• NJ Folk Fest & Some Press

    This is a shot taken in New Brunswick, NJ where I recently played a set at the NJ Folk Festival on the campus of Rutgers University.   Wow, what a day!  There were A LOT of people.  Thousands!!   I was selected as one of six winners of the Singer-Songwriter Showcase.  I always enjoy listening to other songwriters and taking bits and pieces of what appeals to me and storing it in my subconcious somewhere.  They say comparison is the theif of joy, and in many ways that is true, but impossible to avoid.  Writing songs is a very vulnerable thing....and while it's not about winning or losing, it is nice to know the songs connect with people. 

    In other News....I was in the News.   Mr. Greg Watry was kind enough to feature me as "THE BAND/ARTIST OF THE WEEK" in the NJ Herald this week.    I will post the article below, but before I do I just want to say that I am excited about the future.  I am playing some great gigs this summer and I have a goal to release 2 albums this year, one with my musical companion Emily Barnes and another solo.  There are always obstacles and road blocks and reasons to deter,  but I have made up my mind to make this trek come hell or high water.  Hope I'll see you on the other side of the mountain.  


    Lyrics carry Mike Herz's music

    Posted: Apr 30, 2015 8:40 AM EDT Updated: Apr 30, 2015 9:19 AM EDT


    The backdrop's a contrasting paint-chipped wooden barn and green grass. Folk musician Mike Herz picks the introduction to his song "It's Love" in a video for the song. Leaves fall from the gray sky, and Herz, in his deep voice, sings, "It was something so familiar, like I'd been there before/Rolling through my mind like coffee cups on my car floor."

    To Herz, a misconception about the folk genre is that the lyrics must always be narrative. But sometimes lyrics in a song are only images and descriptions that allow the listener to interpret and glean their own personal meaning. Some of his favorite songs, he said, cannot have their meanings pinpointed.

    Herz recalled his mother playing James Taylor songs when he was a child. He was attracted to what he called "powerful songwriting," such as Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." While he had an ear for music, it would be some time before he tried his hand at an instrument.

    "I was an athlete in high school and college," he said. "It wasn't until that started being less of a priority that I started to explore" music.

    A man of words, Herz was fond of writing poetry and was drawn to lyrics. He picked up the guitar in his mid 20s, a little after he was introduced to the music of Bob Dylan through a friend. "I just realized that I had a better chance of people listening if it was to a song, rather than just telling people to read a poem."

    At the same time, the music on mainstream radio sounded inauthentic to him, and he discovered a body of independent artists who produced powerful, poignant songs that resonated with him. "I thought, this is what I want to do," he said.

    Learning the guitar was a process, but he persevered. "I almost smashed it against the wall several times," he laughed of his early days with the instrument. "But I'm a stubborn man and an obsessive person, so those two things were in my favor."

    A group of artists began to rotate heavily in his life. He frequently listens to the sounds of Josh Ritter, Gregory Alan Isakov and John Fullbright. John Gorka's song "The Gypsy Life" also has a special place in his heart.

    "I find a lot of material to write about living around here," Herz said. "It's an interesting area because New Jersey can be stereotyped a certain way and this area certainly doesn't meet the stereotype."

    One song on Herz's debut 2013 album "Overgrown" is called "Spring Street," and captures Newton's main thoroughfare in a soft and melancholic light.

    Herz is currently working on his second album. "My first one was home recorded and I was happy with what I was able to do with limited technology and funding, but you want to make sure it's better the second time around," he said.

    This past weekend, Herz traveled to Rutgers University to participate in the New Jersey Folk Festival. He was chosen as one of six musicians for the festival's singer-songwriter showcase. He said the experience was positive, and he played a half-hour set for an audience of over 10,000.

    The human condition drives Herz's songwriting. Love found, love lost and hardships are the stuff some of his songs are made of. And with lyrics like, "I was the blistering pavement and you were the summer rain," it's hard not to relate.

  • Media Frenzy!

     Recently, Emily Barnes and I (Closer to Home) have had a few cool media related opportunites.  

