Live performance is a popular feature at the coffeehouse. Our intimate room and primarily unplugged format distinguish us as a unique space that appeals to musicians and audiences alike. All events are open to all ages and always free of charge.

Modern Times Unplugged Open Mic
Held every Friday night, this popular open mic night is a great opportunity for local musicians to step out and network in a comfortable, welcoming setting. Performances are unplugged and typically packed with some of the areas most talented and most supportive musicians – forget what you thought you knew about Open Mics and come check it out! Hosted by Maureen Nelson and often featuring special guest sets by local and visiting musicians. All styles of music, poetry, and performance are welcome. Sign up is 7:30pm and the show runs from 8:00-10:30pm. To get to know some of the musicians that have performed at the Unplugged Open Mic, please visit us on and .

Open Mic FAQ

Q. How do I sign up?
A. Sign up in person at 7:30 pm. (No phone calls, please.) The list often fills up immediately, so get there early! We will do our very best to accommodate everyone, but if the list becomes full, keep in mind that you will be on “stand by” for an available spot.

Q. How many songs do I get to play?
A. Everyone gets two songs each. If we reach the end of the list and have some time, we’ll open it up to anyone who’s got something else they are itching to play. Please be mindful of all the artists waiting their turn and avoid excessively long songs. 10 minutes is a good ballpark set to aim for. (Which brings us to a popular sub-faq: If my songs are short, can I play three quick ones? Sorry, but all experiments on this subject have led to disaster… flaming, gory, disaster.

Q. My instrument specifically requires amplification – what do I do?
A. Bring an amp! Sure, why not? If you don’t have one, we might be able to help, but make sure to give us some advance notice.

Q. Can I bring my keys?
A. Yes.

Q. Can I use a mic?
A. If you have a compelling reason for why you need a mic, we’ll consider it, but otherwise, no. Acoustically, the room can handle good old-fashioned vocals and it’s all part of the fun. It takes a little getting used to, but we have a lot of regulars who are pretty darn good at it. And for all those shy singers out there, well, this is just about one of the most supportive rooms in the city. Go for it!

Q. How can I be a featured artist?
A. Drop us a line. We get a lot of requests, so don’t fret if you don’t hear back right away. Plus, it never hurts to swing by, play a couple tunes and introduce yourself.

Q. Where is Modern Times?
A. We are located on the lower level of Politics & Prose Bookstore at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008.

Modern Times Compilation CD
This inaugural project is a grassroots initiative inspired by the talented and diverse musicians who regularly attend the Unplugged Open Mic, held every Friday night at the coffeehouse. Unlike the typical model for compilations, which require a financial “buy in” from participating artists, this project was opened to anyone who had played at the Open Mic and was willing to commit to creative fundraising efforts. A tool to self-empower and promote the participating artists, the CD was released on February 15, 2008 and is available for purchase at the coffeehouse. For more information and a list of the participating musicians, see .

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