First, the Tennessee Bar was as crowded as ever, and thanks to my usual effort to get there on time with a metro system that always works against me – just one change, but a 7-minute wait for both trains – I arrived far to late to have an early playing time. So I took a beer and watched a few acts and then went to the Galway. There were some cool acts at the Tennessee, by the way, with the Swiss named Mathieu, who had been at the Mazet on Thursday, and some other new guy who had a very interesting, high pitched, melodious voice and some nice lyrics and good guitar playing.
There was absolutely no way that I was going to miss the first open mic at the Galway without Stephen Danger Prescott running it, as he moved off to some other country and Romain took over the show. Romain did a fine job last night, and there were some musicians new and old – I don’t mean old like me, I mean ones who had been there before.
I played my set, but I was getting a little tired and decided to go home. But I had this calling card I was given for a place called Coolin Irish Pub, just off the Boulevard St. Germain, not far at all from either of these venues. And so I thought I’d just take a glance inside before catching a cab back home.
Coolin is this large, wide open pub in the building where there used to be the St. Germain market. It has apparently been there for 15 years, and I have never set foot in it. That will now change. The atmosphere was immense: Free, free-wheeling, young, vibrant, fun, loud – no nasty neighbors to complain – and the sound system was even not bad at all, although they plan to improve it.
Run by Henry, one of the bar tenders, the open mic was on about its fifth night. And it, like Henry, was full of insouciance and good nature. In fact, the moment I entered the bar and someone spotted my guitar, I was invited up to the mic to play. Didn’t even get a chance to order a Kilkenny. Nor did i care. This was too cool to be able to enter and get up behind the mic instantly.
And I loved the fact that I found myself in front of this new audience after I’d already warmed up at the Galway, and none of these people had heard any of my songs before. So I just belted into a few of them with abandon, doing some covers and my own “Borderline.” Had ‘em singing along, and it was just generally a visit to the high reaches of the joy that an open mic, and singing in public can provide.
I then got out from behind the mic and took my beer and sat and listened to the others. There wer a number of cool musicians, including Henry, and the Irishwoman, Eithne O Connor – and don’t bother asking me how to pronounce her first name, but think something close to Anne – as well as another Irishman and some of the people in the audience.
In fact, I learned that this open mic begins around a table at 10 PM – sounds like the Bar Varal jam in Sao Paulo, right? – and then it goes on to become the traditional thing behind the mic. And then sometime after midnight, it transfers back to a jam session at the table. You can see in my videos just how amazing and free the atmosphere is.
This place has big, big, big potential. In fact, it’s already 100 percent there. It has a little bit of everything, including lyrics and song books with chords, just in case! It just needs more people, and a little history – and then it will be a Paris classic.