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



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!!