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Open Mic at Bar 4
444 7th Avenue
Park Slope| Brooklyn
February 20, 2007

Written and Photographed by
Katharine Heller

(Opposite photo: Tanya Buziak signs up talent)

That indistinct noise you just heard is the collective shudder of some folks when I wrote the words "Open Mic". Immediately visions of young men in trucker hats and ironic t-shirts come to mind as they strum three chords of a guitar looking painfully complicated. What about the girl with little bangs and glasses on a stool singing songs about "him", eyes closed, a friend on a Casio keyboard accompanying her with his head down. Sound familiar?

Frankly, I love seeing new talent perform. What I don't like are the competitive and cliquey environments I often come across when I do. So upon being urged by many to check out the notorious open mic night at Bar 4 in Park Slope, I went.

Tanya Buziak (L)

This particular venue is interesting. The bar is cozy, but not too small. There is a tiny stage, and couches and candles add to the ambiance. Yes, this is your typical lounge bar. But what I found interesting was the energy of the crowd that this venue attracted. The clientele was a mix of neighborhood folk, musicians (some of whom had traveled all the way from *gasp* Manhattan) and newbies like myself who just came to see what all the fuss was about. What followed was
one of the best open mic experiences I've had in a long time. It wasn't just the wide range of talent that impressed me, but the warm and welcoming atmosphere the bar created. By the time I left, I wanted to give everyone a hug and then sing a song about it.

Musician Sami Akbari

Musician Matt Cranstoun

The creators of this event are singer/songwriter Tanya Buziak and musician Greg Tuohey, both of whom also bartend at Bar 4. "Originally I wanted to have a place to play my own music," Buziak says, "I also wanted to give my friends a chance to try out their material". It took off within a year. A weekly event, the open mic draws huge crowds every Tuesday. When I got there an hour before it started, the list was already a page long. Musicians each get two songs, and there are
no limits as to what they can do. Buziak remembers, "Once this accountant looking guy in a suit came in. He proceeded to pull out his own boombox and play recordings of the Beatles and lipsync and airguitar for 20 minutes straight."

While that did not happen the night I attended (darn it), I was treated to some great talent. Matt Cranstoun, an open mic regular, comes because he loves the vibe. "I try to come once or twice a month. I just love this place." The ethereally lovely Sami Akbari, already a name in the music scene, tells me she likes to try out her new work. She adds, "You never know who you will meet here. I've made a lot of connections and friends." Matt Diff, a first timer, opened the night
out. "I heard about this open mic on urbanfolk.com." He said. Was he
glad he came? "Definitely. I will absolutely be back."

So will I.

Open Mic at Bar 4 is every Tuesday at 9:00 sharp. Sign up begins at
8:00. The event is free.

Bar 4 - 444 7th avenue in Park Slope - 718-832-9800





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