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I Was Discovered by Michael Meldrum…

Filed under: Allentown, Music, Obituary

Singer-songwriter Tom Stahl remembers how Michael Meldrum, who died Thursday evening, launched Stahl’s late-in-life music career:

Michael Meldrum performing at Nietzsche's, circa 2002.

The short story is that if there was no Mike Meldrum, there would be no Tom Stahl. I was already over the hill by music industry standards when I met Michael. Just had my first back surgery, never once sang in public, not even church. I only had three songs and heard Nietzsche’s was the place to go. I went there four weeks in a row, sitting in the back, guitar at my side, nursing a beer. Walked out every night without playing.

Fifth week, January 3, 1995…about 2:30 in the morning I got up to leave again. Mike stopped me, said, “I ain’t gonna hurt ya.” Also said he wasn’t gonna let me leave ’til I played. The place was empty except for Mike and Nancy G. I played my three songs and Michael said, “You’re a songwriter. Do you wanna do a show?”

I’ve been writing songs and doing shows ever since. No Mike Meldrum, no Tom Stahl. He was a mentor and a friend, and the Buffalo music scene will never be the same without him.

And singer-songwriter Maria Sebastian remembers how Meldrum encouraged her when she was a teenager just beginning to perform live:

I met Mike in 1990 at Towne Restaurant; I was 16. He was wearing glasses and a beret, and he treated me like a serious artist. I was just beginning to sing in the area and started playing open mics, Nietzsche’s included. Michael was very supportive, as he is to all new artists, among others. He turned me on to Lucinda Williams and b-sides of artists I had already loved like Suzanne Vega and John Lennon. I have fond memories of rehearsing at his house with his little children, Alex banging drums or whatever was in sight. I know he said it about many acts, and he sure did give a boost to some of them, but when he told folks he “discovered” me, it made me smile, and it always will.

We’ll keep publishing stories and  remembrances of Michael Meldrum all week. Feel free to send yours to Or post it below.

  • Maria Sebastian

    I agonize over typos. Make that “sight” (not site) in my paragraph about Mike. 😉

  • Tom,

    I remember I’m the mid 90’s the scene you described…

    I wanted to write songs and record them in my basement. I was talked into singing and performing at mikes open mic night. He came right over and gave more confidence them I deserved, he invited me to his home .. He nurtured my talent.

    If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t have a career in music.

    The truth is when we were invited to his little private parties Michael would in the corner of his dining room showing some kid a new chord or new instrument, he would look up lovingly and thank you for coming .. Then went back to doing what he did … Help inspire musicians like Tom stahl, ani difranco, folks like myself who went on to other things and scenes in music.

    I can’t imagine how many lives he has touched.