Open Mic - How It Works

Berkeley Fellowship Monthly Open Mic (BF MOM) “Second Friday” Shows


If you have heard about, or attended, the Berkeley Fellowship Monthly Open Mic (BF MOM), then you may wonder “how it operates?” It is a non-profit series of monthly music shows run by the Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (BFUU). It is run by volunteers who love folk music, poetry, humor, and progressive politics. Our BF Monthly Open Mic was founded by legendary Berkeley singer-songwriter Country Joe McDonald, and it continues in that great tradition now that Joe has retired from running the shows himself. Once in a while Joe will surprise us with a visit and take a turn at two songs in one of our 20 ten minute spots just like all the other open mic performers. There are a number of roles that our volunteers fulfill to make it all work. Maybe you would like to participate in that way too... Here's “how it works”!

BF MOM has Quarterly Meetings

The BF MOM “Coordinating Team” meets once every three months. Its a simple, common sense, all volunteer operation. Some of our decisions are made by phone and email. We have a dedicated BF MOM TEAM of volunteers that share the labor, the publicity effort, and the coordination of the events. Quarterly BF MOM business meetings are on the First Tuesdays at 3:45 pm in the Fireside Room. Good food and beverages are provided by our snack bar volunteers. David Yandle, our sound engineer, also volunteers his services for this event. In most cases, David  is a paid professional. So we are very grateful to have him on our team!

 BF MOM Shows

BF MOM shows are always on the “Second Friday” of every month. Doors open at 6 pm. Performer sign up time is 6:30 pm. We have a first-come first-choice policy. Performers can pick any one of the 20 “ten minutes spots” remaining available on the sign-up sheet. We especially appreciate performers who come to hear everyone else who signs up to perform.


Our audience is very attentive. We are always looking for good commentary and song craftmanship. We are especially interested in original songs! We ask those who want to talk to go to the back of the room or outside. We have a suggested donation of $5 – 10 for everyone, including performers. People with little money are encouraged to volunteer some labor in lieu of money. “No one ever turned away for lack of funds” is our policy. Sound engineering labor is donted by David Yandle. And most of the time we are lucky to have Gail Penso providing hospitality and refreshments, also donation basis.

BF Monthly Open Mic “HOSTS”

We also have a group of Rotating Hosts that MC the shows. Vic Sadot, Hali Hammer, Hassaun Ali Bey Jones as “Boundless Gratitude”, Rev. Ben Meyers, Clyde Leland, Lauren Renée Hotchkiss, and others take the lead every few months. Our Host kicks off the evening with a warm welcome and reads the entire list of performers in the order of their sign-up. Our host tells the audience that the the BF MOM is a project of the Social Justice Committee, and between acts the host will announce upcoming events by the Social Justice Committee and its community partners. Our hosts encourage people to take community calendars and flyers for the next month's open mic to post and hand out. The host explains that each performer gets 10 minutes to do one or two songs. The host says a little about the Featured Artist for the evening, and gives a mention to the Featured Artist for the next month. Then the host sings two songs to set the pattern for the evening.


 Our Hosts are also talent scouts in that they get to pick a “Featured Artist” for the evening. The Featured Artist gets to do a 20 – 25 minute set that begins around 8 or 8:30 pm depending on what that Artist and the Host agree to do that evening. The Featured Artist is contacted by the host about two months in advance so that publicity can be done for that event and for that particular Artist. The Artist is asked to provide a photo or two, a short descriptive “blurb” about their music, and if they have one, to give us a web site address to use in our publicity. This site may be a personal music web site, or a MySpace, or even an on-line article about their music. The Artist and our next BF MOM event should be publicized at least one month in advance. We try to have the flyers for the next open mic ready for distribution at the current one happening. We invite the audience and the BF MOM Team Members to take flyers to post or hand out in the community.


Every BF MOM event is different, unique, and fun! Each one has a charm and character of its own! If you love your BF MOM, then give it your support by inviting others, posting some flyers, forwarding email posts, or by becoming a TEAM MEMBER.
If you are a performer, then bring your talent, friends, and fans to one of our shows and play to an attentive and encouraging crowd. If you want to make new friends who support topical songwriters and progressive roots folk music, mark the next “Second Friday” on your calendar. You are welcome to be part of our circle of friends, and you may want to help us keep this valuable all-volunteer community-building project going strong! Every 2nd Friday in Historic Fellowship Hall!