“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!

Scott Candlish

“I want to do as much as I can, so I don’t have any regrets in 6 years’ time.”

Scott Candlish graced the Cornish Arms Open Mic stage showing passion and emotive quality throughout his brilliant performance. His expressive vocal tone and airy guitar gave off a nostalgic vibe, drawing the audience’s attention to this promising musician.

Playing some original acoustic songs for us, he showed his great talent for songwriting. His performance displays a passion for classic melody and harmony, influenced by the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, Crowded House and Daniel Johns.

“Harmonies create such a balance and enhance the overall sound, like a magnet coming together.”

As a 22 year-old music student, Scott is coming into his own as a performing artist. In his determination to learn and grow as a musician, he keeps his attention focused on his music:

“I put pressure on myself to play and get better… I have a passion for music, it just feels right.”

With a newly-formed band and an EP in the works, he hopes to spend the next few years developing his skills and building his audience. Scott is determined to explore all musical possibilities while he can.

“I want to share and play my music and pick up as many people as possible on the way. I want to do as much as I can, so I don’t have any regrets in 6 years time.”

Scott is pretty excited for the year ahead. He hopes to continue on his musical journey and get his band out there to develop a following:

“I have a solid ground of confidence and now it’s just about developing ways to connect with people.”

You can check him out on Facebook and keep posted on his upcoming activity with his band.

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.

The Cornish Arms

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“You get the opportunity to see some great acts and chat to people who love live music.”

Situated in the musical heart of Brunswick on Sydney road, The Cornish Arms have always supported local live music. Speaking on behalf of the venue, veteran barman Lachlan Lane explains that over the years, the venue has hosted music ranging from 70s soul/funk, local Melbourne grunge, DJs, blues, etc. but these days you’ll find more acoustic acts with afew rock bands thrown in the mix as well.

“The Cornish Arms was the place to go and get your music fix.”


The venue complements its music reputation with a focus on good food. People come down for a good feed and stick around for the music acts. You can expect free live music on Fridays and Saturdays, including their Open Mic on Monday nights – a stage I’ve had the pleasure of playing on myself.

“Every Monday night [since 2009] there’s always been an Open Mic – I can’t remember a single Monday we haven’t hosted one.”

The Cornish Arms stage sees comedians, first-time music performers, travellers new to the area, etc. From a performer’s perspective it is a delight to play there – perfect amount of fold-back and a well-balanced sound for the audience.


Many performers have gone on to bigger things such as ‘Busy Kingdom’ playing the Sydney Road & St Kilda festival in 2014, and even a 70s soul/funk band ‘Electric Empire’ playing the prestigious Glastonbury festival in 2011!

At the same time, the venue has played host to some… interesting acts. A notable one that Lachlan recalls was a musician who would plug his iPod in his ears and play along to songs that only he could hear in his headphones. All the crowd could hear was monotonous singing and 2 notes on the guitar over and over. Some comic relief though surely for the audience, but as Lachlan rightly states:

“Good on him for having a crack”

Musicians need to be sensitive about adapting their style for the venue or choosing venues with a crowd who appreciates their style.

“Here [Brunswick] you wouldn’t really put a cover band on.”

In closing, Lachlan expressed concern about Melbourne’s dwindling live music scene:

“It’s all about getting to the gigs. I know budget-wise it’s easy to get blind at home and then go to the gig, but it doesn’t support the pub. They’re spending money to put the band on.”


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 and at

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:

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:

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:
Check out his cover of Space Oddity by David Bowie – his performance of that was especially great!