Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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L’Arte after Paix, Should Return to Life Soon… I Hope!

February 2, 2013

The very new l’Arte Café open mic in Paris quickly became one of my favorite open mics in the city. I could not figure out how it was what it was: It took place on a Friday night, in a tiny little cubby hole of a bar with hardly anywhere to sit, with bright lights, clean walls and floors and just…cramped quarters. Nothing seemed to point to it being a great venue; but week after week it ended up hosting some of the coolest open mics in the city, and with some of the coolest people running the bar that should not perhaps have been all that big of a surprise. But lately, the Christmas holiday seemed to make people forget this neatest of open mics in the city, and the last few weeks it has been really, really quiet.

Last night, after I went to the Café de la Paix to have a drink with a Canadian friend who lives in Monaco and came to visit Paris for a few days, I was still restless to do more with my night, I had my guitar, and despite hearing that maybe it was not going to be so busy once again at the Arte Café, I headed off the 8 metro stops anyway to see what was happening.

It was, once again, at L’Arte Café, another quiet night of 2013. But there were a few musicians anyway, and a few of us played. The walls and front window and bookshelf of the place had suddenly been changed into something…else. But the atmosphere remained really nice. It seems that probably the key to this momentary slow period of the Arte Café open mic just might be the fact of it taking place on a Friday. For me, as there are practically no open mics in the entire world that happen on a Friday, I always thought that was great to have one on that day. But no doubt people can occupy their Friday nights better than any other night of the week, and the open mic is more associated with the other nights.

So it seems the Arte Café is considering changing the night of the open mic – and I can only hope that it returns to hosting some of the best evenings of the week. Many times it felt like a salon, a private party, a meeting place for like-minded musicians and spectators. Hope we didn’t lose it for good!

Jazz Jam at the Duc des Lombards in Paris

March 12, 2011

I had heard about the jam session at the Duc des Lombards bar in Paris near Chatelet for some time. I had never ended up in the neighborhood on the Friday or Saturday of the jam – which starts at midnight – but last night on the suggestion of a friend with whom I’d just had a drink at the Café de la Paix, we went to check out the jam at the Duc des Lombards.

I am really glad I did. It told me two things: First, the quality was much higher than I expected, second, I would never find my place playing guitar or singing in the jam session of the Duc des Lombards. I had been told it was somewhat jazzy, and that was more than what it was. It was pure jazz. And it was fun, laid back, no cover charge great. The woman I went with told me that the last time she had gone it had not been quite the same level and it seemed just about anyone and everyone could and did go up. So maybe I just happened on a good night.

The bar, nicely and recently redesigned, has a very New York jazz bar kind of feel to it. But it was simplicity itself to walk in, find a place and listen, or talk. Sax players, trumpet players, guitarists, pianists, singers, drummers, upright bass players – all the elements were there. Even a young drunk or two in the audience of otherwise fairly respectful jazz lovers.

I highly recommend checking it out at least once.

Its location is kind of interesting too, as it is beside one of the Hideout bars and across the street from the Guinness Tavern, which I had also never been to and which we also checked out after the Duc des Lombards. But we stayed just long enough to listen to about half of a song of the rock band before we decided – mutually – to clear out. In any case, it was already 3 AM….

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