There are already two open mics to attend on Mondays in the Latin Quarter in Paris, the Tennessee Bar and the Galway Pub. Now, as of last week, there is another at Corcoran’s pub near the Bastille. The latter still has a bit of work to do to iron out the creases….
Actually, this is not entirely accurate. The Tennessee and the Galway are two classic open mics where musicians or groups go up on stage and strut their stuff – whatever that stuff may be. The newcomer is a jam session kind of thing, which is a variant on the open mic. At least, that is how it was described to me by the organizer, the MC, last night, when I went for the first time, on the second week of its existence.
So what does THAT mean? Well, it means this: a jam session in a bar like this is a situation where there is usually a drum set, bass, lead guitar, microphone, acoustic, all the instruments you want, and all the performers you want. And you go up and play all together. I have played in this variant of the open mic in so many places around the world now that I feel pretty much at home in it: Try Bauhaus in Tokyo, or Jazz-Si in Barcelona, or Blues Live in Istanbul, Bee Dee’s in Shanghai, or l’Echiquier in Paris, or Tony’s Aussie Bar in Seoul, or Dublin Club in Bahrain, the Lua Nova in Sao Paulo…. they are all over.
I was very excited last night when I went to Corcoran’s to play at this new Paris jam. It meant I could play with a whole band, just as I had on Saturday at the Echiquier. But here it would also be with a number of the people who took part in the other open mics I do on Mondays, because a few wanted to try the new place.
As the evening progressed my excitement remained: There was some very, very cool stuff with a great lead guitar player, a sax player, a drummer, a keyboard player, at least two bass players. And there was an acoustic guitar waiting to be played. Just great stuff, and a few of the people were very good indeed.
So I must say that I felt an enormous sense of abandonment and absolutely shoddy treatment when after waiting for an hour and a half to play I finally got my opportunity to play my one song and the entire band defected to go out and smoke a cigarette. OOPPPS! That was a first! I cannot tell you how bad it feels to go up alone with your guitar and voice after you have had a five or six piece band blasting out rhythmic rockin’ crap for an hour and a half.
I got up behind the mic and made a comment about that, and that was enough for the kindly-intentioned organizer to come up and join me on lead guitar – but he does other stuff better than play lead, he seemed lost – and a friend joined me to do harmonies. I had chosen “Mad World” in order to facilitate the structure. It’s just four or five chords, a regular pattern. The MC told me that it wasn’t the kind of song you can really play with a band, anyway, but I took that as a pretty lame excuse, considering the brilliant job that the band did at the Echiquier when I had a sax, a trumpet, two leads and a drummer join me on that song – and then Felix’s magnificent version at my concert the week before.
Well, anyway…. let’s just say that I ran off to the Galway after that and found that thanks to the defection of a few people to Corcoran’s I was actually allowed to go up and sing twice at the Galway – and I must have done close to 10 songs in all.
First rule of a jam: Treat everyone the same way and they’ll all go off happy. I’m sure Corcoran’s will end up getting into the swing. There is so much potential in that cool place and for that cool concept. Just gotta make sure everyone has the same deal.
Oh, that reminds me. I also learned that next week at the Galway, the bar has decided that as a test session at its open mic on the Monday, it will put to trial a system in which all musicians who come to play their music will be able to buy the booze at “Happy Hour” prices, which means 5 euros for a pint of beer, and for several of the cocktails. The only catch is that the lower payment will be granted AFTER they play their music. (I heard nothing about quality control, however, so go and sing for your beer….)