Chill With O.C. Performers at This Cool Open Mic

Showcase any one of your talents at CoolLab Project, a fun and supportive open mic in Santa Ana.

by Bernadette Steele

It’s Thursday night at the 4th street market in Santa Ana, and the room is filled with the hum of musicians warming up and jamming with each other. They’re getting ready for the weekly open mic, the CoolLab Project hosted by Vinson Muhammad with house band Apollo Bebop.

Upon entering you can feel the strong sense of community within the building. From music, to poetry, to dancing and more — artisans from around Southern California show off their crafts.

“I go to so many open mics in the area, and nothing compares,” says Anna Carmela, bassist for the band Thrift.

“It really feels like a big family,” says Mary Topp, who performs hula-hoop choreography at CoolLab. “People mostly do hip-hop and jazz, but I’ve seen everything. I’ve even seen tap-dancing!” Topp says.

“There’s a really strong sense of community. It’s an open and safe space with a lot of different demographics,” says Hunter LaMar, a musician.


The CoolLab Project

The CoolLab Project meets every Thursday on the patio at the 4th Street Market, 201 E 4th St, Santa Ana, CA.

Sign-ups start at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit the CoolLab project on Facebook or Instagram


The rules for the CoolLab are simple:

  1. Everybody gets love

“No matter who it is, whatever their race is, their walk of life… they come up here, they’re getting love,” says Muhammad, long-time host and now executive director of the CoolLab Project.


  1. Respect the mic

“You can go to open mics all over the world… but here at this open mic, it’s a family-friendly situation. So no profanity on this mic and no sexually explicit lyrics,” says Muhammad.


  1. Treat the person on the mic as if it’s you

“If you can hear my voice say ‘shhh,’” then the crowd should go quiet. “It’s that silence that’s interpreted as respect”, he says.


  1. Offer support 

“The first level of support is support yourself. The second part about it is these artists,” Muhammed says. “Let’s see what we can do to make sure that we sow a seed so they can take their craft to the next level.”



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