Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

The End of the Tennessee Bar Open Mic in Paris

October 5, 2013

tennessee bar open mic closing

tennessee bar open mic closing

MOKPO, South Korea – For the second day running, the news from Mokpo is about Paris! Mokpo is the little “bled” – to use a French word – where I am located this weekend in my worldwide musical adventure. There’s no open mic from what I can see – or have seen in the past. But lots is going on in Paris. No sooner did I yesterday update my Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, by reinstating the existence of the former Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic now reborn as La Tireuse, than I learned through a Facebook announcement that the longstanding and great open mic in Paris at the Tennessee Bar has just ended.

I have tried to contact the person who maintains the page to confirm that the statement they made means there is no longer an open mic, but I have not had a response (on my accelerated South Korea time). But that the open mic is finished is the way everyone else who has written in queries has interpreted the statement, and it is the way I think the statement has to be interpreted. (Note: Today, the following day in South Korea, Oct. 6, I received confirmation from Valerie and James that both the downstairs Whiskey bar concept and the open mic itself have now ended. Later in the day, however, I then received a comment on this post telling me that the open mic will continue on Mondays, but with a different host. As James Iansiti and the Tennessee Bar open mic have been part and parcel of the same thing, I will henceforth treat this open mic as a new one. I’ll put it back on my open mic list once I see that it is really here to stay, and once I get a taste of it myself, like all the open mics on my list in Paris.)

Here is what they said on the Tennessee Whiskey Bar Facebook page: “The Tennessee Whiskey Bar regrets to inform you that we are now closed. The owner and manager of the Tennessee Jazz Bar were not happy with the project. Thanks to all of our musicians and guests for sharing the bar we created.
James and Valérie love you!”

So what else can that mean? If it is not closed (see above note), I’ll update as soon as I get the news. But for the moment we have to assume the open mic has ended after many years. This is one of the best open mics in Paris, it was run by James Iansiti, and I have written about it extensively on this blog. After James and his girlfriend, Valerie, redesigned the fabulous basement room of the Tennessee bar over the summer and re-opened the open mic under the name of the Tennessee Whiskey Bar, it seems the experiment has ended, the owner and manager of the Tennessee Bar having decided that he did not like the new deal.

And so ends what I can only imagine was a great business deal for the Tennessee bar. But what do I know about the economics of running a bar in Paris and its open mic. It is not the first time I have seen an open mic just bubbling over with clients, bursting at the seams, incapable of holding all the spectators and musicians, and then seeing the bar owner say that they don’t like the business the open mic is providing them with. But why now? The Tennessee Bar open mic has existed for at least five years, and earlier this year it was so popular it became a twice-a-week event, putting on an open mic on Mondays and then also on Thursdays.

Of course, the last time a mainstay open mic in Paris collapsed, it rose from the ashes again – as the new owner saw the business and community value in it – and that was the very one I mentioned at the top of this post, now called La Tireuse. Well, the only good point to this loss of another great Paris open mic is that there were already two others in the neighborhood, and now musicians will no longer have to toss a coin to decide which bar to give their business to: The Coolin or the Galway.

Bye, bye Tennessee, and thanks for all fun years. May you rise up out of the ashes too!


  1. The Tennessee Jazz Bar Open Mic still OPEN every monday and thursday.the bar downstairs’s not the end but a new beginning!!

    • Sorry, but I have now had it confirmed that it is closed. The downstairs bar and open mic are now finished.

      • Sorry but it’s not true.the open mic STILL OPEN dear Brad.i’m the barmaid of the Tennessee and the wife of the manager.and this Monday You could trust me there will be Open mic like every monday.we have a new Host. The next time please ask to the right persons if ou are looking for the good information.did you ask to the bar maybe? Thanks to change you post.

