Here is the story as I see it, without doing extensive research: This guy shows up at the Coolin open mic last Monday and hands me a “VIP Invitation” to “The Soirée,” presented by FC Freedom at the Freedom Pub, a popular sports bar off the Champs Elysées. The guy sees I have a guitar – although he has not heard me sing – and asks if I want to take part in the “X-Factor” part of the evening. I am always looking to follow the music, so I agree to do so.
That was for last night, but it also turned out that there was the once-per-month open mic of the Lizard Lounge, and I did not want to miss it. Anyway, I learn afterwards that this so-called X-Factor evening at the Freedom Pub, in fact, has nothing to do with any TV show or talent search. It is an annual fund raising event held by a soccer team, FC Freedom.
Okay, that was not exactly what I had thought this thing was going to be about, considering the way it had been presented. The guy had sought other musicians too, by the way, at Coolin. Anyway, because I had already agreed to go with the guy giving out the invitations and also with another one or two people who contacted me via telephone – it sounded all very heavy and official even so, right? – I thought I would definitely have to go. By the time last night happened, I was beginning to feel tired and not inspired, and it was raining and I had lots of things to do. Then I thought, “But you said you would go.” Furthermore, I realized I could go to the Freedom Pub, check out the show and then take the same Line 1 metro on to the Lizard Lounge.
So I arrive at the Freedom Pub – across the street from the longtime home of the International Herald Tribune from the 20s to the 70s – and I walk in to hear some kind of amateur rapping on the mic and I see a place that is pretty sparsely inhabited, and it did have a fairly “football club”-like feel to it. The sound system was not great, and after my friend with the invitations greeted me – I was late on the agreed upon hour, by the way – I quickly inquired if it was possible for my guitar to be plugged in. It was not. Only a mic.
I was immediately thinking about my second possible date, the Lizard Lounge. Worse, the man organizing the talent show said I could go on as the first person in the second part of the show, after another three acts. I thought my night would be gone, and I tried to back out. But my man with the invitations insisted to the man organizing the talent to let me go up immediately, if I wanted to. I said I could go with only my guitar in acoustic mode and the mic for my voice, and I’d be happy to do it immediately.
So I went up, sang two songs, got a few people singing along, they seemed to enjoy it – What’s Up and Mad World – and then I started packing my guitar and told the guy I was sorry I wouldn’t stay but I had this other event to attend. He immediately offered me a fresh new bottle of Smirnoff Eristoff Black premium Vodka based spirit as payment for my attendance and performance! I could not believe the gesture, especially as I was not hanging around and had bought nothing to drink myself. It made me feel really good about him, about the FC Freedom and about the Freedom Pub off the Champs Elysées. And I also had a thought for the other people who had withdrawn at the last minute, did not show up and did not follow the music. Do it! Follow the music.
Anyway, I went off to the Lizard Lounge and had a GREAT open mic. Lots of cool musicians, some friends, a nice environment and an absolutely deadly sound system. I was feeling so good that my music went well too, and I actually got an encore and a request for a second Cat Stevens song after I sang a first – so I did Miles from Nowhere and Father and Son. A wonderful, wonderful evening. Thanks music.