Essex Open Mic Nights — The Top 10

From Colchester to Chelmsford, some have argued that Essex’s main cultural contribution has been music. Singers Olly Murs, Jessie J and Matt Cardle have all hailed from the county and there’s plenty of Essex open mics, live music and jam nights on offer.

Essex Best Open Mic & Jam Nights

Essex is a hub for fantastic performers and one who’s a bit of a legend on the open mic scene is Robin Dudley. He attends open mics 6 days of the week—7 if there’s ever one on a Saturday—and is the creator of one of the best spreadsheets for gigs in the area that we’ve ever seen. He updates it daily, it’s currently got over 100 venues listed and you can view it here.

If you’re looking to show your talents, these are our favourite weekly Essex open mic and jam nights, in no particular order. 

#1 Traitor’s Gate: Traitor’s Select

Traitors Gate Open Mic Night

The Traitors Gate offers live entertainment every Thursday, Friday & Saturday night, showcasing some of the best up-and-coming talent around.

Tony Buckley is the helpful host of their Thursday open mic night and he’s been running it for three years.

They have a small stage that accommodates the musicians, plus a full PA, drum kit and three microphones. They also offer the ability to perform to backing tracks if you’d like to.

There are a number of people who attend every week and the nights can get very busy.

Each slot is 15 minutes and people sign in with Tony on a “first come, first served basis”.

Venue location:    Traitor’s Gate –  40-42 The Broadway, Grays, Essex, RM176  
Phone number:  01375 372628
Open Mic Night:  Every Thursday from 8pm
Want to perform?  Check their Facebook group

#2 Smugg’s Den: Open Mic Night

Open Mic Finder Essex

The Smugglers Den has an impressive history of great live music, often seeing the start of fledgeling bands such as Procol Harem and Dr Feelgood not to mention individual stars who have graced their humble stage.

Their weekly open mic is hosted by Jason West and all styles and abilities are welcome.

Full PA provided and if you or your band have any special requirements, you can message Jason beforehand and he’ll try to accommodate you.

Head down and do your thing… sit in on a jam, or just kick back and enjoy the music.

It’s a popular night, so if you can, please try to arrive early to secure yourself a slot.

Venue location:    Smugg’s Den – 315 Ferry Road, Hullbridge, Woodham, Ferrers, Essex, SS5 6NA 
Phone number:  01702 233428
Open Mic Night:  Wednesdays from 8pm
Want to perform?  Check their event page for details  

#3 The Bull: Open Mic Night

A charming pub with a stage for live music, The Bull has original and cover bands performing live, plus jams and open mic nights weekly.

Their open mic is held in the main bar and they set up the front “stage” area with a full backline, PA, plus a few guitars and a Cajon to borrow if you don’t have an instrument

The night is hosted by Stu E. Skinner who is also the guitarist of local legends “The Hit List”.

It varies from chilled out to busy but it’s always full of friendly faces and people from all musical backgrounds who come together to share their own original take on music. They’ve had folk singers, acapella musical theatre, rap, rock, even a djembe group.

There is a board placed by the stage, so you simply write your name and wait your turn.

People get 3 songs or up to 15 minutes.

They also host a monthly jam night called The Thursday House of Blues.

Venue location:    The Bull – 2-4 Crouch Street, Colchester, Essex, CO3 3ES
Phone number:  01206 366647 
Open Mic Night:  Wednesdays from 8.30pm 
Want to perform?  Get there early and put your name on the board

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#4 The Hermit Club: Open Mic Night

open mic hermit club essex

Formerly at the Essex Arms, host Jon Good has recently changed locations, bringing his open mic night to The Hermit. Starting in June, the new venue includes a full stage with drums, piano, keyboards bass and electric and acoustic guitars for everyone to use.

There’s also got a house band joining soon, so the acts have the choice of either singing to a backing track, playing themselves or having a band play for them.

Songs are recorded for radio airplay on local community radio station Phoenix 98 FM.

This night is for under 18s.

Venue location:    The Hermit Club –  Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8AG
Phone number:  01277 249313
Open Mic Night:  Sundays from 6pm
Want to perform?  Check their Facebook page for updates

#5 Three Wise Monkeys: Open Mic 

Three Wise Monkeys is a modern style pub split over 4 floors in the heart of Colchester. The second floor is a fantastic live music and club night/dancing venue that doubles as a large private function room.  

Every Tuesday, they host an open mic compered by local musician Theo Pearce. It’s a comfy, spacious environment with a friendly crowd and a relaxed vibe.

