It's not the nicest or best-lit open mic around. But the mood sets it apart. On a typical Wednesday night there may be two or three polished performers — the rest are just getting up and taking their best shot at being a poet, a musician or even a stand-up comic.
Or, as host Michael Bethely would say, they're just being themselves.
“Be Open Mic night, it's giving those people the opportunity, that platform, that stage to sing, to do poetry, to do whatever,” he says. “And that's why I love the versatility of it, because I'll accept whatever it is.”
Every Wednesday at 9 pm, Geno's is transformed by the clear and focused philosophy of one man. Bethely is an entertainer, a poet/rapper and kind of a philosopher. The founder of Bethely Entertainment, he says he's always been about entertaining and including everyone. He started entertaining by throwing parties while attending Eastern Washington University. However, when he graduated and formally founded his company in 2009, he realized he needed to find a unique approach to entertainment.
“I realized throwing parties is something everybody does,” he says. “And so I wanted to go after a different approach to entertainment. I'm an avid believer that a lot of people waste talent.”
And this is the motivating philosophy behind Be Open Mic. It's the idea that everyone has some talent, some potential. However, most of us don't utilize it, he says.
“They don't strive to succeed like they should,” Bethely says. “They don't reach their full potential.”
Bethely first started Be Open Mic in 2010 at Brews Brothers. Initially, he says, it was mostly poetry and spoken word. Over the course of a year and a half it slowly grew. More and more musicians came. Soon Brews Brothers was packed. Although Be Open Mic moved to Geno's in October of 2012, Bethely says the mood that developed at Brews Brothers carried over.
“I like to include people. I want us to get together as a whole not just blacks and whites and Latinos and Asians,” he says. “I wanted it to be an atmosphere [that] everybody feels comfortable in.”
And that is really what sets Be Open Mic apart: It's accepting, it's diverse and it's non-judgmental. And it's grown substantially. Bethely says that when he started attendance and participation weren't always the best.
“There were nights were I was the only one doing poetry for the whole night,” he says. But for him that was the point.
“[I'm] using myself as a tool to motivate and inspire,” he says. “[To get] people to get up and open up and express their gifts as well.”
Be Open Mic • Wednesdays at 9 pm • Geno's • 1414 N Hamilton St. • All-ages until 11 pm • 368-9087