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!

Darius Pranckunas

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Open Mic Night @ The Great Britain Hotel
 

“I do it [music] as a serious hobby… but if anyone wants to pay me, they’re very welcome to do so!”

Full of energy, charisma and puns (and an impressively large repertoire of songs to suit all occasions), Darius is your piano man & he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke.

With an upbringing of primarily classical music – generously seasoned with the golden pop/rock tunes – Darius has been playing piano for 19 years and has attained his Certificate of Performance.

He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree under his belt and is currently working towards getting his CPA whilst job hunting.

“I do it [music] as a serious hobby; I feel I have got other talents I can make my money out of… but if anyone wants to pay me, they’re very welcome to do so!”

Having played Open Mics on and off for a couple of years now, Darius feels that they’re a great opportunity to express himself in a very understanding and inviting atmosphere where everyone’s in the same boat.

“Get on down to the Open Mics and the venues will be encouraged to keep them going! You get to have a good night out with friends, beer and free live music. “

He recalls one particular embarrassing experience when he performed at an interstate talent show and he had a complete mental blank on a jazz piece he had only just begun to play. He stopped, turned to the audience and said “I’ll start that again”. Thankfully the second time through he aced it!

“Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t be afraid to have a go. People are understanding when it comes to our musical abilities.”

You can catch Darius performing red-handed at the Great Britain Hotel or (for the Lithuanians in the audience) at the Melbourne Lithuanian Club. In the meantime, jump on his Facebook group – Daz’s Random Fact/Joke of the Day – guaranteed to have you raising your eyebrows or rolling your eyes.. or both!

Mario Demiraj

untitled-0071Open Mic Night @ The Great Britain Hotel
 

“Being a frontman is an art on its own. It’s not as simple as just being a musician.”

Mario is far more than just a great musician. He can captivate an audience and bring them in on his set rather than having the usual divide between musician (playing) and audience (listening).

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand Mario’s music falls under the category of indie-pop.

Drawing inspiration for his lyrics primarily from life experiences, he usually writes the guitar (chords/riff) part first, followed by melody, followed by (honest) lyrics.

“A lot of the time I’ll just be jamming away, or another song will create an emotion/vibe in me and it inspires me to make a song that affects people in a similar way.”

He’s aiming to take music full time and believes the key to success in the music business is to play as much as you can and network compulsively.

Before a gig he would do some vocal and body warm-ups and boost his confidence using positive self-affirmations

“A lot of it comes down to your confidence in that moment and if you can raise your confidence, you’re going to play better.”

Mario also proposed several more bits of insightful advice:

“Think of every bad gig as a tick off the list. You have to do a certain amount of bad gigs to get good!”

But he also clarifies that a bad gig to you at the moment probably qualified as a good gig for you a year, or even a month ago.

“The overall standard of performance changes and improves drastically over time. Right now a good performance for you might be an 8/10. If you were to play 100 gigs, your current 8/10 would become a 3/10.”

Catch Mario playing at either Bar Oussou or The Snug Public House (both on Tuesdays) and stay up-to-date on his music here.

Christopher Sprake

_DSC3869Open Mic Night @ The Acoustic Cafe
 

“The more time you spend trying to be someone else is just time wasted.”

Chris has had a fruitful career in music with a highlight being a solo tour in Canada earlier in the millennium. It only takes the first few seconds of his set to realise why. His extremely smooth but powerful voice conveys the soul of a sincere and authentic musician.

He runs a recording studio on Hoddle street called Last Match Recordings and he plays atmospheric indie rock in a band (as well as pursuing a folk side-project).

He draws inspiration from his day-to-day interactions with people and in particular from the community work he is involved in – helping people overcome struggles in their own lives who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Passionate about supporting the community, Chris’s studio is based in a Government housing complex where his facilities are open for use by the residents free of charge.

Being a producer and seeing so many musicians come into his studio for over 7 years, he stresses the fact the you have to find your own authentic story and sound:

“The more time you spend trying to be someone else is just time wasted. People respond to something that’s genuine.”

Check out www.christophersprake.com for more details on his fantastic career and be sure to drop into his studio whenever you need some recording work done!

Ibrahim Shiham

DSC01784Open Mic Night @ Bar Oussou
 

“I had a dream to perform with the saxophone.”

And it was a dream come true for Ibrahim, having only played the Saxophone since June last year!

Originally from the Maldives, Ibrahim has been playing music for around 25 years drawing influences from Latin, Jazz, Reggae, and Rock, with guitar being his weapon of choice.

It’s always refreshing to come across performances that aren’t simply guitar & vocals, and the crowd at Bar Oussou was certainly intrigued by the uniqueness.

