Gavin Murray

“Everybody has a role to play in making a scene, a scene.”


When I met Gav it reminded me of the diversity of Melbourne’s local live music scene. When Gav took over the stage at Bar Oussou he took the audience along with him as 20 years of music experience came through with every belted note and whispered lyric, brimming with emotion. Whilst he calls Melbourne home, he hails originally from the Central Coast and his music career has seen him play both interstate and internationally.

“Melbourne’s live music scene is an absolute minefield of talent […] any night of the week I can go watch somebody amazing play and that feeds my creative side.”

Influenced by a range of styles, Gav’s music is full of dynamics with distinct undertones of jazz and blues Tom Waits style turning more soulful all the way through to straight rock n roll, paying homage to grunge bands of the 90s, the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

“Putting myself out there hasn’t really been a priority for the past couple of years.”

Inspired by great songwriters such as Cat Stevens, Gav has a method to his songwriting madness which I found intriguing.

“I keep a scrapbook for lyrics and come up with a bunch of titles or just a single line and I’ll put it on a blank page; then I turn the page and do another one. I never really dwell too long on an idea at the start.”

Gav has a theory that the subconscious mind thinks about these ideas while you’re living your life and your experiences are drawing in on them.

“Then I’ll play guitar, come up with a riff and go through the book […] find lines for which the syllables and the vibe fits, then I find the page just fills itself at that point – the music triggers all the stuff you’ve been working out subconsciously.”

Gav works as a sound engineer and video tech by day, with the likes of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera and he’s pulling together an in-home studio, passionate to work with local talented artists.

“You find inspiration in these people that you find at bars […] that are in some ways lonely, they’re listening to the music and escaping from something and from having beers and chats with them you can find plenty to write songs about.”

Gav is currently working on a top secret new band project drawing together styles of stoner rock and pop melodies of the 60s with powerful female backing vocals to complement his own. We probably shouldn’t even be talking about it as Gav has kept it off the radar so far, but I for one am excited – watch this space!

Bailey Sampson & Jackson McIntosh

“We’re happy to go broke for a while just to eventually get there.”


The duo’s unique setup had their audience intrigued from get-go, consisting of an electric guitar running through a Marshall amp with a slightly frayed logo along with a synth pad on a make-shift keyboard stand. ‘Looping’ live goes one of two ways, however even from sound check it was clear the duo knew what they were doing. Glassy jazz chords rang out from Jackson’s Fender in-between rock/blues inspired pentatonic licks which were complimented by Bailey’s soulful voice; the duo’s sound is slightly reminiscent of 21 pilots with an edgy electronic pop/soul/funk feel and distinct undertones of rock’n’roll.

Jackson: “I started playing guitar because my brother played drums.”
Bailey: “I started singing in year 10 for some musical.”

Having met in a Music Performance TAFE course, Bailey and Jackson have been performing under the name “Stripping on Sunset” since mid-2016.

“This is our career – this is where we both want to end up.”

To sustain the music dream they each have side jobs by day – Jackson is a landscaper and Bailey is a primary school teacher – but the majority of their week is devoted to music composition and spending time in the studio jamming.

“’Stare’ started as a jazz acoustic and then he took it, chucked it on a synth and it became this dark sort of thing.”

Their dream is to travel around the world performing to large audiences and even spending time abroad specifically in L.A. for as long as possible without ‘going broke’.

“Because we’re in our 20s this is the time to try all this stuff.”

In the meantime, the duo are eager proponents of the Open Mic scene receiving more social media likes and interest after those gigs ‘performing to strangers on any given night’ vs. ticketed events.

You can check out their music and keep up with their gigs on Facebook, Soundcloud and on their own website www.strippingonsunset.com.

Kris Smith

“Sometimes it’s really personal and a little bit out there.”


Bringing the music of the night back to the gritty basics, blues, funk & rock inspired Kris Smith is the modern day embodiment of a (white) John Lee Hooker, fearlessly breaking off into lead guitar riffs despite having no rhythm guitar behind him.

“I loved his [John Lee Hooker] old songs, where he played everything in E.”

