Vegas TV show wants to boost locals to the national stage

From working 17-hour days to converting his house into a studio, there’s not much Mike Ziethlow won’t do in the name of art.

By partnering with local TV personality Will Edwards, the North Las Vegas resident is determined to create a valleywide powerhouse of talent and entertainment.

Ziethlow began airing the second season of “Vegas on the Mic with Will Edwards” on MyLVTV on June 13.

Hosted by Edwards, the show is set to feature 64 local artists performing comedy, poetry and music over 16 episodes.

“The origin and mission of ‘Vegas on the Mic’ has always been to help artists grow,” Ziethlow said. “Television now seems like the best vehicle for doing that.”

Ziethlow created “Vegas on the Mic” in 2011 as a stepping stone for local artists.

At the time, Ziethlow earned his living as a street performer after the government seized all of his money when it banned online poker.

“It’s just depressing on the street,” Ziethlow said. “You perform, and there’s literally thousands of people just walking by you. I thought it was the loneliest job I ever had, even though I was there in the middle of all the crowds.”

In late 2011, Ziethlow approached Money Plays bar owner Stan Henderson to revive his open mic night at 4755 W. Flamingo Road.

During the events, Ziethlow recorded and photographed the performing artists and posted the material online free.

“He’s been smart to create a formula that is friendly to the bar and its customers while also providing incentives for artists to perform,” Henderson said. “He gives people a venue and an opportunity to get better at what they do.”

Within three years, the team expanded the open mic event to two nights, released a CD and dabbled in radio.

“My goal has always been to create opportunities for artists where they could just walk in off the street and have things happen for them,” Ziethlow said. “Nothing was really lighting fires for artists until I came up with the idea to do television.”

With the help of an Indiegogo campaign, Ziethlow raised money to purchase a professional camera with recording capabilities.

He tagged along on set while Edwards produced the third season of “The Will Edwards Show,” learning whatever he could.

“When we started messing around with video, that’s when I saw how big this could be,” Ziethlow said. “With a little hard work and study, I knew I was able to make something of television quality.”

Edwards said he booked artists for his show just by watching them perform on the first season of “Vegas on the Mic.”

“The show was so well done, and the sound was so phenomenal that I felt comfortable booking artists just by watching them on (Ziethlow’s) television show,” Edwards said. “Because of season 1, it was a no-brainer to host and get involved with season 2.”

Through a series of drawings, artists are selected for the TV show based on their performances at Money Plays’ open mic nights, which start at 9 p.m. every Thursday and Friday.

“Open mic nights are the core of what we do because there’s no other way I could get exposed to 40 or 50 artists a week if it wasn’t for the home that Money Plays has created,” Ziethlow said. “As long as we have a family (at Money Plays), we’re never going to leave this place.”

In an effort to combine brands, Ziethlow and Edwards agreed to change the name of the TV show to “Vegas on the Mic with Will Edwards” for future seasons.

“We’re like the Brady Bunch of the community,” Edwards said. “He had his family, I had my family, and those families just melded into what we are now. It’s going to be a great marriage.”

The “Vegas on the Mic with Will Edwards” show airs at 1 a.m. Fridays on cable channel 12, DirecTV channel 21 and antennae channel 21.1.

The “Will Edwards Show” airs at 1 a.m. Thursdays on cable channel 12, DirecTV channel 21 and antennae channel 21.1.

For more information, visit vegasonthemic.com or thewilledwardsshow.com.

Contact Henderson and Green Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com or 702-383-0403.