I had heard of the very occasional open mic at the Face Bar on the Rue des Archives for what feels like at least a year, but I was never free and in Paris at the same time as the open mic. So I never attended. But on Wednesday evening, I had the time and was in the right place – Paris.
The Face is a tiny little bar that reminds me in some ways of what I think the Shebeen bar must have been like in its days as the wildest open mic in Paris in the middle and second half of last decade. And as it turns out, The Face open mic is run by a regular musician at the Shebeen and features others who go back to that period – or at least one other last Wednesday.
It is a free-for-all open mic with no list, and a pretty average sound system at the back of the room blocking entry to the toilets. So as you play, you get to move aside occasionally for the movement of clients going to the toilet…which is charming in its way!
The atmosphere is really cool and laid back, and it’s particularly “rock ‘n roll,” as was the Shebeen. It is run by Paul Hazan, who now has a band called Electric Discharge Machine, and was previously in Mister Soap and the Smiling Tomatoes. I’ve always been a fan of Paul’s raspy-voiced singing and the songs that sound like mid-1960s garage rock, and are strong on melody.
Unfortunately I missed Paul’s singing on Wednesday, and as it turned out, after I played several songs and listened to a couple of other performers, I decided to run off from the Marais to the once-per-month Chansonnier open mic in Menilmontant. There it was much more quiet and laid-back, and having lost its regular MC the open mic at this small hotel – in the lobby – has a completely different feel to it, and a completely different kind of “free-for-all.”
But the important thing was having fun singing, and that I did.
So that was my pretty short and insignificant blog post of the day – and unfortunately the week… but I’m hoping to show off that teaser at some point soon….