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Welcome to the eleventh instalment of Monday #MusicMatters as part of the JAMS Canada PRO Series – “Here’s What I Know”.

We caught up with Tony Vani for his insight on Playing At Open Mics.


Where does your desire to showcase other musicians come from and how did you learn to organize/produce open mics?

My desire to showcase other musicians comes from wanting to use the stage to lift others up and un-centre myself.  It is important to me help others find a safe and nurturing environment to perform and feel good about themselves.  It is also rewarding to usher in younger or inexperienced musicians to gain skills.


What are some of your tips to running a successful open mic event?

Some tips to running a successful open mic event are:

  1. Having a two song limit on performers.
  2. Advertise the event well enough that both audience and participants know about it.
  3. Be organized, that is, make sure there is a signup sheet and stick to it.
  4. Adhere to the hours set up for event  and don’t overextend the time,  2 to 3 hours is a good time frame.

What are some of your do’s and don’ts for musicians who want to participate in an open mic event – for instance jumping in on someone else’s songs. 

Don’t perform something that is too challenging for you. The KISS principal applies here.  It is better to do something well , and that you can nail as opposed to a difficult piece that you don’t know well.

Be prepared, for example have your sheet music ready and your guitar tuned up beforehand
Introduce what you are performing if the MC does not
Thank your audience
Be polite and pay attention to other performers
Learn from other performers
Ask a professional attending or MC how you did or how you can improve
Record yourself beforehand and listen critically
Show up on time to guarantee a spot for yourself
Be humble, it’s not a place for showing off


As a rehearsal method, you use YouTube to find arrangements then share with everyone.  Is that how many others rehearse or is it something unique to you?

I use YouTube to find arrangements, learn the music, get lessons, jam and sing along etc. I believe most other musicians use some of the methods I mentioned.  It is a tremendous help and resource.

I thought of that method because it is more available than other methods. For example, when I am unable to rehearse with others I use YouTube to substitute.  I like it because it is so immediate and handy.  YouTube is vast and it has almost every  type of resource that I need.  No need to buy resources from a store or no need go to the library or seek out a teacher or friends for answers or help.


How has COVID 19 impacted you – what are negatives & positives.  Are there things you will change in your music business going forward?

COVID 19 has impacted me significantly.  I have lost money for cancelled performances. I have also lost valuable rehearsing time with other band members.  And, as time goes on you also lose contacts with venues and audiences that follow you.  As for positives, I am able to concentrate more on writing and recording.  In addition, I have made more of an impact on social media in regard to music as I have more time on my hands to explore that area.  I have also been able to find more time to rehearse for music on my solo act because I am not working on band material.



Although starting late in his musical journey in his late 20’s,Tony Vani more than made up for lost time. His first gigs were outside of his home town of Belleville, Ontario, first in Ottawa then in Edmonton.

It was in Edmonton where his friend, who lost his front man, coaxed him into becoming lead singer in a blues rock band. He took to it right away and after that his musical career began in earnest.  His love for blues led him to the harmonica and it became his instrument of choice playing other instruments on the way.

Music reviewer David Reed said of his harmonica playing, “The best description for his playing is “authentic.” I hear flashes of Charlie Musselwhite and the immortal Little Walter.” While Tony is known for Blues, he enjoys performing in other genres.

In one of the earlier bands he opened for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.  Today, besides writing, recording and performing, divides his time with assisting adults experiencing learning and physical challenges.  He and his partner Debbie, who is an accomplished singer, are owned by 6 poodles.   

In addition, Tony finds the time to teach music and organize open mics for aspiring local musicians. Tony is well known in the area and performs as a solo,  duo’s and  bands while performing and producing various musical themed shows.

Find out more about at Tony Vani Website and on his Facebook page @tonyvani.



Look for more JAMS Canada PRO Series “Here’s What I Know” Monday #MusicMatters here on our website and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In.

Some contributors also responded with videos – please subscribe to our JAMS Canada YouTube channel: