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A Laid Back Triple Header of Open Mics over Two Days Before the Weekend in Paris

February 28, 2016

Cafe Jean Open Mic

Cafe Jean Open Mic

PARIS – The open mic of the Café Jean on the Blvd Jean Jaures is one of Paris’s more interesting, and kind of oddly contrasting sorts of open mics. So I took it in on Thursday, then sped off to the Zebre Rouge for the tail end of that one, and then on Friday, I had planned to go to Murphy’s pub’s open mic, which happens only once per month, but it was moved from that big Irish pub to the small and intimate Delly’s café at the Jaurès metro at the last minute. And I must say, each open mic, each night, each visit, was an interesting, warm and fun occasion.

I was especially touched with how Renan Mazeas, who runs the Murphy’s open mic managed to find a different venue at the last minute after it turned out that Murphy’s had been reserved for something else at the last minute. I don’t think I know any other open mic MCs who would have felt it more important to honor the promise of an open mic, even if in a different location, rather than just saying, “Sorry, cancelled.”
Harpist at Café Jean

And I was a little skeptical about going to the much smaller, and less classy Delly’s joint for the open mic. But I’d only really ever seen the bar from the outside, and when I walked into the open mic I found a fabulously intimate evening and a great sound system, and Renan’s excellent, warm hosting. And I did not regret a minute of it. I’m happy that the once-per-month Murphy’s open mic will be happening next Friday, in fact, rather than in a month. So I will definitely go!
Rim at jam

The Café Jean open mic is run by Nicolas Blampain, who is an excellent soft-touch, fingerpicking guitarist who sings, and he used to run the fabulous Lou Pascalou open mic in Menilmontant, before starting up this Café Jean one, which happens just twice per month. I say it is a kind of contrasting open mic because, in fact, the hosting is fabulous, the sound system is good, the environment nice, but when you get down to it, the crowd of patrons are mostly there for a night of food and drink, and many talk throughout the performances.
Instrumental at Delly’s

And yet, they remain respectful, and when they really like something, they turn their heads, and look and listen, even if some talking continues! On Thursday, the fabulous harpist was one of those who turned heads.
Harpist with Blampain

I went to the Zebre Rouge open mic not long after I played at the Café Jean, and it was a little more quiet than last week, but there were some interesting musicians, singers, including Rim Amine, whom I had never heard or seen before, but who is currently involved in putting together another backing band for herself, and may be seen this Tuesday at the Petite Mercerie, in nearby Oberkampf.
Another at Café Jean

Anyway, it was all quite laid-back, and unexpected, the three venues in two nights in Paris before the equally laid-back weekend….

Bad Fantasy at Zebre Rouge

Double harmonica at Zebre Rouge

More at Café Jean

More Rim

Another at Delly’s

First at Delly’s

Renan closing Delly’s

The Cool and Laid Back Scene of the Café Jean Open Mic

February 13, 2015

Cafe Jean Open Mic

Cafe Jean Open Mic

PARIS – An open mic is made in a big way by the location, by the MC and of course by the musicians and the spectators who turn up. I’ve been meaning to go to the Café Jean open mic in Paris for something like a year, but as it was at first once a month it took a long time for me to find the right month. Now it is twice a month, and I finally got there last night.

One of the reasons I was really keen to go was because it is run by Nicolas Blampain, a wonderful guitar player and singer, and great open mic host who ran the open mic at the Lou Pascalou bar in Menilmontant for a couple of years or so. He did a great job there, but the bar itself was somewhat limited in its layout.

So I really wanted to see what Nicolas could do in another location. The Café Jean is a little on the edges of Paris, near the Ourcq metro, not too far from the Abracadabar where there is a monthly open mic and a lot of live music – but really on the edge of things. In any case, I was surprised to find at the Café Jean a very hip sort of café restaurant with what looked like great food.

The public did not really look like it was there for full involvement in the music, but when the food is that good looking, it’s no surprise. On the other hand, Nicolas does such a great job of hosting the evening, and makes musicians feels so welcome – you can play covers, your own stuff, or even sing to his guitar playing if he knows the song – that it was a real pleasure to play at the Café Jean last night.
The sound system was good, the public was definitely listening despite the chatter, and the people running the bar felt really open to the music. Definitely worth a visit on the second and final Thursdays of the month. But don’t forget the competition at the Escargot Underground open mic the same night!!!

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