Let me backstep for a moment more: I left off with the very cool, laid back, quiet and hip open mic at the Collage in Madrid for its Tuesday night open mic (now on Wednesdays). Fast-forward two days and you find me at the Triskel Tavern open mic. The Triskel is in a fabulous neighborhood at the Tribunal metro station where there is one hip bar after another, one hip little concert venue after another, rock ‘n’ roll, people playing guitars in the park, Mexican restaurants and tiled facade joints in the dirty, tiny streets of an old part of Madrid known for its nightlife.
Enter the Triskel Tavern, an Irish pub of the most traditional kind, and you find, an Irish pub of the most traditional kind. It has been there more than 20 years and it has a great long bar, snug sitting areas, sports television, darkness… everything you expect in an Irish pub, including a large number of Irish people drinking pints. A good sign.
Then, you descend the stairs to a basement room that is quite large, multifaceted, brick and stalactites – or it is the other ones – hanging from the ceiling. A large stage kitty cornered, another little bar, and a vastly full couple of rooms with spectators listening to the open mic.
No, let me step back a bit for the one little difficulty of this mainstay open mic of Madrid: It’s fabulous to have massive numbers of spectators, but the environment here at the height of the evening – two songs per performer – is mostly one of chatter, talk, yelling, carousing. Listening to music? Well, if the performer is friends with a large number of spectators, then they will quiet down and listen. I took to the stage, a complete unknown, and after doing my Mad World, which was a little raucous – to match the talk and chatter – I decided to see if I could quiet the spectators with my Bob Dylan, “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” No chance. No amount of waiting for quiet, no amount of playing the guitar softly with some nice quiet fingerpicking would calm the ardour of the chatterers.
Who cares? I just had fun playing to a full house, on a fabulous stage, with great host – Richard Harris, of England – and to hell with all the rest. As the room cleared out through the evening, the chatter died out, and soon there was a devoted group of spectators there to listen.
In any case, I cannot recommend this open mic enough, if you happen to be in Madrid – but be prepared for the chatter!
Oh yes, and keep posted for the reason I’m in Wakefield, Quebec. A report from an open mic here in the coming days….