Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

The Elusiveness of Open Mics in Nice

May 27, 2011
bradspurgeon

I ran around in circles last night in Nice seeking out open mics that had been recommended to me by various people. First, I returned to Shapko’s bar, oh, and I almost forgot to mention: Returning to Nice from Monaco, I got off the train at the station in Nice and as I walked out the main door of the station, I saw Dimitri Shapko entering the station. We said a quick hello, but he was on his way to a gig in… Monaco.

Anyway, I returned first to his bar on rue Rossetti just to see what was happening. Not much of interest to me, although I understand tonight and tomorrow night should be very good musically, as we get into the meat of the Shapko jazz weekend. From there I headed off to Paddy’s Pub, not far down the street around the corner in the old town. I had been there a couple of days before as I had been told there was an open mic there. Not only was there no open mic, but the bartender did not think there ever was one. But he said he did not really know for sure! So I returned last night and found the same situation, nothing. But outside the door I was told by someone else, a musician, that there was an open mic at a pub down the street called, King’s pub.

So I headed down there and found a sign outside that indicated that basically there was an open mic every night the pub was open. There was always live music, and amateur, unknown, unannounced musicians, could ask to go up and play a little. So I went into the place and spoke to the guy at the bar and he said that, no, despite the announcement, they don’t actually do that – at least not in the summer months.

Ok. During this walk I also ran into Johnny, the Canadian man who owned and ran two musical joints in the past, one a pub that is still called Johnny’s, but which does not have an open mic, and the other being the place where I played two years ago, Johnny’s Wine Bar. Johnny sold both of these places and both became dead places after he infused them with spirit and success and had wonderful open musical nights almost every night of the week. I was amazed to run into Johnny, and he was amazed I remembered so many details about him and his joint from two years ago, like the fact that he played with a Seagull parlor sized guitar and that he had a German blues guitar player with him… I did not tell him that I had taken notes immediately after playing there and had incorporated the stuff into my open mic book-in-progress. So I cheated, in terms of the memory thing.

Johnny told me I would find a friend of his playing at a bar around the corner called Bar a Degustation, but when I went there, there was no music. I had seen a slam thing there on Tuesday night, however.

In any case, I was feeling that open mics were becoming very elusive things in Nice indeed. I had a wonderful moment seeing a busker, however, and talking to a friend of hers who approached me as I filmed, and who saved my evening’s sense of despair…

Part of the despair was the open mic chase, another part was spending half an hour at Wayne’s pub, where I was also told there was live music, but where I find the atmosphere claustrophobic. I nevertheless recorded a little video of the band doing a Beatles song….

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