Tag Archives: Shillelagh Tavern

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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Open mic success!

Performers 2

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

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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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