Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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From Crap to Crazy to Super Cool – Two Paris Open Mics

June 4, 2012

I arrived at the El Tonel bar near the Louvre where I have had one or two wonderful evenings in the new open mic there, and I had no expectations. I knew it was the first Sunday of the month, though, so I’d have the Lizard Lounge to attend down the street afterwards near the Hotel de Ville, if needs be. Needs beed….

The Tonel ended up being completely uninspiring – except for Scott Bywater’s superb song, and friendliness – and I played three or four songs and found a nearly completely unresponsive audience. One of the problems was there were simply not enough people there to really find a way into things. And those that were there were with other musicians and so there was more talking than listening. Then again, I may be entirely unfair, and I may have had higher expectations than what were delivered, but that all was really just fine.

Whatever may be the truth of the situation, I got out of there as fast as I could and walked down to the Lizard Lounge. There I found myself in the exact opposite situation to the El Tonel. It was a blood madhouse! There was a crazy mad rhythmic group putting on some kind of trancelike performance, and the brick cellar room was so full of riotous people that it was difficult to move or breathe! Fortunately, I found some friends there too, and that forced me into staying what otherwise felt too crazy and too much of a contrast for me.

Then, slowly, or maybe quickly, the mood changed, the crowd thinned a tiny bit, the music varied – with some wonderful performers -, and the whole thing began being a classic and wonderful evening at this amazing once-per-month open mic that has managed to survive extremely well for a few years despite being only once a month. Then I went up to play at the end, and I felt by then really good, the crowd was even thinner, but a lot of people who had been up in the street smoking cigarettes returned, and in short, my first song – my “Except Her Heart” – went extremely well, with clapping and a clearly engaged audience, and then when my second song, “Year of the Cat” went less well, I though, “O.K., I’m going to have to pull out the heavy artillery now.”

So I told them that despite my desire not to always sing the same songs, I would do one that I did every month there. That actually drew applause and cheers, even though I don’t know if they knew which it was! So I dived into “What’s Up!” I was feeling so akin the lyrics and primal scream aspect of that song that I just belted it out, and they clapped along and sang along in unison, in a brilliantly wonderful communication between performer and audience – at least from my side. Wish I had written that song!

So I decided I had better quit while ahead, and I have a flight tomorrow to catch for Montreal. So I left after my slot, and did not hang around for the jam with several musicians that has become a mainstay event at this warm, crazy and fun open mic.

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