In historic downtown Johnson City, a local coffee shop called the Willow Tree holds its weekly open mic night for people of all ages and talent to come and perform.
Every Wednesday night, starting at 6 p.m., the Willow Tree opens its door to musicians, poets, singers, storytellers and any other person of talent that may want to get up on stage.
The Willow Tree’s music room is packed every open mic night with college students and other supporters of the local business.
The establishment has been open for 3 years now, with open mic night running for 2 of them.
Owner Teri Dosher opened the shop with her daughter with the dream of creating a coffee shop atmosphere that was comfortable and cozy for people to hang out, drink coffee and listen to music.
“It’s been amazing since it’s taken off,” Dosher said. “One of the best things about our open mic is how respectful the listening audience is.”
Some of the talent that comes in for open mic night tend to be aspiring musicians. Caelan Ferguson stepped up on stage last Wednesday, not for the first time, and sang his heart out.
“I know everyone [says they] wouldn’t be anything without music, but I literally wouldn’t be anything without music,” Ferguson said.
With two originals and a cover, Ferguson nailed his performance and won the audience.
Ferguson has been coming to open mic night since August 2016 and has loved the opportunity to share his voice for an audience.
“It’s so diverse and no one really hates on you, and it’s a good place to start out, because it’s laid back and everyone’s accepting,” Ferguson said.
The Willow Tree also hosts concerts just about every weekend. Though these performances have a small admission charge, the Willow Tree prides itself on supporting rising musicians. These singers or bands tend to be local or traveling on tour.
“We try to be pretty diverse in our lineup, but it tends to fall more along the Americana genre,” Dosher said.
In addition to music, the Willow Tree hosts its own art gallery. On the walls hang canvases from various local artists. Most pieces can be sold for a price, and the money goes to the aspiring artists.
The Willow Tree is home to many people in the surrounding area. The shop is open seven days a week and offers various sorts of coffees, teas, and even beers.
“Lots of times in coffee shops, they’re so small, [people] don’t feel like they can just come in and sit forever,” Dosher said. “I love that students can feel like they can come in and hang out and study.”