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A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream at the Baroc Open Mic

July 29, 2015

Le Baroc open mic

Le Baroc open mic

PARIS – The last thing I expected was to find a completely full night of music at the Baroc open mic in Paris last night, with Réjean the regular MC coming back from holidays and a number of new faces and sounds. It seemed to me that if any night of the summer in Paris would be deserted, it would be the last one of July.

On the other hand, maybe it had something to do with tourism – there was the wonderful Lorin Hart from the U.S. (she who attended the Woodstock festival in 1969!) and there were some other fresh new faces too – and maybe it had something to do with the crossing of the vacation period from July to August making it so that a number of other people previously on holiday were back in Paris.

Lorin Hart at the Baroc in Paris.
Whatever it was, it was a nice full night at the Baroc, and I was delighted to be back from Budapest and playing on a “home” stage again. And looking forward to a nice long vacation myself in Paris over the next three weeks!

Insu and Réjean Rockin the Baroc.

Another jam at the Baroc.

First one at the Baroc.

Final one at the Baroc.

Playing the Open Stage at the Szimpla Kert in Budapest, and Thinking About the Noctambules Fun in Paris

July 25, 2015

Szimpla Facade Budapest

Szimpla Facade Budapest

BUDAPEST – Timing was everything at the Szimpla Kert open stage in Budapest last night. I had only previously ever played in the open jam session at the Szimpla Kert on Sunday nights, but I had noticed this trip that there is an open stage on Friday. So, figuring it was another one of these open nights that starts around 9 PM and closes early, I decided to check it out before eating dinner. Good thing I did….

The Szimpla is a fabulous garden bar place that looks like a squat, and is made up of all sorts of different bars, rooms, chicha smoking areas, a recording studio, everything. It has always been one of my favorite places to go at least once while in Budapest, and it gets absolutely packed tight with thousands of people in the various mazes of the rooms and halls.

The stage for the open jam and open stage is a wonderful, quite large, end-of-a-long bar room and last night there was a pretty sizeable and receptive audience, and a could of guys who were running it, jamming throughout. I showed up in time to get on the stage as the next performer and played a number of songs, with one of the guys accompanying me on bass and the other on a drum. The mic was great, so I enjoyed the singing.

After my set, unfortunately, I had to make off pretty quickly to find a restaurant. Crossing the street from the Szimpla I immediately heard a gypsy band playing in a restaurant, and a crowd around the outside, in the street. I filmed a bit but did not go in there. Instead, I found a great little Hungarian food restaurant, a traditional one, a few streets over, completely abandoned of clients – all of whom wanted to get robbed paying for crappy food where the tourists congregated.

After dinner, well before 11 PM, I returned to Szimpla, but as I expected, the open stage was finished already.

The Noctambules open mic in Paris a success again

During this time I had received some messages from Paris and the the Place Pigalle, however, hearing that Raphaëlle’s weekly Friday night open mic at the Noctambules bar was yet another fabulous one; one, in fact, it turns out that was among the best, with probably the biggest crowd yet. I regretted missing it, but it is not possible to be in two cities at the same time, unfortunately, since I love both Budapest and Paris…. But I’ll be at the Noctambules next Friday…(and thinking about Szimpla?!!).

Hot Night at the Jack Doyle Pub Open Mic in Budapest

July 24, 2015

jack doyle's budapest

jack doyle’s budapest

BUDAPEST – It was a real hot night at the open mic in Budapest last night, at Jack Doyle’s Irish pub. Unfortunately, I mean that literally! It was so hot – like around 37 or so inside the pub, and only a few degrees lower outside – that I think the usual open mic crowd got scared away. Well, that fell very much to my advantage in two ways.

It meant that I could sit back and listen to a very long set by the duet that has hosted this open mic for a few years, and really appreciate their stuff. It also meant I could give them a big break and do a long set of my own, which lasted at least half an hour.

The MC duet band at Jack Doyle’s open mic – first song.
Oh, and of course, it also meant I could enjoy the cold Kilkenny even more than I usually do….

The MC duet band at Jack Doyle’s open mic – second song.
Stay tuned for more hot stuff in Budapest!

The Vibrant Point of Paris in Mid-July – Aux Noctambules

July 19, 2015



PARIS – With so many open mics closing in Paris for the summer, the Noctambules open mic on Friday night was again a magnet for those who don’t take vacations in July in Paris. Oh, and for those who take vacations in other countries and come to Paris in July. Whatever, there was magic again at Raphaëlle’s open mic on the Place Pigalle in Paris at the Noctambules bar on Friday.

The combination of the open front of the café looking over the place, and Raphaëlle’s warm and riotous MCing, along with all the variety of musicians who have turned out week after week have really made this one of the best open mics in Paris, and at the most difficult period of the year for such things in Paris, during a hot summer month of July. August will be the real test….

Great sax and electric guitar moment in the doorway of the Noctambules at the open mic.

