MOTR’s Writer’s Night Is Freedom of Expression

MOTR’s weekly Writer’s Night turns the OTR live-music watering hole into an open stage, where all the men and women are merely players.

Chris Schadler was sick of the same old tired cover tunes at his weekly open mic nights—damn you, Hootie & the Blowfish!—so he flipped the script while working at Southgate House in 2000, requiring all open mic participants to perform original work. He wanted to give local artists a stage to try out new material, tweak ideas, and get feedback, with the overall goal of “cultivating culture.” In 2010, when he opened MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine—with business partner Dan McCabe—he rebranded this weekly creative gathering as “Writer’s Night,” an open mic forum that encourages not only music, but any spoken-word performances. Schadler practices what he preaches, too; a member of the local band Fists of Love, he will occasionally test out his new material on stage.

MOTR’s Writer’s Night

Illustration by Sam Island

MOTR hosts Writer’s Night every Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on the main stage. Performers must show up a half-hour early to sign in, and each act gets no more than 10 minutes. At the end of the night, one artist (chosen at random) receives a cash prize.

You’ll see singer/songwriters, comedians, spoken-work artists, bits of plays, magic tricks—basically, anything goes, as long as it’s an original idea. (In other words, no Hootie.) The vibe can range from intense and emotional to pure slapstick.

Five years in, this creative exchange has developed into a breeding ground for local talent—for Schadler as well, who met one of MOTR’s current bartenders through the Writer’s Night. It’s gone over well enough that more specific monthly factions have cropped up, including a poetry night called “Word of Mouth” hosted in the pub’s basement and comedy-only shows known as “MOTR Mouth.” “The biggest thing you can do for art and the music scene is to make it super easy to perform,” says Schadler. “We invite people to come in, we pay them, we take care of sound—they just have to promote their show and rock it.”

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