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From the Calm of the Tireuse to the Mania of the Pigalle Country Club

December 18, 2013

pigalle country club

pigalle country club

PARIS – I started the night at the Tireuse open mic, beneath the shadow of the Panthéon in Paris’s 5th Arrondissement, and I finished it at the wild Pigalle Country Club open mic near the manic place Pigalle. Both open mics were cool and worth their price in beer….

The Tireuse had a really good crowd and enough interesting musicians to keep the heart beating fast, and the mind and musical appreciating spirit wondering what might happen next. There were a lot of first-time musicians, and there were a number of surprises, like the saxophone player who played along with Ollie, the MC.

As it turned out, Ollie and the sax player played just before I was supposed to take to the mic – oh, and incidentally, I cannot mention this night without saying that suddenly there was a new and improved sound system. One of the only downsides since its inception of the open mic at the Tireuse, previously the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, was that the sound was horrible. A small, crappy amp. But now, there are two good little amps which make for great sound on both guitar and vocals.

It was wonderful. But I was immediately disheartened to discover that the sax player would play with Ollie just before my two-song set. How could I compete with that?!?! I decided, in fact, in a sudden moment of perspiration, to invited the sax player to play the first song with me. He agreed. And so we did “Crazy Love,” by Van Morrison, with this guy on sax. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I then did “Just Like a Woman,” which I had not done for a long time.

And Then the Contrast of the Pigalle Country Club open mic

After that, and after hearing several performers, I decided to go off to the open mic of the Pigalle Country Club bar, near Place Pigalle. This open mic is run by the members of the band “The Burnin’ Jacks,” the lead guitarist of which has played and recorded with me. It turned out he was not there last night, but the rest of the crew was. And what a contrast to the Tireuse.

Here, in this cool small bar where anything seems to go, the feeling of the open mic is, anything goes. It’s lots of acoustic rock ‘n roll, and lots of fun. It’s chaos and and anarchy, and no list for the performers, but just, “Hey, take the mic when you want.” I played my staple “Mad World,” but I started off telling them that I had a new cover song that I do, but cannot really do. That is “D’yer Maker” from Led Zeppelin, and I immediately wished that I had done the whole thing from start to finish, because it did decide to do the first few verses just to show how I cannot do it… and lots of people sang along… and then I quite in the middle.

Anyway, for me, it wasn’t about going to sing as much as going to hear. And the lightness, the fun, the rock ‘n roll vibe did not fail. I love this little open mic, even if it is not totally designed for my kind of cover songs (or my own songs). As a study in contrasts and different styles, I don’t think I could have done better than the Tireuse and the Pigalle Country Club in the same night…. You might call it the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones….

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