Whether you are a performer of music, poet, juggler, or magician,  this is a great opportunity to demonstrate your talents.

All are welcome, from novice open mic-ers to grizzled veterans. No pre-booking is needed – just show up and get your name on ‘the board’.

Venue location:    Three Wise Monkeys – 60 High Street, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1DN 
Phone number:  01206 543014
Open Mic Night:  Every Tuesday from 8.30pm
Want to perform?  Open to everyone, just show up

#6 The Foundry: Open Mic

open mic colchester

A quirky, intimate, funky and friendly bar on Hamlet Court Road, the Foundry offers different events each day of the week.

Paul Hill from LDNR Records host their open mic night and it’s held in the bar area with a stage. 

They provide a full backline including drums, bass and guitar amplification. Bass and electro-acoustic guitars are also available to use. They usually have a guest act who play a 20-minute set.

The night can get really busy, but you can reserve a slot in advance or you can sign up on the night from 7.30pm.

Venue location:    The Foundry – 151 Hamlet Ct Rd, Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 7EW 
Phone number:  07403 553227
Open Mic Night:  Wednesdays from 8pm
Want to perform?  Check their Facebook page

#7 Peggy Sue’s Music Bar: Open Mic

Open Mics Near me Essex

Peggy Sue’s Music Bar opened in December 2014 and they offer both quality interpretations of classic songs and daring new talents to the local audiences.

From Blues to Rock’n’Roll with a few Country, Jazz, Reggae & Soul thrown in for good measure, there is something for everyone.

The hosts for both open mic nights vary. Gary Bynorth hosts every second Sunday and he was kind enough to answer a few questions.

The nights have been running for a few months and is very busy. Gary provides a full backline which includes drums, speakers, guitars, bass from his band members. They book a diverse range of musicians but allow spaces for random performers to just drop in.

They have a board and he goes around and encourages people to take a slot. He gives more established musicians 15-minute slots and the rest get 2 songs to start with.

It’s loads of fun and they usually get about 13-14 acts performing.

All musicians are welcome to join in and it’s a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Venue location:    Peggy Sue’s Music Bar – 1063A London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 3JP
Phone number:  01702 470121
Open Mic Night:  Thursdays and Sundays from 8pm
Want to perform?  Just let them know on the night

#8 The Quays: Open Mic Essex

The Quays: Open Mic Night

The Quays is part of the Hungry Horse pub brand, with regular entertainment on offer, including their well-loved open mic night. 

Charlotte Leonard runs the sound and the compère is Denis Roberts. He’s been in the entertainments industry for over 60 years and is a fantastic vocalist at 81. He is the father to Tony Roberts who masterminded the huge sell-out ‘Show Me Love’ events running through Essex and hosts the open mic at Reid’s Bar.

Denis has been running his open mics for over 30 years now, with this one returning to the Quays after a short break (it previously ran there for over 5 years).

They provide all PA, mics and leads to plug in your own instruments or backing tracks – they also provide backing tracks for you, should you need them.

It’s a great night and as it’s run quite a bit earlier than conventional open mic nights, so it appeals to younger singers too. They’ve had singers as young as 5 and we welcome all ages, with a lot of vocal coaches bringing their students down. They also have a lot of professional singers who like to come down and try out new material.

It’s a very chilled, supportive venue. Everyone is welcome.

Venue location:    The Quays -Festival Leisure Park, Basildon, Essex, SS14 3WB
Phone number:  0126 820 2221
Open Mic Night:  Most Sundays from 5pm
Want to perform?  
No booking required, let them know on the night

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#9 The Swan: Open Mic Essex

Open Mic Essex - The Swan

A warm welcome awaits you at this charming country pub. The Swan is famed for its real ales and is the winner of CAMRA’s esteemed National Pub of the Year Award twice! They also host a range of different events from Open Mic Nights to a weekly Music Quiz.

Their weekly Tuesday open mic is hosted by Paul and has been running for over 10 years.

It’s a very popular event with a very loyal following.

Venue location:    The Swan – 123 High St, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 4RX
Phone number:  01277 211848
Open Mic Night:  Every Tuesday from 8.30pm
Want to perform?  Check their Facebook group (not updated regularly)

#10 The White Lion: Open Mic Night 

open mic finder essex colchester chelmsford

The White Lion is a lovely village pub with a beer garden and plenty of entertainment on offer.

Their weekly open mic is hosted by Graham Good, who fronts a very popular local band called Redwood, and has been running since 2007, previously The Onley Arms, Stisted.

