Lewiston's Brickyard Pub will serve more than drinks and ribs on the next several Monday nights.

It also will serve "Toast and Jam," a big helping of open-mic community entertainment in a relaxing coffeehouse atmosphere.

Toast and Jam, a six-week series sponsored by the Lewiston Council on the Arts, returns from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday and continues through March 19.

The Brickyard Pub is on the village's main drag at 432 Center St.

Event coordinator Kathryn Serianni said that she has been involved with the Lewiston Council on the Arts for quite a while and that Toast and Jam is one of her favorite events.

"I was slowly drawn into Toast and Jam," Serianni said. "Professional musicians can try out new material, and, because Mondays are slow nights, they don't have to turn down a paying job. Musicians with similar styles have even gone on to collaborate."

Serianni said nonprofessionals also are welcome to take to the stage.

"It's kind of like modern-day vaudeville," she said. "You never know what you're going to get -- jokes, poetry, and one time we even had dancers."

She said acoustic guitarists remain the most popular performers.

Each performer gets about 10 minutes on stage.

Niagara County Community College student David Nols has been among the regulars in recent years. He said he enjoys the warmth of the local audience.

"People actually listen to you play," he said. "I've been writing some of my own stuff, and [Toast and Jam provides] a good audience."

He said he plans to come back as often as he can.

Peggy Silvestri and her 15-year-old daughter, Alex, have been coming to Toast and Jam since Alex was 13. They bring a variety of instruments and musical styles.

"We like to play, and it's a good venue without a lot of pressure," Peggy Silvestri said.

Alex and her older sister, Katie, who is now at Fredonia State College as a music major, have shared the stage with their mom and with each other.

"We really like three-part harmonies," Peggy Silvestri said. "It's a good way for a young musician to get used to performing on stage and get over stage fright."

The audience for the performers expands beyond the Lewiston pub. That's because Lockport Community Television has been videotaping the performers and airs the performances several times a week, all year long.

But the most important audience is the fans and fellow performers who come to sessions each Monday.

"There's just a [good] feeling in the room," Serianni said. "There's no heckling. I've been to other open mics, and that's not always the case. Here, there is a vibe that people are really rooting for you."

Toast and Jam is hosted each week by Dale Campbell, who Serianni said can fill on a slow night, but she said there are a lot of talented people who love to play, which has contributed to the continuing success of the sessions.

Those looking to perform are asked to show up and wait their turn.

Eva Nicklas of the Lewiston Council on the Arts said the site at the Brickyard gives performers a bit of privacy in the back room, but she adds, "We're close enough to the bar for performers to get a 'cup of bravery' before they go on. It's the perfect set-up."

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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