“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows my name.” -JB
copyedits: by Zero Lives
It was another long Wednesday of slinging drinks and throwing food at customers; all in hopes that they’ll pass me a couple of extra bills in exchange for attentiveness and good conversation. After a particularly rough night, I had a hankering for a drink of my own. I wrangled up Zero and my co-worker Papa Bear to head out after a long shift. There’s any number of places to go on a Wednesday night. Plenty of bars have a college night club scene, but the thought of going to one of those reminded me I needed to smack my head on the wall. I pleaded my case to the guys and after some leveraging with an offer to buy a round, we were off to McMichaels Pub in good old Gloucester City, New Jersey.
We pulled into the diminutive parking lot, only to find that there wasn’t a single available space. Zero and Papa Bear turned and stared at me. They both had a questioning look on their faces. I smiled and remained silent, waiting for the surprise to reveal itself. I directed them around the corner to a shady dirt lot. Zero gave an apprehensive look as he scanned the surrounding houses prepared to find a meth lab ready to blow. “Don’t worry, man,” I kept reassuring him, “It’s as safe as going to the Grog and Grill.” He shrugged his shoulders and slowly started towards the bar.
As we neared the front door, the music got louder, but not the familiar thump, thump, of club music. Instead, piano and guitar chords danced through the air as if we were entering a jazz hall. Zero looked at me. “What the hell is this, man?” said Zero. “What are we walking into?” added Papa Bear. I grinned at them, “Welcome to Open Mic Night, friends!” I had told Zero stories about some of the legendary McMichaels nights. With pure, unadulterated glee in his eyes, he questioned me, “Is this the one Michele does?” Zero was excited to finally meet Michele Karmin (IMDB), a close friend of mine, and love interest of many, who had been hosting the Open Mic Night for just over a year. He squinted his eyes and smiled. I’d never seen him like that before, we hurried inside.
As I opened the door, an overwhelming “JB is here!” rang out from just about everyone at the bar. After a handshake line fit for a king, we made our way to the bartender, who already had a tall, frosty beer waiting for me on the bar top; a wizard, much like our favorite bartender at the Grog and Grill. (Maybe it’s coincidence, but personally, I think it’s selective breeding.) I kept my promise and ordered a beer for Papa Bear and a Jack with a splash of Coke for Zero.
You see there’s something special about McMichaels. It has a classy feel in a town loaded with dive bars. The comfortable benches and warm red walls make you feel like you’re drinking at home. Hell, with everyone shouting my name and the positive enthusiasm that fills the bar, it’s easy to quickly call it a home away from home. So, after thanking the bartender, we took a seat at a table in the front of the performers.
Michele Karmin had just finished a set, other aspiring musicians played their favorite covers and a few originals. I had Michele take a seat with us. Zero, in his always smooth talking ways, immediately whipped out one of our stickers and asked if I had ever given her one. (Unfortunately, I had not.) She smiled. “So this is the site JB has been talking so much about?” said Michele. After some short banter back and forth, she took the sticker and slapped it right on the side of her kick drum. (the very one that accompanies her to every show) The night flew by as musicians played, and new friends were made. It was time to say goodnight to one of the few tame nights we’ve had in a while. I eagerly await the night I drink enough liquid courage to get in front of the mic to sing Rapper’s Delight again, yes again.
The Bottom Line:
|Hours: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Music: DJs | Live | Karaoke | Juke Box
|Price range: $$
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
|Dance floor: No
Outdoor area: No
Coat check: No
McMichaels is an absolute gem in a town known more for its rough women and plethora of dive bars. They have incredible food and drinks at great prices with beautiful waitresses to bring it all to you. Open Mic Night every Wednesday is a great way to see upcoming local talent trying to make a name for themselves and you can see live music most Fridays and Saturdays. Soon, they’re also opening their second floor with a stage and a full array of games, such as shuffleboard, pool and darts. Check them out any day of the week to get your local sports fix or just for a quick bite to eat. (I’d recommend the Mikey Manwich: a pork roll sandwich topped with cheese steak meat. It’s to die for.)
And for anyone wondering, I’m trying to convince them to play the Cheers theme song one week when we show up.
McMichael’s Pub & Grill
157 S. Burlington St
Gloucester City, NJ 08030
Michel Karmin is amazing. Check out her music!