Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

In 2010 I decided it was finally time to launch my own blog, this blog, in order to write about all of my passions in an unrestricted manner, tying together my travels, my music and musical interests, auto racing, literature, chess, food, my personal life and all the rest into one big and crazy mix. The mix of what’s really in my head!

What I do…

After a short stint in the entertainment industry as a teenager and in my early 20s, I changed focus, went to university and switched to a career in journalism and writing. I have published several short stories and written thousands of articles on a multitude of subjects for newspapers, magazines and web sites, but I ended up specializing mostly in writing about Formula One motor racing for the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times and About.com.

In 2006 at the IHT I created the first F1 blog by a regular F1 reporter. In 2009 the blog became the F1 blog of The New York Times at Nytimes.com.

As of October 2013 the International Herald Tribune ceased to exist, and I continued writing about Formula One and some other auto sports for The International New York Times.

Forward to the past…

In October 2008 I returned to music and performing after nearly a 30-year break. From then until October 2009, I played in open mics and open jam sessions three to five times per week, including in every country of the Formula One season. Over that year I played in open mics and open jam sessions in 17 countries, nearly 30 cities and on all continents except Africa (where I did actually once live and play).

I kept a journal of the musical adventure, which I am turning into a musical memoir, travelogue and sociological look at the worldwide phenomenon of the open mic and open jam session.

During that time I also began to land a few small gigs – including in Paris, London, Toronto and Budapest – and I am now continuing to develop my repertoire of both cover and original songs while continuing to play in open mics and gigs. Oh, and I plan to continue playing in open mics and other venues as I travel around the world each year for my work as a journalist.

Among my other passions are chess, wining and dining…and unicycling to burn it all off.

46 Comments

  1. Hi Brad, it’s Brooke from Oscar’s open mic. I enjoyed the post and videos! Cool, thanks for the mention.

    I wonder if it’s not too much trouble for you, would you mind emailing me the videos of my singing, if you have any. I would really appreciate it!

    Thanks,
    Brooke

  2. Hey Brad!

    Thanks for writing the stuff about us! Its kind of you, one of our first pieces of publicity! Keep up with the great covers and originals By the way have you ever tried adding violin/sax etc. to your sound in a van morrisson/al stewart sort of way? I think on recording that could turn out really well) Hopefully see you when we next venture out to paris, or if you ever come to gig in London/Cambridge,

    Vedantha,
    Esperada,

    (p.s. you should have said you like chess – thats one of my main hobbies! have you ever tried going to Luxembourg Park – we played loads of games there last Sunday)

  3. Hey Brad,
    I sang with Nicole (the amazing slide guitarist) at Ollie’s two weeks ago, I was wondering if you happened to catch any footage that you could send me.

    Cheers
    Calli

  4. Hi Brad,
    My name is Sarah and I am part of the Ash Gray and the Girls trio which you filmed the other night at the Arctica Bar last Wednesday – thank you!

    Do you by any chance have clips of my solo performance (I sang “Basketcase” and “Proud Mary.”)

    It would be awesome to see of a copy if you do – definitely figured it was worth asking!

    Thanks so much, all best,
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah, thanks very much for the message. You were delightfully wonderful and I recorded both of the songs you did, Proud Mary and the other one. So I can send both to you via YouSendIt. But can you wait until I return to Paris? I return on Wednesday, and once back home I have about 8000 percent more bandwidth than I do in my hotel here in NYC where i am virtually leaving the computer turned on all day and night to try to upload the videos to my blog alone!

      • Hey Brad,
        Absolutely! And now it’s Thursday so I think we’re in business! I don’t know how YouSendIt works, but my email is sarahmwb@gmail.com. I look forward to seeing the videos, thanks so much for filming! It was a blast. Any other open mic spots you recommend? I am always on the hunt to find more, and having just moved to Williamsburg, I am looking forward to hitting up a bunch on this side of the Brooklyn Bridge! Take care – –

        Sarah

  5. Salut, Brad ! Comme tu sais, je suis une fan énorme ! That’s why I thought of you immediately when I received the “Versatile Blogger Award.” It’s probably meaningless—as awards go—but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the fellow bloggers who have enriched my life.

    You can claim your award at http://hmunro.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    Regardless, I look forward to catching up in November.

    Prends soin de toi …

    Heather

  6. Hi Brad! It was really nice talking with you last monday at the Tennessee. As I said I’m counting on you to keep me in touch about your trip in India, and I’m looking forward to see you at an open mic to tell me about it.

    Enjoy your trip!

