Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Wicked Open Mic at Vieux Léon, With Some Wickedly Good Singers and All the Rest

December 20, 2012

Every time I feel like I have gone to too many open mics, what’s the point, why not stop, I end up in an open mic where everything seems to come together: Friends, talk, music, vibe, atmosphere, my own moment behind the mic – and above all, some musician who just electrifies me and wakes me up and makes me say, “Am I ever glad I came here tonight.” That is the complete description of the Vieux Léon open mic last night, for me, in any case, and among the really neat and cool musicians the ones that startled me the most were Michelle Blades, from Panama, and the trio Bobine, from France.

I had noticed Michelle upon entering the bar, because she’s kind of striking looking. And had I noticed the others a little farther back in the room, I’d have noticed them too…to put it succinctly. But anyway… there was something trancelike, and true to Michelle’s performance. If you listen to the recording of the video of the first song she did, that I put here, you can hear the many variations in the sounds of her voice and emotion, the constant changes in attack on the guitar, in song melody themes, and then there is that “regard” looking at the audience as she sang, both piercing it, and in her own world. Great stuff. She’s in Paris for a while, and has visited a few times before, having played at L’Internationale – although that was the first time I saw her.

Then Bobine was this wonderful harmony of these two amazing women singers, and their backup guitarist. I was trying to decide as I watched and listen which of the two women’s voices I liked more. But I could not come to any such conclusion, as the whole performance was indeed a whole…. and later, upon returning home, I saw that they are, in fact, sisters – so no need to decide, take the package! Bobine, from somewhere in the south of France – I always get Toulouse and Toulon mixed up, and can’t quite remember which it was….

I loved the heavy reverb on the vocal mic, so while listening to the others, and as a counterpoint to the gypsy jazz of the trio before me – one of the liveliest groups of the night – I decided that I would go heavy into “Wicked Game” as my first song. I was kind of nervous after such great musicians, but I decided it would be a piece of cake: Just think of my most wicked ex-girlfriend ever and sing those lyrics to that memory. In the end, while the reverb was strong, the guitar was barely audible to me – although fine to the room – and so I at first had a wicked game of it trying to find the key to sing to the guitar chords. But in the end, I was told – and felt – that it all worked out O.K.

A wicked night at the Vieux Léon….

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