    Thursday night we were the featured guests on a cable tv show based out of Port Jervis, NY called "Keepin Country Strong".  Even though we aren't country singers, they promote all music.  Folk is like the more introspective, articulate older brother of country music.  We had fun.  We played 8 songs, did an interview and laughed a lot.  

    You can watch the youtube clip here - Closer to Home on KCS  (we start playing at 14 min mark)

    Friday we drove down to Toms River, NJ to film a live video session with Garden Takes, which is a branch of Streamline Cinema.  What a cool and unexpected experience. A group of 4 guys in their young 20's filming and promoting independent music in a professional way for the love of it.  Incredible and uplifting.  It was too windy to shoot outside so we did the videos in a little cafe down the street.  Then, to top it off, we saw a spectacular full rainbow on the drive home. Good omens. I will share those video once they leave the editing room.  

     Finally, last night our songs were featured on an online blog talk radio show and Emily called in for an interview to talk about our music and what inspires us and what not.  She did great.   They played "Catch Me If You Can"  the feature track off Emily's debut album "Beautiful Goodbyes", then my new single "Smoke Your Smoke (Drink Your Drink)", and then an extremely rare, underground demo track of "Traveler's Song" recorded by Closer to Home in my basement.  This is surely the only time this track will be shared, but we just felt like putting it out there.  I think it sounds good.  Sometimes less is more.  


    Anyway it was a memorable few days and I felt like documenting them.  Keep on keepin on.  

  • New Rockin' Single On The Way!

    Woa. It's been too long since I've posted on here!   I had a wonderful but all too quick summer playing music all over and autumn has been equally beautiful here in northwest New Jersey.   I'm stoked to announce that I will be releasing new music.  It's been awhile.  I spent September recording in a professional studio, Steinwand Sounds, for the first time with drums, bass, electric guitar, organ and more.  While I have no where near enough financial freedom to record an entire album in this fashion, I did complete a song that I am going to release as a single.  

    It's called "Smoke Your Smoke (Drink Your Drink)".  I wrote it a few years ago during a camping trip outside of Boston with my two best childhood friends.  We were drinking and smoking and bitching about the grind of work and it just kind of happened.  It's a light hearted, fun rock tune which is quite a departure from most of my songs, so releasing it as a single feels right.  

    It will be available for purchase on iTunes on November 26th and you can pre order it ahead of time as well.  I'll let you know when that becomes active. 

    Meanwhile here is a little press on the upcoming release: Thanks to the Examiner and Bill Craig!

    Click Here --> Mike Herz to Release New Single -

  • Endless Winter

    This winter in New Jersey has sucked. We've had more snow storms than I can keep track of, its been freezing for months, and the ice in my backyard is about 6 inches thick.  I'm over it. I feel bad for my dog having to go to the bathroom out there.  However, I have refused to let Old Man Winter win this fight.  I've been out there playing gigs and writing new material as of late.  Each gig has been different and rewarding in their own way.  Whether it is a busy bar environment or a living room, I feel like I learn something new each time.  This past weekend I was the featured performer, with Emily,  at Cafe Zed in Livingston, NJ.  It's an open mic out of a house and it really reminded me of the way music should be and probably used to be in the 60's. People sharing and listening and coming together for the beauty of it all. There is a magic in it.  People have their beliefs and their religions, whatever you want to call it that makes them feel like part of something bigger, it provides some form of awareness or enlightenment, for me it is music.  There is no doubt about it.   It's been a journey these past 3 or 4 feels good to be getting recognition as a songwriter and to have an audience.  

    Speaking of which, I was selected to play a showcase at the Cape May Singer-Songwriter Conference.  On top of that they chose my song "If The Stars Align" to be part of the CD Compilation for the event.  Hopefully that means a lot of people will hear that song that perhaps never would have otherwise.  I go back and forth between whether or not this is a big deal ....but I think it might be.  

    Gigs every weekend this month, then keeping it a little more mellow in April.  Time has wings.