Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Paddy Sherlock’s Fabulous, Long-Overdue Paris Songwriters Club at the Tennessee Bar

November 27, 2017
bradspurgeon

tennessee bar facade

tennessee bar facade

PARIS – I could not go last month to the first edition of Paddy Sherlock’s open mic at the Tennessee Bar that he runs under the name of the Paris Songwriters Club. But last night, Sunday, I could get there, so I took the opportunity, because I had a feeling about this thing. My feeling was right. Paddy Sherlock, a longtime Paris musician from Ireland (who had a gig at the Coolin pub in Paris for 20 years!), really knows how to organize and run a great show. Last night might have been an open mic, but it was a great show – beginning to end. A fabulous addition to the Paris open mic scene.

The idea behind it is a slightly risky one, in that he basically demands that people play their own compositions and not cover songs. But that environment really pushes a musician with insecurities to go for the risk of playing their own song rather than falling into the safe zone of doing a crowd-pleasing cover that they know is a sure thing.
Second Paris Songwriters Club night compilation

What I found amazing last night – along with Paddy’s perfect MCing, and his own great music, and the good sound system, etc. – was that I really felt very often as if it could not be possible that everyone was playing his own song! Some of the stuff was just so good that I forgot for the duration whether I was listening to an unknown popular song, or a composition by an unknown songwriter.

In any case, it more than lived up to my hopes. And this is great news for the Tennessee Bar too – which has relatively new management – as it used to host one of the best open mics in Paris, with James Iansiti, but since that host left, the open mic has never been up to standard for long, if at all.

Paddy said he hopes to make this monthly open mic a weekly open mic, although that depends on its success. For the moment, one thing is for sure: The next edition is on 10 December. So I highly recommend you get your butt over there, songwriter or not!

PS. For the first time on this site, and in a baptising of my new camera, I have decided to make a compilation of short segments of all of the people I filmed during the open mic – which was far from the full number of performers.

PPS, I did not want to ignore that there is also a new open mic at the Tennessee bar on Thursdays, which is run by Etienne of Coolin fame, but which unfortunately the night when I went there, Etienne could not make it, so I decided not to stay as I wanted to see it in its real guise…. I’ll return again, for sure….

It’s Sundown at Some Girls for Olivier the MC (of Ptit Bonheur fame), as He Takes His Leave From Open Mic Presentation – Big Party

July 23, 2017
bradspurgeon

Some Girls

Some Girls

PARIS – This just in: Olivier Yaco Mouchard (also known under several other IDs over the years) has just announced that on Tuesday, this Tuesday, 25 July, he will be presenting the final open mic of his musical career. This will take place at the latest of the venues where he has hosted open mics over the years, the bar on the rue de Lappe, off the Bastille, called Some Girls. It is the end of an era, but I have a suspicion that it is just the beginning of another era of another kind.

I first met Olivier at the original Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic in that cellar joint near the Pantheon. Actually, we met before that, but what the heck. Olivier took over the running of the Ptit Bonheur very early in the history of this astounding open mic, inheriting the job from his friend Olivier. (Don’t ask for an explanation on that, please.)

The open mic of the Ptit Bonheur la Chance lasted around three years, give or take a year, and it was the coolest open mic of the period. It attracted cool musicians from all over the world and was set in a very neat, intimate, cellar environment in a fabulous bar. The ground floor was a meeting place and a talking place, leaving the cellar room the quiet place for listening (or singing along).

Eventually the bar lost one of the three or four key ingredients when its owner decided to leave to open a café-restaurant not too far away in the neighbourhood. Another owner came – renaming it La Tireuse – and despite being somewhat sympathetic, they managed to screw up some of the ingredients, like changing the design of the basement room where the music took place, and it was never the same again.

I made a little film of the last open mic at the first incarnation of the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic (before La Tireuse), which I will put on this page to allow people to remember this period – and Olivier, if you are not quite sure who I mean!

Short film of the end of the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic

Olivier had a stint running the open mic of the Tennessee Bar as well, but it never recovered from the loss of its original MC, James Iansiti, despite being a cool setting. Olivier then moved on to take a role in running one of the longest-lasting open mics in Paris, the one at the Pop In. The Pop In being the only bar in the world from which I have been banned – read about that horrible Pop In story on this blog – I never did take part in Olivier’s MCing at that place.

Finally, Olivier ended up starting this open mic at the Some Girls bar what feels like a couple of years ago, but may be less, or may be more! I went many times, and found Olivier to be doing his usual great MCing, and music playing.

Olivier in his new bar???

Olivier in his new bar???


