Hellgate open mic 9/23/15

These are the nights I will remember when I can barely remember anymore.

9/23/15. Great night @ Hellgate on the park in Astoria, Queens. My open mic had another night of talented artists, of varying styles, individually fantastic. As usual, we had some unexpected difficulty, and some great spontaneity intertwine with the fabulous performances. All in all, another night that I was glad to be a part of. This mic is getting bigger and better, and I am just glad that I can be there to share it with you.

Next one is tomorrow night, and I can’t wait! Hope to see some new faces out there, as well as those that I am comforted in knowing :). Check out some clips:

Justin Howard (me):

Kyle Rogers

Ben Absurdo

Billy Conahan


Pete, Julia and the gang, this is a completely spontaneous version of this song. It was a fun, fantastic cluster-fuck, and we were all who-knows-where by the end. Pure open mic magic.

Andy Sydor

Rich Lovina

Another great time in the books. Thank you to my lovely life-mate Evelyn for all of her help. She is the greatest. And thank you to Paddy, Andy and the rest of the guys @ Hellgate for giving us a place to express ourselves. Until next time.

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive (Justin)

My new Open Mic @ Hellgate on the Park! Clips from 9/16

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9/9 marked my triumphant return to the Open mic scene in Astoria, Queens. Sadly/happily, there was no video recording equipment that night, and so those memories must remain in our brains/hearts. It was an exceptional kick-off, at a new home not far from my last open mic (around the block in fact). The new place is better, bigger, and has a very warm atmosphere. It also has a dope-ass backyard for people to chill and drink and smoke. With fall here, it’s perfect. There has been so much great art shown, and there is going to be much more in the future. Our performers are some of the most talented individuals I have come across. I am so grateful to have such a place, and to be surrounded by such people.

9/16/15, we did indeed have recording equipment, and captured some really amazing performances. Varying styles were displayed, each one tremendous in its own right. God damn these artists are good.

To get it started, Erich Rastetter (my fellow Owl) and I played some originals, some covers, and I decided to share with you our cover of Neil Young’s Harvest moon. I hope you enjoy it.

Next, a hilarious joke by Joanie, who would occasionally step up and tell one throughout the evening. Believe it or not, this is the tamer of the jokes she told. “Yo babe, how much you charge for a lay?”. I CANNOT stop laughing right now.

Wow, this was full of energy. As I am writing this, I am feeling the entire room and how everyone got into it. Here is Zach Fineblum, with me initially and then most of the crowd by the end, with Don’t Let Me Down, by The Beatles. Fantastic job by Zach, and great spontaneity!

Billy Conahan came up next, a.k.a. Chilly Bonahan a.k.a. Millie Monogram (sorry Billy lol). Schooling us proper on that hip hip. Gotta love him.

The bluesman, as I enjoy referring to him as, Matt Loguidice followed Billy. Every time I see this guy my jaw drops. His riffs are so tight, his voice so soulful. Watch this man set fires.

Marissa Dwyer, a singer/songwriter whose writing comes from a place of raw and emotional truth. You can feel it on her voice as you take in the lyrics. Pete O’Neill provided great backing bass, and gave the song a huge presence with his wonderful backing vocals.

A smooth transition right into a solo Pete O’Neill, giving us an original bass arrangement. Check out the harmonies he is creating, and the intricate design of these melodies. They are truly impressive, and dance in and out of your ears in a most enjoyable way. Really good stuff.

Lastly, my favorite closer EVER, Andy Sydor. He’s better than Mariano Rivera. Here he is calmly and powerfully sending us off into the night. His voice gets inside you, the honesty in it. The sound of those nylons strings, just perfectly matching. He is my folk hero. Who’s Bob Dylan?

What a night! We are back in two days on the 23rd, so I hope to see more people out there, both on and off stage. Thank you to the audience, Igor, Andy #2 (bartender) and Hellgate on the park’s owner, Paddy.

Oh and here is Zach Fineblum and I being whales. Just because.

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive (Justin)

Clips from the Open Mic @ Astoria Beer and Brew 6/24/15



I have not been blogging much as of late, but I wanted to share this night of performance with you. It was just that incredible. On this historical evening, we had six, yes, SIX hysterically funny comedians. The rest of the night was an eclectic mix of some of the most talented musicians around Astoria, and in fact well beyond…check out these fantastic acts…I love you all and hope to be graced with your light again soon!

The Repressions

Ben Absurdo

Zach Fineblum

Evan Jones

Kyle Rogers

Tyler CLifford


Sam The Destroyer

Carolyne Gallo

Sam Rasiotis

Andy Sydor

Narinder Singh

Jordan Rothstein

Billy Conahan, who for some reason was not given a thumbnail by Youtube :/


Omar Scruggs

I have to say, it was one of the best evenings we’ve had as far as the talent that came through. I am humbled to be in the presence of such great. I want to thank Astoria Beer and Brew as always, for giving us this place to express our art. I also want to thank the wonderfully beautiful and talented Evelyn Choua, love and light of my life for helping with the camera work, and baking such delicious cupcakes for all to enjoy, that without which we may never be tardy.

