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Playing Slow at the Escargot – A Touch of Russian at Paris Open Mic

August 2, 2013

escargot touristic centerPARIS – The Escargot Underground open mic in Paris started last year some time and then ceased, and then recently started up again. That’s a kind of escargot movement, when you think of it. And escargot means snail in French… but this open mic takes place in the cave basement of a ground floor office for a Russian tourist agency called Escargot Touristic Center.

Now that you get the meaning of the name, how about a sense of the place? Given that the temperature in Paris was around 35 degrees celsius yesterday, a visit to the Escargot open mic was a great relief; the cellar is a classic Paris brick vaulted room, which means it is very cool in temperature, and just what was needed to counter the suffocation of the airless heat of Paris.

It is also the kind of room where amplification is not really necessary, and some people played without it. There were a few familiar musicians, like John Redford and Brislee Adams, and Raphaelle Bouskela. But there were some I did not know, including one of the two Igors present, who did his Russian music along with another Russian on bass, and changed the atmosphere into that of a Russian expat gathering for a few minutes. The other Igor, whom I met at the open mic at the Blanchisserie in Boulogne, by the way, I learned is apparently the member of a well-known Russian band from St. Petersburg. Wish I’d heard them play….

As it was, because the emphasis was on cooling off and slowing down and not really doing loud music, I decided to change my repertoire a little, and I sang “May You Never,” by John Martyn (without the incredible guitar work that makes that song so amazing), and the “Raggle Taggle Gypsies,” of Irish/English tradition, as well as “Just Like a Woman” and my own “Except Her Heart.” Thanks to Brislee and Raphaelle for the videos of me – although I think I made a mistake in every song I sang!!!

A very cool evening, cooling off in the Russian travel agency Escargot….

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