By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson/Marlborough – Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mike Melendez of Marlborough typically networks with fellow musicians while performing at clubs throughout the region and open mic hosting at Medusa Brewing Company in Hudson. That was his routine before clubs closed due to the coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home order.
Now, Melendez practices social distancing while social networking. He’s livestreaming “Kitchen Coffee Jams” on his personal Facebook page.
“My mindset is to bring a little bit of light to people’s day in dark times,” he said. “I play music all daylong at my house – I’ve got nothing else to do, so I might as well just play on my phone and let people listen.”
Growing up in Marlborough, Melendez began singing as well as playing bass, drums, guitar and saxophone from elementary to middle schools. He participated in choirs, drama club and a rock band while attending Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, where he graduated in 2001.
His eclectic musical interests developed further while studying at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif.
“I’m not claiming to be a classical guitarist at all, but I do have training in that department,” he noted. “I love classic rock and blues, but if I had the opportunity to be in a band again I’d want to play reggae music.”
Melendez returned to Massachusetts from California in 2012. A few years later, he began working at Medusa Brewing Company as entertainment/art manager and host of its open mic every other Thursday.
Prior to the stay-at-home order, Medusa’s last open mic was held March 5. Melendez’s last club gig took place March 15 at Lost Shoe Brewing and Roasting Company in Marlborough.
Soon afterward, he launched “Kitchen Coffee Jams,” costumed with a unique wardrobe borrowed from his fiancée Mo Dizz.
“I noticed other musicians were playing livestreams at night or late afternoon,” Melendez recalled. “I thought playing in the morning would be fun, so I grabbed my fiancée’s bathrobe. I’m trying to distract people, make them laugh and start their day off better.”
His livestreams are daily at 10:30 a.m., except Tuesdays and Saturdays.
“Livestream is a new territory for me,” he acknowledged. “Some days I plan it out and make a list of songs to play. Other days I just make my cup of coffee at 10 o’clock, then hit ‘start’ at 10:30 and wing it.”
Additionally, his Facebook shares include art- and music-related announcements and livestreams from his extensive network of business colleagues.
Among other timeline posts is a selfie depicting Melendez wearing protective goggles and a respirator mask with the comment: “Food shopping 2020 – Hope this trend fades out, not a good look!” Taking social distancing seriously, he ventured to a supermarket for his first time in nearly three weeks. Two of his colleagues in the entertainment industry have the coronavirus.
“I’ll be precautious and look ridiculous,” Melendez said of his contemporary shopping gear.
For the “Kitchen Coffee Jams,” he accompanies himself on acoustic guitar. Plans are underway for an evening livestream with more of the instruments that he plays. His wardrobe for the evening livestream is to be determined.
“Someone told me when we get back into the real world of normal life that I should wear the bathrobe for the first open mic,” Melendez shared. “I don’t know – I think the bathrobe is a stay-at-home thing.”