Whilst he was apprehensive about the performance, Ibrahim performed like a pro; we had no idea this was his first saxophone performance until he told us.

He plays Open Mic Nights to iron out the kinks and smooth out any musical mistakes.

“I feel very happy when I see people dancing – that’s when I know they like the stuff I’m playing.”

His advice for musicians starting out is to have balance:

“Most young musicians are very talented, but they have no concept of having a balanced sound when playing in a group.”

Playing live for so many years, Ibrahim says with a hint of resignation,

“Live music is dying.”

So make sure you help sustain the culture by swinging through Bar Oussou’s Open Mic night – you might just find Ibrahim’s catchy jazz-influenced tunes on the saxophone.

Tony Creedon

  untitled-0118Open Mic Night @ The Great Britain Hotel
 

“Whether they come or not, I’d still play.”

Tony is by far one of the most unique performers you’ll ever see. You could spend an entire evening at a pub with about 12 acts of live music and not remember anyone but Tony. His impressive and rugged appearance is surpassed only by his incredible voice; the most powerful I’ve heard. He is gentle by nature (though his appearance may suggest otherwise) but when he’s performing, his stage presence and songs completely dominate the room and beyond; especially when he gets to one of his infamous songs called “Shit in your eye”. There is nothing superficial about this man. He just puts himself completely out there and is always up for a friendly chin-wag afterwards.

“I got nowhere else to play and I get to meet people to put on my radio show.”

Tony is not only at Open Mics to perform, he’s also on the hunt for local talent to feature on his radio show, “Come on Come in” on 3CR (Thursdays at 3pm). He’s always on the lookout for new performers so if he reckons you’re good enough, he’ll come up to you and organise for you to play on-air! Having seen so many performers on the local scene and playing host to many more on his radio show, I asked him what makes a good musician. True to his own approach, there can’t be any superficiality about the performance,

“[The songs] have got to be heartfelt.”

Tony appreciates the importance of supporting and fostering grassroots live music. He’d love to see more people musicians and non-musicians coming down to support the local scene but regardless of whether or not there’s a crowd, he’ll still be strumming away up on stage.

“Whether they come or not, I’d still play.”

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Ann Poore

_MG_6418Open Mic Night @ The Acoustic Cafe
 

 I’ve been playing music all my life – I couldn’t live without it.”

A harp player… and now you’ve seen it all – only the wings and the halo are missing!

Playing contemporary folk music based around themes of war, Ann Poore is a psych nurse dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder patients (mainly war veterans but her patients also include staff from the emergency services).

Music is an escape for her. Working in the treatment of mental health sure can get under your skin at times.

“Music is a great healer and solace. It can change or express your mood. I’ve been playing music all my life – I couldn’t live without it.”

Not only does she enjoy playing music, she plays Open Mics specifically to get over her performance anxiety.

“It all started with me asking myself ‘Why am I so scared of doing something I enjoy?'”

She finds herself drawing much inspiration for her music from her work, whilst simultaneously using music as an outlet.

I can have my work and my music and I can use them both to enhance the other.”

Her work and therefore music revolves mainly around war themes and interestingly, she has put World War 1 poetry to music – think Wilfred Owen, Ivor Gurney, etc.

She also has a concept album in the pipeline due for release this year – “Bullets Like Rain” – Songs of war for harp and voice. She unveiled some of those tracks on the night I spoke to her and they really tug at the ‘heartstrings’… if you’ll pardon the pun! The release of the album is scheduled to coincide with the Centenary of Remembrance Day (1914-2014); make sure you pick it up and keep up-to-date with her musical escapades on her facebook page.

“The most famous, richest, most played pop stars and divas on the radio didn’t start out earning millions of dollars; they started in venues like this. They’ve paid their dues and they’re reaping the rewards of the hard work they did when they were younger.”

Sarlin

0_16Open Mic Night @ The Balaclava Hotel
 

“Don’t be afraid to not fit the template.”

It’s Thursday night at The Balaclava Hotel and the room is filled with musicians and live music lovers. Sarlin’s magical voice and array of instruments, which make up her a one-man band, brings the room to utter silence.

Originally from Sale, Sarlin moved down to Melbourne to study Exercise Science and pursue music-related opportunities. Aside from focusing on her studies and music, she currently works at a café on Sydney Road.

“I really enjoy the contrast, I love it. Music is really taking over a lot though.”

Sarlin won The Balaclava Hotel Open Mic competition in 2013 and has been invited back to play as a featured act. She also played at the Moomba Festival this year.

