Yes, there are still places in the world where it's considered entertainment to offer your stage and P.A. system to any person who owns some sort of instrument-even if that includes one's fat rolls, which make for remarkable percussion. If you're in for that sort of diamond-in-the-rough henpecking, here are a few choice spots.
Hot Monkey Love Café
5960 El Cajon Blvd., College Area, 619-582-5908
Tuesday; sign up: 7:45 p.m.
If you're not actually that good at playing accordion while riding a unicycle and singing all at the same time, don't worry. The audience will humor you, saving the mocking remarks for after you've left. The drawback: there's a one-drink minimum necessary to make an ass of yourself.
3343 Adams Ave, Normal Heights, 619-282-0437 (www.lestats.com)
Monday; sign up: 6:30 p.m.
This is arguably the most popular open-mic in town, which means: bear with the torturous crooners and occasionally you'll find some gems. It goes down every Monday night, and the list usually fills up faster than registration forms for film classes. Otherwise, just hang with the people outside who don't bother watching the acts at all. This place is a hangout for young, six-string-friendly punks.
634 Broadway Ave., 92103, 619-544-1609
Wednesday, 8 p.m.; sign up: Any time (you can even call in)
Expect foofy downtown atmosphere and good acoustics.
4590 Park Blvd., University Heights, 619-296-0616 (www.twiggs.org)
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
This is basically a box next to University Heights' java mainstay of the same name. With folding chairs and a nothing-ist's sense of décor, it ain't much on atmosphere, but it's a regular haunt for some standout acoustic players, including Tristan Prettyman and Renata Youngblood. Their website is extensive (a blessing and a curse).
6344 El Cajon Blvd., College Area, 619-286-0400 (www.javajoespub.com)
Tuesday, 9 p.m.; sign up: 8-9 p.m.
Wait, is this the Java Joe's that used to be a coffee shop in O.B.? The one of Jewel, Jason Mraz and Steve Poltz lore? Sure is. Except now it's a pub, so those of us under-21 have to go elsewhere to play folk music on acoustic guitars and read poetry. Don't miss José Sinatra, the host-the dude is the most serious joke in town.
David's Coffee House
3766 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-296-4173
Every other Thursday, 8 p.m.; sign up: 7:30 p.m.
Called "Siren," this is a very womanly open mic-for women only, in fact. It's in the heart of San Diego's gay district, and if we were the sort to stereotype, we'd say there's usually a lot of Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco fare. But we're not, so we're not saying that.