Open Mic Night @ The Acoustic Cafe

“I’ve done my time playing music to people who don’t care.”

With a tremendous and dynamic voice, “Butters” of ‘Pumazoo’ absolutely blew me away with the standard of his originals; self-categorised as ‘ambient indie rock’. Having moved down from NSW where he played guitar and vocals in a successful covers band, Butters plays Open Mics because:

“It brings me great joy to play music to people who are keen to listen; so it goes hand in hand that the more people who can hear it the better. [At Open Mics] you’re just playing to people who enjoy music and that’s what it’s all about.”

“I’ve done my time playing music to people who don’t care and it’s the most frustrating thing.”

By day, Butters is a Youth worker, working with children from various schools and teaching them life skills (think confidence, personal development, social skills, etc.).

Encouraging people to come to an Open Mic and watch some of the performances:

“Particularly here [Acoustic Cafe], it’s a very guitar-around-bonfire kind of vibe, and everyone loves a bonfire!”

“[Melbourne] is where the [music] appreciators are.”

So Butters reckons you all should come for the atmosphere and watch the performers playing around the proverbial ‘campfire’.

“It’s easy to get disheartened with what you’re doing; just stick at it. I think everyone always says that. If you put in those hard yards, it may even take years, but you’ll get to that point where what you’re trying to do matches what you want to do.”

No lined up venues to catch this musician in action, but he will be performing all round Melbourne several nights a week. Let’s play a game; it’s called – find Pumazoo!

Keep updated with his music escapades and shenanigans at www.facebook.com/pumazoomusic

Max Hiscock

Max Hiscock
 Open Mic Night @ The Acoustic Cafe

“There’s never a wrong time to play, you just gotta get up there and play.”

With a couple effects pedals at his feet, Max’s instrumental originals were ambient, melodic and dynamic. Complemented by a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover, Max was up first on this evening of Acoustic music at the Acoustic Cafe.

With influences from John Butler, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead and other 90s music, Max has been playing guitar and singing for 6 years; self-taught.

“I play open mics to get confidence as a musician, show some original material, and start my music career.”

Studying Animation at RMIT, Max never leaves home without his headphones, plays music to wake up in the morning, jams with friends, and ultimately wants “[music] to take the front seat.”

“Music and film are my two biggest passions. Eventually I want to start a band.”

Advice for other local musicians:

“I got some good advice from a busker on the street once. I said ‘when should I play an Open Mic?’ and he said ‘there’s never a wrong time to play you just gotta get up there and play’. That’s what I’d say to anyone who’s looking to play at a venue like this. Just do it.”

Encouraging people to listen to local musicians at an Open Mic:

“The material that people present at Open Mics is just gold; it’s raw, and it’s sometimes unfinished but it’s got a lot of soul to it and a lot of heart. Live music is the best.”

You can check out Max’s music live at the Acoustic Cafe on Thursday nights 8pm.

Keep updated with his originals here: https://soundcloud.com/tailed-fox

Jesse Rudd-Schmidt

Open Mic Night @ The Cornish Arms

“Stop watching X Factor!”

With a crisp and clear voice accompanied by melancholy finger picking Acoustic tunes, people gave Jesse their undivided attention for his set. A down-to-earth and very humble musician, Jesse works in Cancer Immunology by day at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and keeps sporty and fit as much as possible.

Aiming to pursue a full time music career, Jesse has lived the rock n roll lifestyle playing in a band though at the moment he is currently playing solo and trying to record some new material.

“Open Mics are great for the people that you meet but also because you don’t have to book in advance you can just rock up and play.”

Speaking to other musicians on the live music scene, Jesse says with a glint in his eye:

“Try and perform really badly each night so I look good; just for comparison!”

“No, just enjoy playing music, hardly any of us are going to make a living off of it. Play it because you feel like playing it.”

Encouraging people to check out live music nights:

“Stop watching X Factor! You watch these couple of people the TV picked for you who have this sob story to sell ratings. Living in Melbourne we’re absolutely blessed with so many live music venues every night of the week. Get on down to your local pub and support live music!”

“In one night you’ll probably get 10 acts. 2 will be terrible, 6 will be alright, but 1 or 2 will be phenomenal, and that makes it all worthwhile.”

Jesse will be rocking the Cornish Arms on Monday nights and The Brunswick Hotel on Wednesday nights.

