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December Wilderness in Open Mics in Paris

December 10, 2015

Paris Skyline

Paris Skyline

PARIS – December, along with August, are the cruellest months in Paris. When it comes to open mics, that is. It’s like, let’s close down and disappear during holiday period. So was the theme on both Tuesday and Wednesday as I sought out the open mics in Paris.

Tuesday was the best. That’s where I had five or six open mics in mind to attend, including trying out the Feline open mic for the first time, on the new and fabulous stage that his hip cool bar has created by tearing down some useless little corners in the back of the place. But when I arrived, I found that due to a zero number of musicians, the open mic had been cancelled for the night. Next edition? Tuesday, 5 January.

So then I thought, OK, there’s always Brislee Adams and his Café Oz open mic at the Blanche metro. But at the Feline they warned me that they believed there was no open mic at the Café Oz. So I left, thinking of the third place I had in mind, in the same neighbourhood. In fact, I also checked my Facebook and found that indeed, due to a sports game on television, the Oz open mic had been cancelled. Make up your minds, bar people, sports or music!!!

So I walked down Oberkampf and made my way over to the third choice, the new Zebre Rouge bar open mic, run by Paul Cash. He thought there were not a lot of people present, but given there was no one present at the other joints, the five, six maybe more were really lots when you think about it. And I had a great time playing at the Zebre Rouge, and particularly hearing Paul’s virtuoso piano playing. (Although his accompaniment on my songs was…more difficult!)
Classic piano and harmonica at Zebre Rouge open mic in Paris

So I made a pretty early night of it on Tuesday, returned home, and then on Wednesday, last night, I said, well, there’s always the Highlander. Without fail there is the Highlander. But I decided in fact that because I had done that mainstay last week, I’d check out the Soirée Buzz at the Très Honoré bar restaurant and cocktail lounge.

This Très Honoré always promises a great show, with its fabulous house musicians, and thanks to the usual host – Brian Scott Bagley – there are usually a number of Burlesque dancers taking part too. This is part open mic, part cabaret, part live karaoké, the whole in an atmosphere of luscious wealth and snobbery.

In fact, it was so cold out last night and I was so badly dressed for the cold that when I arrived I asked for a Cognac – instead of a beer or wine – and also asked at the same moment, “How much?” The response made me feel even colder: €50. Yes, you got it, the price of a bottle of Cognac. So I asked what was the cheapest drink, and they suggested a glass of wine for €9. That was doable, and anyway, after I sang, I was given another glass of wine for my troubles….
House band warming up at Tres Honore open mic

But back to the theme of the blog: In fact, while the show was great, while there were some saving graces of the Burlesque dancers, and while the house band was fabulous as usual, I think it was pretty obvious that the usual musician contingent for the open mic were taking their Christmas holidays already, because there were not many of us! (Not to mention that Brian Scott Bagley was also not able to be there, so his job was taken by someone else – and well done.)

On my way out the door, early, I ran into some colleagues from work, and in one fell swoop my entire evening was saved – and I even got to play some more music for them, and they were more appreciative than the crowd in the basement room. Well, until I left a few hours later and got a compliment from one of the spectators as I left, about my Cat Stevens song.
First performer at Très Honoré open mic in Paris

So that is the approaching-Christmas-report of open mics in Paris, and their dissipating crowds….

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