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Fete de la Musique at Ollie’s Place in Paris

June 22, 2011

Last night was the annual Music Festival and I decided to learn from my experience with the Fete de la Musique from last year: I did not want to walk the crowded, rowdy, chaotic streets of Paris looking for and listening to all manner of music on this mad night of musical letting go.

For many musicians in France, the music festival, au contraire, is something that goes on all year round. The annual organized music festival is for them just an excuse for people who don’t usually care about music to go out and get drunk, hurt, involved in fights and public rowdiness.

So as it fell on a Tuesday this year, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to continue living as usual and to attend the best open mic in Paris at the moment, which takes place on Tuesday nights at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar in the Latin Quarter. As it turned out, Ollie Fury, who hosts the evening, had a job beforehand playing music on the street in front of a crafts shop, because it was, indeed, the Fete de la Musique.

But he ran to the bar and started the open mic on time after singing for an hour and a half, and the bar was already nearly full of waiting musicians and spectators. Still, there were a lot fewer of the regular performers. But there were a sufficient number of interesting acts, and a big audience, to make the evening a memorable one nevertheless.

Most of all, like always at Ollie’s, it was a comfortable, fun, warm evening, and one that felt all the better when once I left the place and set foot in the streets made me appreciate my decision: The streets of Paris even at 2 AM were full of rowdy, drunk, aggressive people and very few musicians by that time. Cabs were all occupied, and the general feeling was one like New Year’s Eve, which did not drum up particularly good memories for me.

So thanks to Ollie and the Ptit Bonheur la Chance and all the musicians and spectators for supporting the regular night of music on an evening where it might well have been cancelled – as other open mics did last year.

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