Kevin Parry of Brattleboro has run open mic nights in Brattleboro for over three decades.
Victoria Chertok/The Commons
Kevin Parry of Brattleboro has run open mic nights in Brattleboro for over three decades.

For live musicians only

Open Mic at the River Garden carries on a Brattleboro tradition

BRATTLEBORO-On a recent Monday night, The Commons stopped in to see and hear what all the fuss was about at the weekly Open Mic at the River Garden Marketplace at 157 Main St.

There, 15 or so musicians - guitarists, banjo players, pianists, accordion players, and many singers - each awaited the chance to perform a 10-minute set of two or three songs for an audience of approximately 25 people.

Kevin Parry, a local musician and teacher who has run open mic programs in Brattleboro for more than three decades, including at the Marina for 10 years, now does so exclusively at the River Garden. He plays guitar and sings, and he ended the show with three of his original songs.

Some of the other performers on April 15 were Alex Pastahov, Step, Addison Rhys, Midnight Betty, Owen McLoughlin, Dylan Patrick Ward, Sharon and Daniel, Jenn, Daniel Hales, Bob Havens, Jonny Sheehan, Mark Borax, and Ben.

Parry's guidelines make it clear: "This is an acoustic open mic for musicians only. We do not feature poetry, comedy, or karaoke. We discourage the use of pre-recorded backing tracks of any sort. Our audience wants to hear live music only."

Within that constraint, creativity blossoms.

"Monday nights are the highlight of our week at the River Garden," says David Hiler, who owns the River Garden Marketplace with partners Amy and Tim Brady.

"The best part of Open Mic is seeing all the people who just come out to see local talent in action. Many of them don't even play an instrument - or, if they do, they simply come for the inspiration that someday they might get up there themselves," he said.

"And they do!" he added. "That's truly the best part."

Open Mic at River Garden Marketplace, 157 Main St., Brattleboro, takes place every Monday night from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information, contact Kevin Parry at [email protected]. For guidelines and a link to sign up online, visit

This Arts item by Victoria Chertok was written for The Commons.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates