Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Creation of my 26th Thumbnail Open Mic Guide: Copenhagen

March 31, 2017
bradspurgeon

Copenhagen

Copenhagen

I have just created my 26th open mic city guide, The Thumbnail Guide to Copenhagen Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I have managed to list four open mics that I attended, and many others that were recommended to me by a local musician and open mic organizer.

This makes it a very rich start to a new open mic guide for me, and I hope that I will be able to return again soon to try some of the places on the list that I did not get a chance to try. Copenhagen was a really great discovery for me as a city, a lifestyle and as a musical experience in my worldwide open mic adventures. So here is my 26th city thumbnail open mic guide (Copenhagen), representing most – but not all – of the cities around the world where I have played in open mics and decided to share my findings. (Let’s see, I’ve also played in Nairobi – years ago – New York, Toronto, Ottawa, London, Heidelberg and other places – without making guides for those cities. Maybe I will soon!)

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music

February 4, 2017
bradspurgeon

Milan

Milan

I have updated my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I’m really pleased to be able to add another open jam session just weeks after I updated this page in a city where I have such a hard time finding open mics and open jams. That’s the Joy Milano bar jam that I attended a few days ago. I hope it lasts!!!

So take a visit to my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

So check it out!

Osmo at the Oz – A New View for Open Mics?

January 25, 2017
bradspurgeon

DJI Osmo

DJI Osmo

PARIS – I started this blog in 2010 at the same time as I bought what felt to me like a revolutionary little video and music-filming device, my first Zoom recorder. It was the device that since that time – with upgrades – allowed me to make quick and easy videos with great sound of open mics and open jams all over the world. Now, finally, seven years later, I have found a new device that could entirely revolutionize again the way I make videos for this blog. Or maybe not. Last night was the first time I got to try my new DJI Osmo steady camera video recording device, and I did so at a pretty typical kind of open mic space. The experience was mixed – with some really great high points, and some lower ones….

I first learned about this fabulous camera called the Osmo, from a fellow journalist covering the Formula One series; and that he was using this camera for pit and paddock interviews for NBC, the major American network, made me perk up my eyes and ears. The Osmo looks like some kind of extraterrestrial, some kind of ET, mixed with your mobile phone. I am using a Samsung, but any phone can connect to it. The telephone is used as your eyes on what the camera is doing, and it also is the base for the program you download to run the camera. The connection is done over a wifi that the camera itself produces – i.e., the telephone connects to the camera via the camera’s wifi.
Oz mic second

The beauty of this thing is that it is portable, it is not very expensive – I got it on sale for 499.99 euros at Fnac, since the newer model is out at about 700 euros, but also has a zoom – and that it films in 4K and, above all, is a steady cam. That means you can walk around with it in your hand and the image looks as if it is on rails. You move it with the movement of your arm, and with the joy stick that gives nearly 360 degree movement of the camera, as well as an up and down range. In short, for 500 euros you can produce perfectly still footage that looks like it came out of The Shining.

You also have a wide choice of resolution, including 1080p, which allows you to use a digital zoom, and right up to the latest 4K, as mentioned. I tried it in several different lighting environments, and it remains a natural image throughout.
Oz mic third

So where’s the down side? Well, I’m not sure entirely, yet, after just one use in an open mic. On the other hand, I know what I loved about my Zoom devices in open mics: I could carry a Zoom camera in my pocket, drop it, send it sliding across the floor of any barroom, without damage, even dropped the Zoom in the toilet in Australia only to have it return to life a week or so later, never having lost any footage on the camera. The Osmos is more delicate, has to be treated with respect, and while it cannot be carried in the pocket, it can be carried in my guitar case with no problem.

But ultimately, part of the advantage of this beast might also be a problem: With its almost fish-eye like capture, I may be ending up with more image from an open mic room than I want. I mean, does the open mic crowd want to be part of the film or not? With the Zoom, I could film just the performer. I can do that with the Osmo, too, but this gadget looks so strange and bulky compared to the subtle Zoom or any handheld camera device or telephone, that I cannot go filming in an open mic without being noticed as a geek, and potential threat to the naturalness of the situation. It stands out, and I do not want to get too close to the performer and interrupt the attention of his or her performance by everyone staring at my weird gadget.
Oz mic fourth

Next, there’s the sound. The Osmo has a built-in microphone that is absolute trash. Mine also came with a strange external mic you attach to it, but here, it is hell for music recordings as it picks up all of the sound of the camera and its motors as it turns about and swivels and stills the jagged movements of the handheld device. There is a setting where you can turn off the fan while filming, but the mic that hangs off the device still picks up all this mechanical movement sound.

