Three weeks ago I began hosting an Open mic @ The Shillelagh Tavern in Astoria, Queens. Although I typically have a good turnout at my shows and know many musicians, attendance was lacking for the first two weeks. There were literally but two performers each time. This brings me to this week. This week, I decided to (for lack of a better idiom) grab the bull by the horns. I began posting everywhere. Openmics.org, Craigslist, as well as many groups on Facebook. I sent out a mass message to all the musicians I know. This took hours of work and the following cliche phrase applies here; hard work in fact does pay off.
The night was an astounding success. All in all we had six amazing performances (besides my own), each one shining brilliantly in their own way. To kick it off I played a few songs on my acoustic. I’ve Just Seen a Face by The Beatles, Kids by MGMT, Carry Me which is an original and Happy X-Mas (War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I was, after all, feeling all Christmas-y. That was when the real fun began.
The second performance of the evening featured Rabia Waters. Marvin Marker on vocals and guitar, backed up by Kevin Orellana on drums. This was their first performance together, but you would have never been able to tell. He made his Strat sing high into the ceiling, dancing with his warm vocals and the perfectly subtle drum beats coming from behind. I got that good feeling when one knows something is going to turn out well. I don’t have photos or videos of their performance, but I am awaiting some and will put them up if/when I do.
Next up we had Nate Laze. We set him up, got his Ovation mic-ed and waited. What followed was a mixture of soulfully soft vocal melodies combined with fantastic guitar playing. Check out a clip below. I was blown away. 2 out of 2, I thought, not bad. I had a feeling that the rest of the night would play out just as grandly, and soon found out that it would.
Here is a brief clip of Nate:
Yeah. He’s great.
After Nate, we had Terry Edelman who fronts the band The Lost Kingdoms. Please visit their FB page, and check out their tunes. Another fantastic performance. Great fingerpicking skills – perfectly soft – along with the immense vocal range put the audience into a peaceful ease; bringing back the power at just the right moment. He showed tremendous control of his vocals, evident in this clip:
The audience was very obviously connected to his performance.
So that brings us to number 4. I have to admit, I knew that Kyle Horn was coming. And I also knew that in that, I had a ringer for the audience. I’ve heard him before, so I knew what was in store for them. I won’t say much about him, I will let the clip speak for itself.
Actually, no. I will say some words. This guy is amazing. He plays in an Andy McKee style, tapping, slapping, strumming and hitting frets all over the place. It is just insane to watch him do his thing, with seeming ease. At times it seems impossible that within the blur of his hand so many different things are happening. He stepped up with his Martin with the strange pad above the strings next to the pick guard (necessary for his playing style). He plugged in, said some funny shit and then proceeded to make everyone’s jaws drop for the next few songs. Do yourself a favor and listen to this clip, and then visit his website for more.
He should be at the next Open Mic night, and has several shows coming up. If you want to hear him, which you most definitely should by now, get down to one and hear him. He’s one for the ages.
Thinking it couldn’t possibly get better, the night rolled along smoothly with one of my Astoria favorites, Andy Sydor. That’s ‘see’door’. Don’t get his name wrong, or you may suffer his wrath. Only there is no wrath, only a gently drawing voice that’ll have you wanting him to play forever. He has that authentic folk-y feeling that I love, for me a sort of Harry Chapin vibe. I could listen to him all day. Here is one of his originals. Andy will typically be at this Open Mic, another to be heard. Also, He kind of looks like Santa Clause (sorry Andy) ;).
That brings us to our final performer, Rick Rocker. Rick is another act I’ve heard a few times prior, so I knew what he would deliver; a high energy, crowd interacting performance. He gets everyone clapping along, feeling the music along with him. His originals are inspiring, and his covers take on lives of their own with his own arrangements. You should give him a listen, and even more see him live. He puts on a great show. You can check out his music, upcoming dates and links @ his site.
The night was phenomenal. So many great acts, and what an atmosphere. I can only hope that any of the Open Mics I host from now are even close to the caliber of this past Tuesday. It felt good to be a part of such a wonderful group of musicians, and I cannot wait for it to happen again.
I don’t want to forget to thank Miles and Rusty. Miles is the sound engineer, and he takes a lot of time shaping the sound, making everyone sound their best. He is truly a one-of-a-kind guy, both in and out of the sound booth. One of the nicest guys I’ve met. And Rusty, good ‘ol Rusty. Rusty books the gigs for the venue (if you are interested in performing there just ask for his information in the comments). He is a guy, again for lack of a better idiom, who always tries to do the right thing. He also keeps the drinks flowing behind the bar, and is a great personality. You can’t help but to like the guy. I dare you to try.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I hope to have you back again in the future.
Light and Harmony
-Owls for Olive