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And so Finally Back to Graz – but Dammit, Someone Said, “Out Damned Spot!”

July 4, 2016

The Spot in Graz

The Spot in Graz

And so the European soccer tournament destroyed another open mic. Or did it? Not really sure. I know that the only open mic that I know the existence of in Graz, Austria, was closed for the summer when I arrived at its venue on Thursday, my first day of four in Graz. I’ve blamed it on the soccer. But when I think about it, dropping by to The Spot, where the open mic takes place, I found not a single client, and not a single television showing anything at all – or I’m so immune to the soccer that I didn’t notice. Whatever may be the case, my four days in Graz, Austria were devoted to playing my guitar in my hotel room – when not eating, dry, aged beef.

Do I like Graz? In a way I love Graz. But have I ever seen a second-biggest city in a country to be so devoid of live music? No, never.

I walked the streets from dried, aged beef restaurant to dried, aged beef restaurant in search of the slightest evidence of live music, from Thursday to Sunday night. And never did I ever find the least bit of evidence that live music exists in the second biggest city in Austria.

Aside from the complete lack of live music, though, I love the city of Graz, with its historic, museum-like old town, which is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. And I love the surrounding mountains, the long flowing highways and the pretty good weather I had, compared to the Paris rain….

But when I arrived at The Spot to find that the news I had already on Facebook was true, that there was no more open mic for the rest of the summer, I was pretty disheartened. After all, the open mic of The Spot is an absolutely fabulous open mic…. Hopefully I’ll get another chance in some future year….

The Crazy Mad Atmosphere of The Spot Open Mic in Graz, Austria

June 19, 2015

The Spot in Graz

The Spot in Graz

GRAZ, Austria – I discovered The Spot open mic in Graz last year up my return to Austria for the first time in more than a decade, and it was a fabulous evening of music in this university town of 300,000, the second biggest city in Austria. But last night, returning to The Spot, I hardly expected the open mic to be even better, wilder, more fun than last year. In short, it was a jam-packed even full of a vast cross-section of musicians, lots of duets, and some jamming.

It felt like I might have been in the middle of Paris, despite the much smaller surrounds of this beautiful ancient town with its well preserved old-town. It’s thanks to it being a university city, in fact, that it is so full of young people, many of whom are students, and so still playing music. There’s a jazz school, too, it turns out, which has produced some amazing jazz jams, but not in The Spot, rather in the adjoining bar that has in the past had some cool open jam sessions.

Not only is the pub a fabulous, small, and cozy setting perfect for an open mic, but the other two key factors I was discussing in my previous post for Raphaëlle’s open mic (which is happening tonight in Paris, by the way) are true at The Spot: The owner manager (a Canadian) is a musician himself, and loves the open mic format, and loves discovering musicians; and the MC does a great, free, friendly job of running the open mic – Steve, by the way, is a professor here too, so that all fits together….

Aside from the high quality and variety of the music last night, one of the things that really appealed to me was that although this has the feel of a expat pub and open mic, the musicians were an eclectic bunch: Canadians, Americans, an Estonian, Germans, British, and probably more. And that made it a truly international open mic of the kind I’m used to seeing in Paris.

What is different here, though, from most Paris open mics, is this went on until around 2 AM – although I had to leave before it ended! Because the pub has the advantage of not having any immediate residents living next to its walls and complaining about “noise.” It’s just such a fabulous environment and vibe that I suggest any readers of this blog heading to Austria to drop by at Graz every second Thursday when the open mic takes place (watch out, it closes in the summer), and try it for yourself.

Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide: Graz Edition

June 25, 2014

Graz, Austria

Graz, Austria

For my 23d city installment of my worldwide open mic guide today I am loading my Sao Paulo page. As a reminder, it all started with my now very popular Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, and due to that guide’s success, I decided this year to do a similar guide for each of the cities I travel to during my worldwide open mic tour.

Graz, a Beautiful Old Town, but not Exactly Full of Music

Graz, Austria, is the second biggest city in Austria, with a population of 300,000. But my first and only visit so far reaped for me only a single venue for open mics. Furthermore, I found no other live music joints during that weekend visit. I heard about other places, but I will have to return again to find more, and perhaps have the help of locals who might suggest something for the future.

Having said that, the open mic that I DID find, was fabulous – with the true spirit of the open mic in its openness, warmth, and willingness to make noise all night long….

Worldwide Open Mic Guide Philosophy

The only guide I am really in a good position to update regularly is that of Paris, since I live there. But I decided to do guides to all the other more than 20 cities on my worldwide open mic tour in order to give the knowledge I have personally of each city’s open mics. The guide has links to sites I know of local guides that may be more up-to-date, but I have chosen to list the open mics or jam sessions that I have played in myself. There may be others that I know of, but if I have not played there, I will not include it on the list. That way, the user learns a little of my own impressions. But I cannot be as certain that the guide is up-to-date – so check before you go.

So here, now, in any case is the Thumbnail Guide to Graz Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. Please do help me whenever you have information to give me on venues.

Spot on at the Spot Open Mic in Graz, Austria

June 21, 2014

The Spot in Graz

The Spot in Graz

GRAZ, Austria – Here’s all I knew about Graz before last night: It is the second biggest city in Austria, but has only 300,000 population and feels small, and it has one of the best preserved old town city centres. Now I can add that it also has a great open mic in the center of the old town in a bar called The Spot.

Owned and run by a Canadian from Vancouver, the Spot feels more like a pub in the midlands of England. The open mic is a much more cosmopolitain affair, though, with last night some Canadians, Germans, Americans, mix-breeds, and others. Well, all right, that doesn’t say much very clearly, so I’ll jump to the details.

It’s got the qualities of many of the best open mic venues: A very small amount of room so that everyone is shoulder to shoulder and you cannot avoid the music. A great MC, in Chris, and the owner/manager Emlyn, who obviously loves to hold the open mic. These ingredients ensure that the spot gets it spot on.

It normally runs on Thursday nights, but this week thanks to the world cup soccer and some other consideration I think I missed, the open mic was canceled on Thursday, but run on Friday night. It also, unfortunately for those who read these words today, was the last open mic of the summer. It’ll start again in the fall.

Oh, another thing I know about Graz, is that it is a massive university town, with some 40,000 university students and a school of jazz. Can you ask for anything better for an open mic city? Well, last night the pub was full of professors and English teachers, and some students. It was a shorter open mic than usual, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., and then a duet that calls itself something like the Jackson Twins played rockin’ rollin’ drinkin’ movin’ pub music, with a wickedly fast guitar player and crisp clear bellowing singer who set the party mood through the second half of the night.

Definitely a musical center of Graz, not to be missed if you’re in the area.

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