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Mic Check: The Lackawanna Grove Bar

This is an open mic review article written by Tim Weir, a local musician whose goal is to play at and attend every open mic in Erie and Niagara Counties. What he has found is a wide variety of musicians, styles, sound systems, venues and crowds. The hope is that these reviews and the website devoted to this project will help people know where to go any day of the week for an open mic in the area, and find an open mic that best suits what they are looking for. There are currently at least 42 known open mics within the two-county area, and currently over 28 of them and counting have been visited by this reviewer.

The Lackawanna Grove Bar, 2947 South Park Ave.

577845_440481826016940_341783454_nI had the opportunity to visit a relatively new open mic recently that is hosted by two prominent members of Widow Maker, Michael Hund and Alison Janet (Rabbitt) at the Lackawanna Grove in Lackawanna. The bar is just a bit south of Ridge Rd and the Basilica on South Park Avenue. This weekly open mic starts at 8pm and goes until around 11pm on Thursdays.

This open mic features an unplugged but high energy acoustic rock and roll sound. If you enjoy high powered rock and roll, great vocals and incredible acoustic performances, this is the open mic for you. Michael and Alison are sending out a clarion call to let area musicians know they are waiting for area performers to come and participate in this open mic.

As a recent participant of this open mic, I found Hund and Janet very cordial hosts and tend to have a “check your ego at the door policy.” This means it is all about the music. Both hosts like to collaborate or let performers do their own thing, and this creates some very fun scenarios when a new performer comes and can have Michael and/or Alison back them up instrumentally or vocally. Both have won numerous musical awards locally, and Hund is a Buffalo Music Awards Hall of Fame member.

It is amazing to me that you can go to a bar like the Lackawanna Grove on a Thursday night and hear these two great performers for FREE! I know their regular four piece—Widow Maker Band—is highly acclaimed. This band won awards locally for “Best Rock Band” the last four years by the Buffalo Music Awards. Hund’s son Dylan also plays in the Widow Maker Band and is the most talented bass player I have ever heard and incredible sound engineer, as evidenced by his involvement in the Wednesday evening open mic with the Usual Suspects, which I’ve written about previously.

Being someone who enjoys collaborating with better performers than myself, I had the opportunity to play and sing with both hosts, and it was a treat. First of all, the vocal chemistry between Janet and Hund is absolutely perfect. Harmonies, crystal clear, on just about every song. Incredible songs, songs you will hardly ever hear elsewhere, and these two pull off effortlessly. Some examples: “One Love” by Journey and “Hey Baby” by Ted Nugent.

In my humble opinion, Michael Hurd and Alison Janet are the best acoustic duo I have heard by far in this area.

The age range of the patrons of this facility was 30’s to 60’s and a very lively, friendly neighborhood bar. When the music really got rolling, people would stream into the back and nod and sing, which happens often. The sound was well-mixed but just a little on the loud side, but in my opinion sounded great.

The only thing that is missing at this open mic is additional performers. Hund and Janet truly enjoy supporting other performers and helping them, and I can tell you that after I played and sang several songs with them that evening, if the good Lord had taken me right then and there, that would have been okay with me.

For me personally, it was truly a joy and honor getting to play with a Hall of Fame musician and two incredible singers. If you love music or you love performing or both, the hosts of this open mic are very gracious hosts and waiting for you. I heartily recommend this open mic.