Whilst on this occasion Kris stuck to covers, he does have a fair amount of originals under his belt, often about his childhood or relationships that haven’t worked out. He writes songs to get things out of his system, all about his life and experiences.

“I just try and speak the truth [in my songwriting]. Sometimes it’s really personal and maybe it’s a little bit out there, but I try to make it more meaningful than venting.”

Whilst he is a diesel mechanic by day, rebuilding big generators, ultimately he’d love to pursue music full time as it is where his true passion lies. He hasn’t got stars in his eyes though, he has the humblest of dreams..

“I would love to just study music and get better at singing and guitar playing, and if someone came up to me and said ‘mate you’re pretty good, would you come and play at my pub?’, that’s what I’m looking for.”

True to his aspirations, he is practicing his craft every opportunity he gets and he advises that

“If you wanna play standing up you gotta practice standing up.”

Whilst he is currently based in Perth, he’ll be moving to Melbourne so keep an eye out for this talent as he may very well be playing at a pub near you!

Heartstrings Acoustic Showcase

“The live interviews helped me feel a stronger connection to the artists and their music.”


Heartstrings Melbourne proudly hosted its first showcase event on Sunday 15th June, and what a magical afternoon it was! We wanted to bring to life several of the musicians on our blog and showcase the amazing local music talent we Melbournians have at our fingertips. Nick Evangelou, Sabrina Salvatore, Sarlin, & Mario Demiraj definitely impressed and connected with our intimate audience at the Wesley Anne.

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With standing room only, the Heartstrings crew piled into the Wesley Anne along with other local music appreciators to claim whatever limited floorspace they could find. For those unable to attend, we were even able to stream the event live online, providing some of Melbourne’s best local talent with a rare opportunity to reach an appreciative international audience.

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Instead of listening to a parade of performers and a constant stream of music, we followed each performance with a live interview about their music and inspirations. Whilst each were fantastically talented musicians, we believe that it’s only once you get to know a bit about the person behind the guitar/piano that you truly understand what their songs are about and where they’re coming from. It’s only then that you gain true context for them as a musician.

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Acoustic Café owners, Ian & Glenda continued to show their unwavering support for local talent by lending their years of expertise at the sound desk. Their support for local live music has been unconditional and we can’t thank them enough for their assistance and sharing our passion.

Perhaps the highlight of the afternoon was the climactic collaborative closing jam, featuring all performers plus yours truly! For several weeks we had been preparing our unique rendition of ‘The Weight’ by The Band. Sharing verses, solos, harmonising choruses, and inspiring a bit of a sing-a-long from the crowd, it was truly a very special ending to the show, creating a wonderful sense of community.

Regardless of whether or not you made it on the day, we eagerly hope to see you at our next event which we are already excitedly planning for you!

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Noirin Lynch

“I’d hate to lose the heart for it.”


Settling into the very intimate Snug Bar waiting for the array of voices and instruments to fill the air waves, Noirin Lynch pops up to the microphone. Her international flight booked for later that evening did not stop this passionate performer from showcasing her talent; and what a unique talent it was – A Capella Irish Folk songs – taking the idea of ‘doing covers’ to a whole ‘nother level!

“I try and sing the songs that are worth passing on.”

Originally from Ireland, and only in Australia for a visit, Noirin tells us that back home they have ‘singer circles’ where people perform old folk songs unaccompanied that bear significance to them. More important than how well they sang it was whether they had the heart of it.

“It might be a song they got from their father, who got it from a traveller he met on the road.”

On a trip to France with one such singers group, Noirin recalls the special moment of teaching Irish lullabies to French mothers holding their babies.

“It was all these different cultures mixing and it was so beautiful.”

Working by day in community development with Catholic Parishes, she loves music however when asked about her musical aspirations she simply responded with

“I’d hate to lose the hunger or the heart for it.”

She also keeps her musical spirit alive playing in a band called Crag Road and last we spoke they’re putting the finishing touches on an album – so keep an ear out for that!

Overall, Noirin was impressed with our fantastic music scene here in Melbourne and encourages us all to soak it up

“Melbourne has really struck me in terms of its diversity and creativity – there are lots of opportunities here. Embrace them.”

You heard the lady – get out there!

