Roslindale Open Mike

A Brief History of Roslindale Open Mike

 From the perspective of Mike Delaney

The thread that led to Roslindale Open Mike (ROM) began around 1994 at Java Jo’s coffee shop in East Milton Square, a cozy little establishment, owned by Vance Welch, who now owns both Abby Park and Novara restaurants in East Milton Square. Mark Purcell, a local singer-songwriter, approached Vance and proposed having an open mike, because everyone knows that coffee and live acoustic music are a great fit. When Mark grew tired of running the open mike he handed it off to guitar legend Steve Rapson, who eventually handed it off to Ana Eder-Mulhane. David Jackson refers to Ana as “the Mother Theresa of Folk” and in my “Hey Java Jo’s” song, I refer to Ana as “the sweetest host”, and I think all would agree.  Ana’s open mike was the most welcoming place you could imagine.

I learned about Java Jo’s one morning when WUMB had a live broadcast from there, featuring Vance Gilbert. I started playing at the open mike in November 1997 and played there almost every week for about five years.

When Vance opened Java Jo’s II in Jamaica Plain, I asked him if I could have an open mike there, and we had several great years, but Vance eventually closed the open mike down. After that, the East Milton Square Java Jo’s had a fire and Ana’s open mike moved to Jamaica Plain, where it ran until 2009 when it, too, closed.

Along the way, Neal Braverman, our dear leader, became a regular at Java Jo’s. Another Java Jo’s regular was Jimmy Dorr. Jimmy started an open mike at the River Street Grille in Hyde Park. That open mike eventually moved to Emack & Bolio’s in Roslindale Square. Jimmy handed it over to Carlyn Hutchins, but Emack & Bolio’s got a new owner who shut down the open mike.

Neal wanted to continue to have an open mike in Roslindale, so he arranged to start one at the Roslindale Congregational Church. He asked me to be the host and Roslindale Open Mike (ROM) went into existence in January 2009. Neal’s vision, which continues strong after nearly 10 years, is for a welcoming, listening room that is accepting and free for all. In our 10th year we needed to move to a new location, and The Boston School of English has been a gracious, welcoming host since January 2018.

What makes ROM special? Here are my twelve “top ten reasons”…

  1. It’s a community. It’s an all-volunteer operation. We couldn’t do what we do without so much help. We are all ROMulins.
  2. Everyone listens to everyone else and supports every performers' progress as an artist. The audience is the best.
  3. Free for all. We take donations for refreshments and for our features. Everyone is invited to provide refreshments.
  4. Many musicians are willing to help each other with backing music and harmony vocals.
  5. We try to keep everyone informed, using our web page (provided by Sam Schneiderman), our email newsletter before every ROM, and announcements at ROM.
  6. Our features are a mix of regulars, local favorites, and touring professionals.
  7. We strive to keep the evening flowing without prolonged “stoppages of play”. We encourage everyone to be tuned up and ready to go.
  8. We request that all performers keep their performance to five minutes—including their introduction.
  9. It’s always busy, so you know you will have a roomful of people listening to you.
  10. We carefully try to give every performance great sound reinforcement. Steve Friedman is there just about every time to provide professional recordings of performances.
  11. King Yee’s videos can be an added bonus.
  12. Neal is all things for all people. He is the heart and soul of ROM and outworks everyone to make ROM a success.

Please consider arriving early to help us set up, or stay late to help us break down. Random draw at about 6:45. Music begins at 7. The feature goes on at 8:30. Mike Delaney plans to play a "practice set" starting at 6. 


Doors open at 6 PM and the open mike performances start at 7 PM, with our evening feature act at 8:30 PM.

Roslindale Open Mike (ROM) uses a random draw of names to set the order of performers. Performers, Neal, or his designee will put their names in the basket before 6:40 pm on that particular ROMday. In order to finish by 10:30 PM no more than 30 names will be written on the whiteboard.

Our goal is to be fair, equitable, and consistent. The names are randomly drawn from the basket at 6:40 PM.  Anyone arriving after the names are drawn will be added to the end of the list in the order of arrival. If there is still time before 10:30 pm more names will be added.

First timers are given their choice of a slot if they are in the room before our Random draw

After the performance order has been drawn, any swaps for an earlier or later slot may be arranged between the people requesting the swap, but only Neal, or his designee, will change the performance order on the board.  Anyone who misses their slot due to late arrival will be accommodated at some point after they arrive, if possible, on that night.

Our Plan is for everyone to get to play one song (NO LONGER THAN 5 MINUTES, including your introduction!) and if we finish the first round before 10:00 PM some willing participants may get a second song using the same performance order. This should allow everyone to perform before the 10:30 PM ending.

Everyone is requested to be tuned up and ready to go when it is their turn and & be sitting by the stage in the designated ROMdeck circle! Please keep song introductions brief.

Everyone is requested to maintain a listening room atmosphere and is encouraged to be courteous and respectful of all performers. Use one of the two small rooms off the entrance to the performance area for instrument storage, tuning, and practicing (quietly or between performances).


We pass the "NOT-HAT" (because it's not a hat, it's a MASSIVE  BUCKET!) for the feature. Mike Delaney usually has his "practice session" at 6 PM. So, show up early, stay ‘til late, or drop by when you can.

All refreshments are at NO COST but there is a donation basket, all of which is given to the school to thank them for offering this great venue.

This is an all-volunteer effort, so we would love for you to help out making this open mike a success. Would you like to help us set up, host, mix sound, clean up, etc?

Please consider bringing some food or beverages to share. (And of course this open mike is FAMILY FRIENDLY: non-alcoholic, drug-free, non-smoking and no inappropriate language. Please don't smoke on the school grounds--we don't want to lose this venue due to cigarette butts.)


When he's available, Steve Friedman of Melville Park ( will be there to record your performance for your upcoming live CD.

You can email Neal Braverman or Mike Delaney with suggestions on how to make the nights better and better.  

Neal Braverman