Michael BarylaHey, you’ve found my music blog! Unless you already know me, you’re probably here because you’ve gotten my name at a jam or open mic somewhere in North Carolina.  Thanks for your interest, and I hope you enjoyed whatever it was I was playing that night.


Sarah McQuaid to play The ArtsCenter on Thursday, Sept. 18

Sarah-McQuaidRising star Sarah McQuaid’s voice has been likened to malt whiskey, melted chocolate and “honey poured into wine” (Minor 7th). A captivating performer, she seduces her audience with cheeky banter and stories from the road, as well as with stunning musicianship; in her hands, the guitar becomes much more than merely an accompanying instrument. On Thursday, September 18th at 8pm, she will perform live at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC.

Sarah’s musical output reflects her own eclectic background: she was born in Spain, raised in Chicago, holds dual US and Irish citizenship, and now lives in rural England. Refusing to be pigeonholed, she spans the genres with both her beautifully crafted originals and her interpretations of material from around the globe and down the centuries.

Sarah’s third solo album The Plum Tree and the Rose has drawn critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic: “Impeccable,” wrote fRoots (UK), while Midwest Record (USA) called it “low key but glorious and incendiary” and Hot Press (Ireland) said it “should feature on many end-of-year best-ofs.”

“Likely to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.” — Aled Jones, BBC Radio 2

“A world class talent … burns with a brilliant allure.” — Living Tradition

Tickets are $12 General advance, $8 Friends/Student advance, and $16 Day of Show. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Box Office at (919) 929-2787. The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G E. Main St. in Carrboro.

Jonathan Edwards at The ArtsCenter on Friday, September 5th

Jonathan-EdwardsFour decades into a career of uncompromising musical integrity, Jonathan Edwards remains a vital and relevant artist in today’s folk and Americana scenes. You can see this veteran performer and his stellar live show at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC on Friday, September 5th at 8:00pm.

These days Jonathan Edwards is likely to be found on the road. “I’ve been…doing what I do best, which is playing live in front of people. I’ve been concentrating on that and loving it,” he says.

An artist who measures his success by his ability to attract and take good care of an audience for four decades, Jonathan maintains that it is the feedback he receives after his shows that keeps him going.  “Sometimes, in our darker moments, we imagine our music not finding receptive ears, unable to reach open hearts. So it is really gratifying to hear [someone say], ‘Your stuff has meant a lot to me over the years.’”

On the verge of his fifth decade in the music business, Jonathan Edwards shows no sign of turning into a “Sit Down Rock and Roll Man.”  Upcoming plans include new markets, new audiences, new songs, and a new studio recording.  As this barefoot troubadour prepares for the next stage of his journey, you are more than welcome to join him for an evening or two as he continues to make good on that promise he made all the way back in 1971: “Sunshine, come on back another day … I promise you I’ll still be singing.”

Tickets are $26 General advance, $22 Friends/Student advance, and $30 Day of Show. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Box Office at (919) 929-2787. The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G E. Main St. in Carrboro.

For more information, visit

Steve Forbert with Bruce Piephoff at The ArtsCenter on Friday, September 12

Singer songwriter Steve Forbert is well-known for his poetic songs and authentic performances. On Friday, September 12th at 8:00pm, Forbert will perform live at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC. Veteran North Carolina poet and singer songwriter Bruce Piephoff will open the evening.

forbertThe unforgettable evening will again demonstrate that Forbert may be the least appreciated of the truly extraordinary singers and songwriters to emerge in the last quarter of the 20th Century. Far from a one hit wonder (“Romeo’s Tune” #11 Billboard Hot 100 in early 1980), Forbert started out with “taut, poetic lyrics” and has only gotten better. Do not miss your opportunity to celebrate popular music history in the intimacy of the ArtsCenter’s Earl & Rhoda Wynn Theater.

piephoffBruce Piephoff’s career began right here in Chapel Hill, when he was a student at UNC. He has been writing and performing songs and poetry for over 40 years. Firmly a part of the Appalachian tradition of story-songs and character portraits, it’s his versatility that makes his music so fascinating. Easily touching both the shores of folk music and poetry with simple, compelling imagery and subtle depth, Piephoff’s unassuming voice, ringing with wit and sincerity, makes for a fantastic live show.

Tickets for this show are $21 General advance, $17 Friends/Student advance, and $25 Day of Show. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Box Office at (919) 929-2787. The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G E. Main St. in Carrboro.

Here’s a video of Steve Forbert:

Here is a video of Bruce Piephoff:

Guitar and ukulele travel tips

2014-07-29 10.31.15(1)I recently took a road trip with my Baby Taylor guitar and Cordoba ukulele.  Road trips are easy:  just don’t leave your instruments in a hot car.  For lengthy trips, I drive with them in the air-conditioned passenger compartment — not in the trunk.

But what about air travel?  Can you carry guitars on a plane?  Do you need to de-tune? The answers are in these travel  tips from Taylor Guitars.

For ukuleles and other instruments, also check the TSA Musical Instruments page.