Graham provides the PA and microphones and they have congas and small percussion instruments, but most attendees bring their own instruments

The event takes place in a café area, away from the main pub and is quite intimate and has great acoustics and ambience.

The nights do vary from month to month and can be very well supported or less so, although recently there have been quite a few new acts getting involved,

Perform or watch, all abilities are welcome.

Venue location:    The White Lion – 6 Church St, Sible Hedingham, Halstead, Essex, CO9 3NS
Phone number:  01787 462534
Open Mic Night:  Tuesdays from 8pm
Want to perform?  Just let them know on the night

Bonus Open Mic & Jam Nights in & around Essex

The Crooked Billet: Wednesday Open Mic at The Billet

open mic colchester

The oldest pub in Leigh, The Crooked Billet is a charming venue, rich in history and tradition.

Their long-running open mic, WOMAB (Weds Open Mic at The Billet), is a fantastic intimate night that brings musicians and fans together.

Hosted by Lewis Cameron, there’s a full acoustic backline setup; guitar, amp, mics, stands, Cajon, keyboard and AUX for backing tracks etc, are all provided.

Definitely one to get involved with to support a great venue and local music, plus a great opportunity to show off your talents.

Venue location:The Billet – 51 High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EP
Phone number:01702 480289
Open Mic Night:Every other Wednesday from 7.30pm
Want to perform?Check their Facebook group to stay up to date

Grove Club: Jam and Open Mic Night

Grove Club has entertainment throughout the week, including Karaoke on Fridays and Sundays and a jam/open mic night every Tuesday .

Hosted by Paul Cremer, this is one of the busiest jam nights in the area. There is a resident house band and full backline is provided.

All musicians and singers are welcome to join in a jam session every week, whatever your experience.

Perfect for up-and-coming young musicians to practise their craft and get advice from the best.

Venue location:    Grove Club – Sacketts Grove, Clacton-on-Sea, CO16 7BD
Phone number:  
Open Mic Night:  Every Tuesday from 8pm
Want to perform?  
No booking required just turn up early

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The Miley: Mando’s Open Mic

It’s a very friendly place, with a variety of entertainment from Thursday to Sunday.

Hosted by Mando Louis, this is more than just an open mic, it’s a place to meet & catch up with friends in friendly surroundings.

They get pop, folk Irish, country, blues and more. Everyone is welcome.

Venue location:    The Miley – 1 Union Lane, Rochford, Essex SS4 1Ap 
Phone number:  01702 54422
Open Mic Night:  Every Thursday from 8pm
Want to perform?  
No booking required just turn up early

Taco Ria: Open Mic Night 

A piece of Mexico in the heart of Southend-on-Sea, Taco Ria is the home of live events and Mexican street food. 

Hosted by Jay Bee & Joe Garner, their open mic night has been running since 2018 and is held downstairs in the main bar.

Venue location:    Taco Ria – 27 Chichester Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2JP
Phone number:   01702 611161
Open Mic Night:  Every Sunday from 6pm
Want to perform?  Just show up on the night

The Coast Inn: Open Mic Night 

The Coast Inn is a riverside bar and restaurant on the Island of Mersea, with a friendly atmosphere and stylish blend of traditional wooden floors, modern leather sofas and a cosy real log fire.

Their open mic is a relaxed evening of acoustic music, with traditional and contemporary music welcome.

Venue location:    The Coast Inn – 108 Coast Rd, West Mersea, Colchester, CO5 8NA
Phone number:  
Open Mic Night:  Thursdays from 8pm
Want to perform?  Just show up on the night

Bi-Monthly Open Mic & Jam Nights

The Boars Head: Jam Session

The Boars Head in Braintree is a rustic public house with live music every Friday and Saturday night, plus there is a very popular Jam session on the first and last Wednesday of the month.

The Jam night has been running since 2014 (when it was moved over from their previous venue).

They have a full professional backline and drumkit, with a fantastic house band consisting of some top local musicians, including Kenneth Petrie on guitar (Mr Spankey & Legend) Glen Bo on Drums (various), Mike Von Beardingham on vocals (Rekovered) and Fergie Fulton on Bass.

They even had a dedicated Facebook page of their song book. To get an idea of some of their repertoire or to contact them in any way head over to Boars Head Jam Song Book.

Everyone is welcome to go along, from amateur to fully experienced. Bands are also invited to do a 3-4 song showcase.

Venue location:    The Boars Head – 85 High Street, Braintree, Essex, CM7 1JS
Phone number:  01376 340051
Open Mic Night:  First & last Wednesday of the month from 9pm
Want to perform?  Everyone is welcome

The Hole in the Wall: Open Mic Night

hole in the wall Essex open mic

The Hole in the Wall is a friendly and unique pub set in the famous Colchester Wall.

