Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Worldwide Open Mic Journey 2014: The Multimedia Consolidation – Shanghai

April 20, 2014
bradspurgeon

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

SHANGHAI – My worldwide open mic journey began in China in 2008 after the Formula One race in Shanghai, and little did I know that it was a journey that would continue for six more years and cover most of the globe, every continent except Africa (where I once lived and played music in an open mic decades earlier) and Antarctica, and that it would spawn a book, a blog, an album, a documentary film, numerous podcasts, music videos and other multimedia projects.

This year, 2014, I have decided to finish all of the projects and tie them together into a consolidation of multimedia. As part of my personal impetus to gather it all together for myself, but also put it into perspective on this blog, I have decided to create a page for each city I have visited on the journey, tying together samples of the whole multimedia adventure linked to that city.

So here is the page devoted to tying together the pieces of the open mic adventure that I have lived in Shanghai since I first started. At each subsequent Formula One race that I visit this year, I will add a new such page. Keep posted….

Coming Full-Circle at Windows Scoreboard, Shanghai

April 16, 2013
bradspurgeon

The first ever open mic that I did after my decades-long break from performing was in Shanghai in a bar called the Blues Room, in October 2008 after the Chinese Grand Prix. There was only one other musician at the open mic, and that was John. Last night, four and a half years later, after I found that the original open mic I intended to go to was running a band instead, I found there was another open mic, at a place called Windows Scoreboard. When I walked in, I found only one other musician present – and playing – and that was John.

It ended up being quite a fun night with lots of people coming to this massive bar to play pool, ping pong and to watch the television and listen to the music. As it turned out, this would not be a massive night for other musicians, and I ended up doing three sets and playing for perhaps an hour and a half in total. As did John.

He told me a lot of his regular musicians had the flu, and I believe it – he was suffering too!

In any case, I had a great time and highly recommend this bar and open mic, which I have now added to my list of open mics in Shanghai.

Thumbnail Guide to Open Mics Shanghai Edition

April 14, 2013
bradspurgeon

I did not do any open mics or other musical performances in Shanghai last night, aside from writing a song in my hotel room and putting together the promised Shanghai version of my Thumbnail Guide to Open Mics.

So here is the Thumbnail Guide to Shanghai Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, to add to the other three, for Paris, Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur.

First Night in Shanghai: Crimpings and Closings

April 11, 2013
bradspurgeon

Unfortunately, my first night in Shanghai last night was all about having my style crimped and finding two of my former open mic haunts either closed or no longer offering an open mic.

On the style side, I’m talking about the difficulting of accessing Facebook and a blog via the Internet here in China. It’s not really supposed to happen at all, and at the moment my only solution has meant that it happens very, very slowly. There may quite possibly be a long delay before my videos of open mics make it to the blog in the coming days.

But I will continue the open mic adventure, and I will post my latest edition of the Thumbnail Guides to open mics, Shanghai Edition, when the right moment comes.

Last night after a great meal at the very cool Bao Luo restaurant – delving into a menu I had little idea of what I was getting (boiled beef, noodles, beans, unidentifiable whatevers) – I walked on to Oscar’s pub, where I did a great open mic in previous years, to find there was a house musician but no open mic.

No big deal, the real plan was to go to the sublime and hip Not Me bar, where I had discovered the wonderful Chinese-run open mic two years ago – as opposed tothe “Irish Pub solution” of Oscar’s. I went with a fellow Formula One journalist friend in order to introduce him to this cool establishment.

When we got there, we found it was no longer there. It no longer exists. Not Me, is now Not Here. Gone. We popped into a pub next door and I learned that Not Me closed down five or six months ago, but no reason could be given as to why.

Such, in fact, is the open mic adventure: Open mics, and the bars in which they take place, tend to be very quickly moving targets.

In reading over my report on this same day last year, I see there is not much that has changed in my life in China, and that things were already moving in the same direction last year, with Oscar’s having already stopped its open mic. There was no warning on this Not Me closing, though, as you can even hear in my podcast interview of the manager of Not Me last year….

May I have more luck in the coming days….

First Night in Shanghai, Two open mics, one with Sister Fay from Paris/Sweden

April 14, 2011
bradspurgeon

I must be on a roll. I wrote about how great things had gone in Kuala Lumpur. Now I have had only one night in Shanghai and I have already played at two open mics, one with a friend I met in Paris and have written about on this blog in recent months. I am in a huge rush to get back to Paris now from the Formula One race track as I have two more open mics to do tonight. So I will keep this to a minimum….

The first place I went to last night was Oscar’s Pub, which I wrote about here last year. Last year it was one of the highlights of my trip to Shanghai, with wonderful musicians and a great atmosphere. (Remember Tom & Jerry, the bluegrass musicians from Mongolia?) Well, last night it was a horrendous atmosphere and aside from the MC, I was the only musician at the open mic. The MC, needless to say, is not the same one as last year. Last year it was the genial Paul Meredith. This year the man greeted me with open arms and kindness. But somehow the open mic just did not have what it did. It did not bother me to sing my four songs entirely for my own ears while the pub boiled with talk and carousing. I just needed a place to play.

But what I had not planned for was that just around the corner at a bar called Not Me – the idea is that when you are in this bar you are not yourself!!! – owned and run by Chinese people, there was another open mic, and this one had a very cool, laid back and hip atmosphere. I learned about this one through my friend Frida, whom I have written about on this blog during her time in Paris in recent months. She now lives in Shanghai and we met, and will meet again, to play further open mics.

Known also as Sister Fay, Frida has some clever and sensitive lyrics, and she really did a good job last night. It’s funny because Frida found Ollie’s open mic in Paris through my blog, and when she looked for places to play in Shanghai she also found my blog items about the places here, from my trip last year.

Small world? That cliche does not even begin to tell the story this time.

Unfortunately, the upload of the video files is taking WAY too long. So I will have to put them up tomorrow. Apologies. But I have to take an hour and a half trip back to central Shanghai so not to miss tonight’s open mics….

By the way, check out what Formula One journalist Joe Saward wrote about me in that last night in Kuala Lumpur….

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