Nadav Tabak

12Open Mic Night @ The Snug Public House
 

“When the sun’s shining I’ll usually be out on the street.”

Have you ever just been so captivated by a performance? From Nadav’s first 100 notes (which happened in the space of about 2 seconds!) he had all eyes and ears on him right up until the end of his set. All around the room were phones videotaping this impressive display, along with a collection of jaws scraping against the floor as Nadav moved all over the guitar like hot knife through butter.

Nuevo Rhumba Flamenco music is his jam; or as we came to call it affectionately, ‘Rambo Flamingo’. I’ll let you ponder that image for a moment.

Surely someone of this calibre must’ve had years of lessons. Nope. With no formal music training, Nadav has been playing for about 10 years, improvising in the moment.

“The other day I was trying to find what chords I was playing on one of my tracks and the chord finders online just got confused.”

But this style of music wasn’t always his cup of tea – Nadav used to be a metal head, ripping solos on the streets of the night, busking for passersby. Having busked for 3 years (and counting) back in New Zealand, he changed his style of music as the council laws for busking changed; ‘Thou shalt not play music past 9pm’.

“I knew I couldn’t do that [rock/metal] during the day.”

And so Rambo Flamingo was born!

Nadav plays as often as he can – be it on the street, at open mics, restaurants and various gigs around the place.

“It’s not really about the money – the money’s just to support me playing.”

Studying a Diploma in Audio Engineering, Nadav recorded his last album himself.
You can keep up to date with his music here

In terms of catching this awesome (in the traditional sense of the word) performer live,

“Winter’s coming, but when the sun’s shining, I’ll usually be out on the street.”

In the Studio with Robbie Phillips

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Heartstrings Melbourne is all about discovering and showcasing the plethora of local live music available to us, focussing on the individual. But after having met and featured so many talented musicians, we wanted to do more than that. We wanted to actively help develop these grassroots talents to realise their musical aspirations – whatever they may be!

To this end, we’ve teamed up with Last Match Recordings to provide free demo/EP studio time (usually valued at over $200!) to one talented and deserving musician per month from the blog.

_CI23933That’s where Robbie Phillips comes in! We met Robbie at the Balaclava Hotel Open Mic Night one Thursday evening. He had mentioned his aspiration to take the next step into recording a demo. This, coupled with his impressive musicianship and the high standard of his originals, meant Robbie was clearly an ideal candidate for the first recording session.

“My music can be quite expressive and I was a little nervous about how it would translate on a recording. I have an idea of what my music sounds like in my head, but hearing it back through a pair of high tech monitors and suddenly it’s naked and exposed. After the session, I’m now starting to see how I can take my sound further. I’m full of ideas that I can’t wait to explore.
Chris was a pleasure to work with. He knows exactly how to get the best out of a sound. He’s a magician behind that mixing desk of his.
I’m very grateful to both Heartstrings Melbourne and Last Match Recordings for the opportunity!”

Jump on his facebook page to keep updated on his music and be sure to keep an eye out for Robbie, a truly humble and extremely talented musician!

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Elsie Lange

21

Open Mic Night @ The Snug Public House
 

“I couldn’t write an essay without listening to Dark Side of the Moon.”

Growing up to the tunes of Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan, Elsie is truly the Girl from the North Country. Hailing from Alice Springs, she’s only recently moved to Melbourne and I was lucky enough to catch her at her first ever music performance here.

She’s outrageous, fun-loving yet down-to-Earth and articulate. Her dynamic voice is perfectly suited to her indie rock/pop tunes. Drawing inspiration from the music she grew up with, songwriting is a solace and an outlet for her.

“I listened to ‘Girl from the North Country’ for six weeks straight. It means such an awful lot to me. I felt I needed to write a song that makes me feel the same way.”

Music has played an important role in her life, even from an academic perspective!

“I couldn’t write an essay without listening to Dark Side of the Moon. I’d be sitting in class and all people could hear through my headphones was BREATHE, BREATHE IN THE AIR!”

Studying a Bachelor of Arts full time as well as working part time – she ultimately wants to use her qualifications and passion to work in remote community development. Music is a serious hobby, but she is open to the prospect of taking it further if the opportunity presents itself.

