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Perfectly Compatible Contrasts, from Lou Pascalou Open Mic to La Java Midnight Special

February 15, 2013

I had a difficult decision to make last night. I had been invited personally on the two previous months to attend a new open mic – that is monthly – at the Lou Pascalou bar and I wanted to go each time, but always had something preventing me from going. But I also, last night, had a personal invitation to attend a launch of Midnight Special Records‘ collection of artistes in a special showcase at La Java. This included the exceptional Michelle Blades, whom I have shown videos of from the Vieux Léon open mic. But when I found that the Lou Pascalou bar open mic started very early and ended early, and that the two venues were about 10 minutes walk away from each other, I realized the choice was a no-brainer. I would do them both.

The only risk spot, the only drawback, was that my third favorite meal of the day – after breakfast and lunch -, that is, dinner, would potentially be compromised if I were to arrive at 8 PM for the open mic in order to play and leave early for the concert. But then I learned that the Lou Pascalou has food. When I arrived, I found this splendid bar of old, classic, French proportions, with a high ceiling, bistrot sort of tables, a wonderful stage and sound system, and, as I would immediately learn, a fabulous plate of charcuterie and cheese!!!! And the St. Emilion was fabulous too!

So ANYWAY…. I ate my meal, listened to the performers in the open mic, took in the atmosphere, met and talked with some friends, then mounted the stage myself and took MY turn trying to wrestle the bucking bronco of the loud, loud, happy crowd of the Lou Pascalou that last night, at least, was there more for the nibbles and drink than for the music. I felt I reached a few of the people – which was great – and the stage itself was so wonderful to sing on, that I actually thoroughly enjoyed the open mic. I WILL return.

I began to feel I would be too late for the the Midnight Special records concerts at La Java, but I really wanted to go to that too, so I wrenched myself away from my friends and the bar of the Lou Pascalou – the only real fault of this open mic is that it is only once a month – and I walked over to the Java. There, I was immediately greeted by friend after friend, and I descended into the basement area of this large underground concert hall, to feel absolutely just as much at home there as I had at the Lou Pascalou. And the fact that I could not play here, little mattered.

Midnight Special records is a minuscule label operated by Victor Peynichou, but his bands are very original and great – judging by those I know of in the past and those I heard last night. But for me the highlight of the night was Michelle Blades, who was also the last band of of the night. I have put up videos of her at the Vieux Léon, Michelle with her strong stage presence and her inimitable voice and interesting melodies and songs. I’d only seen her perform with acoustic guitar or ukelele, but last night it was with bass – Victor, in fact – and drummer, and with her on keyboards, vocals, electric guitar. And another woman and Victor who added some background vocals occasionally.

One of the great things about Michelle is her fabulous range, both vocally and in terms of musical styles. Watch all the videos I did of her act, right to the end. The final number of night starts fairly slow and relatively quiet, and then explodes into this punk magic.

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