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Johannes Baumgartel sings while playing his guitar during Open Mic Night at Donkey Coffee in Athens, Ohio, Aug. 31, 2023.

Donkey Coffee provides a stage for talent

Donkey Coffee and Espresso has been a spot in Athens to enjoy tasty fair-trade coffee and various live performances for more than two decades. Located at 17.5 W. Washington St., Donkey is just a short walk from Ohio University’s campus, making it a Bobcat favorite. 

Every Thursday from 8 to 11 p.m., Donkey conducts its weekly open mic night, which showcases the talent the Athens community has to offer. Various musicians take the stage to perform a variety of acts. Performances range from singing to guitar and piano playing, all done by local artists. 

Anyone who feels inclined to perform is more than welcome, but even if performing isn’t an interest, all are welcome to sit and enjoy the show. According to the performers and audience members, the audience at Donkey is one of the aspects that make open mic night so comfortable and enjoyable. 

The crowd at the open mic nights is friendly, energetic, and above all, supportive. The coffee shop fills with OU students and Athens locals who come to watch these performances and provide the musicians with a safe space to share their talent. 

Dana Delaney, a sophomore studying music therapy, is an artist who loves going to Donkey to perform. 

“Tonight I’m performing three different songs on guitar … I did my first performance last semester and have been attending them since last year,” said Delaney. “It was a little bit nerve-racking, but everybody here is just so welcoming and that was really inspiring.”

Jessica Shimp and Anna Stenger, both juniors studying music therapy, are friends who go to Donkey weekly to enjoy, and even sometimes participate in the performances. 

“We’ve been coming since the first semester freshman year, every week,” said Shimp. “I sing a lot, and it took me a long time to get out there, but the audience is really nice and warm, and you don’t feel like you’re being judged.” 

Shimp and Stenger take the stage as a duo on occasion, and even though it may have been intimidating at first, both said they are glad they made the leap to perform.

“I’ve performed a few times with Jess, but she’s the one who’s braver than I am,” said Stenger. “My advice would be to just do it. If you don’t, you’ll regret it, everyone is so sweet and just wants to see you succeed.” 

The pair encourages everyone nervous to take that leap of performing live to just go for it. Specifically with Donkey as a venue, Delaney said there is no better place to do it.

“Everybody here is so supportive, nobody’s going to care if you mess up,” said Delaney. “This is the place to try it.”

With the performers and audience members advocating for the great atmosphere, amazing performers and delicious coffee, Donkey’s open mic night could be the perfect event to attend after a long Thursday. Whether a musician or a music enjoyer, all are welcome to appreciate the talent that Athens has to offer.

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