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The Outrageous Acts and Wonderful Format of the YYT Open Mic in Shanghai

April 19, 2015

YYT open mic

YYT open mic

BAHRAIN – So here I am writing about what I did during my time off in Shanghai, China, but from Bahrain where I am at the moment. I have 15 minutes free before I have to get down to work for the evening, so I decided to do what I could to reverse this trend of getting behind my little reports of life on the road at the open mics. I got behind in China for obvious reasons to readers of this blog – if you read the post before this one. But, yes, I did attend an open mic in Shanghai, and I did love it, and there were some really outrageous acts.

I had heard of the YYT open mic – for YuYinTang – for at least two years, but I never managed to get there. I think it’s because it happens on Monday nights, and I had to leave the country in recent years past. But this time around I was there Monday night so I took the immediately first opportunity to attend this open mic, and I’m glad I did.

Although when I arrived to find the room full of spectators, and a high, sizeable stage set up with drums, a half dozen guitars and other instruments, I thought, Oh, no, this is a jam session for a full band kind of situation. That meant so much for my solo bit with my guitar, and that of a Brazilian colleague of mine who I arranged to meet there.

In the end, I did not have to worry, as the YYT is really open to all kinds of acts, solo or otherwise. Oh, you’re at a disadvantage in that situation going solo, since the crowd gets really wild and hot when the bands go up. But I had plenty of thumbs-up signs from spectators through the evening after my two-song set early on. And they were immensely respectful during the songs.

The MC is a wonderful presenter, and if you had a case of the nerves, he’ll be there to warm you up, as he was with my colleague, going up and speaking between his songs in a Chinese that we could not understand, but that warmed the audience up further….

Of the outrageous acts, my favorite was the man with the rage. This was a Chinese guy who had a cool foreign backing band, with a slick lead and smooth bass player, but this man yelled, yelled, yelled with rage into the mic. Even the band was amused. Check it out.

The other fun band was the very young and inexperienced group that looked almost like teenagers, and who played almost exclusively Led Zeppelin songs, with the woman singing. Delightful!

Finally, I met the bass player, spoke to him afterwards, and found he was a Frenchman, longtime expat in Shanghai, with a talent for gypsy jazz, which he plays frequently in China.

Altogether worth attending ever time I get a chance!

From Tennessee to Shanghai and the Thirsty Seahorse Open Mic

April 17, 2014

thirst seahorse shanghai

thirst seahorse shanghai

SHANGHAI – Monday night I stopped in to play a few songs at the Tennessee bar open mic in Paris for the first time in a long time. It was back to its old lively self, it seemed to me, with lots of spectators and lots of new musicians. I was delighted to find an audience of people who had never heard my songs, so I could do whatever I wanted without feeling it was already long ago memorized by the spectators…. The same thing happened last night, but in China.

I got up Tuesday morning and spent two days travelling to Shanghai and finding myself all set for a perfect transition into Chinese night time and not jet lag despite the 6-hour time difference to Paris, thanks to not sleeping on the two flights I took, by way of Dubai. But I had to fill in the final hours of the evening by some sort of activity that would keep me awake. So I did an internet search and found an open mic at a place called the Thirsty Seahorse, bar and restaurant.

It turned out that this venue was withing a 20 minutes walk from my hotel, and it was located in the neat former French Concession. So I took the walk, ordered a very Chinese meal of bacon and cheese burger, and took part in the open mic. It is a pretty hip and cool bar run by Chinese people, but the open mic attendees were from the U.S. and Italy, and me. The open mic has only existed for a couple of months, and it is run by Neil, from the U.S. but with a Peruvian background too.

It was a very cool and basic open mic, with a mic and all you can play style of slot…. So there was Burna…or was it Barna!?! from Italy, the very creative Ladd Mercer from Indiana and me. Check out Ladd’s bandcamp site. His voice made me want to ask him to sing that 1980s song, “Boys Don’t Cry,” or whatever it was called, but I never did get around to that.

In any case, it’s a nice new addition to the Shanghai open mic scene. I’ll be back. Last night I was pleased that like at the Tennessee no one had heard my songs, but I’ll happily do without that aspect if I can return again next year….

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