‘A nice surprise’: Songwriter and Poets’ Open Mic Night headed to larger venue for fourth performance

Audiences listen to a performance during the Songwriter and Poets’ Open Mic Night at Jam Street Theatre. After having to turn away attendees for lack of space, organizers have scheduled Saturday’s event for the larger Rock Trout Café. -- Submitted photo.

The group organizing Prince Albert’s Songwriter and Poets’ Open Mic Night have a problem, but it’s a good one.

After three successful events, the group outgrew their home at Jam Street Music. On Saturday, local poets and songwriters will take the stage at the larger Rock Trout Café for the fourth show.

“We started out with maybe a dozen people at the first one, which we were really happy about, and then it’s grown each event,” event co-host Laura Marshall said. “The last one we filled the venue and had to turn people away, unfortunately. We really wanted to make sure everybody’s family and supporters could come out and see them, so we are moving to a bigger venue.”

Joining Marshall as event co-hosts are Jenna Tokaruk and Stephanie Wilkinson. Marshall said open mic nights helped her gain confidence as a young artist. She originally wasn’t sure there was a market for one when the group started hosting them in August 2023, but she’s glad to be wrong.

“It’s a nice surprise,” Marshall said. “It’s really shown me that there’s an appetite for this in our community. We had more and more people come out just to watch. It’s been really neat to see that.

“You don’t know really if you’re alone in wanting to create that kind of space or if anyone’s ever going to show up, but I think there’s really a need for it and a desire to have more people involved. It’s good and exciting to be growing, but we still do want to make sure we can keep the intimate vibe where people are listening to the story being told.”

Marshall said musicians and poets don’t sign up to play until they arrive at the event, so they never know how many performers they’ll have. Artists who take the stage are limited to two songs to poems each. The ages range from high school students to older adults.

The goal is to get people performing original creations instead of covers. Marshall said it’s not a strict rule, but the goal is to help artists become comfortable sharing their own work, not someone else’s.

They also hope to create connections among local artists, which will create a community feeling and encourage collaboration.

“It’s meant to inspire people who are writing at home to continue writing to get out and share and practice performing, for people who aren’t very experienced, but aren’t ready for a bigger stage,” she explained.

Doors open for the Songwriter and Poets’ Open Mic Night at 7 p.m., with the music starting at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by donation. After covering the cost of the event, any remaining donations will be given to charity.