Among made-for-each-other pairings, it’s easy to name anything from peanut butter and jelly to Queen and David Bowie. In that endless list, one pair that should not be forgotten is the combination of open mic nights and coffee shops. Coffee shops have long been a place to enjoy your favorite hand crafted beverage while reading a book, getting work done, or simply meeting up with a friend. Once late evening rolls around though, certain Long Beach coffee shops turn into a place where you can enjoy your hand crafted beverage and the company of local music. The lineup of music often depends entirely on sign ups for that night, adding to the excitement of not knowing exactly what you’re in for.

DSC_0009jI will admit that for a while, I always interpreted the beginning of open mic night as a sign to finish for the day and head out. In all fairness, during college you tend to visit coffee shops for their quiet environment and delicious coffee to power you through your one millionth assignment of the semester. It wasn’t until I was invited to an open mic night during winter break some years back that I was actually able to enjoy the other side of the coffee shop, the lively and (slightly) loud side. Local musicians bring their all to an audience of curious strangers and in the crowd you end up meeting people you never would have met before.

 That first open mic night experience at Portfolio was one that I will never forget. I had never seen the coffee shop so unbelievably crowded during the day and couldn’t believe that so many people actually came out to these sort of events. By the end of the night, I could see why. You get to listen to beautiful music created by the minds of people just like you in your hometown. In between sets, you have the host keeping your attention and making references to past shows, as though open mic night is a weekly gathering of his closest friends all sharing an inside joke. Even after the open mic night is over, crowds linger and you meet new people that invite you to related local events. It feels like the start of a “create your own journey” for Long Beach music.

Although I have not been back to Portfolio for open mic night for a period of time that is longer than I care to admit, Long Beach has made sure I am not without a weekly dose of local artists. A personal favorite of mine is Viento y Agua, which is just down the street from the aforementioned popular Retro row coffee shop. Their open mic night is every Thursday and can always be counted on for a mix of music you didn’t expect. Royal Cup Café is in the same area and has their open mic night every Friday night. Long Beach is a big place though, and thankfully not everything is confined to that one area. There’s also Fox Coffee House in Wrigley, that hosts live music on Thursday and Saturday evenings. For more open mic nights, be sure to ask your favorite local coffee shop when they host theirs.

In a world that is obsessed with having it all, why not have your favorite coffee and live, local music together?

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About the Author


Sandra Mendez

Sandra's Website

Sandra fell in love seeing live shows eight years ago and it’s the longest relationship she’s ever been in. Watching everything from her favorite popular artists to local bands recommended through friends, there is hardly a show she won’t attend. She can often be found listening to new bands, learning a little too much about them, and talking about them to anyone who will listen. When she’s not looking for new music, you can find her looking for the next dog to pet.



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