Open-mic night opens Oct. 9 in Fort Myers


Downtown Fort Myers is a place I hope that most of us younger than 25 have come to enjoy at one time or another. There is great food, events and drinks.
However, if you have been there anytime within the past two years, you might have missed a small gem that was previously available to anyone who was seeking a venue for great music and very, very good beer, among a star-struck menu of amazing foods and other drinks, surrounded by adept performers and artists whose sole purpose was to entertain. Yes, I said drinks, and yes, they are very good, but by no means should anyone think that means this is only for those of us who have earned our 21 stripes. The only thing required to be welcome here is a desire to have a good time and a respect for entertainment.
This venue has changed names more than P. Diddy. The current moniker is United Café. It’s the most recent and seemingly best managed cafe ever to be placed in this storefront. It has been called United Café for the past three years. With the way business has picked up, it looks like “United Café” will be on the sign above its old-time red door for many years to come.
The open mic at United Cafe was ended abruptly after some teenagers showed much disrespect. Its return 7 p.m. Oct. 9 can be credited to Denver Dorsey, the United Café’s manager. Dorsey became the manager after the departure of Thom Nobles, a very widely respected gentleman who manned the bar for a long time. Dorsey asked the owner to agree to a trial run of the open mic after a Facebook post indicating the return received enough “likes” to ease his mind.
“I think the few of us that work here now have wanted to bring the open mic back for a while and the opportunity just presented itself,” Dorsey said. “I’m excited. We are letting people fill certain time slots ahead of time just for this night, but of course we will still let anyone sign up and play like they did back in the day. There will be $2 beer specials, too. I think after the first run, we will be able to sense how it will go from there.”
A good open mic relies very heavily on the host. The host that brought so much to the event before it ended was a local spoken word artist, Mandalin Warrick, now a tattoo artist at HOWL Art Gallery.
“I’ve missed that open mic like a phantom limb,” Warrick said. “Everyone had the opportunity to say/do whatever they had to offer. We all got to witness and collaborate with so many different sides of talent. What we had there was special. I’m really happy the opportunity is opening up in that space again.”
Everyone from performers to musicians are welcome to partake in this night. It’s been known to attract serious talent each week.
“The open mic nights hosted at United Café present an ideal situation for great talent to flourish,” said Hunter Dahlen, a prior open-mic musician. “The location and atmosphere are nearly cinematic and the performers have always left me satisfied with an appreciation for the unseen, great deal of talent located in the larger Fort Myers area.”
AJ Colton is a local hip-hop artist who writes his music under the moniker of Nodding Off. He is also a founding member of the group Sriracha Chakra. He has some passionate words for United Café and the importance it made in his life.
“The biggest problem, for events like this is the lack of support,” Colton said. “Without business, things like this can’t continue. I have been attending this event since its start in ’06. Being a young musician in the area and with no venues to perform at besides shady bars, this was like a safe haven.”