Don’t miss the next Songwriters in the Round at Patrick Janes in Cary NC

songwiters-in-the-roundI’ve not posted in a while because I’ve been too busy playing. Tonight I played a few tunes at Patrick Janes in Cary, NC and realized that I’ve not written anything since the last “Songwriter in the Round” event a month ago.  So much for keeping the blog current.

The “Songwriters in the Round” continues to be held on the last Sunday of the month from 6:00PM to 8:00PM, with an open mic immediately following that runs until 9:00PM.  These events are well run, and as I said in the previous post, the food is great.

So if you are looking for a fun acoustic event and open mic on a Sunday night, put a note on your calendar to stop by Patrick Janes on August 31.


Songwriters in the Round at Patrick Janes in Cary, NC — Sunday, June 29

songwiters-in-the-roundJust a reminder that the monthly Songwriters in the Round event is tonight at Patrick Jane’s in Cary, NC from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.  That’s followed by an open mic from 8:00 to 9:00PM.

I played this back in April.  It’s a fun crowd and the food is great.  Definitely worth a visit.

If you are up for a double-header, you can head up to the Hibernian, just a few blocks away to check out the jazz jam too, which runs until 10:00PM.

Jazz Jam — Sunday June 29 at the Cary Hibernian

246588_567368996614275_2123208966_nLooking to play jazz on a Sunday?  Drop by the Hibernian in Cary NC on Sunday, June 29 from 7:00 to 10:00PM.  The jam is organized by Gary Howell and the Shameless Commerce Division, and has been running for the last few summer Sundays. Also in attendance will be  Doug Bristol (trombone) Jim Long (sax) Chris Mervyn (bass) Scott Griffin (drums), the Church Street Band, and some other fine musicians. You are invited to bring your horn (or voice).

Gary says that, so far, everyone who has  come has gotten on-stage at least an hour and has had a good time. If you want to be sure we can play the tunes you want, bring a chart.  I think they have the Real Books on hand.

New originals-only open mic at the Maywood, Raleigh NC

open_mike_2014_smI’ve learned there’s a new open mic at the Maywood in Raleigh, NC.  Sign up is at 7PM every Wednesday.

The Maywood typically  features bands that are on the heavier side of things,  so I’m not sure how solo acoustic performances would fare there.  However, the open mic is open to artists and poets as well as musicians,  and the open mic description is decidedly positive, so it’s worth checking out.

The Maywood will provide a space for artists to work on/show their art and there will be amps, an old jazzy drum-kit, and a guitar and a bass for those who “forgot” their gear at home.

Open mics in Cary, NC

abbey roadLooking for a place to play in Cary, NC?  Here’s your weekly guide:

MondaysFortnight Brewing Company from 6:00PM to 10:00PM. Fortnight Brewing Company is a Craft Brewery and Pub. It’s Cary’s first and only brewery, reproducing the tastes of UK beer styles.  I’ve not yet played this open mic, but have heard good things from others who have.  It’s on my list.  And now I’m realizing most of the covers I perform are from UK bands…

Wednesdays – always a popular night for open mics, you can find two in Cary:

Abbey Road Tavern & Grill from 9:00PM to midnight.  As the name implies. this is a music-friendly venue, with guitars and amps adorning the walls, frequent live acts, and a great open mic. I’ve played this one several times. It’s always fun and it is very well run by Tom Teachout.  Most Wednesdays I play in downtown Raleigh, but will often close out the eve here if time allows. Some evenings impromptu jam sessions break out amongst attendees in the spacious outdoor area.

Mac’s Tavern from 8:00 to 11:00PM. This open mic is held outdoors through October, weather permitting (that is, if it’s raining outside, they don’t move the open mic indoors, instead it is cancelled).  I’ve never played here, always arriving very late in the eve.  So many open mics, so little time.

Thursdays – I’ve recently discovered the open mic at The Corner Tavern and Grill. I think this open mic is relatively new, but it is also well run.  I played there this past Wednesday and was not too surprised to find some old friends from Abbey Road in attendance along with some new friends. This open mic runs from 8:00PM until midnight. I’ll be back to this one.

Sundays – Yes, Cary has a Sunday open mic.  It’s the last Sunday of every month at Patrick Jane’s.  I played a songwriter showcase there in April.  When there is a songwriter showcase, the open mic immediately follows, with the entire event running from 6:00PM to 9:00PM. This open mic is also well run by Maverick Rose.

All of these open mics have an acoustic vibe with percussionists often in attendance playing cajóns.


Acoustic Guitar magazine focuses on nylon-string guitars


If, like me, you are a fan of nylon-strings guitars or  are considering adding the warm sound of these instruments to your sonic palette, pick up the July 2014 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine before it disappears from the shelves or read the digital edition online.

The July issue has a special focus section on nylon-string guitars. As usual, Acoustic Guitar does an excellent job of mixing information and inspiration. The issue contains useful tips for buying nylon-string guitars and profiles of luthier Greg Brandt, Brazilian musician Badi Assad and guitar virtuosos Rodrigo y Gabriela.