Tuesday I took advantage of a slightly slower night than usual at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic – which I have been raving about for a year or so as the best in Paris – to go to the open mic of Le Baroc, near the Belleville metro. Last night, I skipped the Highlander, where I go all the time, in order to check out the new open mic at a bar on Boulevard de Clichy. I regretted nothing, and had a great and slightly different time – at all of the places.
At the Ptit Bonheur la Chance I was particularly happy to be able to record Dr. Chouette. This is a young Frenchman who I first met at my last gig, at the Hideout, as he turned up to listen with his guitar and said he was a reader of this blog. We had a nice talk, and then next thing I knew, he was playing at the Tennessee Bar open mic on a night when I did not bring my camera and he was very cool, different, and at times hilarious. Check out his song about being “So French….”
The fun thing about Le Baroc was that the atmosphere there always leans toward jamming, but it is also completely a classic open mic. I went up and played my songs, and eventually three other musicians joined in, one on bongos, one on piano – he played a fabulous bit during “Borderline” – and Réjean, the MC of the evening, on his electric percussion table. We blew the place apart. But then after the amplified open mic ended, people continued playing and jamming acoustically, and that was some of the best stuff of the night. A very, very nice and laid back atmosphere. And it makes for a difficult choice between it and the Ptit Bonheur la Chance on the same night – even if they are completely different kinds of places and vibes.
Last night I went to an open mic that has only existed for the last couple of months. Taking place every second Wednesday at the “French Flair” pub on Boulevard de Clichy, it was a completely different experience again. Run by the very kind and lively half-French, half-American Alex, it started out with long lists of musicians, but like all other places in the last couple of festive weeks, it hit a slow spot. That was fine by me, as it meant I could play for nearly an hour. I also lent my guitar to a guy from Italy who happened to be there and decided to do a song, and I played rhythm guitar for Annhnna so that she could sing her reggae-rhythm song.
The bar had a nice, open feel to it, an English pub kind of place, with pool tables in a back room. Worth checking out the open mic.