Participants in the July 17 Social While Distancing Open Mic.
Participants in the July 17 Social While Distancing Open Mic.

NORTHWEST CORNER —  The Northwest Corner is known for its scene of open mic nights spread across multiple venues, including The Steam Vent Coffee House at the First Church of Winsted, The Farm River Cafe in New Hartford, The Noelke Gallery in Torrington, Infinity Hall Bistro in Norfolk, and LaSalle Market and Deli in Collinsville.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, open mic nights, along with music venues, have all been shut down for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t think they will be back for a while,” local musician Diane Davis said to The Winsted Phoenix. “The big problem with an open mic is the microphone. One thing you have to remember is that when you are singing if you are not spitting, you are not singing right. The primary way that the coronavirus is transmitted is through droplets.”

Davis is a board member of local charity AIM For a Better Tomorrow.

While she was happy that the open mic venues did the right thing by shutting down, she and other members of the board missed the music and social aspects of open mic nights.

This is why she and other members of the board decided to come with the weekly Social While Distant Open Mic nights, broadcast weekly on AIM For A Better Tomorrow’s YouTube page.

“All of us at AIM are musicians and artists and we wanted to find a way to keep our open mic communities together,” AIM board member Darcy Abbott said. “We all miss each other! We are all each other’s support network. But right now we can’t get together and play music. We miss each other’s friendships because we are like a family.”

Abbott, who is also a board member of The Winsted Phoenix, is the host of WAPJ’s Hot Spot radio show which features local musicians.

Each week, musicians throughout the Northwest Corner send video files to Davis.

The performances are all edited together by Davis into a two-hour program.

Abbott hosts the show, which includes 13 to 16 performances each week.

“All genres are welcome,” Abbott said. “We’re not just open to music. We’re open to poetry, comedy skits, everybody.”

“Our only requirement is that you make a joyful noise and don’t spread hate,” Davis said.

Musicians that have participated in the weekly open mic video event include Bill Benson, Jim Macs, Corey Rieman, Tom Sheely, GrimFacts Ed, Danielle Emberley, and Davis herself with her band The Matchstick Architects.

“I tried to get spoken word but we’ve had nobody submit anything yet,” Davis said. “We’re trying to be as diverse as possible but we need more submissions.”

As for AIM For a Better Tomorrow, the organization is still trying to continue its work despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

AIM’s mission is to deliver educational and therapeutic art and music programs with a specific focus on benefiting those in communities that are at risk.

To view the Social While Distancing Open Mic Night weekly videos go to

For more information about AIM For a Better Tomorrow go to