Those who frequent the Lehigh Valley's open mic nights will likely recognize Shawn Cav and Kenny Maze. Not for their beards but for their chops of the musical kind.
Cav, of Easton, and Maze, of Phillipsburg, have been making noise as of late, not only with their preferred instruments of choice, but as hosts of the web series Mic Hop Tours and the podcast Mic Hop Cast. The former finds the two friends and a featured artist traversing the east coast in search of open mics to document. The first episode, with Sunsets North front-man Warren North, focused on southern New Jersey, in which they visited Ocean City, Vetnor City and Cape May. The second episode, set to air this week, brought Cav, Maze and Easton-based singer-songwriter Mike Roi, to Boston.
The purpose of Open Mic Tours, Cav said during a recent interview, is to introduce featured artists to open mic nights outside of their normal circuits in order to make new connections and introduce said artist to different spaces and audiences. The idea sprung, Cav said, from Maze's recent work-related trip to Georgia, where he attended an open mic night during his stay.
"By playing these open mics, you can network with the musicians there," and as a result, Cav said, potentially book a gig out of it.
Cav and Maze can often be found performing together, navigating the waters of the area's open mic circuit. The former also spends time playing bass for the band Acoustic Bite Trio, which is rounded out by singer-guitarist Scott Harrington and drummer-guitarist Dave Deubler. (Harrington hosts Porters' Pub's open mic; Deubler's solo, acoustic reworkings of Snoop Dogg, Nelly and other hip-hop hits have made him a crowd favorite in Easton.)
Cav and Maze returned this week to their stomping grounds in Easton where they filmed the third episode of the Mic Hop Tours show at both Porters' and Pearly Baker's Alehouse. (The latter is hosted by singer-songwriter Carter Lansing, of the band Acoustic Kitty Project.) There are plans to film a series of open mic nights in Bethlehem and Allentown, as well as the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area and Virginia.
"We wanted to do something different and change it up for ourselves," Cav said. "With that 37-minute episode, we posted it and we got lots of great feedback from people. Lots of people really supported the idea."
Though Easton is where their grassroots approach has so far gained the most momentum, Cav said there are no boundaries in mind as to where Mic Hop Tours may eventually wind up. Plans are in the woks to bring the show to Nashville in 2016. "We don't want to stick to just Easton. We want to try and expand outward," he said.
The goal of the podcast, Cav said, is to complement the video series by booking local entertainers -- be it musicians, comedians or writers -- to discuss their craft and tell their stories. Their setup is mobile, allowing the show to go directly to the guest instead of the other way around.
Ultimately, Cav said, he and Maze would love to see Mic Hop Tours be successful enough to be find an audience on network television.