beer, craft beer, improvised music, Jazz, Modern Music, Music, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Update – September 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog (and an equally long time since I proclaimed I’d pay closer attention to it!) but here I am to give you a little update on what I’ve been up to. It’s easier if I just post my most recent mailing to my email list…enjoy!

Hi All,

A lot has been happening lately so I’ll do my best to catch you up with a short email.

First things first, I want to tell you about a great new opportunity I have been given in the Bethlehem area. As of a few weeks ago, I am now the jazz teacher at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. I’m very excited to work with all of the talented students and direct the school’s accomplished Big Band. I’ll be sure keep you posted about any performances involving the group.

This month also marks a big first for me as I’ll be embarking on my first “tour” as a leader. Its short but you have to start somewhere! My trio will be playing a few gigs in Northern Vermont between September 13th and September 15th. Some stuff is still in the works but we’re excited nonetheless. Our big gig is at Hill Farmstead Brewery, recently rated the “best brewery in the world” by, in Greensboro, VT on Saturday, September 14th for Zwanze Day 2013, a major international beer event.

I continue to play weekly trio gigs at the best brewery in PA, Tired Hands Brewing Company. We have moved jazz night to Sundays for the time being and have had a great turn out. Join us one of these times if you can!

Edison’s Hot Mess keeps bouncing along as well and I continue to work on my solo repertoire at a handful of local gigs. Everything is detailed below. Come out to a gig and say ‘hi!’


Every Sunday in September (Sept 8th, not the 15th, 22nd and 29th)

Jazz night!!! (a unique trio every week!)

@ Tired Hands Brewing Company
16 Ardmore Ave
Ardmore, PA


Northern Kingdom Tour!!!
Friday September 13th – Sunday September 15th

Trio w/ Justin Sekelewski and Kevin Daly

Friday – TBD, near Montpelier, VT
Saturday – @ Hill Farmstead Brewery, Zwanze Day 2013, 3-6pm
Sunday – @ Three Penny Taproom, 108 Main St. Montpelier, VT 12-3pm


Sunday, September 8th

Solo Guitar – Jazz Brunch

@ Sette Luna
219 Ferry St.
Easton, PA


Thursday, September 12th

Edison’s Hot Mess

@ the Bookstore Speakeasy
336 Adams St.
Bethlehem, PA


Friday, September 20th

Edison’s Hot Mess

@ Two Rivers Brewing Company
542 Northampton St.
Easton, PA


Thursday, September 26th

Solo guitar

@ the Trapp Door
4226 Chestnut St.
Emmaus, PA


Saturday, September 28th

Edison’s Hot Mess

@ the Bookstore Speakeasy
336 Adams St.
Bethlehem, PA


Arts, improvised music, Jazz, Modern Music, Music, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Ian O’Beirne’s Glasswork

Ian O’Beirne’s Glasswork

My friend Ian just released his first record called Glasswork. The physical copies of the CD will be here in a few weeks but for now you can stream all of the tracks and download the album if that’s your thing.

This is my first time occupying the producers chair and I have to say it was a wonderful experience. Listening as a producer is a lot different than listening as a composer/performer!! I’m really proud of the product we produced and hope you enjoy it!

I’m inspired by Ian’s determination in this process and hope to get into the studio to record some of my own music before the year is through.


I’ve been snoozing on the blog of late so hopefully I can get back in the swing of things soon. For now, I wanted to share Ian’s music. Some ideas for blog posts I have running in my head are to chronicle my experience as producer of this record, discuss the importance of having a sense of place in performance situations and to talk about some nice folks I’ve met recently through playing music.


Just Do the Gig!!!

When I used to gig with my friend Doug Hawk ( he would often tell me, in all his ever-charming grumpiness, to “just do the gig.” It became a great running joke in his band that if something was going wrong (be it with your life, the music, whatever…) you should basically suck it up and “just do the gig.”

Believe it or not, this rather innocuous joke has become a sort of mantra for me as a working, free-lancing musician. I even mentioned it in a recent interview with WXPN’s The Key! (check it out!)

I’ve often been called (or in some cases, accused) of being a “thinker.” I guess this is true…I like to meditate and ruminate on ideas and thoughts until they are really put through their paces in my brain. As a composer and perfomer, I feel like this is reflected in the music I’ve written released under my own name (see for yourself). So, accuse me of “thinking too much” about this one but Doug’s “just do the gig” to me can mean a lot of things to me.

Just do the gig

Just play the song

…serve the song

…serve the music

…honor the space in which the music is being made

…honor the audience

“Just do the gig” has come to mean all of these things to me. I mention some of these ideas in the aforementioned interview with the Key but here I can elaborate a little bit. 

The three ideas that stick out the most to me are the last three listed above. Serve the song, honor the space and honor the audience. As a free-lancing musician, I need to be versatile. My versatility is something that keeps me working in numerous situations. Any given month I can be playing my own music in a jazz setting, supporting other jazz musicians on their gigs be they standards or originals, playing 20-40s songs with my own early jazz group, playing in a NOLA style brass band, playing classical music or reading through the score of a Broadway musical in a pit orchestra. That’s a lot of stuff! 

Logically, I don’t bring my guitar pedals out for most of these gigs like I might for gigs playing my own music. I also try to adhere the language and musical vocabulary I use to suit the gig. To some, this might mean I’m trying to sound like someone else on these gigs. To me, I enjoy the challenge of serving the music and doing right by the song…by being able to “just do the gig.”

