Two Open Mic Events in Pasadena That You’ll Love

When the spotlight beckons.
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The ancient art of storytelling is alive and well in Pasadena.

Image courtesy OTTER STORY HOUR

On the first Monday of the month, the basement of South Pasadena’s Griffins of Kinsale fills with people seated in repurposed pews and mismatched wooden chairs. Strings of lights wrap around the overhead beams to illuminate the exposed brick walls with a warm glow. A single spotlight faces the makeshift stage. With freshly poured beers in hand, the crowd settles in to partake in humanity’s most ancient tradition: storytelling. Welcome to The Otter Story Hour.

Founded by Rex McDaniel, the event provides a unique experience for participants and audiences alike. People from all walks of life take the stage to tell fi ve-to-10- minute true stories from their own experiences based on a chosen theme. Otter storytellers come from all over, with varying degrees of experience. Some are standup comics, others are true novices. On a night when the theme calls for stories about muggings, Dylan Brody, a longtime opener for humorist David Sedaris, takes the stage to recall his own encounter with the criminal underworld. Listeners gasp and laugh in unison as their shared energy permeates the intimate space.

Upcoming themes are “Fire Works” (July 1) and “Wild Women on the Road” (Aug. 5). For more information, visit rexmcdaniel.net/theotter-story-hour.


Old Towne Pub hosts a collaborative night of music where everyone can join the band.

Image courtesy OLD TOWNE PUB

The Old Towne Pub has always been a welcome outlier in Pasadena’s nightlife, unafraid of marching to a different and much louder beat. Found at the end of a dark alley and a little rough around the edges, it proudly stands out among the Edison bulb–lit, martini slinging bars speckled across Colorado Boulevard. Once a month, South Pasadena local Karl Rollert takes the pub even further afield with The Rousing Knights, a collaborative night of music where anyone can get on stage and join in.

The festivities kick off like most nights at the pub with a lineup of bands taking the small corner stage, but around midnight the scene changes as lines begin forming to the left of the stage. One at a time, band members hand off their instruments to the corresponding line, tagging in new guitarists, drummers, bassists, and singers to take their place. Before long pub-goers are listening to music from a band of strangers who have never met or played together before. No introductions or rehearsals needed, just instinct and music. The ever-changing band plays late into the night.

Old Towne Pub is a great fi t for this unique event. Few other bars were willing to entertain the idea after The Rousing Knights lost its original location at the now-defunct Kingston Cafe. Although Rollert hopes to bring the event to other spots around town, OTP will always feel like its proper home.

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