Active on the local live music scene back in Alice Springs, Elsie encourages people to be open minded and to have a go.

“Just get up – don’t think yourself too good for Open Mics. Listen to the people who you know are trying really hard. I’ll rock up an hour or so before a gig just to see what’s going on.”

As she’s new to Melbourne,  she’ll be making the rounds performing at various Open Mics around the place to see which ones feel best for her, but you can keep up with her music here:

facebook.com/elsielangemusic

triplejunearthed.com/elsielange1

Her original called ‘Grey Skies’ is being released in the next few weeks on Triple J Unearthed.

Judging from the title only, this could well become an anthem for Melbourne’s weather..

The Great Britain Hotel

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“It’s got the vibe where you don’t need to impress anybody; it takes such a long time to get to that point.”

The Great Britain Hotel (or The GB) is very special to me as it was where I played my first Open Mic Night. This was my first introduction to the local music scene, and I’ve been back time and time again. The best way I can explain the GB is it’s like your living room – if you had a full bar and beer on tap in your living room! Unfortunately, this venue’s lease expires in the end of June this year and no one quite knows what the future holds for this decades-old rock n’ roll venue.

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The GB has played host to the likes of Magic Dirt, Checkerboard Lounge, as well as the Cat Empire (who held a 2-year residency at this pub playing every weekend; the lead singer was even living in accommodations above the pub!).

Whilst having dabbled in Open Mic Nights earlier in the 90s, it wasn’t until the early 2000s when James Fitzpatrick (now veteran staff member & sound engineer at the GB) approached the venue and offered to host an ongoing Open Mic that it became what we know and love today – particularly borne out of the fact that there were plenty of students/musicians living in the area who simply wanted to play.

“My favourite thing about the live music at the GB would be the community – the people.”

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Of course the audience plays a significant role in the building of a community, but the musical talent talent is what’s most humbling for James.

“The ‘diamonds in the rough’ – it’s abit unrefined but you know there’s something in there that you find totally inspiring. It’s that moment when you realise you’ve been performing for years but you’re nowhere near as talented as they are.”

Being the sound engineer for many years at this fantastic venue, James recalls many occasions of coming across extremely talented musicians.

“A lot of the locals would come up to me afterwards and say – ‘who was that?’ ‘they were amazing!’ ‘can you get them back in?’”

At the same time, he has a wealth of advice for local live musicians:

“Remember who your audience is – try and cater to who is in front of you and engage with them. If you can get people to turn around from their conversation from your first song, you’ve got them.”

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And it doesn’t take much – eye contact, abit of banter, background to your songs/yourself, etc. Read our 7 habits of highly effective open mics for some tips.

It is unfortunate to see this venue go however for the short term after June 30, it is likely to remain open as a pub, though for how long and whether the new owners will continue the live music tradition remains to be seen.

“It’s not just the building – it’s the staff and the locals. It’s got the vibe where you don’t need to impress anybody; it takes such a long time to get to that point.”

Mr Boogie Man’s Open Mic – The Backstory

About a month ago I was seeing a friend’s band (Mass Rejection) play a show at the Mr Boogie Man Bar on Hoddle street. It was a Saturday evening and I had never been to this joint before. I instantly fell in love with the bar’s décor and its set up, as well as the lovely and down-to-Earth owner, David.

I was speaking with a fellow Heartstrings Melbourne-ite at the bar about how well this venue would suit an Open Mic Night – already having a killer sound system installed along with a funky and inviting stage. Draped with Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and other rock memorabilia, this venue was perfect. Especially with the unfortunate closure of the Acoustic Café, the area needed a platform for local talents.

We managed to speak to the owner about this prospect and, while he was very keen, he wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it as he had never held an Open Mic Night before.

Being a seasoned Open Mic performer both in Melbourne and overseas, I’ve been meeting with the venue owner over the past couple weeks to help him establish his very own and very first Open Mic Night.

We are all excited to announce that the first one will be held on this Wednesday 7th May. Musicians can book anytime from now ’til the night itself by calling David on 0406 797 644.

Hosted by yours truly, both David and myself hope to see you all there!