San Diego Open Mic Review: Train of Thought, at Queen Bee’s

Two hundred feet north of where Ohio Street intersects University Avenue, is Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center.

On Tuesday nights, host Gill Sotu, and DJ Redlite put on Train of Thought, “an all inclusive open mic experience. We are a family of poets, storytellers, singers, songwriters, comedians, musicians.”

It’s true.

Doors open at 8:30pm. If you want to play, tell the lady at the cash register and she’ll put your name on the list. She was really nice, and explained how it all worked. (More on that in a second.)

If you just want to watch, that’s cool too. Either way, it’s five bucks. This is one of San Diego’s few open mics that costs you money to play. Don’t look at it as paying to play though; it’s a cover to get to see all the other talented performers.

And there are plenty.

How It Works

Some people get to play in the order their name is written down, and other people are picked to play at random. You never know when you’re going to be called, so it keeps you paying attention. Be ready.

The craziest part is that you only get six minutes to play! You can shoehorn a couple short songs together, or take your time with just one (that’s what I did).

When Gill calls you up, first timers need to dance a bit when DJ Redlite drops the beat. This was my first time at Queen Bee/Train of Thought, so I went with my standby move: The Stanky Leg.

It was a hit.

Gill and his team really make you feel supported. They lead the crowd in a “We got you!” cheer, and are super nice.

Like I said, you get six minutes to play. At five and a half minutes, Redlite scratches a couple times so you know to hurry your ass up! I never saw anyone get the scratch-warning.

Remember to watch your mouth. This is an all ages show.

The Location

Queen Bee’s is built like a grade-school cafeteria. It’s a large room with a stage on one end. There’s even a glass-door fridge with refreshments for sale…non-alcoholic of course.

There are chandeliers and velvet banners. There are rows of comfy armchairs lined up facing the stage. If those fill up, there are folding chairs in the back, and two-top high-chair tables set running along the East wall.

Right above the tables is an intriguing painting series. I noted some of my favorites while I was waiting for the show to start:

— standard werewolf
— a woman wearing a serpent as a scarf
— guy playing saxophone made out of a squid tentacle

Finally, the sound system is killer; Redlite makes the whole place feel like a unique nightclub.

The Crowd

Super cool. Really cool. Everyone was attentive. Quiet. Supportive. Participatory. And a quarter of spectators are street poets or some other wordsmithy type. These dudes (and lady) know how to freestyle & flow, and will impress the hell out of you.

I’d say there were 37 people in the room. Total.


It would be nice if Train of Thought went in a certain order so people can be ready to play at the right time. If you hit up the restroom, you might miss your name being called. That sucks. Especially if you waited nearly two hours to play.

Other than that, Gill & Redlite & Train of Thought is a worthwhile show to see, to play or to do both. Check it out on Tuesdays.

Contact Info:
Queen Bee’s | 3925 Ohio Street | San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 255-5147

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