You can stay updated with his tunes at www.soundcloud.com/j-spot and at jesserudd-schmidt.bandcamp.com

Henry Ridgway Brooks

Open Mic Night @ The Great Britain Hotel

“Commit to what you want and verbalise it with you actions.”

Passion & Intensity. These words spring to mind when I think of Henry’s performance. Playing mainly folk/pop/blues/rock originals Henry says:

“[Open Mics] are great practice to help work out the kinks in my originals.”

Working as a bartender whilst finishing his Arts degree at Monash University, he ultimately wants to take his music further, but for the moment he is just a casual performer.

Speaking to other local musicians:

“I think it was the Black Lips who said in an interview recently: ‘commit to what you want and verbalise it with your actions’. Basically, tell people about it and do it.”

Henry agrees that Open Mic nights generally don’t attract the huge crowds, but that this is not necessarily a bad thing as it keeps the atmosphere intimate.

Regardless, he encourages you to:

“Come on down and listen to some good tunes”

You can catch Henry playing at Club Voltaire on Thursdays.

Keep up-to-date on his music at https://soundcloud.com/henryridgwaybrooks

Reuben Duffy & Joe Baarda

Reuben & Joe
Open Mic Night @ Station 59

“My aspiration is to have a full crowd.”

I was struck by how these two musicians worked so well together. The charismatic and engaging blues/folk singer & guitarist (Reuben) was complemented perfectly by a more subdued jazz saxophonist (Joe).

These two blokes, playing both originals and covers were such a hit that they were asked to stay on for an encore.

Reuben: “I’ve been unemployed for a year and a half, so I spend my days as a hands-on Dad for my 7 year old son, as well as writing songs/poetry.”

When asked about his musical aspirations, Reuben contently replied with:

Reuben: “I don’t waste my time thinking about fame or fortune. So I’ve never had that crushed heart that some of my friends have had. My aspiration is to have a full crowd. That’s as big as I dare to dream.”

Giving advice to other local musicians on the scene:

Joe: “Don‘t play anything by half measure. Throw your whole self in. Genghis Khan said: if you’re afraid, don’t do it – If you’re doing it, don’t be afraid

Reuben: “Discover your musicality. Wake up to the fact that you are born to play. People say ‘I’ve got no sense of rhythm’, but they walk ok, don’t they!” 

You can catch Reuben and Joe playing at Station 59 on Thursday nights.

Interview Bloopers:

Joe: “I’ve got 800GB of music. The only thing I’ve ever deleted is Guns n Roses. Ever.”

Reuben: “but the power of nostalgia..”

Joe: “No. NO! At the time, the first time I heard them I liked GnR. Ever since I’ve hated them.”

Cameron Lee-Brown

Open Mic Night @ The Great Britain Hotel

“It’s sad to see live acoustic music dying off.”

With a harmonica around his neck and his guitar pumping out his folk/blues originals, Cameron (which incidentally looks abit like Jim Morrison) is a veteran on the local music scene. Having performed growing up at various venues, Cam has always loved playing one instrument or another.

“It makes me feel alive to perform.”

Cam is looking specifically to set up some regular gigs for himself and his music but for the moment:

“Open Mics are a way to get my confidence up and get my music out to audiences.”

For other local musicians on the scene:

“Keep doing it [playing music] so it doesn’t die off anymore than it already has. I used to play Open Mics growing up as well and those venues have started dropping off or stopped hosting live music altogether.”

To encourage more people to attend Open Mics to watch the performances, Cam says:

“You get to hear a range of music. Instead of just listening to the radio which has a bunch of dance music and international acts, search for what else is out there.”

“There’s so much talent [on the local scene] you wouldn’t even hear about.”

Cam will be playing at the Cornish Arms on Monday nights and Bar Oussou on Tuesday nights.

Keep up to date with his originals at www.soundcloud.com/cameronlee-brown

Laura Taylor

Open Mic Night @ The Cornish Arms

“One day I’ll be brave and sing from my own pocket of life.”

With soothingly gentle tones and simple sounds radiating from Laura’s guitar, her acoustic pop originals commanded the undivided attention of the crowd.

“When I write my songs it’s rarely about myself, I always find myself taking on experiences of those I love around me and a way of processing this is through songwriting. I write for and from them.”