    -Massi

  7. hey brad, I’m the brazilian guy who was playing last night @ the highlander
    It was a pleasure to see you over there. shame I couldn’t watch your performance, but see you tonight @ the mazet.
    one more time, thanks for all the articles and tips. they are extremely helpful.

  8. Hey Brad, I’m an American living in a town called Bernay that’s an hour outside of Paris. I just googled paris open mics and found your blog and I’m stoked to see there seems to be a plethora to choose for. here’s the deal though, I’ve done maybe one or two open mic nights in my life (both of which were, I don’t know, 5 acts, max, and maybe 10 in the audience), but I wanted to give it a shot. Is there a specific one you’d recommend for a newbie at all of this? My work means I could technically do a weekday, but it’s easier if there’s anything weekend-ish. Maybe Thursday nights because I don’t teach until 2 the next day? Thanks for your help.

    Random fact–I actually did stop by The Highlander the last time I was in Paris (2008) to do a reading of poetry in their basement and thought it was cool, but ya…never really done music there.

    • Hi Brett, thanks for the comment and interest. I love feeling useful! On the other hand, your query raises a philosophical question: Is it best to be easy on yourself or jump in the deep end? I mean, ultimately, is it really a good idea to try to try another quiet and simple and low attendance open mic? Or just to jump into a nice, noisy, romping big one? Well, up to you. Personally, I find that sometimes my nerves hit me harder in an open mic with 10 people than one with 75 people – where it is all more anonymous. In any case, there is the usually quite one at the Cabaret Culture Rapide on Fridays. But I don’t know how dependable it will be, as they have changed MCs. But for Thursday night it’s probably best to do the Mazet – although that is anything but quiet, and there is always a big audience…. There is another one I have just learned of on Thursdays, but I have yet to try it, and I prefer to try it before I say anything about it or put up the information….

  9. Hi Brad! You filmed me and my bandmate at the Galway in Paris, back in Jan 2011. It was lovely meeting (and hearing!) you then, and reading your blog about us afterwards was incredibly encouraging for us, especially given that we hadn’t been together for that long. I just wanted to let you know that we have kept going with our music, and have just released our EP. The songs are on our website, http://www.reverbnation.com/esperada. Thanks so much for your encouragement back then, and I hope all is going well with you!

  10. Hi Brad – Are you already in Shanghai? It’s a Chinese journalist from Sports Illustrated China. Would really want to meet and talk when you’re here. :) Thanks very much!!

  11. Hi Brad, I stumbled across your blog while checking out what Megg Farrell had been up to lately, and I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. I’m a NYC-based musician with a ukulele-powered, cabaret-flavored indie rock band called Sweet Soubrette (www.sweetsoubrette.com) and I’m coming to France next month to play some gigs in Paris and Aix-en-Provence. I’m looking for an opening act for my show at Le Cavern in Paris, so I thought I’d reach out to you — seems like you have a good sense of the local music scene and who’s good, so I thought you might be able to make some recommendations. Can you suggest any acts to get in touch with? (FYI, I already reached out to Jelila but unfortunately she’s unavailable that night…). Thanks! Ellia

    • Hi Ellia, glad you discovered the blog, and thanks for the comment. I hope I am in Paris when you are, as I have a lot of traveling to do next month. Let me know your dates, especially the date for the Cavern concert. Maybe I could open for you. On the other hand, of course I know lots of people who might want to do it… but let me give a little thought to that. I should hear what kind of stuff you do, too, maybe. Off the top of my head I can think of people like Thomas Stock (Thomas Arlo), Baptiste W. Hamon, Rachel Crocker (ukelele and singing)….

  12. Hi Brad, I think we’ve found someone but will keep your suggestions in mind if it doesn’t work out — thanks! Le Cavern is on May 17th. In the meantime you can check out the music at http://www.sweetsoubrette.com. Cheers!

  13. Hi,
    I am a 21 year old musician from Ireland but now based in Manchester. I have been touring in bands around the UK for 8 years and have recently started performing as a solo acoustic artist.
    I came across your page when looking for gigs in Europe. I really want to do some shows there later in the summer, especially Paris and was wondering if you had any advice on were to start?
    I have a good following in the UK but have never
    played Europe.
    My acoustic stuff is in the vein of Johnny Thunders.
    Cheers,
    Matty

  14. GREAT BLOG! I figured since your last post was about open mics and music, I thought I’d pass on some info on an upcoming event just offered to me last minute.

    LAST MINUTE SHOW INFO:
    Mizmiz Cafe (Metro-Menilmontant)
    6 Rue Moret, 75011 Paris, France.
    01 43 38 93 94.

    http://www.mizmiz.fr

    JUNE 28th, 2012.
    THE LIVING ROOM SESSIONS.
    with JOSTEREO & 12:51.

