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Paris Double-Header: Tennessee Bar and The Galway Pub

June 15, 2010

Monday nights used to be all about Earle’s open mic for me, as far as I was concerned. I knew Monday was a good night for other open mics, but as long as Earle’s existed, that’s where I would be. If Earle’s open mic was closed for holidays or vacation, I would then go to the other available places. Earle’s open mic is now finished officially – although who knows if that’s forever – after a half decade running from one spot to another.

That meant that last night I finally decided to get out to another Monday night venue – after a few weeks without anything. It turns out that two of the best are both located near each other in the Latin Quarter, one at the Tennessee Bar near the Odéon, and the other at the Galway Pub, on the quai near the Place St. Michel.

The Tennessee is located behind the Rue St. André des Arts, in a small street called rue André Mazet. Upstairs it is rather hip looking, a small bar on two levels. Downstairs is cave-like, and it even has caveman drawings in a part of it. Brick walls, a nice little comfortable stage with an upright piano. The open mic is run by James Iansiti, an American from California but of Italian origin, who often wears a fedora to cover his bleached yellow Mohawk haircut.

I was among the first to arrive yesterday, so I was among the first to perform. It is a classic open mic with James calling up the performers more or less in the order of their arrival – although he does not keep a list. It is very informal, and it is about half and half expat performers to French performers. I did four songs last night, and I felt very emotional and was able to feel not the slightest bit of nervousness because I was so angry at the world. I don’t know if that came through in the playing, and I never stuck around long enough to find out what anyone thought of my songs. I split and went to the Galway to continue my personal therapy and sing some more.

But I did see a few interesting other acts at the Tennessee, including a couple of French guys who did a fabulous rendition of “While My Gutar Gently Weeps,” and also a guy from the United States somewhere who played some classic blues stuff with his electric guitar and he sang.

I went to the Galway and got there early, far too early, in fact. There was a World Cup soccer game on the television. The open mic normally starts at 21:30, but we had to wait until the game ended. That took nearly half an hour, and then the open mic started immediately afterwards – and once most of the people cleared out of the pub after the game!

The open mic is MC’d by a man named Steven, or Stephen, from Melbourne, Australia. He looks a little like Kurt Cobain and wears an Australian bush hat of some kind. You can see that in the video I did of him introducing the evening and starting off with a song…. that song just surprised me so much as it was the last thing I expected to hear from an Australian who looks like Kurt Cobain. He and his French fiddler, Pierre, played “Rocky Road to Dublin.”

It fired me up so much that I decided I would play the “Raggle Taggle Gypsies” when I went up, which was right after Steven. I played three more songs after that, “Just Like A Woman,” my own “Since You Left Me,” and finally “Year of the Cat.”

Among the other performers I enjoyed were a young Dutch woman who had a nice voice and some charisma, and a Frenchman named Etienne. I had seen Etienne somewhere else, but I could not remember pricisely where. I thought it was at the Highlander, but my recollection of him was that he was bluff, full of himself and not talented. When this Etienne began to sing, however, I realized I was mistaking him for someone else. This guy has a very cool voice and presence and an emotional thing that gets through – hmm, more Kurt Cobain than Steven, after all….


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