For anyone who hasn’t been living here for too long, it’s safe to say that Galveston is a pretty damn artsy place. If you walk anywhere downtown, you’re bound to find art galleries, showhouses, music halls, and dance clubs filling the city to the brim with color and soul any time of day. Perhaps you’ve had the chance to experience some of Galveston’s most notoriously Bohemian culture along its very own Postoffice Street, home to the enchanting From the HeART Gallery, Mod Coffee House, and The Grand 1894 Opera House. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting these marvels yet, do yourself a favor and swing by!
But this issue of Culture Clash Magazine is not just about the art scene that stuffs Galveston to the gills with flavor. No, my friends. This issue is all about the local music that makes Galveston come alive at night, and where you can go to experience it! I’m here to show you the very best this city has to offer in the Open Mic Music Circuit, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Whether you want to climb on stage and jam out with your band, sing (or shriek in my case) to classic rock, blues, and country hits, or sit with a fiddle and drum and play a folk song with a friend, have we got a selection for you!
I want to start this list off with the most accessible Open Mic Night in Galveston. The city’s own Sound Bar on Mechanic Street has local free karaoke every night of the week from 9pm to 2am! And let me tell you, as someone who lost his karaoke virginity a few weeks ago on stage to Don McLean’s “American Pie”, the experience was exhilarating and I’d recommend it to any lover of song or adrenaline like me. And if you’ve still got stage fright, go a few rounds at their bar and forget all about it! The drinks are so good, you’ll down enough and think you sound like the next Johnny Cash or Bon Jovi in no time!
A fan favorite around town is the rustic Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe on 20th Street. It’s a cozy little down-home bar that’s easy to miss, but boy am I glad I didn’t! I don’t think I’ve ever walked into a bar and been as instantly comfortable and relaxed as I was in there. The dark and colorful lighting coupled with the gorgeous folk-centric decorations and furniture made it feel like you could step into that bar and completely disappear from the outside world for a restful couple of hours with a few beers and some good music. I had the pleasure of listening to Eric Miller from Ocean Creek, Texas perform some original folk songs about his travels and life experiences, and to be perfectly honest, I could have listened to him for much longer after he stopped. Old Quarter has what they call Songwriter Nights for Open Mic where musicians can perform their own music on stage every Wednesday and Thursday night from 8pm to 12am unless there’s a scheduled show.
Now here’s a place any local Galvestonian oughta know. The iconic Sharky’s Tavern on 25th Street is a high-quality pizza joint with cheap drinks, great seating indoors and outdoors, and a killer stage setup for musicians to come up and treat listeners to music of their own choosing. Old songs, new songs, cover songs, originals, Sharky’s has it all! I interviewed a delightful little music lover and barfly named Kathie Krielow, 59 years young (she asked me to include that), who had the following to say. “Sharky’s is like a young prostitute. Always around and ready to serve!” I couldn’t agree more, and it seems like tons of other patrons share her feelings! The bar’s Facebook page is overflowing with videos of live performances and crowds of people dancing hand in hand to the local flavor of the evening. They have live music from 8pm to 12am every night with Open Mics on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of every music venue in town, but these three are definitely up there at the top! If you’re looking for a good place to dip your toes into Galveston’s local music scene or you feel like cannonballing straight off the deep end, I cannot recommend these three bars to you enough! Have fun, drink responsibly, and tip your local musicians! God knows they appreciate it.