Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Melbourne Open Mic Adventure Consolidated:

A micro trailer from the film: From the Melbourne segment of “Out of a Jam.”

A song from the album: “Memories” is the first song that I wrote after I began playing in open mics again in October 2008. I wrote it in November 2008 and sang it for the first time at the Lizard Lounge open mic in Paris on a Monday night. This recording is one of four live recordings I made in a studio at the Point Ephemere, in Paris in July 2010, with Félix Beguin on lead, Hervé Bouetard on drums, Virgile Arndt on bass and me on vocals and acoustic guitar:

A podcast: with an open mic MC during my year of podcast making with MCs of open mics in 2012. This is James Fitzpatrick, then MC of the Great Britain Hotel open mic in Melbourne, Australia:

The Thumbnail Guide: Thumbnail Guide to Melbourne Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music


A favorite video: Anthony Young at the Empress Hotel in 2012:

An excerpt from the Book: from the Melbourne chapter of OUT OF A JAM: An Around-the-World Journey of Healing and Rebirth Through Music:

Winter was arriving in Australia in the final days of March, but it was still hot that evening as I set out on my walk of two or so kilometers. As I strolled up the street carrying my guitar over my shoulder, I felt a freedom I had not known for ages. There I was on the other side of the world attending a race for my newspaper, but spending my free time in the evening after a long day of work by going to an open mic to sing my songs as I had done all winter in Paris in my new life. I felt for the first time ever, that I had free time on a race weekend, time to enjoy the city in a way that my work ethic – and single focus – had not allowed me to do in the more than a decade that I had been travelling around the world covering the races, and not seeing the world.

There was another liberating element. The knowledge that I was doing something completely different to anything anyone else in the world had ever done, and certainly different to what my colleagues covering Formula One did. While they so often lived a one dimensional – if nevertheless exceptional – F1 existence as I used to do – going to the race track, dining out with colleagues, going to the same hotels and restaurants that catered to other racing people and media – I was doing my job and discovering the true and unique culture of the city.

In the past, much of my off-track enjoyment in going to races had been in taking the evening meal alone – and isolated from the locals – at a restaurant, with different foods from around the world at each race, and sometimes dining with my fellow journalists to socialize. Now, I suddenly no longer cared about what meal I would eat: My focus had turned to the culture of the open mic, and the food would either go along with, or come second to, that. I would sacrifice a good meal for a good evening at the microphone. Bit by bit, I would weave together an adventure like none I had ever lived or written about. I would be a roving, rambling troubadour, roaming the world and not just going from county to county in old England or Ireland. It was a global county, and I was a musician making the rounds of all the music venues of the earth, singing in the universal language of melody and emotion. I would not even choose my destinations. Those were chosen for me in my privileged position as a racing writer. But the added adventure would make my Formula One reporting trips the most valuable thing in my life at the moment, rather than something I had already done for so many years, which would otherwise have killed off that new musical life of self-discovery, and cultural and social discovery, that I had begun in Paris over the winter.

As I walked the streets, I saw myself from the outside: The new Brad Spurgeon had a new element attached to his life: Time in which to explore a side of his talent and desires and emotions and book writing, which he had never explored before. And it was all because his wife had died a few days short of a year before this journey, at the premature age of 43. The woe was still overwhelming, he suffered dissociation from his usual optimistic feelings about life and himself due to her death; he felt a huge aching sorrow. But this tragedy had also delivered him into living a much richer personal creative existence than he had lived up to then. It was a huge adventure. It was a massive journey of discovery. And while he was in each new country but away from the F1 world, away from the track and experiencing his own private world in a musical culture where he was immersing himself in the locale, he was also as a result of the adventure and its rejuvenating powers, renewing his love of his F1 writing, his observation of life in the small world of the racing paddock and his writing in general. It was a question of perspective and freshness.

I entered the Softbelly’s dark front room with its long bar on the right side, low tables to the left and with people lounging about and drinking aperitifs. With a predominance of wood – floors, tables, chairs, the bar, the walls – it was all so dark it was difficult to see the décor. But it felt shabby. It also seemed to lack a basic jive to it and felt like a dive bar with a hip clientele: That was young, clearly; the bartenders were in their 20s or 30s, as were most of the cocktail-sipping clients. There were enough people to feel like it was lively, known – an “in” place….

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Worldwide Open Mic Journey 2014: The Multimedia Consolidation | Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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