PARIS – Well last night it was at the last minute that I decided to go to the Coolin open mic for the first time in months. I started the evening at the Tennessee open mic, and it was a nice quiet evening with lots of musicians despite there not being as many spectators as usual. And I may only have recognized two or three of the musicians at the Tennessee.
Ollie, the MC, who also MCs the Tireuse open mic on Tuesday nights, asked me if I was going to sing Cat’s in the Cradle, which I have not done for a very long time, so I decided to do it. I then did my song, “Except Her Heart,” and finished with “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” of Bob Dylan.
But I finished off feeling somehow restless, and decided to wander over to the Coolin to see what was happening, as it turned out that my musical friend Brislee Adams was hosting the evening instead of the regular host, who was apparently ill. Arriving at the Coolin, where I had not been for months, I found a place that has developed over the years since its first open mics, with now a wonderful sound system, a nice Persian carpet for stage, and various guitars standing up behind the stage.
I found a relatively small audience there, too, but they were quiet and respectful of the musicians, despite this being a usually massively lively Irish pub where often the musicians are little listened to unless singing loud, raucous crowd pleasers. On that subject, when it came my turn to sing, I decided for the first time in as long as I can remember at the Coolin to NOT do a crowd pleaser. Now that there is a decent sound system, and a respectful audience, I played “May You Never,” by John Martyn (minus his genius touch on the guitar, substituting my own fake version of the chords), and then I played my song, “Crazy Lady.” Both are quite and fingerpicked, and there too I decided to change by using a classical guitar instead of a folk steel string as usual. It was a real pleasure and I got some good responses.
A Return to the Magic of the Coolin
But the real magic came with the other musicians. It was the quiet end of the night, and people like Chiffre L, or Raphaëlle did some of their quieter songs – Chiffre L doing his Leonard Cohen – and then to finish off came the incredibly interesting Stephen James Newton, from Newcastle. Had I not heard him talk after his first song, I’d have thought Newton was from the deep south in the U.S. somewhere. His guitar playing is superb, and he graced us with some slide guitar after his initial deep south kind of song. You have to check out Stephen James Newton’s Soundcloud site too, to hear more of this interesting musician’s stuff. He’s living in Paris and seeking gigs.
So that was it, a touch of magic at Coolin, like those of the early days…or maybe I haven’t got a clue of what I’m talking about, and it was just all the travel I’ve been doing in the last several months that prevented me from getting there on Mondays that has put me out of touch with what is happening there every Monday…..