Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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An Open Mic, an Intercontinental Meeting and a Free Pizza at Bertha Brown in Melbourne

March 21, 2012

My intention today had been to report on both the Monday and Tuesday night open mics that I did in Melbourne. But time has caught up with me, I am now sitting in my hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and while I have a great Internet connection again FINALLY – after a week of crappy connections in Australia – I also now have a gig to perform tonight at the Backyard Pub in Kuala Lumpur. So time presses and I will only be able to report on my Monday open mic at Bertha Brown in Melbourne – but it’s worth it!

Interview with Shane Walters, MC of Bertha Brown open mic in Melbourne:

Had it not been for the slow Internet connection in my Best Western hotel in Melbourne I’d have had this up long ago…. But anyway…. I learned about the Bertha Brown open mic when I was performing at the Felix Bar open mic. That is the way these things go. You do one, you meet people, they tell you about other ones. One of the fabulous things about the Bertha Brown open mic is that they are VERY musician-friendly: They offer the performers a glass of beer and a wonderful pizza that makes a full meal.

The stage is wonderful, fairly large and high and well-lit; the bar/restaurant is huge, with two different wings; and the sound system is great. The open mic is run by a different person every month, but all the people who run it – the guest MCs – belong to a kind of musicians’ cooperative called Songwriters in the Round.

I did an interview with the MC, Shane Walters, as part of my series of interviews with the people involved in open mics around the world. But it was only after the interview that we made a connection. Shane had been practicing his French with me several times through the evening, even when presenting me on stage. And later I told him that one of my good friends in Paris was an Australian from Melbourne who ran an open mic, a guy named Stephen Prescott. (I added that Stephen had since moved to another European city.)

“Was that in an Irish pub?” said Shane.

I said it was, it was in the Galway. Shane then said that he not only played in the open mic at the Galway a couple of years ago when he went to Paris, but he stayed while in Paris at the home of a friend of Stephen’s. Man, talk about a small world!

And there were a lot of interesting acts, including an original guy who I had to equate in my mind as a “punk Bob Dylan.” That was Jack Gramski, and his songs for the most part were incredibly influenced by Bob Dylan, but with a cool angry punk delivery. (Just realized that the video I put up is not the most representative of that, though!)

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