Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Brislee Adams, the Wizard of the Café Oz Open Mic in Paris

April 23, 2014
bradspurgeon

Oz Open Mic Paris

Oz Open Mic Paris

PARIS – There came a moment when I was deeply ensconced in singing and playing “Year of the Cat,” in fact, winding it up, when suddenly I seemed to enter into some kind of acid sound hallucination with my voice and guitar starting to go multiple…. I kept singing a moment, looked over at Brislee and though he was doing some kind of wizardry. It turned out that I had simply put my foot on a machine button of some kind that had rocketed off my singing and guitar into a zone from which it would never return….

Until Brislee pressed a few buttons. Then we were back to normal – or rather, back to the open mic at the Café Oz bar in Pigalle, an Australian pub where Brislee has been hosting a new open mic for several weeks now. It was my first time there last night, and I will definitely return. This open mic has a different feel to it than the others we know so well in Paris, and part of that is what feels like a clear, warm acceptance by the bar to hold this thing.

The sound systems is better than at most, Brislee does a great hosting job, and there was a very impressive list of performers there last night. That included the interesting San Diego musician Aaron Bowen, who has a voice that on his web site someone likened to a cross between Paul Simon and Michael Jackson. It’s too bad they did that, because I had not thought that for a moment last night, just being subjugated by his virtuoso and cool guitar playing, and his velvety and flying voice. Now, yes, I can hear the Paul Simon part – but no Michael Jackson. Check it out yourself! (And I mean both the open mic and the velvety smooth voice of Aaron Michael Paul Bowen.

Worldwide Open Mic Journey 2014: The Multimedia Consolidation – Shanghai

April 20, 2014
bradspurgeon

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

SHANGHAI – My worldwide open mic journey began in China in 2008 after the Formula One race in Shanghai, and little did I know that it was a journey that would continue for six more years and cover most of the globe, every continent except Africa (where I once lived and played music in an open mic decades earlier) and Antarctica, and that it would spawn a book, a blog, an album, a documentary film, numerous podcasts, music videos and other multimedia projects.

This year, 2014, I have decided to finish all of the projects and tie them together into a consolidation of multimedia. As part of my personal impetus to gather it all together for myself, but also put it into perspective on this blog, I have decided to create a page for each city I have visited on the journey, tying together samples of the whole multimedia adventure linked to that city.

So here is the page devoted to tying together the pieces of the open mic adventure that I have lived in Shanghai since I first started. At each subsequent Formula One race that I visit this year, I will add a new such page. Keep posted….

Good Karma at the Karma in Shanghai With John and the Jammers

April 18, 2014
bradspurgeon

Karma Jam Shanghai

Karma Jam Shanghai

SHANGHAI – Word-of-mouth got me to the open jam session at the cubby-hole Karma Lounge in Shanghai last night after someone I met at the previous night’s open mic told me about the good Karma jam…. But the moment I entered the bar, I realized that I had already met the owner, jam leader and performer, John, who is known throughout Shanghai by musicians for his reputation of starting jams and open mics all over the city. I had met him last year at the Comptoir jam, which was a high point of my visit last year.

So I had a very good idea of what kind of night I had ahead of me, or thought I did. One thing I did not expect was to hear a voice from the bar call my name also a few moments after I entered the bar. I turned to see a man who looked vaguely familiar, but I was not sure why, and I felt slight worried I was not recognizing an old acquaintance. It turned out to be Tony Tse, who is Hong Kong-based business man in the textiles industry who travels around Asia for his work…and takes part in open mics and jam sessions.

“They often tell me when I get somewhere that you had just preceded me,” he said, noting that people made the connection between us since we both have jobs that take us around the world to do other things, and we take advantage of that to go to an open mic to perform. Another such persona that stands out in my memory is Danny Fonfeder, who is in the schools supplies business in Canada, but take his guitar on his travels around the world to play in open mics. And if I also started up this non-profit blog (I call it that not out of principle, but out of a lack of ideas on how to make money out of it!) as a sideline to the open mic journey, Danny ended up starting a very nifty business of creating and selling guitars, which he calls Blueberry Guitars.

Hmm, so, Tony, now it’s your turn! A line of busking clothing? High-class, protective cloth guitar cases for travelling?

Anyway, the jam at the minuscule Karma Lounge was really interesting both for the amazing quality of the musicians and for the fantastically warm members of the audience. Jammer John is rightfully proud as he is the owner of this venue, and he told me that he is planning another jamming location to add to it soon. It felt as if there was an equal number of expats and Chinese people in the audience, in a truly multicultural experience.

But for open mic musicians, do be warned: The style of this jam is not really one of the solo open mic sort, as you really have to sit in the circle of musicians and play music that everyone can jam along to. It did seem that priority goes to the regulars, and that is no doubt because they are the ones who best “get” the idea of this particular jam, and share regular songs, thus facilitating the free, non-stop flow of music well into the night.

Definitely worth a visit as either a musician or a spectator.

From Tennessee to Shanghai and the Thirsty Seahorse Open Mic

April 17, 2014
bradspurgeon

thirst seahorse shanghai

thirst seahorse shanghai

SHANGHAI - Monday night I stopped in to play a few songs at the Tennessee bar open mic in Paris for the first time in a long time. It was back to its old lively self, it seemed to me, with lots of spectators and lots of new musicians. I was delighted to find an audience of people who had never heard my songs, so I could do whatever I wanted without feeling it was already long ago memorized by the spectators…. The same thing happened last night, but in China.

