Category Archives: open mic

Cluster-F averted at the Open Mic @ The Shil 1/13/15


Billy working the soundboard with his hetero life-mate Homeboy Hummus at his side. Photobomb courtesy of Rick Rocker, who Danielsan crane-kicked his way into the shot.

Open Mic signup begins at 9PM. 3PM I receive a text. Christian, one of our two sound engineers would not be able to make it. Our second engineer, Miles, was infirmed and hence would not be able to fill in. Zoinks. This has happened in the past, so I put my big boy underoos on (yes, the ones with the Spider-Man print on them), and got ready for the evening. I was, of course expecting a clusterfuck, but encountered nothing of the sort. I asked the Lord above (or below), and thus delivered upon me was the assistance for which I implored in the form of Billy Conahan. He showed up and my anxiety ceased. I knew Billy and I could handle this shit. So we both did some engineering that night, and he spun some tunes in between acts as well, as evidenced in the above photo.

Cluster-f avoided, we proceeded to have another fantastic open mic. I played a few songs. I was still under the weather, and battled my way through three tunes:

Homeward Found (original)

Come on Home (original)

Harvest Moon (Neil Young cover)

The two originals can be heard, as demos, on my Sound Cloud:

This is where the fun always starts – we begin with what is essentially a clean slate each night. Although we have a few regulars, each night continues to be unique and unexpected, and I love watching/having this variety of interaction with these artists. It is probably my favorite part of it all. I love people. And I love people being supportive people. It is one of the more beautiful things to observe in life. I love viewing art just as much, if not even more than I enjoy making it.

Round one went to the lovely Liverpudlian (Liverpool) Dogstar Rose, hailing from that wonderful little city across the pond. She had graced many stages since arriving in NYC, and we were lucky to have her that night. I was instantly enthralled by her music, and could sense the punk that wanted to seep its way through her Taylor acoustic. Her song Thin Disguise, with it’s eerily beautiful guitar riffs was powerful in message, having been written “For all women”; stated so by Ms. Rose. She plays in a band back in the UK called Futurejack. Be sure to check out her Facebook, and her Blog. Here is a clip of her performing a great original tune:

We are not typically a comedy open mic, but we made an exception for Andy Nadler, better known as Peter Pan. He gave us 10 minutes of very amusing material, interacting well with the crowd.

Matt Loguidice followed, playing awesome slide guitar on a beautiful resonator. Nimble fingers, and an authentic blues feel had the audience silently listening. At times, it looks like magic. I absolutely adore this play style. Check him out, slip sliding all over that fret-board, with the finesse of a surgeon:

Check out his SoundCloud, he has some really fantastic stuff on there.

At this point, Billy Conahan and I switched places and I got behind the soundboard while he hopped down to the stage, and in typical fashion, rocked house. Little needs to be said, much needs to be watched. His Facebook has links to all of the places you should be visiting to hear his stuff. Hear ye:

Next up, my main man. The one, the only: Andy Sydor. He played a great cover of a song by Tom Waits (the name escapes me and I am far too lazy to leave this page to make a Google on it). Feast your ears upon his folk stylings:

Therapy returned for another performance of songs full of haunting emotion. You can really hear the soul within the voice and lyrics of her songs, and the accompanying guitar creates the atmosphere for them to flourish. They are very new on the scene, and I look forward to seeing their progression. Here is one of their originals, Story:

Nessa Dove was a first-timer at my open mic, and I am hoping she is not a last-timer. Another soul-filled voice, soft at times and powerful at others. I really enjoyed her performance, and loved the accompaniment by Matt Loguidice as well as her fantastic guitar playing. I cannot get YouTube to amend the thumbnail, I apologize for it’s skewed-ness.

Rick Rocker, you know the name. Check out his stuff at, better yet get out to see him. He is a high energy performance waiting to be seen. This is one of his more reserved originals, perhaps for the lovers and the ladies ;):

After Rick finished, we had a friend of Billy’s, and a PHENOMENAL violinist, not get up and play the violin, but instead, provide us with 10 minutes of completely off the cuff, segue-less improv that had us all laughing our asses off. It was completely spur of the moment, and Homeboy Hummus was funny as hell. We are a music only open mic, so don’t get any ideas ;).

To finish the night, we had Brendan Smith who began with the disclaimer that he is a drummer, and a fantastic one at that. His Facebook has links to all things drumming. But that night he was there with a guitar, and closed us out with some great 90’s covers. Check out his rendition of Plush by Stone Temple Pilots.

These nights keep seeming to flow perfectly. You are only getting to see one song per performer, but they each did 3 total. It made for a night full of wonderfully eclectic music, and good times with good people. Together we all create this great energy and atmosphere, and it seems continuous. Another one in the books, and another one coming up in a few days. Can’t wait.

Thanks to Rusty as always, and to The Shillelagh Tavern for allowing us a space to exhibit our individual arts. It’s a very good thing.

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive

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Shils Open Mic 12/30/14


12/30/14. Last open mic of the year, and the lineup of talented artists was inspiring to say the least. The attendance was excellent, and this momentum must continue thus! Here we come 2015, see you on the 6th!


I played a few songs to initiate our art-fueled ceremony, including:

Breathe (original)
Friday I’m in Love (The Cure cover)
Homeward Found (original)
All I Need is the Air That I Breathe (The Hollies cover)

First up in our proverbial domino effect of talent, was Thomas. I’d heard him play before, and was met this time with the same alt-rock style that I remember. His sound takes me way back to the 90’s, a wonderful yet confusing time for all. It rings with a grunge/punk sound that I just love. I am a big fan of the dissonance he utilizes here:

Next up, the triumphant return of Rabia Waters. This was their second time at Shils, and their second time performing on stage. Marvin intensified the crowd once again with his flawless guitar playing, accompanied by his great vocals, kept packed tightly by the flailing sticks of his drummer, Kevin. Check them out:

Third on our list, was an immense talent in the way of Janene Otten. She hosted the Mic before passing on the torch to me, I was so glad to have her grace our stage again. She didn’t have her acoustic, and so had to borrow an electric from a friend. I had never heard her on electric, so I was stoked. Her voice contains so much power and subtlety.

Next we had some guys that I’ve heard before in different facets, with different bands and such. That night, they came together to form Space Jump Live!. There really isn’t anything needed to be said about these guys, beyond the fact that they absolutely rock. Their high energy met with their groove, and got the crowd moving. Good ol’ clean rock. Check it:

The lineup was going perfectly, and we were next met with Alex. He brought a blend of fingerpicking, with a hint of slapping and a control of vocals not often seen. Soft at times, and powerful at others, it was evident that he really had a grasp on his craft. I love the soul of his voice. Oh, and as you’ll see in the next post, he is a phenomenal drummer. Listen to a brief clip:

Our sound engineer that night was Christian. He is a fantastic talent when behind OR in front of a soundboard. He did a few songs, beautifully ethereal and ambient, with accompaniment from his iPhone, which Tara used when they came together as The Musical!.

In this clip, you will hear him accompanied by Alex on drums:

And here he is, along with Tara:

She padded his playing very ambient pads, powerfully driven by a tiny iPhone. Don’t you just love technology?

With two more acts to go, we welcomed one of my faves, Andy Sydor. He came up and told us stories with his voice, as I’ve said before Harry-Chapin-esque in nature. I really love to watch this guy perform. It’s just one of those feelings, when you see someone where they are supposed to be.

Last but not least, an old friend stopped by that I had not seen in more than a decade. She has recently entered into the world of singing/songwriting, and I was excited to have her and her partner perform for the first time on our stage. Here is Therapy, with Karen and Tim. They were great, and I can’t wait to be a witness to their progression.

What’s more to be said besides the fact that the night was PACKED with talent. Filled with beautiful people sharing their equally beautiful art with us. Taking it from their souls, and putting it into the world. There is nothing better than that. It is to show one’s true self, and I get to be witness to it, and I am perpetually grateful for that. I am where I want to be, and that is the most important thing in life.

Rick Rocker got called to into the line of duty, and had to run out before he got a chance to grace our stage, but he managed to get in a win against Andy in Foosball, much to the chagrin of Bobby Bocher’s mother.


Thanks to Rusty and The Shillelagh Tavern for having me host, and to Christian for doing an excellent job behind the soundboard. It was a great night.

Light and Harmony.

-Owls for Olive

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Justin Howard Presents Open Mic Tuesdays at Shillelagh Tavern

All musicians of all genres are welcome – seasoned pros and first-timers alike. Come play in an open, supportive environment with a stage and enough room to invite everyone you know! Sign up is free and starts at 8:30PM. Be sure to mention the host’s name Justin Howard / Owls for Olive when arriving. For questions, email

Shillelagh Tavern
4722 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103
Every Tuesday night
8:30PM signup

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