Her pre-gig ritual is going for a run earlier in the day. She finds that even a brief run clears her head and warms up her body for the performance.

Drawing inspiration from folk and acoustic music, she’s still experimenting with sounds. Moments of significance and observations fuel her songwriting.

“It’s times when you step out of your body and look at situations; the feeling of hunger/drive and pure bliss – those types of moments.”

Her advice for musicians is to surround yourself with creativity and not to be afraid if you don’t fit the template. Be around like-minded people and get behind a microphone as much as you can.

Sarlin performs at various locations throughout Melbourne, but your best bet at finding her is up and down Sydney Road (Bar Oussou, The Cornish Arms, The Brunswick Hotel, etc).

“I’m definitely going to continue music, but I’m not going to rush.”

Sarlin cautions readers that she has not uploaded the recent material she’s been working on, but when she does you’ll be able to find it all at the following links: https://www.facebook.com/sarlinmusic   https://soundcloud.com/sarlinmusic   http://www.reverbnation.com/sarlinmusic

Sarah-Rose McIvor

Sarah-Rose McIvorOpen Mic Night @ Bar Oussou
 

“Whenever people ask me this question I always say depends on what day of the week.”

The one that almost got away – I missed out on interviewing her the first time I saw her playing at the Great Britain Hotel but luckily was able to catch her playing live another time. Well worth the wait, this charismatic and highly talented performer rocked the electric piano with some soul/folk/blues/ indie originals.

She’s a piano and singing teacher by day at several primary schools, does admin work for another school, finishing her Diploma of Education, writes all the songs for her band “Dash” and also writes songs for other bands!

Basically, a wonder-woman of the music world!

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When it comes to writing songs, she draws inspiration from people and how they interact with each other, as well as the natural environment. In terms of style, she’s a big Feist fan – great stuff check them out. Some of her music is crafted around phrases or hooks:

“Someone said to me ‘the day the rain comes down’, and I thought that there was so much imagery in that one line.”

She’s trying to make a go of it with her band and their goal is to be financially secure. After only 18 months, they’re well on their way with some visionaries in the band, complemented by her left-brain logistical thinking:

“My brother would be like ‘in two years time we’re gonna go record in France’, while I’m freaking out figuring how we’re gonna get to France.”

It wasn’t always smooth sailing – she recalls one of her most scarring experiences performing solo at her Grade 6 graduation with the whole school and parents watching. She steps to the microphone for her one line and unknowingly bursts out laughing the whole way through. Everyone stares and she thinks it’s because she just sucked – she didn’t sing for really long time after that!

Her tip for musicians big or small is to set a goal and achieve it!

“Even if that goal is to finish a song – you’ve got a million half songs, but finish one and perform it.”

Check out her band, Dash (I’ve been hooked on their music lately!):

facebook.com/dashtheband & www.musicofdash.bandcamp.com

Sarah-Rose will also be playing with guitar accompaniment at The Thornbury Local on the 2nd of May!

 

Tomislav

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Open Mic Night @ Bar Oussou
 

“Every musician wants world domination!”

Bringing his own brand of psychedelic folk rock to Melbourne, Tomislav is a uniquely vibrant performer well worth keeping an eye on.

“Psychedelic folk rock?” I imagine you asking. “One must hear it and feel it to truly understand”, I respond aloud and mysteriously, drawing puzzled looks from other train commuters.

The term was coined by one of his friends during the recording his work-in-progress album, and it seems an appropriate description of Tomi’s eclectic style.

Psychedelic folk rock. I like that. People always ask me what kind of music I play – I don’t know – Music. Whatever feels right. Now I actually have a term for it.” 

Tomi is a seasoned and accomplished lead guitarist having spent many years playing with rock bands. His technical musicianship is obvious when you hear him play.

“You gotta put the hard work in. Practice, practice, practice. It’s a cliché, I know, but it bloody helps!”

However, it’s his big personality and charisma that makes him stand out from the crowd. Playing nothing but all original material, Tomi knows how to engage an audience from the moment he takes the stage.

“It’s not just about getting up there and playing the notes […] if you can put a show on, people are gonna dig it.”

Like a friendly Tom Waits, he oozes stage presence and showmanship. He’s a compelling storyteller whether backed by his bluesy, toe-tapping funk-rock grooves or more contemplative, Dylan-esque folk musings.

True to blues traditions, Tomislav’s lyrics are usually true stories, inspired by his life experiences. Growing up in former Yugoslavia, he has resided in the Brunswick area for around eight years playing in various bands, busking, and hitting Open Mic events.

While calculating his strategy for music world domination, he can currently be found most Tuesday nights at Bar Oussou.

Check out his Facebook Page