I got up Tuesday morning and spent two days travelling to Shanghai and finding myself all set for a perfect transition into Chinese night time and not jet lag despite the 6-hour time difference to Paris, thanks to not sleeping on the two flights I took, by way of Dubai. But I had to fill in the final hours of the evening by some sort of activity that would keep me awake. So I did an internet search and found an open mic at a place called the Thirsty Seahorse, bar and restaurant.

It turned out that this venue was withing a 20 minutes walk from my hotel, and it was located in the neat former French Concession. So I took the walk, ordered a very Chinese meal of bacon and cheese burger, and took part in the open mic. It is a pretty hip and cool bar run by Chinese people, but the open mic attendees were from the U.S. and Italy, and me. The open mic has only existed for a couple of months, and it is run by Neil, from the U.S. but with a Peruvian background too.

It was a very cool and basic open mic, with a mic and all you can play style of slot…. So there was Burna…or was it Barna!?! from Italy, the very creative Ladd Mercer from Indiana and me. Check out Ladd’s bandcamp site. His voice made me want to ask him to sing that 1980s song, “Boys Don’t Cry,” or whatever it was called, but I never did get around to that.

In any case, it’s a nice new addition to the Shanghai open mic scene. I’ll be back. Last night I was pleased that like at the Tennessee no one had heard my songs, but I’ll happily do without that aspect if I can return again next year….

BradSpurgeonMusic.com Up and Running

April 14, 2014
bradspurgeon

BradSpurgeonMusic.com

BradSpurgeonMusic.com

PARIS – As I prepare to fly out tomorrow to Shanghai for the next step of my worldwide musical open mic adventure – well, all right, mostly for covering the Formula One race in my job as a journalist – I decided I had better do a very short post just to announce on Bradspurgeon.com that I have a new web site now that I have just launched. It is Bradspurgeonmusic.com and it will in no way replace this current web site, which is a blog and general repository of all sorts of wild and crazy Brad Spurgeon ideas and articles. The new site will be strictly devoted to my own musical recordings, videos, CDs and other musical news and creations concerning my upcoming gigs and other personal music news. I have created the site because this blog, while wonderful as a medium in many ways, is not the idea place to group together all of my own music. So often at open mics or gigs or elsewhere, I have people asking where they can hear my music online – and I kind of have to send them all over the place, or to this blog, and it just isn’t adequate. So now there is: Brad Spurgeon Music. Check it out!

“Crazy Lady” – Second Song and Video of the Melodium Sessions in Montreuil & Mysterious Elsewheres

April 10, 2014
bradspurgeon

Crazy Lady

Crazy Lady

PARIS – A couple of weeks ago, while in Kuala Lumpur, I posted my first video and recording of the songs I recorded in the studio in February, in the post for “When You’re Gone Away.” Since then I have been working on the second video while I was in KL, in Bahrain and now in Paris (where I’m back again for a few days before taking off for Shanghai). I’ve now finished that second video of the five-part series of the five songs I recorded at the Melodium Studio in Montreuil outside Paris in February, I’m talking about the video for my song “Crazy Lady.” As with “When You’re Gone Away,” I recorded “Crazy Lady” along with my favorite lead player, Félix Beguin and drummer, Jeremy Norris – both of whom are in two excellent Paris bands, The Burnin’ Jacks and the Velvet Veins – and also with Scott Bricklin – a Paris expat musician originally from Philadelphia – on bass. Together, as I mentioned, we recorded five songs.

In the coming weeks I plan to continue making videos of these songs and releasing them, and then I plan to put out a CD of the whole, as well as others of my songs (and a wicked cover song). The videos will all be quite different; the first one I did while walking around Paris and being filmed by Raphaëlle, and adding two bits of “mystery footage” from the past and from elsewhere in the world that I took – see if you can spot it! This time, with “Crazy Lady,” I decided to have a completely different kind of fun doing a completely different kind of video to illustrate my song, drawing on black and white films from the public domain to try to illustrate this song with a story to tell that is a little tricky to illustrate otherwise!

The beauty of doing these recording sessions was the incredible cohesion and talent I was surrounded with in Félix, Jeremy and Scott and their wonderful arrangements and Félix’s mixing. All three have worked together extensively, and often at the incredible Melodium Studios, and of course, I have gigged with Félix regularly in the last five years. So it was all just so together.

Worldwide Open Mic Journey 2014: The Multimedia Consolidation – Bahrain

April 8, 2014
bradspurgeon

Bahrain skylineMANAMA, Bahrain – My worldwide open mic journey began in China in 2008 after the Formula One race in Shanghai, and little did I know that it was a journey that would continue for six more years and cover most of the globe, every continent except Africa (where I once lived and played music in an open mic decades earlier) and Antarctica, and that it would spawn a book, a blog, an album, a documentary film, numerous podcasts, music videos and other multimedia projects.

This year, 2014, I have decided to finish all of the projects and tie them together into a consolidation of multimedia. As part of my personal impetus to gather it all together for myself, but also put it into perspective on this blog, I have decided to create a page for each city I have visited on the journey, tying together samples of the whole multimedia adventure linked to that city.

So here is the page devoted to tying together the pieces of the open mic adventure that I have lived in Bahrain since I first started. At each subsequent Formula One race that I visit this year, I will add a new such page. Keep posted….

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