Burlington’s open mic nights only require a singer, a microphone and a passion to play

While playing host to big act tours, Burlington is a haven for the celebration of live talent at hidden gems like Radio Bean and Manhattan Pizza.Despite the mental image that an open mic night can evoke — think bad wig, screeching vocals or mangled guitar riffs — Burlington welcomes and supports unexpected talent at a constant rate.One Monday night at Radio Bean, their open mic act included a woman singing a cappella, a beat poet, two men rapping and a trio that found its third member by yelling, “hey, is there a pianist in the house?” Luckily, there was.The last Monday of each month is especially interesting at Radio Bean, when they have a no-guitar open mic. “We get [people playing] banjos, get piano players, lots of rappers, people reading poetry,” Radio Bean employee Finn Sonin said.Manhattan Pizza’s weekly open mic night on Wednesdays also sees a variety of performers, like one that was “mostly hip hop, but also metal and some country,” a Manhattan Pizza server said.”Every night has been completely different,” local musician and regular performer at Manhattan Pizza Andy Lugo said. “We’ll have emcees, bluegrass, metal, [everything] to comedians and you never know, that’s the craziest thing.”You    really never know what’s going to happen the next week, which is kind of fun,” he said.Open mic nights are about more than just putting on a show — stage fright adds another element for the neophyte performer. “It’s one thing to practice in your bedroom, another to get on a stage in front of people,” Lugo said.For performers looking to become more serious about music, open mic nights can function as a good steppingstone. “A lot of people have gone from open mic to having their own gig,” Sonin said.”The concept of open mic is that it takes away the pressure of having to be perfect, to be polished, you’re allowed to make mistakes,” he said.”It’s really cool to see people progress, to see people go from extremely quiet and shy on stage and then see them with a gig at Nectar’s, with a band,” Lugo said.Providing a sense of community with regular acts and a variety of styles and experience levels, Burlington’s open-mic nights encourage musicians to learn from and appreciate other musicians.Eric Reeves, a performer at Radio Bean, said that he comes weekly on the basis of appreciating local musicians.”The networking possibilities of open mic are great,” Reeves said. “[We] meet other musicians and create a group of people, a community of people, who do open mic nights.””It was really fun to get out there and not have any obligation. No name, no Web site, just wanting to play music in front of people,” Lugo said.Exactly the opposite of American Idol, Burlington open mic nights support a wonderful medley of “hip hop, metal, acoustic, bluegrass, all together,” a Manhattan Pizza server said. “It’s a beautiful thing for Burlington.”