. Yet I have always felt drawn to this open mic. It has a very folksy, intimate feel. As a performer, you are literally on top of the audience, but that creates a connection here rarely duplicated at other open mics. The sound system is flawless. It was a sound system built from the ground up to accommodate the unusual shape of the coffee shop. Part of the charm is the staff and the unique food and drink offerings here.

Since the start of this open mic going on ten years ago, this weekly open mic has been supported very strongly by musicians, music lovers and locals alike. This is why a large number of musicians show up to play here each week.

This open mic has, in this writer’s opinion, displays consistently the highest number of performers every week of any area open mic. Not surprisingly, more performers get on stage here per week on a regular basis than any open mic I have ever seen. This means it almost always has a 3-song limit; on some occasions, a 2-song limit. The recent record for performers in one night is 19, almost double what many “wildly successful” open mics have when they are having a good night.

They have the most diverse age groups, from families with children to high school students to senior citizens. This open mic has a very wholesome, family oriented feel to it. The hosting is in good hands with Stuart Shapiro, affectionately called “Doc” Stuart. Doc Stuart has been running this open mic for the past 8 years. Doc encourages collaboration, and, among others, has 2 very apt and capable collaborators who will often gladly accompany anyone who would like another musician to join in. These 2 musicians are Alyssa Wainwright and Lucas Honig, playing violin and bass respectively. Not surprisingly, they got their start here- honing their skills every week- and now they come to often add to other people’s music. Although sometimes changes at work or schedules get in the way, it is an added treat when the two of them are here to add to the great music.

As you would expect from an open mic like this, the talent level is from beginner to expert. It adds to the excitement, since you never know who is playing next or what or how they will play. Because of this fact there are often marvelous surprises here. The performers play a variety of different genres of music, given the wide range in ages in the performers and the crowd. The entertainment at the open mic is not limited to music. At one recent open mic here there were 6 poets who came. All of these performers were captivating, with very topical, cutting edge and exciting material.

During the summer season the open mic is held on the patio, which always seems to raise the level of play and enjoyment on everyone’s part. What is truly unique about this open mic is they have released 2 CD’s in order to raise money for charity. This has allowed more than a few local musicians to put their original songs out for all to hear to help raise several thousand dollars each time. This turned out to be a very special thing when one of the members who recorded a song for the first CD passed away. Having them immortalized on this CD made the recording of the CD all the more special.

A recent website rating of local open mics has rated this open mic – the Clarence Center Café Open Mic in a tie (with Moonshiner’s in Hamburg) for the honor of being regarded as the best open mic in Erie/Niagara Counties. This is no small feat with over 35 weekly open mics to choose from locally. If you are in the Clarence Center area on Tuesday night, or looking for good musical entertainment in the area, there is no better place to be.


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