        • I was extremely careful to come to no conclusions about the news until I had asked James and Valerie. It was important to me to make sure that I reported this correctly. Because James has been the host of the open mic for the last five or more years, it was utterly impossible for me to imagine that he would respond to me that the open mic no longer existed, if the open mic was going to continue. As I am in South Korea at the moment it did not even occur to me to call up the bar to ask the question.
          Having said all of that, I will certainly will report this news, although my original post itself will not change. Nor will I put the open mic back on my list of open mics in Paris until I see for myself how long it continues to go on for.
          Thanks for taking the time to respond to me.

  2. Pingback: A New Open Mic at the Tennessee Bar in Paris | Brad Spurgeon's Blog

  3. Hi,
    Thank you for your interest in the Tennessee Jazz Bar and the open mic hosted there.

    Please alow us to complete the information you have, to clarify some ambiguities.

    The official and only name of the bar at “12 Rue André Mazet” is “Tennessee Jazz Bar”.

    The so called “Tennessee Whiskey Bar” was a concept wich opened on September 2nd and was stopped on october 3rd. What was impossible to sustain, was the existence of two businesses in the same spot. It seems from your reading that the “Tennessee Whiskey Bar” concept has been confused with our longstanding open mic.

    Neither the owner nor the manager where unhappy with the achievements made by James regarding the music, the open mics and the tasty touch of Rock. He decided to quit the open mic hosting and we respect his decision. He will be missed. However we regret that he decided to link so tightly his years of work in the open mic with an experimental bar concept wich did not work.

    Since your blog is focused on open mics around the world and not bar concepts around the world, we have the honnor to communicate officialy about our.

    We, at the Tennessee Jazz Bar, are proud to consider the live music as the soul of the bar and our open mic as its heart. We have enough respect and gerards to the musicians to not mix between the departure of an employee and the end of the wonderful atmosphere created by all the musicians, their performances and their presence.

    We have a new host for the open mic, his talented, well known, well experienced and he has all our trust and consideration. The last open mic stood up three days ago, the next is planned for tomorrow.

    The show must go on.

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my blog post and to my readers. As you will have seen, many hours before you wrote this letter I had already put up a new post announcing the continuation of your open mic and I had also updated it with the news of the arrival of a new host for it ( ), which I welcomed with open arms and great expectations.
      If you have also been following this blog for the three and a half years of its existence, you will have seen that there never has been any confusion about the connection between the open mic and the name Tennessee Whiskey Bar – as I have written countless reports on the activities of the open mic and never mentioned the name whiskey bar until it closed, as it did not exist until September. I never liked much putting the word “Jazz” in the bar as I always felt that was a misleading name, since I never heard any jazz there – but let’s call that a quirk of style.

      The only “confusion” was that as I mention in the above post, it is the former host of the open mic who told me personally and also announced in public that the open mic had closed.

      Here is the announcement: “The Tennessee Whiskey Bar regrets to inform you that we are now closed. The owner and manager of the Tennessee Jazz Bar were not happy with the project. Thanks to all of our musicians and guests for sharing the bar we created.”

      In order to not mislead my readers, I decided to send the follow email to the former host asking if the above statement really meant the end of the open mic: “I want to say something on my open mic blog about the closure of the open mic if the open mic is dead. Is it just the new bar concept downstairs that is finished, or has the open mic ended as well? James? Finished? I have removed it off my open mic list already, but I’m wondering if I jumped the gun.
      What’s happening? It would be good to let readers of the blog know, since the Tennessee open mic was such an important part of the blog.”

      Here is the response I received: “Unfortunatly it’s true: the owner and manager shut down The Tennessee Whiskey Bar and all of its music. Only they know why. Cheers and keep on rocking! Valerie and James.”

      Clearly, my question was unambiguous and clear, and the response was just as clear – even if, as it turned out, there was a bit of a play with the words that most readers would never have suspected.

      I am so glad you have found my blog, which has been responsible for sending countless musicians to attending the open mic of the Tennessee Bar over the years, and above and above all, thanks for continuing to run an open mic in your fabulous bar and location.

Leave a Reply

Powered by
%d bloggers like this: