Artists – like anyone with a project in the works – sometimes need a deadline to finish a song or poem, or polish it to be performance-ready. The new Songwriter Open Mic night at Stage Left Café gives those artists a deadline and offers a supportive audience to enjoy their creations.

Cassandra Vohs-Demann, owner of A Place to Shine Music, and Keith Johnson, president of Off Square Music, teamed up with a common goal of supporting original music in Woodstock. Their collaboration resulted in the Songwriter Open Mic night, an evening of original work by local and regional songwriters, poets and storytellers, held monthly from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at Stage Left Café, 125 E. Van Buren St.

“Our intention is to give a voice to those creating original work an opportunity to share their work, and give them a goal – a specific date on the calendar,” said Vohs-Demann.

Each performer has a 10-minute slot, time to give a brief introduction explaining the creative intention behind their work, followed by their performance, typically two songs.

Described as a quiet room or a listening room, Vohs-Demann said she chose Thursdays at Stage Left Cafe since, typically, there’s nothing major going on at the Opera House on Thursday.

“We want people to feel their lyrics are being heard,” Vohs-Demann said. “We’re trying to create a mutual supportive community so people can grow together.”

A full roster of performers has stepped up to take the stage for every session so far, since October 2016. Advance sign-up is necessary.

“It’s a cool thing,” said Vohs-Demann. “I think it will continue to grow.”

The open mic nights draw a variety of performers ranging from high school-age beginners getting their feet wet to seasoned mature artists who are getting their material performance-ready.

“What impressed me is the level of talent, especially among the young people,” said Johnson. “Visitors will be pleasantly surprised.”

He said he enjoys the diversity of subject matter found in the performances. “It’s not a sterile environment. It’s very interactive,” he said.

Vohs-Demann feels Woodstock has a good music scene with some really good professional musicians in the community.

“I think there’s a bit of a renaissance happening here,” she said. “There are a lot of cool, artistic shops and a lot of artistic people hanging out.”

The next Songwriter Open Mic night will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at Stage Left Café. The suggested donation is $3.

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