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!

Lucas O’Connell

“I just want to keep on making albums and keep sharing music – that’s all. I just think sharing music is the most important thing.”


I had the pleasure of meeting Lucas O’Connell after he played a remarkable set at The Snug last Tuesday night. Over the course of a lengthy discussion about, well, anything and everything, the words ‘sharing’ and ‘connection’ came up time and time again. Now I must admit that I am generally a little suspicious of such terms. I mean come on… ‘sharing’ and ‘connection’ may have worked at Woodstock but in this day and age those kinds of sentiments are a little suspect. Of course it would have been a lot easier to maintain my staunch cynicism had I not witnessed firsthand the powerful effect Lucas’ songs had on the audience that night.

“I get inspired by the connection with the audience… people appreciating what you do and you appreciating what they do. It’s mutual appreciation between the artist and audience. Open mics are great for that”

Prior to our meeting I sit and watch Lucas’ set from a small side table at The Snug. He begins by laying down a steady, seemingly effortless finger-picking pattern, the song building in momentum with each passing chord. As he starts to sing in a startling and spookily understated voice the song unfurls before me, enveloping the room. Lucas goes on to sing about Medusa and Cleopatra, his voice rising and falling with the ease and grace of a champion figure skater. I exchange glances with a friend of mine, as if to say “what have we here?”

Over the course of his set he masterfully fuses the feel and mood of early trad folk with the creative clout of the best 60’s and 70’s singer-songwriters. It is one of those rare musical experiences – rather than simply being impressed I am left with the sense that I have witnessed something truly special.

“It’s a very private thing to share… your own songs. A lot of people struggle. I think it’s just relaxing for the soul to share your music.”

Originally hailing from Wellington in New Zealand Lucas has lived all over the world, spending time in Australia, Japan, Korea, Peru, Argentina, England, Scotland and parts of South-east Asia. He took up playing guitar at the age of 21 while travelling and from there began writing his own songs. It was in an Edinburgh post office in 2006 that he found a creative sanctuary of sorts, dreaming up folk tunes while sorting mail (On a side note I personally love this aspect of his artistic development – he is literally working his way up from the mailroom). Pretty soon fellow travelers were urging him to ‘share’ his songs on stage in front of a real audience.

“Because I was always travelling it was kind of a gradual step – playing in front of backpackers to playing on stage.”

Lucas’ inspirations are many. During our discussion he spoke of his love for Ancient Greek Mythology, Kerouac and 60’s bands, along with more discernibly obvious influences such as Nick Drake, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen et al. He also spoke of his fondness for open tunings.

“I use about fourteen different tunings in my songs. And I’m always looking for new ones – it’s like you’re creating your own chords.”

Two years ago Lucas released his debut album ‘Songs to Sleep on’ (great title!), receiving airplay in his native New Zealand as well as on BBC radio. He also shot an eye-popping video for the lead single ‘Liquid Night’ which was shown at the Byron Bay Film Festival. Lucas has decided to stay put in Melbourne for the next little while, so with any luck you will be fortunate enough to catch him playing at an open mic somewhere soon. Otherwise you can check out his tunes on Soundcloud, or find him on either Facebook or his website.

Gothum

 “I just want to play music for the rest of my life.”


Playing some wicked-cool originals, this New York rocker ruled the stage at the Cornish Arms Open Mic. But with a name like Gothum, how could he not?

“I was born a grunger, man.”

Now, before you picture some high-school dropout who just happens to write great songs and have a bunch of musical talent, this particular singer-songwriter is currently studying for his PhD in Chemistry while still maintaining a strong presence on the Melbourne Open Mic scene!

“I’ve always been writing songs. The first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit it changed my life.”

Grabbing musical influences from almost every possible genre, Gothum blends the stylings of completely separate musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and Nirvana and blends them into his own passionate, self-expressive style; a soulful but grungy voice with slick guitar licks blended into his rhythmic chord progressions.

It’s no mean feat to balance the amount of music Gothum plays with the extraordinary workload that comes with post-graduate studies, but Gothum is steadily following his aspirations of playing music full-time.

“I have a day job, so I can’t really do it full time right now, but I would love to. I just want to play music for the rest of my life.”

When asked for advice to other aspiring musicians, Gothum professed his love for musical passion, valuing it much higher than musicianship.

“The [musicians] I love are the ones who bare their souls, who put every piece of themselves into their music. You don’t have to be a great musician to write great music.”

A well-known face on the Open Mic circuit, you can often catch Gothum playing at the Brunswick Hotel, the Cornish Arms and Club Voltaire. Keep up with his Facebook page and check out his fantastic demos on Bandcamp!

