Manchester Open Mic’s: Whiskey Jar #6

After the amazing performances we’ve seen so far, the bar keep creeping higher and higher every time we attend the Whiskey Jar’s open mic night. But, as expected, this week (28th February 2023) expectations were exceeded once again. Further cementing it’s roll as the best open mic night in Manchester.

If you don’t already know, this night is held twice weekly (Tuesday & Wednesday) at the Whiskey Jar in Manchester, hosted by the legend Joe Bagpipes and visited by some of the best talent in the country and sometimes even beyond that. To check out Joe’s social media, he is @joebagpipes on Instagram and Facebook.

Fraser Catini is a great act that we got the pleasure of seeing for the second time this year. Fraser has always been a phenomenal artist to watch, consistently showing skill and humility. Fraser played three tracks for us, one of which is called ‘Daisy Chain’. Fraser uses symbolism to link a woman to a flower. Using pesticide and root twisting, as a description of toxicity leaking into relationships. Whenever listening to his performances it’s always so clear how talented he is as a songwriter and storyteller. In his third track ‘Caroline’, which is Fraser’s first song released on Spotify, he tells a story about troubles with alcohol where he shares quotes such as “So don’t pour another glass, ‘cos Caroline the good things never last” really making you think and appreciate the high points in life. Fraser’s launch party is on the 18th of March in Liverpool, so if you're able to go and support him you should make the trip! To hear more from Fraser, visit his Instagram at @frasercattini

Green Wire are another act that graced the stage last Tuesday, a band that set some very high standards for the other artists performing. Joe (@joebagpipes) has known the box drummer Charlie for a long time, so as Joe does, he gave a hyped entrance and they were worth it! The trio’s performance started with a song called ‘Half A Man’ which is inspired by John Cooper Clark, the famous Manchester poet. They followed this up with ‘Last Laugh’, the group’s best performing song on Spotify so keep pushing the numbers up on it. They have also recently released a music video for it, proving their talent and dedication to their craft. The lads will be playing at Night and Day on the 8th of May so make sure to turn up to support this group! The lead singer Simon has a beautiful voice whether it’s intense or softly sang, his capabilities are top tier, Charlie (drummer) and Matthew (bassist) both also add so much to the performance despite the stripped back style of the Whiskey Jar. Charlie on box drum at the event was relentless, and Matthew’s bass playing ties the whole thing together. If you want to find these guys you can see them as @greenwiretheband on Instagram, definitely take a look!

Jamie Ferguson is a name known by many who visit the Whiskey Jar. Jamie, the esteemed guitar player and performer will unfortunately not be playing for a while in Manchester now, due to him performing on a cruise over the next 6 months travelling around the world! We wish him all the best in his adventures and endeavours. As he isn't able to play for a long time Joe let Jamie perform an extra track, which he opted to play Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. Jamie’s style of guitar playing while very different to most, is an incredible thing to see. Instead of holding the guitar in the regular position Jamie sees the guitars’ musical ability from all angles in order to its full potential, using the body as a drum and slapping the strings with individual fingers as if he were playing a xylophone. This gave a more a sharper and stronger sound. You can truly see the enjoyment and dedication he has when playing extremely complicated songs and then complicating it further with his style of play, the best example being ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC which left the room in awe. You need to keep up to date with Jamie as he will be releasing some arrangements soon, so follow his Instagram at @jamiefergusonmusic!

Ollie West made another appearance at the Whiskey Jar on the 28th. Representing his band 'Ollie West & The Wildflowers' in style by wearing a rather wild flowery shirt. Ollie played three tracks for us, none of which are currently out at the moment but they all will be eventually! They were called ‘Father’, ‘Carlisle’ and ‘Gabriel’ all laced with passion and care. Ollie’s second song was a real tear jerker. Giving some context beforehand Ollie said that ‘Carlisle’ is about his grandfather who is unfortunately quite ill (our best wishes to the West family). He went on to explain that he wrote this song for his grandmother, whose maiden name is Carlisle. Ollie’s piano playing is truly an inspiring thing to watch, making us all wish we could make it look that easy. He pairs his piano skills with some powerful vocals, really taking over the room with his presence. Something which is easier said than done in a packed bar. Ollie will be going on tour very soon and to find out where, go to his Instagram @olliewestwildflowers!

David Hanners performed for us again last week, and every time we get to hear him it's so much fun! David is an American now living in Manchester, originally from the East Central Illinois. David has come across the pond to show us how they do it over there with some classic American folk. He is a gifted storyteller and singer who puts a lot of his life experience into his music. This is seen most prominently in one of his songs ‘Black GTO’ which is about the Pontiac GTO, an American muscle car as well as the want to grow up fast and get a drivers license. But not understanding the dangers that can come with that kind of responsibility. He has a distinct style when performing, which is key for his storytelling, hooking and drawing in the audience with each word. He performs with a guitar and uses a spoken word style of singing, making you focus on every word he has to say. You can find David appearing at the Whiskey Jar very regularly and also on Instagram @dhanners55.

To start off, Daniel and Connor are a fantastically co-ordinated duo, the combination of the acoustic and electric guitars between them works so beautifully. You could tell that they have spent many hours before coming down to show everyone at the Whiskey Jar some amazing musical pieces. In their first song “Something Is Changing” Daniel leads in with the acoustic as Connor backs him with the electric. Daniel’s part of the song is a deeper one, focussing on the essence of change between a couple, and how people can become estranged due to life getting in the way. The song has some hard-hitting quotes such as “I watch you as you fall but never hit the floor” and “Something is changing for you, maybe I’ll change myself too”. Relationships are full of internal struggle and reflection which this song gets across so well due to Daniel’s talent and lyricism. Connor perfects the mood with an electric guitar by playing long drawn-out notes that add that extra infliction of sadness. Daniel and Connor will be back at the Whiskey Jar on the 22nd of March so see to it that you’re there to listen, and will be at Lost Cat on the 23rd. If you want to find more of them, you can find them as @danielmthomas and @connorkeaster on Instagram!

Thank you for reading the latest entry into our new open mic series. We apologise for the delay on this one. After the next issue we will be back on track to have them coming out weekly, we'll be sure to catch you next time! Big thank you to everyone involved at the Whiskey Jar, we're looking forward to coming back already.

Written by Sam Wright.