Furthermore, to “honor the audience” and to “honor the space” is of great importance to me. If I’m playing at a bar where people are talking and enjoying themselves, I try my best to play with creative feeling and spirit while still giving the audience something they may anticipate or expect in the given space. The best example of this is when I play one of my many local gigs with Edison’s Hot Mess at the Bookstore Speakeasy in Bethlehem, PA. We play older songs that fit the vibe of the speakeasy era and I try to fit myself into the style as best I can…to strive for a greater understanding of the music of that time and what it means to me and my instrument. It’s a challenge that I welcome! It would be easier for me to just play as I would play on any other gig…to play “my sound” or whatever…but it would also be a diservice to the space, audience and the song. When the gig says “Mike Lorenz” on the calendar, perhaps its a different story. I feel the audience and the space may expect something different at that point. I enjoy this delineation. 

Being careful and respectful of these ideas can really mean a lot to the performance and the experience of the listener. Other, more jaded, musicians might disagree with this idea but I feel even the most untrained or uninitiated audience members can see, feel, and hear when a musician is putting out energy to the listener or if they are simply playing for their own satisfaction. 

Compare the recordings I’ve released with Doug’s last two releases, Orange EP and Eleven Alive and see what I mean by being able to “just do the gig.”



Try, Try Again

With the spring approaching, the sun shining further and further into the day and flowers beginning to consider their opportunity to bloom, I have decided to pay closer attention to this blog space. 

Things have been up in the air and all over the place (in many good ways!) since my last post so this first one back will be a post about reassessing, catching up and filling in.


Last post, on Sept 18th of 2012, I made some declarative statements about my ambition to do a solo recording. As it turns out, lots of guitar players, specifically jazz guitar players, are doing solo recordings/performances these days! Check out new albums by Jonathan Kreisberg, Bill Frisell and Mike Gamble or tune into the live feed at Smalls to catch a solo set by Peter Bernstein. I’m sure there are many I’m missing too! This is good AND bad I guess. This many guitarists can’t be wrong, right?! This development makes me feel like I am on the right track. However, with so many fantastic players releasing solo recordings I began to think, where would mine fit in? This, obviously, put a stall in my recording ambitions. As it stands I’m still “researching” this project and hope to have new music to share soon.


Since the turn of the calendar to 2013 I have had the good fortune of playing many trio gigs throughout the Philadelphia area. This great new trend has been brought on by bi-weekly gigs at one of my favorite places to hangout and imbibe, Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, PA. This place is truly fantastic and is making waves in the craft beer world. It is truly a great experience getting to present creative, original music that I love at a space that is full of creative, kind and generous folks. Come by this Thursday, March 7th to see everything Tired Hands has to offer. We’ll be playing music from my album, Of the Woods.

The opportunity to play trio gigs has me considering a trio recording project at some point in the near to not-so-near future. This, with the aforementioned hangups about recording a solo album, have created quite the to-do list in my head.


My goal for now is to update this thing every Monday from here on out. Lets see how long that lasts!!


Solo ideas…a work in progress

Last week I wrote a new blog post introducing my idea to do a solo recording before the end of the year. I’d like to make public some ideas I’ve been working on over the past month and open up the comments for feedback. I’m not sure what direction the solo recording is going to take quite yet but I am open to all possibilities that I can discover.

Here are two versions of the Paul Motian song “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago” that I recorded in the past few weeks.

The first was recorded Sept. 17th and is a reading of the tune on classical guitar…I like the dry nature of the instrument compared to a lot of other interpretations of Motian’s music.

The second was recorded on Sept. 4th and features a wide range of effects and colors offered to the electric guitar. It is also a longer rendition and features more improvisation.

Please share your comments or email me privately…like I said, this is a work in progress.

improvised music, Jazz, Modern Music, Music, Uncategorized

It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago

As is quite obvious, it has been far too long since I have composed a blog entry. There has been no shortage of events in my life or things to share, write, talk and think about but the time and inspiration to do so have been short. As fall begins so does a new season with new ideas and desires. The year feels like it starts in September after years of being trained by the school year calendar and so my new fall resolution is to actively write on this page.

For my first post back I’m going to run with an idea someone suggested to me almost a year ago to date. A few of my posts will drift into my usual hobbies (obsessions) but for the most this blog will be a place where I document process and progress of a new project I am hoping to complete. Over the next few months I will be “wood shedding” or “work shopping” ideas for a solo record that I hope to record by years end. This record will then hopefully be supported by a tour in May of 2013. Nothing is planned, recorded or set in stone yet but the idea is firmly planted in my brain.


The idea for the solo album came from a desire to tour and to do so as economically as possible. Touring is something I’ve never had the opportunity to do and the idea of persuading, paying and providing for a band to go on tour seemed nearly impossible to me and my finances. But, a solo tour would be up to me and me only. I then thought that the only way I could book this tour is if I had a recording to prove my worth as an out-of-town touring artist.

But what should the recording be?

I play a number of solo gigs each month in the realm of jazz standards. These gigs have been great learning opportunities and really fun to boot! From time to time I play what I’d lazily call “creative solo gigs” where I improvise freely, stretch out on tunes by my favorite jazz composers or play my own music in a less organized fashion than I would with a band. These “creative” gigs have always been rewarding and enlightening. I learn a lot about my playing, both strengths and weaknesses. It is quite a task to keep an audience’s attention with just a guitar and a bunch of songs they don’t know. From these experiences, my idea began to take on a clearer, more defined shape.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I’ve begun “work shopping” ideas by recording myself in various solo settings. My launching points have been free improvisation and a few Paul Motian songs. This seemed like as good a place to start as any. My plan is to make a recording with a 3 tiered focus. These tiers include free improvisation, original music (both “jazz” oriented and “through composed”) and interpretations of music by my favorite jazz composers (ie Monk, Motian so far). In the coming weeks I hope to update you with some “in progress” ideas and recordings.

Also in coming weeks I will likely be soliciting touring ideas and advice from anyone who would like to offer their experiences and expertise. Thanks for reading! I look forward to updating you on my progress.