Sarah Edelstein

“I now know that wherever I go, wherever I move, [open mics] will be the way I’ll try to meet people.”


Continuing along the fantastic standard of the Cornish Arms’ Open Mic, singer-songwriter Sarah Edelstein played a catchy set consisting of three personalised and very heartfelt covers. With a voice like a soft-spoken Missy Higgins, Sarah wooed the crowd with her renditions of George Michael’s “Faith”, Missy Higgins’ own “Sugarcane” and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”.

“[Music] will always be a part of my life, no matter what.”

Originally from San Diego, she now works at a synagogue in Melbourne, and writes many of her original songs in Hebrew. The multi-talented Sarah also writes original folk tunes in English, although she’s yet to grace us with them. Stylistically, Sarah’s music is influenced by singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco, and she draws inspiration from the warm reception she received playing to teenagers at a summer camp.

“Whatever engages young people will tend to engage anyone.”

Although Sarah used to play occasional open mics on campus at her university in California, it wasn’t until she started regularly playing in Melbourne’s circuit that she realised her love for the open mic community, and its open-armed attitude.

 “I now know that wherever I go, wherever I move, [open mics] will be the way I’ll try to meet people.”

Although she confessed that “I should be the one receiving advice”, Sarah spoke to us about the deep personal benefit that comes with playing live music to an audience:

“It’s a great way to check in with yourself – to sit in front of a microphone and to see what comes out.”

You can often catch Sarah playing at the open mic nights at Mr Boogie Man Bar on Wednesday nights and the Cornish Arms Hotel on Mondays, so be sure to check her out there!

Anton Thomas

“You don’t become a musician to be rich. You should study Law to do that.”


Capturing his audience immediately, Anton’s performance was an experience for both the auditory and visual senses. His hands literally danced across the fretboard whilst his soulful voice wove stories that transported us to a cantina by the Mississippi.

A well-travelled Kiwi, Anton has spent a lot of time in the great music cities of the southern United States, which has had a galvanising effect on him.

“You meet someone at a bus stop in New Orleans and it’s not like meeting someone at a bus stop anywhere else… I soaked up the inspiration… and it really brought my game up.”

His original, ‘Paint Me a Picture’ is a fine example of Anton’s remarkable guitar ability complemented by his voice to create a tranquil, yet catchy melody. His style is firmly rooted in the blues, but he also incorporates more contemporary flavours with an unmistakable hip-hop flair.

“I’ve always loved performing – as kid I was into drama – and when I get the chance to open a dialogue with audiences it really motivates me.”

Gifted with a humble kind of showmanship and a comfortable, laid-back demeanor, Anton naturally engages an audience; an ability so often overlooked by emerging musicians.

“Confidence is the key – it’s not always going to be there, you just need to get up and play. There’ll be times when no one digs it, but the more you do it, the better!”

Thankfully, Anton has now replaced the stress of working as a full-time chef with a less demanding role. Although sacrificing much of his income, it leaves him in a better position to follow his love of music and songwriting.

“I want to make a living out of my creative pursuits and if that leads to lots of money, then great! I don’t have that in mind though… you don’t become a musician to be rich. You should study Law to do that.”

You can catch Anton Thomas playing at Club Voltaire on 17th July, Lentil as Anything on 18th July and more generally around Melbourne’s open-mic circuit.

Check him out on Facebook, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Rebecca & Bianca Langley


Open Mic Night @ Bar Oussou
 

From the turmoil of Manus Island Detention Centre, Rebecca & Bianca don’t need to dig too deep for creative motivation. The pair’s blend of folk-pop with a touch of soul, provides a catalogue of heartfelt and vibrant sounding songs that sing of the tenuous human condition on the island. Other songs tell of the journey of love whilst traversing the pitfalls of sorrow. Sources of inspiration behind their music also include Lauryn Hill, Melbourne’s own Kate Miller-Heidke and perhaps more poignantly – Rebecca’s Grandmother, whose love of music and talent at the piano has been challenged by severe arthritis; this influence on her grand-daughter is evidently profound, spurring on her own passion for making music.

Rebecca & Bianca just want to share their music as often as they can and reckon the path to success is to just have fun and not do it for the money. When not setting up and playing gigs the girls are teaching music, working with disengaged youth or volunteering to assist asylum seekers.

At the moment despite gaining momentum, gigs and publicity has been difficult, says Rebecca, because she lives most of the time in Paris France, therefore posing a logistical challenge.

We all wish this very intriguing duo the best of luck and hope you can catch them playing when they’re back down under.

Bookers can contact biancmaes@hotmail.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!

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:

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!

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.