Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

2 Open Mics and a Traffic Jam at a Jam in Paris

December 3, 2013

PARIS – I finally feel really back in Paris. After so much travelling the Paris I feel back in has moved into full swing in the open mics and jam sessions. In fact, last night I decided to visit a jam session that I went to a few times in the past, but have not been to for a long long time, and found so full that it was impossible to get down into the basement room from the groundfloor bar to hear – or play. But I’m jumping ahead.

The jam crawl started Sunday night with my visit to the Lizard Lounge open mic, which had been closed down for several months as they sought a new group of people to run the open mic. This is one of the longest standing open mics in Paris, and it is run only on the first Sunday of the month. I was not in Paris for the first one last month, the first of the return. But I was there on Sunday, and the place was bopping when I arrived a little late.

The format has not really changed: The basement room of the Lizard Lounge lends itself perfectly to music and an open mic, and thank goodness they have started again. There is a drum set, a couple of mics, and you can play solo or with a group. I was lucky to arrive late and still get a spot on the list, playing second last or so.

From there I went home and nursed my jet lag and then decided to change things on Monday night and instead of going to the Tennessee Bar or the other open mics in the St. Michel area, I decided to go up to the jam session at the Cariatides bar that happens every Monday night and is run by Doréa SisDee, who also has a great Facebook page on Paris jams and open mics. I had been to her session once at the Cariatides, but the previous times I went it was somewhere else. So last night I was completely taken by surprise to find the Cariatides absolutely bursting with spectators and musicians.

It was impossible to get down the stairs and get a chair to listen or play. So I settled for recording a few minutes of the jam over the speaker on the groundfloor bar, just to give you a taste and mark my territory with the video camera.

Realizing quickly that it was gig over at the Cariatides, I headed on over to the mainstay Galway Pub open mic. There I find it equally kicking up a storm with copious musicians and spectators. And I managed to get a table and listen to a night of music, with some very inventive stuff, and I got to do four of my songs. The only downer was that I did not have enough charged batteries for my Zoom Q3HD recording device and had to revert to my iPhone for a couple of the songs – and the rotten sound quality that entails….

In any case, it was a fine, fine night at the Galway, and I was pleased all in all to see so much life in the Paris open mics after I’ve been gone so long….

Hot as Hell at Marianne BP’s Concert at the Cariatides; Cooling off at Coolin’s

February 7, 2012

Marianne BP

Marianne BP

I braved the continued freezing temperatures in Paris last night to go first to the Cariatides bar/venue to see Marianne BP do her concert before the jam session organized by Doréa SisDee, which is called “We Jam.” The thing is, I knew that no matter how freezing cold I was, Marianne’s performance would heat up my body and spirit. And I was NOT let down. It was a fabulously inventive, creative and sexy show that Marianne BP put on singing and speaking and chanting her texts to the sounds created by Thomas Kpade on the cello and bass and computer….

In fact, Marianne BP – whom I once backed on a song playing guitar to her singing at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance – was sooooo hot, that I knew I had to escape the Cariatides as quickly as possible after her performance to go and cool myself off not in the freezing air of Paris, but in the new open mic and jam over at Coolin Irish Pub, that I discovered last week. I was not let down there either.

Back to Marianne BP. It’s kind of difficult to define what she does or how she does it. I think about that a lot as I watch and listen. And I must apologize for a lot of the jerky camera work, but it’s difficult to control the handheld camera when one’s eyes are partly looking at its screen and partly drawn to the perform “en direct.” Marianne has great presence, an amazingly sexy voice and delivery and some very clever and interesting lyrics. She even tells stories a lot of the time, and has this cool approach about “transforming” herself into things like a woman in a poster in the metro, or a GPS, or a man.

And her idea of taking some classic jazz lyrics and chanting them to different melodies is very cool too, as it is usually the opposite to what happens with classic jazz. And the accompaniment by Thomas Kpade was so entertaining and intellectually pleasing as well, the two of them just did a sensational one-hour show, never losing their audience. ANYWAY…. more another time no doubt!

Coolin was great too, although it got off to a late start due to the horrible habit that so many sports bars have of leaving soccer – or football, if you prefer – matches to play out until the end even if no one is watching them! But there were a few new faces this time around, like Mary Catherine and Maddie Speed. And the late night jam went so long that it went pretty much beyond closing time, much to the chagrin of at least one bartender wanting out of that joint. I’ll be back.

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