I have seen something somewhere about Olivier advertising for some kind of bar staff, so without actually speaking to him, I have a suspicion he may be involved in setting up his own bar. But that is completely speculation on my part. If he does, of course, maybe we will be lucky enough to find him having an open mic at his own bar. Then we’ll have two of the essential ingredients of a successful open mic combined: An enthusiastic and sympathetic bar owner, and a great MC.

(Note: I have learned since posting this that Olivier has indeed bought his own bar. It is called Le Rosalie, and it is located near the St. Ambroise metro, not far from the Rush bar open mic I have mentioned many times in recent posts. So a great stop off point before the open mic????)

Olivier, I cannot forget to mention, since it was the key to all the rest, is a great musician too. His latest musical effort being a band he calls Sundown.

So if you really want to take part in what I can only imagine as a great final night for Yaco on Tuesday at the Some Girls bar (not sure yet if the bar itself will continue an open mic), I’m linking again the Facebook invitation as I did in the first paragraph above, for the last Some Girls open mic, and the last of Olivier Yaco Mouchard Sundown.

Rushing Onwards Through the Summer at the Rush Bar Open Mic in Paris

July 22, 2017
bradspurgeon

Rush Bar open mic

Rush Bar open mic

PARIS – I’ve waited to run this post as a preview to the Rush Bar’s open mic this coming Monday, in Paris, rather than running it as a post-view. (Does this word exist?) It is a way of compensating for what has become my favourite open mic in Paris of the moment, for which I am writing far too many blog posts – but not praising enough!

Yes, the Rush Bar is approaching its six months of existence on the Paris open mic scene in another week or so, and the spirit that is carrying it through the summer months while so many other open mics close down, is testament to its coolness….
jamming at the rush bar

Last Monday’s edition was as warm as ever, and in addition to many regular musicians, there is a constant flow of new ones, providing just the refreshing feel that any open mic needs to remain vital.
more at the rush bar

What is all this frothing at the mouth writing I’m doing on this place? Actually, just a way at this particular moment of filling in the paragraphs to provide lines between which to place the videos of some of last Monday’s performances….
blues at the rush bar

See you Monday….
Varzu at the Rush

A Night at the Harp to Welcome Home All the Roads after a Year Travelling all the Roads

July 17, 2017
bradspurgeon

All the Roads on the Road

All the Roads on the Road

PARIS – Just a quick note to note the notes noted at The Harp on Saturday night in honor of the return after a year to Paris of Romain Bretoneiche, also known as “All the Roads,” also known as the longtime MC of the open mic at the Galway Pub open mic in Paris. Romain and his girlfriend took a year out of the daily slog to live a little by travelling all the roads of the world in an around-the-world voyage.
Romain and his sister at the harp

On Saturday, at The Harp pub which is located halfway between the Place Clichy and the Place Blanche, Romain and his friends and family organized a party celebrating his return. This is kind of a personal sort of blog item, but I feel that since I must have reported at least 50 times on my visits over the years to the Galway Pub open mic (which is happening tonight, by the way), it was appropriate to report Romain’s return….
Ludow at the Harp

Brad Spurgeon  at The Harp(Photo by: Ludow Forget)

Brad Spurgeon at The Harp (Photo by: Ludow Forget)


Why it was not celebrated at the Galway, I have no idea. But the evening of music and imbibing at The Harp was perfect. I had never been in this pub, and it lives up to its name.
jamming at the harp

A great night, and lots of fun playing on the small stage at the back of the room, despite the general atmosphere of talk, welcoming Romain back in town. Let us see what this fine musician does next….
jake at the harp

Another Little Open Mic Crawl in Pigalle

July 14, 2017
bradspurgeon

pigalle country club

pigalle country club

PARIS – I suddenly realized on Tuesday night in Paris that without even putting my mind to work to think about it, I had a possible four open mics to attend as well as the gig of a friend, and that three of these were in Pigalle, within a short walking distance of each other. Unfortunately, the gig at the Chat Noir – of Simon Ferrante, who is now doing the Cavern open mic I wrote about last week – was already finished when I arrived. But not far away, on the Place Blanche, Brislee’s open mic at the Fabrique was in full swing. And I followed that one with another visit to the Pigalle Country Club open mic, near the Place Pigalle.

