One of the reasons for the ambience is the laid back atmosphere of Shoreline, one that is reminiscent of that in the TV series “Cheers”. Another reason and one that many people might not know about, is the Open Mic Night every Tuesday night from 9:30 pm until 1:30 am.
Shoreline’s Open Mic Night is hosted by Eric Norman, who worked for the brewery back in 2007-2008. A musician by trade who plays lead guitar and keyboards, Norman took over the Open Mic Night in 2014 from Blake Vissing, the previous host who left Shoreline for a job with Journeyman Distillery.
Together with Jason Russell, Norman’s best friend who was a brewer at Shoreline at the time, they began to shape what is arguably the best open mic night going in Northwest Indiana.
Norman brought in all of his own equipment, so musicians interested in participating don’t have to worry about anything except showing up.
“I provide a PA, monitors, my keyboard and electric guitar,” said Norman. “I mean everything is there. I have like $15,000 worth of equipment on site so musicians who come in don’t have to worry about bringing anything.”
“No open mic night that I have ever been to has this kind of quality equipment,” continued Norman. “And I’m not that guy who says you can’t play my guitar or my keyboard, that’s what they’re there for.”
In the three years since Norman took over the gig, the Open Mic Night at Shoreline Brewery has continued to evolve and grow. After Jason Russell left for a job with Greenbush Brewery, Norman began to bring in musicians as a sort of open mic night studio band.
“After Jason left I brought in Nate Miller from Midwest Hype,” said Norman. “Nate is a great bass player who is a music teacher and salesman at Roxy Music in La Porte, and really good bass players are hard to come by.”
“And then Kevin Watson joined us on drums. Kevin is a great drummer who was voted one of the top five reggae drummers in Chicagoland by a rock magazine in Chicago.”
The way the night works is that there is a sign-up sheet with about ten to twelve slots available for musicians who want to participate. Each musician gets three songs or 15 minutes, whichever comes first.
“I open things up the house playing with Nate and Kevin from 9:30 to 10:00 pm,” said Norman. “And then any of us or all three of will also play with whoever is participating if they want. I MC and put the guys together to play.”
“We get guys that are just starting out and want to play with good musicians and learn, and we also we get people who are really good too. And from time to time we’ll get bands that are on tour that show up and say hey, we saw this on an open mic website, because I put it out there everywhere.”
“The cool thing about our open mic is that it’s not your typical open mic night with guys playing acoustic guitars,” continued Norman. “Our open mic is more eclectic and jammy, with lots of improvisation. And the cool thing is we are always bringing in new people, because we gotta keep it fresh.”
Norman is certainly correct about Shoreline Brewery’s Open Mic Night being unique, because in addition to the musicians, Norman also brings in comedians and poets and more.
“We have comedians come out and do bits like Jordan Hart,” said Norman. “We also get poets who read poetry and lyricists, too. And we have artists who come and draw on the tables, and we even had a cello player named Josh McClain come out and play, and he was awesome. Like I said, it’s eclectic, but it’s really cool because we don’t shy away from anything.”
For Norman, who has been doing open mic nights for seventeen years, the open mic night at Shoreline Brewery is a labor of love that he plans to continue to improve and develop.
“Shoreline Brewery is a really cool place,” said Norman. “Shoreline has brought an original music venue to the area because they have never had a cover band there.”
“It’s my favorite night. Music is my passion and my goal is to make this open mic night even bigger and better,” continued Norman. “I’m building a Shoreline band that will be composed of guys who are all about this, and I want to let everyone know about it because it’s going to be around a while.”
Shoreline Brewery is located on the shores of Lake Michigan at 208 Wabash Street in Michigan City. The brewpub is open from 11:00 am until midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 11:00 am until 1:00 am on Friday and Saturday.
Readers can learn more about Shoreline Brewery by visiting the website at www.shorelinebrewery.com or by looking them up on Facebook and Instagram.
Interested musicians or fans of good music can learn more about the open mic night at Shoreline Brewery on the brewery’s Facebook page or on open mic websites like www.openmics.org.
Chris Lannin can be e-mailed at clans07@gmail.com.