She truly loves singing and performing in general and whilst this was her 2nd open mic night ever, she has played regularly for café crowds.

Laura is set on a career in the music industry, not only as a musician but also in terms of working for music magazines. She completed her Bachelor of Pop Music, and is now studying a Bachelor of Communications, whilst working part-time in retail.

Speaking to other musicians on the local scene:

“Don’t be put off by people talking.”

To encourage people to listen to live music at the grass roots level:

“Come down and experience something you wouldn’t normally.”

Unfortunately she’s only visiting in Melbourne and is returning to NZ for studies, however you can keep up with her awesome tracks on her soundcloud account: https://soundcloud.com/laura_taylor-1

Simon Mac

Open Mic Night @ The Cornish Arms

“Hello, my name’s Simon. What do you do?”

Variety is what open mic nights are all about and Simon is the very definition of that, showcasing his fantastic rapping, rhyming and vocal harmonics completely A Cappella.

Whilst he had performed his rhymes before, he had never tried his singing on stage. Just before singing he confessed to his nervousness, which was met by roars of encouragement from the eager listeners in the crowd. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and nailed it.

Buzzing from the adrenalin after the set and coming off stage to an amazing reception, he gives me the strongest high-5 ever. I was so happy for him!

He plays open mics to evolve his vocals and asked me to quote directly “Throat Chakra Upgrade”; an interesting concept, Google it.

But the most interesting reason for performing Open Mics is to assist with his future career as a primary school teacher!

“So how does playing Open Mics help with being a primary school teacher?”

“They help me in developing the vocal confidence and presence that the role requires.”

By day, Simon studies his Masters in Primary School Teaching, writes rhymes, and volunteers at various social initiatives such as ‘lentils as anything’.

“What would you say to other musicians on the local scene?”

“Hello, my name’s Simon, what do you do?”

On commenting about people who don’t check out live music at the grass roots level:

“Before musicians make it big, they start in the low key venues; these are the low key venues.”

You can catch Simon and his rhymes at Bar Oussou on Tuesday nights, and the Brunswick Hotel Monday and Wednesday nights.

Stevii Hill

Open Mic Night @ The Cornish Arms

“I love writing songs and I want to get my music out to people.”

Just recently moved to Melbourne from New Zealand in December, Stevii, armed with her guitar and her originals captured the audience’s attention early on in the evening.

Interested in a career in music, Stevii spends her time working for a record label, writing original music in the genre of folk/pop, and drinking alot of tea. She also plays the good old fashioned tambourine.

Heartstrings Music Fact #1: No musician is complete until they play the tambourine or triangle.

Speaking to other musicians on the local scene:

“Play more originals than covers.”

Encouraging people to check out live music at the grass roots level:

“Come along for a relaxed evening – have a drink, sing some songs. Bring your tambourines or harmonicas.”

She immediately followed this up with:

“Next week there’ll be like twenty people here with tambourines, won’t there?!”

You should bring your triangles, tambourines, harmonicas, etc. to the Cornish Arms next Monday night and play along with Stevii’s songs!

Be sure to check out her facebook page for updates on her music: https://www.facebook.com/steviihillmusic

James Hallal

Open Mic Night @ The Cornish Arms

“The two guys at the table are part of the band and we’re trying to make it.”

With an amazingly smooth voice, pumping out the likes of David Bowie and other classic rock covers was James Hallal; ALDI store employee, web designer, English conversation class coordinator for immigrants and refugees, and musician (obviously).

Having played music for nearly 12 years, James has no shortage of talent (which includes ‘multi-tasking’ considering all his commitments); He plays piano, guitar, vocals, and drums.

“I play Open Mics for fun. A mate’s parents recently came down from the UK and asked me what to do in Melbourne; I invited them down to an Open Mic and played for them.”

On giving advice to other musicians on the local scene:

“Just come up and play, [the atmosphere] is really unpretentious; have a go!”

On commenting about people who don’t check out live music at the grass roots level:

“Local venues are the best because of their human element – the spontaneity, the community; obviously we all have our favourite bands that we like to see, but you never know who you might find at a place like this.”

James will be playing at the Cornish Arms next Monday night at their Open Mic – be sure to catch him performing.

Keep up to date with his covers here: https://soundcloud.com/jameshallal
Check out his cover of Space Oddity by David Bowie – his performance of that was especially great!