Enter my hand held Sony mic that I bought more than a decade ago for my minidisc recorder. I plugged it into the Osmo and found a fabulously quiet way of recording. But while it was perfect for my voice talking, I feel that the sound quality difference to the Zoom is big for music, based on last night’s recordings at the Café Oz open mic. But I’m hoping this has to do with it being a vocal mic, and not a good mic for music – I’ll explore that. On the other hand, there is the “hands problem.” I mean, with a Zoom, you hold the device in one hand – with this Osmo, you are obliged to use both hands: One for the device, another for the mic.
Oz mic sixth

What is undeniable, is that for 500 euros, this is an insanely fabulous video camera. DJI invented its cameras first for drones, and then it came up with the idea of doing these handheld steady cam devices. And it is a real fabulous winner for what it does, and for someone wanting to make videos – music videos, reportages, etc. – this is a winner. I’ll just have to see if it really is great for me and my open mic adventure. Oh yes, and it seems to eat up my phone battery, and the battery for the device goes pretty quickly too….

So I’m not yet decided as to how practical and great this will be as a replacement for the Zoom – but this remains an amazing, amazing discovery and I will find lots of ways to use it – especially for my next music videos….

Check out the videos I did last night at the Café Oz open mic in Paris….

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music

December 28, 2016
bradspurgeon

Milan

Milan

I have updated my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I’m pretty disappointed that the moment I update this guide is also the moment I lose the mainstay listing of the Fermento bar, which stopped its open mic/open jam. But thankfully, I do get to add a new open mic, the even cooler one at the Bachelite CLab bar that takes place every second Thursday….

So take a visit to my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

So check it out!

(PS: Update to the update!: I’ve also added the new quasi open mic/open jam of the Spazio Ligera, which I discovered in September, and which is one of my favorite bars in Milan now, although the open mic/open jam is not regular – as you can see by my description on the Guide.)

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Austin Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music

October 25, 2016
bradspurgeon

Guitar baggage claim in Austin Bergstrom International Airport

Guitar baggage claim in Austin Bergstrom International Airport

I have updated my Thumbnail Guide to Austin Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I have not actually added any new venues, but I have updated ones that have either moved to a new day and location, or I have finally attended at the usual location, after they had temporarily moved to a new place on my last visits.

The big discovery was the new location (and day) for the Austin Songwriters Group’s open mic, on Monday’s at the legendary Threadgill’s off South Congress by the river in the center of town. I still have yet to do my blog write up about that one, as well as my visit to Speakeasy last night after the ASG event. (Two in one night.) But as I had a few minutes free in the airport before I fly to Atlanta and then Mexico City, I decided to update the guide.

So take a visit to my Thumbnail Guide to Austin Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

So check it out!

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Budapest Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music

July 30, 2016
bradspurgeon

chain bridge budapest

chain bridge budapest

I have updated my Thumbnail Guide to Budapest Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I’m happy to be able to say that I did not remove any open mics from the list, as all the ones I know are still running. On the other hand, I only have three nights on the list….

I did, however, find a fabulous new link to a list on another site, which I have added, and if I ever get to Budapest on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll be able to try those places.

So take a visit to my Thumbnail Guide to Budapest Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

So check it out!

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Oxford Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music

July 13, 2016
bradspurgeon

catweazle

catweazle

I have updated my Thumbnail Guide to Oxford Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I’m happy to be able to say that I did not remove any open mics from the list, as all the ones I know are still running. On the other hand, I’d have liked to add one or two that I know about but have never been able to attend, and that remains the case.

But I did do a considerable amount of housekeeping on the page, and added links of stories and items that were not there before, and I updated information as my knowledge and understanding of certain open mics grows….

So take a visit to my Thumbnail Guide to Oxford Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

So check it out!

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