Monthly Archives: April 2017

My First Open Mic at the Royal Oak in Kanata

Well I finally did it. I took my backtrack tunes , my trusty Jazzmaster guitar and my MP3 player hardware setup to the Royal Oak restaurant in Kanata North, on March Road. A nice small homey venue. I figure this is where I want to begin my open mic tour.

I looked up the open mic opportunities in Ottawa and there are many before I picked my first venue. It helped that the Royal Oak was close by and the rules for players was relaxed.

Just look up Open mics in Ottawa. This was the first search result that popped up revealing a good picture of where the many open mics are in town and a short description of the venue in each location.

The hosts that night was Jill Ross and Dan Austin. An established couple that’s been on the music scene here in Ottawa for some time.

Royal Oak Open Mic

They kept the the crowd happy with their relaxed attitude and folksy tunes.

Setup was simple. There was already a small audio setup in place. I just hooked my MP3 BT player into the mixing board, did a short sound check and I was ready – or so I thought. See my comments later on in this post.

bill werba on guitar

I prepared and played the number of tunes I thought I was allowed to play:

  • Faithful Love
  • Saranande
  • Sleepwalk
  • I Miss you So

I practiced these a lot, to the point I felt really comfortable playing them in public.

Of course if there was a slow night of attendees you could play more, but I did not have more tunes ready to play… and it was a slow night. I was the only attendee. Yikes.

There is couple of things I learned for the next open mic experience.

1 – as much as there may be a sound system available, it won’t work well for my kind of setup. Most people showing up play guitar and sing – perfect for them. However, to get a controlled audio mix (which I need), bring your own powered monitor. Best put on a mic stand close to your ears. The overall sound clatter in the venue is too distracting. I did not get clear sound from my backtracks while I was playing. Not good from a performers point of view.

2 – any fears you have of a critical listening audience looking and hearing your every pick, twang and/or mistake – not to worry. No body seems to care; though I can’t be sure. Which is great. Most of the restaurant people are enjoying their meals and busy in their own conversations. Conclusion, view these open mics as a chance to play out without being too critical on yourself. Play as if you were practicing. If people are indeed listening – a double win. Of course, if there were other attendees waiting their turn to play, you will have a listening audience. You will be playing to your peers.

Overall a great experience, looking forward to my next outing.


Claude Ciari | La Playa (The Beach)

About this Video
La Playa or Spanish for ‘the beach’

I came across this tune recently and liked it immediately. It has a smooth melodic latin sound and playing style. The first artist I came across playing the tune was Claude Ciari. The posted video was a vintage early version of a music video shot in black and white on 16mm film. The date of release looks like around 1964.

There was a similar video title description – La Oreja de Van Gogh – La Playa, but was clearly not the tune I was interested in.

After having a listen to the many other artists playing La Playa, I thought Claude Ciari not only presented this tune in its release in 1964, but wrote it. However, further reading showed this is not the case. The author of this tune was Jo Van Wetter. In addition, I thought this was just an instrumental, but low and behold it had lyrics as well as I discovered, written by Pierre Barouch. I did see one video of the tune being sung with French lyrics. Very nice indeed.

For my part I believe that Claude Ciari is the face and player of this tune and would represent my take on re-producing my own music video version.

I searched for guitar tabs and any available backtracks before I would take on this tune as a learning starting point. The guitar tabs I did find had errors and there was no backtrack to play against. So I built a simple backtrack using my handy Chordpulse software and worked from that just to get going. I ended up adapting my own guitar tab version anyway using this tool.

The tune is in the key of Dm, played in 4/4 time, has a tempo of about 100 to 110 (settle on 105bpm – go figure) and has a basic latin rhumba rhythm for the playing style.

The tabs I finally worked out are posted as a free download found on my Resources page in both PDF and Word format. Look out for any updates as I may change the tab content to new things I discover.

Back Tracks
The biggest challenge has been to make a pro sounding backtrack myself this time, verses the earlier collaborations I had done for my past tunes. I investigated several composition software products like Presonus Studio One, Cubase, Cakewalk and others and have settled on ‘Band in the Box’ or BAIB.

Those other products are certainly powerful music making tools, but the expense and the steep learning curve are real showstoppers for me. I was sold on how BIAB worked and the large music library in their Real band, Real Tracks and Real Drums product line. The lower cost was also a big factor (bigger bang for the buck – I just got the simple Pro version) and the learning curve was surprisingly workable. The user interface is a bit clunky but reasonably intuitive. The on-line chat and email support was very good.

In learning BIAB, I first developed the song using a simple Real Track supported 4/4 ballad style as there was only a simple unusable low quality MIDI track in rhumba style available. In the end, I did buy a latin based Real Drums bundle for just $29 bucks ($50 CAD) and rebuilt the back track. You can have a sample listen of my finished tracks on the Resources page. The BIAB business model where you buy what you need is a big plus for me. I really don’t need the big bundles offered even though it has a lot of great tracks, but in the end will never be used as far as I can see.

I have used my Takamine acoustic for this tune. I’ll probably release an electric version using my Jazzmaster later.

Please provide comments below on my music video. Thanks.

See below for additional information that may be of interest.
Equipment Used and Settings

  • Takamine acoustic guitar.
  • Strymon Flint Reverb, tremolo effect not used. Slight reverb only


  • My fully orchestrated BIAB BT version is available as a member. Get both the ballad and rhumba MP3 versions if you like.
  • I can make the Chordpulse version available if need be. Will need sufficient requests to do so.

Guitar TAB Sheets
Written in MS WORD 2003, using generic Courier type font. Any version of Word after 1997 can open this file. Must be a member for access to my guitar tabs and/or backing track(s).

A blank guitar TAB work sheet for your own edits and mods are also available. Must be a member to access. Join Us – see menu item on top of this web page to Join.