Brislee’s was as fun and as musical as usual, and he announced that next week’s edition is the last before the summer break. So don’t miss it, get there on Tuesday – preferably early….
second at Pigalle Country Club

Down the road, or up the road, whatever it is, was the Pigalle Country Club, where I walked in to find a familiar sound of voice and playing I had not heard for years. There was a fairly large cross-section of performers including the usual suspects, some members of the Burnin’ Jacks, and even some Italian tourist women (whom I did not get to make a video of for this blog, since they asked if I could make a video of them with their phone!).
First at Brislee’s

I was happy to find myself being able to play when most people went out for a cigarette break (!), so that gave me the kind of peace and freedom to try again a song that I have rarely performed in public, and so therefore need to practice in a live environment: “So Long Marianne,” by Leonard Cohen. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think one or two people who didn’t smoke also enjoyed it well enough!
First at Pigalle Country Club

In any case, it was a fun and relaxing time at the Pigalle Country Club, and I love this place’s quirkiness, and its decision to keep going through the summer (unlike so many Parisian establishments that close down their open mics)….
Second at Brislee’s

Stay tuned in for more summer open mic adventures in Paris!

Le Cavern Relaunches an Open Mic Night in Paris – or Maybe….

July 8, 2017
bradspurgeon

Simon Ferrante helping a singer at Cavern open mic in Paris

Simon Ferrante helping a singer at Cavern open mic in Paris

PARIS – A few years ago one of the best vocal jams in Paris took place at a bar fabulously well-located, on the rue Dauphine in the Latin Quarter. Better than the location was the extraordinary basement room where the jams took place it wore its name perfectly: Le Cavern. The bar seemed to have done everything perfectly for the vocal jam, with a great group of musicians backing anyone who wanted to come on stage and sing the rock and pop standards, the great room, a bar owner that must have loved the jam. Everything was there for several years. Then suddenly I went one day to find it had ended. No idea why. Anyway, the Cavern still exists, it still has its great little stage in the comfortable cavern cellar room, and on Thursday it tested out a new open mic format. Run by Simon Ferrante, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter from the north of France, but who has lived in Paris for years, the night was a kind of “anything goes” evening mix open mic and open jam. I went, and I’ll probably go again….
Simon at Cavern open mic

I immediately fell back in love with being in the Cavern, but I also immediately had the same sense of stagefright on the stage that I always had there. This time, though, I was much more in my own personal element as it was possible just to play the acoustic guitar and sing – with the previous jam, you virtually had to play with the band, and an acoustic guitar – or even playing the instrument yourself – was not hugely encouraged.
Rockin blues at Cavern open mic

That said, the open mic on Thursday welcomed all kinds of band formations, there is a drum set, and electric guitars in addition to the acoustic, and I was allowed to call up a drummer once I decided to get a bit of movement into the playing – after much of the stagefright had subsided.
first at Cavern open mic

In the end, it was quite a successful night in terms of the number of musicians and spectators. So I hope the Cavern will continue the gig. Ferrante, whom I met the first time at the Highlander open mic around the corner a few years ago, said that Thursday’s was just a trial gig and he would have to wait to see what happened.
Duet at Cavern

So I will keep my fingers crossed.
another at cavern


bit o bob at cavern

Another Unique Night at the Rush Bar Open Mic in Paris – Yes, Again!

July 4, 2017
bradspurgeon

Rush Bar open mic

Rush Bar open mic

PARIS – I seem to be writing a large percentage of this blog in recent weeks about the Rush Bar open mic. My apologies to anyone who finds that boring – but the reason is that the nights at the Rush bar, as last night again proved, are anything but boring. In only my third ever visit to this relatively new open mic – last night’s Rush open mic was edition No. 22 – I again had a fabulous evening of playing, listening and socializing. There is, for me, at the moment, no open mic in Paris that equals this ambience.

I was also happy to have been able to persuade some friends visiting from Austin, Texas, to attend the open mic at the Rush Bar last night, and they provided quite a bit of the fun ambience, as you’ll see in the videos on this page. One of those people was Christy Moore, who has her own great open mic in Austin at Threadgill’s, and has just finished a stint teaching in Paris. Christy, whom I met at her open mic, once appeared in a fine guest post for this blog, comparing the Paris-Austin open mic scenes….Rose Gabriel at the Rush

I was really pleased to be able to almost close out the evening last night, as the ambience was at its height. Having said that, arriving at 21:30 was really the absolute limit, and even, in fact, beyond the limit to get a spot on the increasingly expanding list.
mostly a capella at the rush

But again, the evening was expertly, and warmly MCd by Charlie Seymour, a longtime Paris expat musician….
more Austin at the Rush

I’ll be back!
Cuba at the Rush


Christy hits the Rush

bit o jamming at the Rush

another Rose Gabriel at the Rush

really a capella at the Rush

Blog at WordPress.com.