Raphaëlle was back to doing some of her amazing cabaret songs as well, by the way, a point that makes this open mic so different from most, as the musical styles range from everything to everything else; including poetry, spoken word and spoken word with guitar music. It was no doubt the high point of the open mic, although coming well after midnight, a lot of the early people had left, but many new people came, drawn in by her extraordinary voice. We’ve also had the good luck to have Viny Vince with his keyboards in the last couple of weeks, and his kindness in lending the keyboards to other players.

Les Spleens doing duet at Noctambules open mic in Paris.

What will it be like when it rains and the front terrace is less inviting. Or in the winter time when it will not doubt be moved back into the huge, unused, but comfortable back room of the bar? I, for one, am looking forward to it.

A little spoken word and guitar at the Noctambules open mic in Paris.

He doing a Bashung cover at the Noctambules open mic in Paris.

Bad Fantasy goes solo at the Noctambules open mic in Paris.

Guy doing gal song at Noctambules open mic in Pigalle.

Ripper story slam at Noctambules open mic on the Place Pigalle in Paris.

Paris Roundup – From the Flea Market to the 2 Moulins and the Baroc, and Onwards to the Noctambules

July 16, 2015

St. Ouen Market after Closure © Brad Spurgeon

St. Ouen Market after Closure © Brad Spurgeon

PARIS – Aside from a great long cool and fun evening at the Baroc on Tuesday evening, I’ve just had spots of music here and there, and mostly there, over the last few days since Raphaëlle’s open mic at the Noctambules on the Place Pigalle last Friday. (Speaking of which, do NOT miss Raphaëlle’s Noctambules open mic tomorrow at this absolutely fabulous location, as this is becoming a not-to-be-missed Paris open mic, playing music overlooking the historic place….)

On Sunday night it was a quiet walk over the St. Ouen flee market and a small temporary art gallery where Joris Delacour was showing off his artworks, and holding an informal jam on the sidewalk in front. I managed to get this one nice little bit of music on video, having spent most of the jam wondering what or if I should play next. This one gives an idea of the feel of the area, which seems not to be anywhere near Paris, if even France.

The jam outside the gallery where Joris Delacour was showing his art.

From there it was on to a quiet Monday night stopover at the gig of Brislee Adams, who organizes and MCs the excellent Café Oz (Blanche) open mic on Tuesday nights. He had one of his once per month gigs at the Aux 2 Moulins bar restaurant on the Rue Lepic. This café is known lately for its appearance in the Amelie Poulain film. But Brislee brought it to life with his one-man band of popular music, and at least one invited guest….

Brislee Adams playing a Van Morrison song at his gig at the 2 Moulins.

And so onwards to Tuesday night at the Baroc, one of Paris’s longest running and best open mics. It felt in many ways like a classic night at the Baroc since you never know quite what to expect, and we got that, but also because the regular MC, Réjean, was on vacation, so the task was taken up with enthusiasm by Paul Cash. Cash is a character who has long been a part of Paris’s open mic scene, but interestingly, his contribution has been more in the area of the Slam spoken word open mic than in the music open mics. I say “interestingly” because Cash, in addition to being a poet, is also a highly talented pianist and composer.

The hippie jam at the Baroc open mic.

With his draw there were some unusual acts, like the band of jammers that took us all back a few decades into something very hippie-like. At the end of the evening Paul handed out prizes for a draw, mostly consisting of small art books he put together, as he is also an artist….

A ripper rapper at the Baroc open mic.
A very cool last few days in Paris…. So don’t forget the Noctambules open mic tomorrow!!!!

Isabelle on her ukulele at the Baroc open mic.

Another singer doing some soul at the Baroc open mic.

Another Exceptional Night at Raphaëlle’s Open Mic on Place Pigalle in Paris

July 12, 2015



PARIS – You know an open mic is successful when even in the middle of July in Paris it continues to be full of musicians, poets, spoken word artists and drunks, and that it just keeps on transforming and mutating. That’s how I felt at Raphaëlle’s open mic in the Noctambule bar on the Place Pigalle on Friday.

It was only the sixth edition of the open mic, but the combination seems nearly perfect so far: Raphaëlle’s amazing hosting, her amazing singing, the amazing location on this famous Paris place, and a managerial team at one of Paris’s longtime music locations that makes no serious complaints so far about the raucousness of the open mic.

And the great thing on Friday was certainly the moments of four or so spoken word things happening, taking the open mic onto a another level. There were keyboards this time as well, as Vinny brought his keyboards and a violinist.

There were several regulars and many new faces as well, which also indicates good health for an open mic. I just never tire of this one on the place Pigalle, standing there singing behind a mic looking out into the streets and trying to see if anyone is listening on the other side of the Place!!!! Summer in Paris is a particularly difficult time to fill up an open mic, given the vacation ritual – on the other hand, there are also tourists aplenty, and the open mic is a great place for an expat to vent their thing to the Paris air….

Oh, and this time, finally someone caught me on video doing some of my singing – Léandro Bronze, of Brazil, filmed me doing my song, “Since You Left Me,” which I haven’t played for a while….

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