DIY music: Get out there and sing it!

Think you've got what it takes to thrill an audience? Charlottesville has some fun ways that those with musical aspirations–– but without a back-up band or regular gig–– can take to the stage.

Sam Wilson, Michael Clem, Brian Caputo, Carl Anderson, Ellen Picker On Monday nights, singer/songwriters flock to The Local in Belmont for one of this town's best open mic nights. Backed by various local musicians including esteemed bass player Michael Clem of the Michael Clem Trio and Eddie From Ohio, up-and-comers test out their material and sometimes launch their own local music career– just ask country crooner Ashley McMillen, who moved to town and performed there two years ago, thereby winning fans and finding her own band.

J.D. D'errico and Drex Weaver jam at Live Karaoke. For those who prefer to croon to someone else's tune, there's Live Karaoke every other Thursday night at Fellini's #9. Forget canned back-up music as you follow the bouncing ball over lyrics to hit songs– this event features stellar local musicians playing back-up to make you feel like a rock star for at least one night.

2012 Paramount Idol winner, Jennifer Stuart, center, gets introduced to the masses via the 10pm Newsplex broadcast by Tara Wheeler with radio deejay P.J. Styles. And for those who really think they've got what it takes, there's the second Paramount Idol event. Open auditions are Saturday, April 27 at 9am– check-in is at 8:30– and participation is free but limited to the first 500 people to register. Minimum age is 15, and anyone under 18 needs written parental permission. A second round of auditions happens the same afternoon for those called back after morning try-outs. The live finale takes place May 17 at the Paramount, and the winner gets a slew of prizes, including a consultation with Red Light Management exec and ATO Records partner Bruce Flohr, a professional recording session, as well as a guaranteed performance at the Paramount sometime in the next year. And that's in addition to the cash prizes– $1,000 for first place, $500 for second, and $250 for third. Last year's winner, Jennifer Stuart, went on to big things in the year after her victory, including performing with former En Vogue member Maxine Jones in Las Vegas.