Opening Up at Open Mic


For Dale Batoon, a pediatric resident at UW and an avid ukulele player, the open-mic nights at Innervisions in Seattle are a chance to connect with the local community on an intimate level. Every first Friday of the month, the vibrant poster and record store at 55th and University Way hosts an open mic for new and returning artists to showcase local music, poetry, and comedy. Batoon had not performed at Innervisions until April 5, when he took to the mic with his ukulele and a handful of original songs. 

Dale Batoon plays his ukulele at a tiny record store (photo by Cheyna Kiakona).

Batoon is relatively new to Seattle and has been providing healthcare to the community for just under two years as a pediatric doctor. As he continues to work on his residency, he is also trying to find more ways to connect to the people of the community. 

One way he does this is by attending the city’s art scene. “Music is such a wonderful thing that brings people from all sorts of walks of life and demographic backgrounds and cultural backgrounds together,” Batoon said. “So I think being at a music venue is an excellent way to be and feel like you’re a part of that community.” 

Batoon often attends open mics, not always to perform, at bars and restaurants across Seattle like Hopvine Pub and Skylark Café. He said each open mic has its own feel and flavor but at Innervisions, the focus is on the performance. According to the founder of the Innervisions open-mic night, Willi Miller, their setup has a feel like a free concert of local talent. “I definitely think it has a very unique flavor in the Seattle open-mic scene in the way that it’s a record store,” Miller said. 

Miller used to host an open mic night at a bar when he lived in his native Colorado. He thinks the food, drinks, and company can become distracting to the open mic night. At a poster and record store like Innervisions, there are no distractions. The space is surrounded by records, the Seattle-based art hanging on the walls, and trinkets like locally crafted candy bracelets. 

On open-mic nights, performers and watchers will help Miller move records and heavy poster racks from the front of the store to make room for the stage. The stage is a multicolored rug. “The way that everything is set up, the chairs, all the seating arrangements,” Batoon said, “it all just puts a highlight on the artist and the story that the artist has to tell.” 

For Batoon, many of his songs feature the story of being a Filipino American. He grew up in the Bronx, where he said he was a minority amongst minorities. His favorite song he has worked on is called “Story,” which chronicles the journey of his Filipino immigrant parents to the U.S. in the 1980s. “I do my best to connect those individual thoughts and journeys with a larger community,” Batoon explained, “whether that’s my family, whether that’s people with shared experiences.”

Miller will be hosting the next open mic night for Innervisions at 7 pm. on Friday, May 3. The sign-up sheet to perform opens at 6:30 pm.  Schedule of events is here. 

Cheyna Kiakona
Cheyna Kiakona
The writer is a UW Journalism News Lab reporter


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments Policy

Please be respectful. No personal attacks. Your comment should add something to the topic discussion or it will not be published. All comments are reviewed before being published. Comments are the opinions of their contributors and not those of Post alley or its editors.