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!

Daniel Wick

“(Music) was definitely a coping mechanism; it gave me an outlet.”


You would never know that Daniel Wick has only been playing guitar for just over three years. As he stepped up to the stage at Bar Oussou open mic last Tuesday there was a sense in the audience that something special was about to happen. He has obviously been here before. He looks comfortable on stage as he begins to fingerpick his way through his first original song, ‘I’m not here to stay’.

“After a tragic break up, I had to write a couple of songs.”

 His fingerpicking style is Dylanesque, but his vocals are unique with an almost Jeff Buckley feel. He gets much of his inspiration from folk and folk rock and you feel this influence when listening to his songs.

“My holy trinity is Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Leonard Cohen.”

At the moment he is drawing a lot of inspiration from Brian Jonestown Massacre and he aspires to get a few musicians together to play a few bigger, more arranged pieces. At Bar Oussou, he often plays together with his friend Paul, who provides great accompaniment on the harmonica.

Wick, who works as an English and Media teacher at a local high school during the week, moved to Melbourne from Perth three years ago. Bar Oussou was the first place he played after he moved here, and he comes back almost every week. He enjoys the open mic scene around Brunswick, but also occasionally travels to Northcote and Richmond to perform there as well.

“Play open mics, all the time. It’s a really good way to get your confidence up and get your music heard.”

Wick also does a bit of slam poetry and finds inspiration from poets and stand-up comedians. In fact, he is currently working with a local poet to put one of their poems to his music.

Daniel Wick is a singer/songwriter with huge skill, great potential, and it’s definitely worth going to see him perform. You can listen to some of his demos on Soundcloud and find him on Facebook.

Kat Eddy

“I feel like maybe I’ve moved past crocodiles being an inspiration, you know?”


Kat Eddy stepped up to the microphone at Baxter’s Lot open mic last Thursday night and the room suddenly fell silent. As she played her way through a string of impressive original acoustic pop songs the audience were left in no doubt that they were witnessing something special. Those in attendance may have been surprised to learn that Kat had only begun playing open mics relatively recently, as a means to get her songs out of the bedroom and into the public domain.

 “I have a lot of songs – I wasn’t doing anything with them and wanted people to hear them.”

Kat has held a lifelong passion for music, having written her first song (about crocodiles) in grade five. Today her songs cover a wide variety of subjects and themes, ranging from the desire to be able to alter past mistakes (‘Start it Again’) to the challenges she and others have faced being a woman (‘Girl’, partially inspired by the plight of Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai).

“I don’t do very many love songs, which is weird – I’ve been told it’s not normal… I just sing about other things.”

While performing she appears relaxed and comfortable, gracefully laying her vocals over a bed of sophisticated, jazzy chord changes. She also possesses an unusually rhythmic playing style, going so far as to utilise the body of her guitar for percussive effect.

“I’m a perfectionist with arrangements – so I’ll write something but then it will take me ages to work out exactly how I want to play it… once it’s ready I stay with it.”

Drawing inspiration from a broad range of influences Kat cites Katie Tunstall, Sara Bareilles and Jamie Cullum as artists that have left a lasting impression on her.  Her goal is to record and release an EP sometime early next year, while pursuing regular paid gigs and continuing on the open mic circuit.

You can catch Kat playing at her two favourite open mics at The Snug (every Tuesday night) and Baxter’s Lot (first Thursday night of every month), and keep up with her music on her Facebook page.

Matthew Alford

“Play with your audience, you can always play with yourself later at home.”


Alford (aka Matt Alford) is a champion of Americana. Garbed in trucker’s cap, flannelette and blue denim, he belts out heartfelt ballads of love lost and retribution. Alford strums his jumbo sized steel-string acoustic with powerful finesse while projecting a deep Johnny Cash vocal that also reaches up with folky urgency in the higher register.

