Flint, MI– Flint City Hard Cider Co. has brought back their outdoor open mic nights after a brief hiatus with a unique new setup.

“We wanted it to feel like a winter wonderland,” said owner and head cider maker Charlie Burt.

Burt and the Flint City Hard Cider Co. team put together decorations including lights, Christmas trees, and a stage on wheels to transform their space into something that feels more inviting and unique than a standard set-up.

“I’m used to throwing shows and doing things of this nature,” Burt said. “We knew we needed to be creative and very conscious of the times and everything we’re trying to do here, and really do a good job of keeping everybody safe while being social.”

Flint City Hard Cider partnered with the “What’s Up Downtown” project to help facilitate their idea, including using a bus as the open mic stage.

“We were actually able to get a grant to be able to do some of the outdoor decoration and pay musicians,” Burt said. He said this was what kickstarted their ideas.

Helping keep the music scene alive was a major part of what appealed to Burt. He began playing music and going to shows at the Flint Local 432 when he was twelve, which he said was a major reason he wanted to be in Flint.

“Being able to look down the road years later, even though I’m not currently playing, and facilitating shows today is the coolest thing,” he said.

“We know a lot of other bars would just rather not do anything at the moment. …We were in a spot where we needed to, so we could keep the lights on.”

Local musician Robb Anthony hosts the open mic night. Anthony helped run the sound for the outdoor shows at Flint City Hard Cider last summer, which led to him taking over as host when the shows returned.

Anthony also plays occasionally at the open mics, performing songs from his band, The Dead Serious.

“When I come here, it’s nice because it lets me experiment with new stuff,” he said.

Anthony said he encourages musicians, poets, stand-up comedians, and performers of all kinds to participate regardless of what level they’re at.

“If it’s something people are passionate about you’ll have a good performance,” he said. “I try to instill that confidence in people that sometimes don’t have it themselves.”

Burt and Anthony are both looking ahead to the future when shows and venues can reclaim a level of normalcy.

“We’ve got a lot of talent in this city,” Burt said. “We can’t wait to be able to safely pack the venue and cidery and taproom.”

Burt said he’s grateful to the community for their support and following of guidelines. “The feedback from the community has been really awesome,” he said. “We’ve been able to keep everybody safe and occupied and with a hot cider in their hand.”

Burt said they have a responsibility to take of each other and the community, and that he’s willing to be creative to make sure their shows can happen smooth and safely.

“One way I can take care of people is utilizing what I have and showing them a good safe time,” he said.

Open mic nights are on Thursdays from 7:30-9:30 pm. Performers looking to sign up should message Flint City Hard Cider Co. on Facebook and refer to the event page each week.