Ellen Schmidt’s Open Mike

Ellen Schmidt – February 13, 1938 – January 24, 2024

Ellen Schmidt introducing performers at the open mike


This page provides information about the long running Acoustic Music/Poetry1or, Spoken Word in general  Open Mike, known as “Ellen Schmidt’s Open Mike”

This open mike is named “Ellen Schmidt’s Open Mike” because it is a continuation of open mikes run by Ellen Schmidt over several decades at many locations in the Boston area.

Ellen was a force in the local music scene. There are probably hundreds of performers, including both regular performers at the open mike, and some who went on to become professional musicians, who played in front of an audience for the first time or played their first feature set one of Ellen’s open mikes, or who played their first full length set at one of the many venues that she booked over the years, or who worked on their first song at the songwriting groups that she held at her house. Many all of the above.

Everyone who knew her loved Ellen and it’s basically impossible to list all of the ways that Ellen impacted the local music community. I believe that the way she would want to be remembered would be by people playing music for each other as at these open mikes.

Over the years, the Open Mike has been held at various locations, and on different days of the week. During the COVID Pandemic, starting in March 2020, the Open Mike was held online, using the Zoom Video Conferencing software.

Since then, we have begun moving back to in-person Open Mikes, by holding “Hybrid” Open Mikes, which support both in-person and Zoom performances.

Currently we are holding one Open Mike every month: a Hybrid Open Mike, usually on the first Monday of the month, held at the Meeting Room at the Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough MA.

To receive announcements about the Open Mike, you can sign up to the email list. Generally, you will receive one email per month.


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What is an open mike?

An Open Mike 2sometimes called an Open Mic, but see here for discussion on the preferred terminology provides a venue where audience members can practice performing and/or share songs and spoken material. Performers can range from professionals trying out new material, to practiced amateurs3in the sense of people who write or perform for the love of art, to people who are totally new at performing and want to gain experience in a supportive environment. Above all an Open Mike is a community of people sharing their art.


The Open Mike is free either to perform or to attend and listen.4In the past there has been a voluntary “pass the hat” for the feature performer, starting in Fall 2023 the Open Mike is resuming having feature performers, but without a pass-the-hat.


Depending on the number of signups, each performer gets a 5 or 10 minute performance slot; 5 minutes is generally enough time to perform one song, with introduction, or a few short poems. 10 minutes is enough time for two songs.

Performance times are selected by a random drawing of the people registered to perform, on the day of the open mike. If people have special time constraints we try to be supportive. We encourage people to preregister for a performance slot; we try to accommodate walk-in performers if possible, but cannot guarantee them a chance to play due to time limits.

Feature Performers

In 2023 we resumed having a “Feature Performer” at each open mike. This is currently a 5 song (4 songs + encore) set of music. At this time there is no payment for the a feature set, since it is hard to do a pass-the-hat at a hybrid open mike. Instead, we regard this as an opportunity for performers to gain experience programming a longer set of music, and for the audience to hear more songs by one performer. Currently features are performed live in the room (i.e. not over Zoom). Priority is given to people who attend the open mike regularly, or otherwise contribute to the area open mike community. Since we are only able to schedule the room 3 months in advance, we are not booking features further out than that.

Who can perform?

Anyone. Young or old. Amateur or professional. Songwriters, Poets, Storytellers,. Musicians who play or sing covers, original songs, traditional songs, standards, modern pop songs, folk, blues, classical, whatever someone is moved to perform.

This is usually an acoustic music or spoken word open mike. We don’t have a drum set or a back-line for electric instruments, though we can usually plug them into the sound system. The usual mike setup can accommodate groups of 2-3 people – two vocal mikes, one instrument mike, and two instrument plugins – please ask in advance if you need more than that. There is usually a keyboard available for use, but check in advance if you plan to use it.

Who can listen?


How to register

To register for the Open Mike as a performer you can use the URL https://dantappanmusic.com/open-mike-signup

For more information

For the latest information about the Open Mike you can join the Open Mike’s Facebook Group, or sign up for periodic emails (usually one per month) using the form above