Influenced by artists such as Brian Setzer; Reverend Horton-Heat as well as Cash, the journey to the guitar Singer-Songwriter began with the violin, which included formal training and later – support gigs with none other than: The Waifs.

Alford is heading abroad in August to the mecca of country; folk and all things ‘Americana’ to the ears – Nashville, where he hopes to crack many a gig or: ‘…just shop…’ (for guitars perhaps?) and Heartstrings is eager to see what comes about from this sonic pilgrimage.

The life of this Performing Artist is fused with other creative pursuits including drawing and the craft of making custom guitar straps (I’ve put myself down for a blue suede one…or I will…).

When asked for advice to give to other local Musicians Alford recommends playing with as many people as you can as much as you can and reckons that rowdy crowds and bars suit his sound (we can attest to that) we hope you can catch him in a rowdy bar near you before Nashville swallows up its best new import.

>> Alford has a gig on the 4th of July at the Owl and Pussycat (34 Swan Street, Richmond)
Doors Open 7:30pm and tickets are $10 – It’s gonna be a big show with Philemon as well!

In the meantime check out his amazing drawings:

Anna Cordell

“It’s safe to say ‘it’s just a hobby’, but it’s what I want to do.”


Anna Cordell’s smooth voice and captivating lyrics ensnared the crowd at Bar Oussou’s open mic from her first pluck of the guitar to the thunderous applause at the end of her set. Performing all originals, the folk singer-songwriter exemplified the talent that is on offer around Melbourne’s open mic music scene. After putting music on hold for a few years while raising children and working in the fashion industry, Anna is back to music and songwriting, drawing inspiration from a new outlook on life gained through her experiences as a young mother.

“It gave me a fresh perspective.”

Anna’s songs take inspiration from hard-earned life experience and this translates into powerful songwriting. She is singing from the heart and this is the source of her music’s raw power.

“[to write good songs] you need to do something that’s a bit painful.”

Armed with this new life experience, Anna is ready to take her music to the next level while at the same time balancing it with her home life.

“I think I’ve kind of gone beyond that [music being a hobby], which is sort of scary to admit. It’s very safe to say ‘it’s just a hobby’, but it’s what I want to do.”

The dream for Anna now is to work her way up in the folk music scene, and eventually travel around Australia playing at folk festivals and the like. She is also playing in a four-piece band and regularly gigging around Melbourne.

Check out Anna’s facebook page and watch this space, as we’ve received word she’s going to be holding a campaign to fund a new EP!

In the meantime, catch an earful of her tunes at her gig this Saturday, June 14.

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.”

WE’VE CREATED A MONSTER!

_CI23806Open Mic Night Wednesdays @ Mr Boogie Man BAR

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The recent closure of the nearby Acoustic Café left a musical void in its wake. The future for local musicians looked uncertain. Thankfully, the newly refurbished Mr Boogie Man Bar has stepped up to fill the hole in our hearts. This cosy little bar will now play host to ongoing Open Mic nights every Wednesday evening!

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The first ever Open Mic Night at Mr Boogie Man Bar last week was a roaring success. In contrast to the crisp chill of the autumnal evening, the welcoming atmosphere of this place could not have been warmer. The groovy décor and rock memorabilia inside creates a sense of happy nostalgia which complements that amazing electric vibe which comes only from live music. Enthusiastic musicians and punters turned up in droves and the resulting community spirit was a joy to behold. The place was buzzing with infectious energy and positive vibes and we were all treated to a dazzling showcase of non-stop musical brilliance from some of Melbourne’s best underground talent.

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If you dabble in the Performing Arts, you’re unlikely to find a more encouraging audience than the patrons of Mr Boogie Man’s Open Mic. So don’t be shy: secure your 15 minutes of fame with Mr Boogie Man’s super-friendly owner (and get a free drink too)!
Call David on 0406 797 644 to book a slot, or just come down and enjoy the show with us!

We can’t wait to see you there!

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Elsie Lange

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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!