Smiley’s Tavern Open Mic

A beatbox and bongos are part of the mix at open mic for adventurous musicians

I would like to post something daily for the next 16 weeks to develop a writer’s discipline. Last weekend my husband and I attended open mic night at Smiley’s Tavern.

Smiley’s Tavern has a storied history. It is not the most glamorous bar on the planet.

A terrible upstairs fire that threatened it’s existence a decade ago, only seemed to temper it. To my surprise, the owners just fixed it up and put it back in working order.

 I spent a lot of hours at Smileys with my husband in our courting days. It is where we used to sit and smoke cigarettes and drink beer before such things became verboten.

It’s a very informal tavern. Folks play cards in the other room, and there is a full bar with an assortment of spirits and soft drinks to imbibe.

However, we just go for open mic night. The people that belong to NUMOSS, or New Ulm Musicians Open mic society are a talented bunch and a fun group of grown-ups with an eclectic taste in music. Some of the music is original, but most of what you hear are cover songs. 

That’s okay, people like the tried and true.

Smiling at Smiley’s Tavern

A new website domain name

Find my music at CD Baby

So now I’m using this WordPress to update my music life. Part of being me, is being a radio broadcaster, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher.

I do have a music teaching studio call Zents Music Studio, but my life is really a studio of sorts. I’m learning everyday.

Although I’m looking forward to a bright musical future, I also want to discuss great singing technique, guitar and piano which I teach. But also there’s the lessons of living.

As a writer and songwriter there are stories everywhere you go, from the smiling old woman who curls her hair too tightly that you see at the grocery store, to the way you feel about the young guy who likes to use the electric wheelchair/shopping cart around the store even though he’s healthy.

There’s also the matter of psychology that comes along with being a performer. You can’t deny that people compare you as a singer-songwriter, the way you sing, the way you play, and the songs you write. Also, there’s no denying the CD’s which you record, and produce are always being judged.

There’s so many topics to write about here on my new WordPress domain at

Hanging out with my dreams


There were four things that made me very happy when I was a kid:

  1. Singing with LP’s in my room for hours and hours lost in my own world of music,
  2. cooking or baking in the kitchen
  3. reading books I got from the public library, and
  4. staying up late watching classic old black and white movies on our old black and white television set.

Yes, I was a lonely child. Nevertheless, living in the city, I found ways and means to be happy.

Today, I know other kindred spirits who can relate to me. People who don’t seem to need people.

One guy I work with loves to cook and finds he loses all worries when cooking.

Another person I know, can spend hours singing and playing songs on the guitar, oblivious to anyone or anything around him.

I watched a video of one lady singing a country song who had her eyes shut. At first, I thought she was vision-impaired. No. She could see. She only liked to sing a whole song with her eyes closed. I understood completely, she was in her own little world.

Once I was getting a ride home from this guy I used to work with. We both worked at a music store when I lived in Toronto. In the van on the ride home, I had a song stuck in my head, so I was singing it.

I did not know what to say to the fellow behind the wheel, so I did what I always used to do when I was a bit stressed, I sang. I have a light soprano voice, and perfect pitch. Secretly, in my starstruck juvenile mind, I felt the guy would enjoying hearing me vocalize, if he paid attention to me.

Boy! Was I in for a surprise! The guy told me to be quiet. I think he knew where he was going, but he may have wanted to listen to something else other than me like CHUM FM.

Oh dear! I didn’t quite understand his protests. So, I just kept on singing away!

Finally, in the most hostile manner imaginable, verging on bloodshed, he screamed at me, Shut Up!

After my shock and terror, I never spoke to him again!

In hindsight, I imagine he felt I was ignoring him.

Another time, I was spending time in my own musical reverie, listening to my Walkman with my headphones on, in the presence of a friend, again in a vehicle.

My friend did not like that I was not paying attention to him, even though he spoke not a word to me. I thought it was okay if I enjoyed my own private concert through my headset if I wasn’t driving.

I did not expect I was supposed to entertain him, or even to make conversation.

He got so mad he yanked my headphones off my head.

When you’ve suffered benign neglect for decades, you find ways and means to compensate.

As a kid, and a teenager, I found escape, and happiness in music, books, cooking and films. I was happy then, and not without good company.

Now, I am a little more grown-up. I understand others want to be in my show.

So, I show them a little attention too!

Nowadays, I am happier to enjoy a week alone at home, in my own company, but other times I love to give and take attention from real, live, lovable people, and not just hang out with my dreams.





The Divine Right of Dogs

I live the life I love, and I love the life I live

It’s so easy to clog your day off with mundane tasks that really hold no priority. The best thing to do on your day off is to do exactly what you feel like doing!
Of course, this is not always feasible when you have to maintain a house. For me that means, still cooking and cleaning, still taking care of a diabetic dog’s needs, still putting in my proverbial 10,000 steps for the buzz on my Fitbit.
It also means following my healthy eating menu  and checking my Facebook and social media for a perk, a bump, a lift, or a laugh.
Otherwise, all bets are off.
Today is my day!
When you do have a day off and you are forced to go to the dentist, or to the hair salon, or to fulfill some obligation that encroaches on your free time, it is such a nuisance. It is abhorrent!
When you know, starting tomorrow, you’re going to be working for a long stretch, then today is the day to be self-indulgent and relax and lie down and take it easy, if you can.
On my day off, I generally live online. It’s so much fun to see what the rest of the world is doing.
I think my only point of reference on how to relax on my day off, is to think about my two dogs.
They live like the kings and queens of yore, with no obligations whatsoever.
The divine right of dogs is to rule over and (maybe even pee over) all they survey, and sniff.
The most thrilling part of my dogs day is when they get to traverse over sidewalks and streets with me.
We have 10,000 steps to do now!
Wherever you are, when you do get a day off, I hope you can enjoy it thoroughly too!


Musically yours, Amy Zents

Skip the flowers, let’s talk!

Find inspiration in each other!

You can spend a lot of money to take a flower-arranging class, or maybe drop half a 100 bucks on painting and Pinot, but whichever class or workshop you sign up for, you’ll find benefits come from co-mingling and communication.
Sometimes your class or workshop is lubricated with alcohol, and there are munchies offered too. Nevertheless, it’s usually a joyful time. People are in a jovial mood. It’s time to relax.
I love these things, these classes with a central theme, that inspire creativity and conversation.
Whatever you like, be it flower-arranging, stitch and b****, learning to mix cocktails, quilting bees or cooking classes, you’re never too old to have some fun, and maybe even learn something.
Of course, you’ll find life sometimes gets in the way of fun times: the price of gas going up and down, the crazy in the truck who stares you down who looks like Rasputin, the time you misplaced your wallet and found it stuck in between two pots in the kitchen, or heaven forbid, when you’re trying to get out of
the door and the car keys aren’t where you left them!
With such variety in life in the way of hobbies, I predict in the future more of us will invest a little time and cash in getting to know our neighbor through taking community-based classes or workshops.

Musically yours, Amy Zents