    …a FREE night of LIVE beats and rhymes plus special guests.

    -JOSTEREO(http://www.myspace.com/jostereoep)
    -12:51(http://www.reverbnation.com/theracecar)

    Thanks and hope to see you there!
    12:51

  15. Dear Brad,
    I was searching for jam places in Bahrain and came acoss your writing about the Dublin Club Jam. Thanks for that!
    I wondered whether you have discovered other jam spots in Bahrain in the meantime (also jazz jams)?
    Greetings from Berlin!

  16. Hi! Thanks for answering!
    Well, I`ll be there, too, during F1, so I was trying to get to know something in advance…
    I`ll do some research… I think I`ll go to Dublin Club on Saturday and try to perform. What about you?
    Best!

  17. HI Brad,
    Love your open mic tips.
    Do you have any open mics for Berlin? We’ll be there from Sept 14 through Sept 18 (Sat- Tues).
    Thank you>
    Marilyn Cooney

    • THanks for you comment, and I’m very sorry but I do NOT have anything for Berlin. It is one of the biggest holes in my world travels; it and Ireland. I hope to remedy that someday soon…. But I have heard there are open mics in Berlin, and there is a lot of music. If you see anyone on the street with a guitar on their back, I suggest you ask them! (That’s one of my secret approaches to finding places in new cities…. :-))

  18. Hello Brad

    I am a singer song writer from Austin, Texas. I just moved to Shanghai 3 weeks ago. Are you still holding open mic nights for original music?

    Thanks
    Dennis Maroney

  19. Hello Brad

    I have just moved to Shanghai three weeks ago from Austin, Texas. I am a singer song writer, and was wondering are you still running any open mic nights for original music in Shanghai?

    Thanks
    Dennis Maroney

  20. Hi Brad,
    I discovered your blog via my collegue Mimi Shell. I’m the former singer of the band Tok Tok Tok and I’m in Paris tonight and was wondering, if you knew of an open mic night I might attend.
    I’m playing at Divan du Monde on Thursday 6th Feb. introducing my new album.
    If you like listen into my stuff at http://www.soundcloud.com/tokunbomusic
    Love to be in touch,
    Tokunbo

  21. Hi Brad,
    so nice of you to get back to me. Indeed I did discover your page with the list of open-mic venues, but unfortunately too late. I was scheduled for an interview on Wednesday night and couldn’t make it anywhere else, but I will back in May for more radio dates and will go to one of those places you recommended!
    The concert was lovely at Divan and I can’t wait to come back. Would be great to meet you then.
    In case you’d like to have a look at my video which is newly out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf_wVXBqjfg
    Best,
    Tokunbo

  22. Hi Brad! I found your blog quite by accident, but I thoroughly enjoy your posts, particularly your round-up of open-mic nights in Malaysia.

    I was wondering if you know if these open-mic nights in Malaysia have been updated since your posts and if you have any advice to get involved in open-mics. Thanks!

    Also, you seem to be well travelled and have undoubtedly seen many singer/songwriters. Thus, I’d appreciate any feedback you might have on my music.You can check them out at http://www.soundcloud.com/izrinthani

    thanks!

    • Hi Izrin,
      Thanks very much for the nice reaction. I look forward to listening to your music. As it turns out, I’m about to visit Malaysia again this week, so I’ll be working on updating the page, should it require it!!!

      So keep posted….

      Brad

  23. Hi Brad :)

    I read your very insightful article about fan ratings for F1 tracks (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/sports/autoracing/16iht-srf1prix16.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&amp ;). Well done!

    May you please share with us the methodology (how many people were interviewed, nationalities, etc.) and the detailed results (circuit rating per each of the 10 factors, etc.) ?

    Thanks a lot

    • Dear Ahmad,

      Thanks for your email. I’m on vacation, and I will get back to you as soon as my vacation ends.

      Please note that this blog has nothing to do with my work as a journalist covering Formula One for the International New York Times.

      Regards,
      Brad

  24. Found you when looking for a Tokyo Open Mic venue. I hope to try out the Ruby Room when I’m there in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the info! I too have decided to try to do Open Mics when I travel for conferences, family and festivals etc. So far I’ve only performed at Open Mics in Melbourne and Perth. Next stops Tokyo and Sydney!

    • Great, Sandra! Thanks for the note, and have fun at the Ruby Room. I know two other people who travel extensively for business and play open mics wherever they go. I wonder how many people around the world do it, assiduously….

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