Open Mic at Bar 4
444 7th Avenue
February 20, 2007
Written and Photographed
(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,
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
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
out. "I heard about this open mic on urbanfolk.com."
He said. Was he
glad he came? "Definitely. I will absolutely
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