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A New Open Mic in Montreal: Medley Simple Malt

June 2, 2015

Medley Simple Malt open mic in Montreal

Medley Simple Malt open mic in Montreal

MONTREAL – I had no idea what I was getting into last night at the Medley Simple Malt bar open mic in Montreal. It seemed a tiny little bit too far off from the center of town where my hotel is located, near the Berri-UQAM metro. And then, once I got there, stepping out of the Rosemont metro, I felt I had wandered even farther away from civilization than I have bargained for. Until I walked around the block and ended up in the strip of stores, bars, restaurants and other amusements where the Medley Simple Malt bar is located, on Saint-Hubert street.

When I entered the bar around 8:20 PM, there were not that many people present, and I feared a dead open mic. I left to eat at a nearby restaurant – had a fabulous confit de canard and another lousy wine – and then headed back to find it still lacked a certain number of people. But bit by bit, the bar filled up, the vibe grew, and by the end of the open mic, the place was just thriving, the open mic was free and easy, open, anything goes, jam, solo, great musicians, a whole lot of French language stuff – relief!!!! – but also English. Totally bilingual.

And the barman, and the choice of beers, were all right up there very high on the list of what an open mic should be like. I had a fabulous, four-quarter-pint glass degustation of brews, and a couple of other beers after that – one offered on the house as a musician.

It’s a vast bar, wooden walls, counter, tables, a little bit of a western feel to it, with the bar in the center, and all sorts of home brewed beers and other stuff. The crowd was really enthusiastic, the music was good, and there was even one of the staff members who was probably the best guitarist of the evening.

Alex’s presentation of the open mic was warm and very competent, as he manned the sound board all night to make sure the volume and sound quality was good. He also accompanied some people on his guitar and did some of his own stuff. Again, one thing I loved about this open mic was for once it had a very high French Quebecois element to it, and not just another Anglo event in Montreal….

It was much to my surprise at the end of the night that I learned from Alex – and then the barman – that this was in fact only the third time the open mic has been done. It felt like it had been going for a long time, it was such a success in the end. It was one of those open mics where there’s a real sense of community by the end of the evening, and that bodes well for the future.

Oh, the only problem was that by the time I left just before 2AM, I didn’t have that many choices on how to get back to my hotel. So I decided to jog it almost all the way down Saint-Hubert, normally a 59 minute walk according to Google Maps, and I think I jogged it – with my guitar and computer on my back and my newspapers in a bag in my hand – in around 35 minutes or so…. Slept like a baby after that….

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