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive

Open Mic @ Astoria Beer and Brew 4/29/15


This is my second posting for today, so I will keep it short and to the point ūüôā

Last week’s open mic kept our streak of fantastic artistry going strong. I love to be able to constantly see new and exciting talent weaving into our web and to see recurring artists grow and expand. It feels incredible to be a part of something so grand. Here are some clips from the night:

I started the night, here is a clip of me performing Melt With You by Modern English:

After me, The Mountain Men Steven and John with a great folk-ey original:

Next up, never repressed, The Repressions, Barbara Dragun and Ben Absurdo:

Immediate shift into philosoraptor Ben Absurdo for his solo act:

Bluesman Matt Loguidice and a soulfull original:

After Matt, we had Andy Sydor doing a cover of Country Roads, which EVERYONE got into:

One of Canada’s finest, Leah Oster was the last to grace our stage. What a voice:

Another unforgettable evening at the fantastic Astoria Beer and Brew. As always, much love to a great friend, Rodrigo Urbieta, for allowing us this space in space.

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive

Performance clips from the Astoria Beer and Brew Open Mic 4/21/15 (and my return to blogging)

The last few months were a bit rough for me. At the end of February, I developed an infection in my small intestines/colon that left me with severe cramps any time I ate. I was decently debilitated, and had to cancel shows for the next month. I was still hosting the mic, but just couldn’t handle sorting through/putting up some clips. We had some AMAZING performances from so many great artists during that time, and though I don’t have clips of them I will keep their performances in my musician’s soul.

That being said, I am back at it. Two weeks late but I’m getting there. We had a great night this past Tuesday, it’s getting warmer out and people’s art is wanting to make its way into the ether. It was Andrew’s birthday, and my wonderful girlfriend, Evelyn, baked him some vegan cupcakes (since Andrew is a vegan), which were delicious and enjoyed by all. These shows are incredible and FREE. If you don’t want to come out to to perform because you don’t or do and aren’t ready to just yet, you should definitely come to check out our talent. Here are¬†some clips from these wonderful performers:

Matt Loguidice, my favorite blues man, and one of the truest. His playing seems to come with ease, and from a place of real honesty.

Ben Absurdo Schooling you on telling girls to smile, and all-out smashing your face with his Acoustic Punk Philosophy.

Marissa Dwyer, with her voice hauntingly beautiful, really giving you her soul. Listen, and you’ll feel it.

Billy Conahan¬†closing out our night, giving us that high-energy and waking up the neighbors. This dude is unbelievable, trust you’ll hear his name for a long time.

I am glad to be back into the swing of things Рplaying shows, getting out there and involved. We had another great night last night. Clips of those performances will be up within the next few days. I want to thank Rodrigo Urbieta, the propeietor of the wonderful Astoria Beer and Brew, and everyone who comes out to perform, listen, and show support for live music. You keep me going.

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive

Performance clips from Astoria Beer and Brew Open Mic 2/18/15

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As with my last post, I have been really short on time this past week. The night at Beer and Brew was incredible. We had a huge amount of talent in such a small room. We had two comedians who were hilarious. Check out all the clips:

Matt Loguidice started the night off with a guitar he custom-rigged to bring us the blues in a way that only he can. His style brought us all back to another time in music history:

Up next was Brandon Glascow whose name I cannot, for the life of me, pronounce without the thickest Scottish accent. His voice carries a rasp and a certain assurance that everything will be ok. Women were fanning away at hidden tears at this song:

“500 Miles” got the¬†Andy Sydor folk treatment as he¬†introduced many of us to a 60’s gem. There must be a way to get Andy to sing us all to sleep. His voice is so comforting and loving you can’t help but be taken by it:

Brad Belanger ripped into the crowd next, bringing high energy and world of laughs Рfor us and himself. He was so funny he had himself laughing, which made us laugh even harder.

Tyler Clifford, our favorite foul-mouthed Canadian comedian turned out to be a great comedian as well as a really good storyteller. We were all mesmerized by his fantastic stories and his amazing accents:

What ever did happen to the bookstore? The Repressions wake you up to reality and make you want to go out there and support small businesses and art. Art not found on your phone. Barbara’s energy and voice really gets the crowd’s attention:

Ben Absurdo rips into our consciousness and reminds us that we don’t need to be part of the machine. His act always has the crowd’s attention to the point where he has everyone yelling along with him. Viva la revolucion!:

With a voice both loud and soft, Zach Fineblum plays us a more upbeat ditty and prompts us all to join him. And join him we did, complete with harmony: 

Last time he came around, Michael Perrelli played songs that left us laughing so hard we were practically in tears. This time he played a more serious set and really showed off his pipes. His voice is very powerful and can really push through those ranges:

We keep having a consistent level of talent, and the energy is always vibrant and positive. Simply love this place, and hope that you come by and check us out and become a part of it! Find me on Facebook for event details for this and others ūüôā

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive

Performance clips from Shillelagh Tavern Open Mic 2/17/15


We had wonderful performances by the following great talent this past week at Shills. A bit of a shorter list of performers due to New York’s evil attempt to bring us all back into the Ice Age.

The Repressions¬†played a song that is so catchy I found myself singing the chorus the next day. They’ve got a certain energy about them that makes you want to get up and move:

This week we were privileged enough to bear witness to a new song by Ben Absurdo:

A newcomer to both Shills and New York, Laura Keim‘s voice took us to a place from whence she came and it was moving. Her voice was robust and enchanting – you need to hear it for yourself:

Billy Conahan, the most cunning of linguists, had us bouncing from story to story, intricately weaved and mastered:

“Always Be Closing”¬†Andy Sydor¬†floated us on to our beddy-bye with his soothing voice and sweet presence. Let him take you away:

The night was great, as per usual, and packed with talent. Hope to see some more of your faces out there in the future!

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive