Tag Archives: justin howard

Debut Open Mic Night @ Astoria Beer and Brew 1/7/15


Last Wednesday night, a night so cold that it would freeze even Frosty’s snowballs, and a momentous occasion. The premier of the open mic night (Which I host) @ Astoria Beer and Brew, (my favorite haunt). I was beyond excited for the evening, and had already received attendee replies from several extremely talented people. I held hope that Old Man Winter wasn’t going win out and keep everyone in. He didn’t win. And what followed was an incredible evening.

For this show I use my own mixer, so I am “engineering” as well as hosting/performing. I got everything set up and said a few words, performed a few songs. I did:

Riptide (Vance Joy cover)
Uncommon Scents (original)
Play Pretend (original)

I may post some of my performances in separate blogs at some point, but I want this to be focused on the talent that we are showcasing. And the talent was stacked. I have been fighting a gnarly sinus/flu/ebola deal for the better part of two weeks now, so I am going to have to keep my words a bit short. I will let the performances speak for themselves.

I typically will edit clips to be shorter, or take shorter clips. This time, I’m just posting entire songs. It’s mostly due to having no energy, and having to leave shortly to host another open mic night. So here we go:

Lead off hitter was Billy Conahan, be sure to check out his Facebook and his Website. This guy is an enormous talent, as both a singer/songwriter and a hip hop artist. I’ve seen him do both, and he’s blown me away each time. The dude is unstoppable, watch for him in the future. Listen to him here, with Nicole Gough who absolutely killed it with vocals on the hook:

Second up, came a man of legend, Kyle Horn. He plays finger-style, and slap-taps the guitar (and himself) with amazing dexterity. His original melodies, dissonant and ringing, come together perfectly with the drumming he is creating in the midst of all this madness. Watch Hulk smash, but don’t blink or you may miss something:

Henry Colle. Please listen to this entire song. He is so good. Incredible voice and guitar playing. I strive for this kind of talent, and it gives me chills when I am met with it. Just really listen. Did I say that I wanted you to hear him?

After Henry came one of those moments, where people come into quick contact with one another, share something amazing, and then they part, perhaps never to meet again. Demier the Drifter, self proclaimed, came into our open mic and blew us away with his truly authentic folk stylings. He brought me back to days that I never knew, channeling that vibe throughout his songs. Check him out:

Nicole Gough stepped up to the mic again, this time for an unbelievable set, accompanied on guitar by Henry Colle. My jaw dropped during this beautiful cover of The A- Team by Ed Sheeran, further accompanied by Maya on vocals. Be prepared for some harmony people, it’s f-ing serious. The trio really put us over the top.

After them came my good friend Andy Sydor. If you’ve been following my blog, Andy and I play at the same places typically once or twice a week. This week, I wanted to share this original of his that I LOVE. I could close my eyes and listen to him all day. He really is one of my favorites.

At the end of the night was something that we were trying for the first time at Beer and Brew, an acoustic piano act. We did our best to mic the piano as well as the vocals and I love the result. I had to move the camera mid performance, as the 3 of us trying to get the sound right blocked the camera, which ended in some shoddy camera work. The perfect ending to a perfect night, Audrey graces the piano for us:

The first Open Mic night @ Astoria Beer and Brew could not have gone better. THanks to all of the wonderful performers who helped make the night as special as it was. Thank you so much to Rodrigo, the proprietor, for allowing us to play at his fine establishment. I love it there, you should come check it/us out! Next open mic is on the 21st!

Keep supporting live music!

Light and Harmony

-Owls for Olive

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Holidays, X-Mas, War, Lennon, Ono and Peace


I hope everyone out here had a peaceful holiday season, whatever faith you may follow (even if none). I got a few gifts, gave a few gifts, and saw some family that I hadn’t in a while. Feeling I had still more to give, I decided to record this cover of a song from a man who’s message, words, and inspiration will live on long after we all are gone. Here I give you Happy X-Mas (War is Over), by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I hope it fills you with the same hope and love I feel when I hear it.

I envision that one day this song will cease to be Christmas specific, and one we will sing in celebration of the fact that there is no more war. Imagine.

Light and harmony

-Owls for Olive

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Show at Astoria Beer and Brew 12/19


Astoria Beer and Brew. An unassuming little spot in northern Queens, nestled comfortably in the grand shadow of the Triboro (RFK) bridge. You walk into this place and you are immediately drawn into its intensely chill atmosphere. The industrial/vintage style decor lends a hand at creating an environment that is both extremely inviting and interesting. The proprietor of this fine establishment, Rodrigo, is (with a simple yet perfect description) a great guy. He really cares about his place, and its patrons. He cares about the acts that he has perform there as well. They have delectable food to accompany the wonderful selection of wines and brews. You should make a pilgrimage at some point to check us out, if it’s while I am performing or not is up to you :).

I’ve been playing here regularly, solo shows beginning back in June when I played as part of the Make Music NY Festival running that weekend. I immediately fell in love with the place. The love seemed reciprocal, as Rodrigo asked me to play there every other week from then until basically whenever. I have been playing there almost to that exact frequency since then.

The sound at this place is fantastic, in fact all but one of my YouTube videos were filmed there (using a cellphone camera for lack of something better). Even through a cellphone mic, the sound is phenomenal. Check out some vids here:

Owls for Olive YouTube

I played a show last Friday night, and it went incredibly well. I went through my tunes without a hitch, and kept the crowd engaged the entire time. The harmonies and guitar melodies were flowing in rivers, converging into a wonderful mix aided by the JBL system that is concealed within the room. It seems as if the sound is coming from everywhere. It is really something to be heard.

Here’s my set list:

First Set, Electric

We Are Going to be Friends – White Stripes
Kids – MGMT
Breathe – Original
A Million Years – The Grass Roots
Homeward Found – Original
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has flown)- The Beatles
Demons – Imagine Dragons
Almost Enough – Original
All I Need is the Air That I Breathe – The Hollies
All of Me – John Legend
Speak Your Name – Original
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley version
Friday I’m in Love – The Cure

That set finished off so sweetly. I sing the cover of Friday 3 steps above the great Robert Smith (capo on the 6th fret), in a soft falsetto. This is a complete juxtaposition to the previous song, Hallelujah, which is filled with emotional rasp, and some powerful wailing.

The second set, which is Acoustic went as follows:

Riptide – Vance Joy
I’ve Just Seen a Face – The Beatles
Play Pretend – Original
Melt With You – Modern English
Your Pride – Original
Who Did That to You? – John Legend (Django Unchained Soundtrack)
This Year’s Love – David Gray
Hard Truths – Original
Jealous Guy – John Lennon
Come on Home – Original
Harvest Moon – Neil Young

I love the rise and fall of this set, the wax and wane. Some songs are so soft and would lull the crowd, only to jolt them awake with something like “Who Did That to You?”. I like my sets AND my music to contain crescendos. Since it was Christmas, I wanted to do two sing-alongs, and thus began my favorite part of the evening. I played two covers:

Merry X-Mas War is Over – John Lennon and Yoko Ono
O Holy Night – Traditional

I never expected to have such a group of singers in the crowd. Rising harmonies, powerfully bouncing about everywhere, and people really feeling connected. The background to War is Over were excellent, alternating with my lead vocals. I got chills by the each time we hit the chorus on O, Holy Night. It was spontaneous, and real. It was wonderful. It is why I do what I do.

The night completely warmed my heart, and made this, my last show of the year, quite possibly the best show I’ve ever played. Thank you to Astoria Beer and Brew for allowing me to grace their wonderful establishment. You are a good man, Charlie Brown (Rodrigo Urbierta).

Check out A B&B at 21-76 21st Street, Queens, NY 11105. They are off the corner of 21st and Ditmars. You won’t be disappointed at this Astoria gem.

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Harvest Moon (Neil Young Cover)

It’s Sunday. It’s cold here in NYC, we’ve got the wind blowing in from every direction, somehow from both above and below. But you know what always warms me up? Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, that’s what! Enjoy 🙂

Light and harmony.

-Owls for Olive

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Demons – Imagine Dragons Cover by Owls for Olive (Justin Howard)

Check out this video a friend recorded of me on their phone at a recent show I did last week. Come for the gritty picture, stay for the good tunes. There’s a surprise at the end for you 🙂

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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 owlsforolive@gmail.com.

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

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