Their open mic night offers players of all styles & abilities the chance to perform. Hosted by Nigel Woodmason it’s helf downstairs in the bar area. Mics speakers and all equipment are provided by Nigel.

A newer night that’s perfect for a first-timer.

Venue location:    The Hole in the Wall – Balkerne Hill, Colchester, Essex, CO3 3AA
Phone number:  01206 579897
Open Mic Night:  Every other Monday from 8pm 
Want to perform?  Just show up and let them know

The Star and Garter: Pete the Hat Jam

Newly refurbished, the Star & Garter is a charming freehouse pub on Moulsham Street.

Their Jam session is hosted by Peter Haggart  and runs on the first and third Sunday of each month.

Full backline and the house band. It is a great opportunity to play with some very talented musicians in a friendly and welcoming environment.

Venue location:    The Star and Garter – 159 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0LD
Phone number:  
Open Mic Night:  1st and 3rd Sundays of the month 3~7 pm
Want to perform?  All are welcome

Reid’s Bar: Essex Live Lounge

Reid’s is a relaxed, informal and friendly bar that provides a great stage for budding musicians in the area.

Hosted by Tony Roberts, Essex Live Lounge is attended regular by industry A&R Scouts and talent spotters. A lot of their performers you may have even seen on shows such as X Factor, Britains Got Talent & The Voice.

Venue location:    Reid’s Bar – 66-68 Laindon Rd, Billericay, Essex, CM12 9LD
Phone number:  01277 632378  
Open Mic Night:  Every other Thursday from 8pm
Want to perform?  Check their Facebook group

Monthly Open Mic & Jam Nights

Dog & Partridge: Open Mic 

A family-friendly public house, the Dogs & Partridge

Their open mic is hosted by John White who also runs the following nights:

He runs them all in the same manner. There’s a guest act at each who gets a half hour slot and everyone else gets 2 or 3 songs, depending on how many performers turn up. The usual running order is the way that people turn up although those arriving early can choose to play later. 

PA, mics, stands and leads are supplied. All ages, genres and abilities welcome. John allows people to use backing tracks if they like, although they encourage people to play their own instruments.

Venue location:    Dog & Partridge – 191 Main Rd, Great Leighs, CM31  
Phone number:  01245 361331 
Open Mic Night:  First Tuesday of the month from 8pm
Want to perform?  Just turn up and put your name down

Sunny Sailor: TPBB Big Blues Rock Jam

TPBB Big Blues Rock Jam

The Sunny Sailor hosts a monthly Blues/Rock Jam, run by Tanya Piche.

All are welcome to jam. There’s a house band, PA and full backline supplied. First come, first served, it’s a busy night with usually over 25 jammers in attendance.

Turn up, sign in, bring an instrument or just your voice.

Venue location:    Sunny Sailor – 1 Fullbridge, Maldon, Essex, CM9 4LE 
Phone number:  01621 333224
Open Mic Night:  Second Sunday of the month from 4pm 
Want to perform?  Check their Facebook group

The Spread Eagle: Open Mic

A cosy community pub, the Spread Eagle offers live music and entertainment, playing host to many fantastic acts and events.

Their monthly open mic is a great end to any weekend. 

There’s a friendly atmosphere where everyone will feel comfortable, so head down if you want to watch or if you’re feeling musical. Kick back with your favourite drink and listen to some great live music with some fantastic acts.  

Venue location:    The Spread Eagle – 88 Queens Road, Brentwood, CM14 4HD 
Phone number:  01277 232485 
Open Mic Night:  First Sunday of the month from 7.30pm 
Want to perform?  Let them know on the night

Red Lion: Open Mic Night

Built over 400 years ago, the Red Lion has a charming interior with a wealth of oak beams & real fires in winter.

Musicians, poets and comedians are all welcome at their monthly open mic. There’s a two-song minimum (three for newbies).

Head on down and enjoy a great evening of live music.

Venue location:    Red Lion – 7 Newland Street, Witham, Essex, CM8 2AF
Phone number:  01376 512199
Open Mic Night:  The last Thursday of the month
Want to perform?  Check their Facebook group 

So now you know where to perform in Essex there are no excuses to get out there and get performing!

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Stuart
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Stuart

I write my own song and perform them with my table top loop station as my band and backing singers, can I do an open mic night ?

Laura
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Laura

Of course, everyone is welcome to open mic nights. 🙂

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