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Pigalle Rhymes with Raphaëlle: The Amazing New Open Mic on Place Pigalle in Paris

June 17, 2015



PARIS – I’ve always said – at least since I learned it – that the success of an open mic depends first on the attitude of the host, the attitude of the bar owner or manager, and the location and shape of the bar. If those things all pass the test – i.e., no negativity, a friendly open enthusiasm for music and people and noise – then the musicians and spectators will soon follow and the open mic will be a success.

So far, so good in the first two editions of the new open mic on the historic, legendary, lovely Place Pigalle in Paris at the Noctambules bar, in an open mic founded and run by Raphaëlle Pessoa. There have been two editions of this open mic now overlooking the place through the wide open front of the café/bar, and it was so successful that it has been launched into a weekly open mic as of now. Having first run on Sundays – last Sunday and two weeks ago – it will now feature in the open mic wasteland day of Friday. Paris has practically no open mics on Friday, now musicians will know where to go, starting this Friday, 19th June.

As a journalist I feel it important to note (disclosure!) that I was involved in the founding of this open mic with Raphaëlle, and that I will also be involved in the running of it when I’m not in some other country attending a Formula One race and an open mic. But the point of this post is not to say nice things about something that is not exceptional. Both the open mic, and Raphaëlle’s hosting and above all her singing, are exceptional.

In fact, this may be the only open mic in Paris where you are likely to hear the host break away from her guitar solo singer songwriter compositions – which are brilliant – into cabaret classics such as “Mein Herr,” or monumental pop songs like Dalida or Piaf. At least, Raphaëlle decided to leap into a few of those on Sunday, and I’m pretty sure she’ll do it again, if she feels the moment is right. For the spectators and fellow musicians, the moment will always be right, for those who know her singing and songwriting know that Raphaëlle is one of France’s great so-far undiscovered talents. Maybe the Place Pigalle exposure will change that!

In any case, Sunday was a day of great talent amongst many of the performers, with visits from Simon Ferrante, Wayne Standley, Stephen Saxo, Karina Kim, Igor of the Escargot Underground, Ivan of Ukulele fame (but without uke), Brislee Adams – who did an incredible Wings song on my guitar – and others. I will be sorry every time I’m out not able to attend…and assuming and hoping that the open mic will continue.


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