Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Open Mics, Past, Present and Future – Well, Within This Week

May 28, 2015
bradspurgeon

Aux Noctambules

Aux Noctambules

PARIS – So my last night in Nice was not all that nice, really. But things got better going back to Paris, and look even better soon….

On my last night in Nice, on Sunday, I went to the De Klomp bar, the open mic of which was supposed to be happening. I entered the bar and asked the waitress about the open mic, and she confirmed it was happening. But the stage was not setup and I had to wait for it to be set up. I ordered a beer, therefore, and waited. No open mic. No stage setup. So I then asked the guy who looked like the manager, and he confirmed there would be an open mic, and he went on to explain that they were changing the style of it, and that it was going from a bit of a jam thing amongst friends to a real open mic format and jam.

He told me to wait until the band came to set up the state. But not long before midnight, I told him that it looked like the band was not coming to set up the stage, and he agreed. So I just finished my beer and left. Better luck next time!

Monday was the trip back to Paris, reunions, fun, settling back into the winter weather of Paris (from the Cote d’Azur, that’s what it felt like.) And on Tuesday, it was a visit to the Baroc. The great Baroc. Unfortunately, I found that I had no juice in my iPhone and no battery power in my recording device, my Zoom, so I ended up with just one video. But it was a full, wild and crazy night at the Baroc.

Wednesday, that’s last night, well, I went to check out a new venue, the recently re-opened “Aux Noctambules” bar on the Place Pigalle, and there I saw a band playing, and spoke to the owner about an invitation he had put out to Raphaëlle and I about playing there. So that’s why we went and took a look, and indeed, it all looked really fabulous, so the result is that Raphaëlle Pessoa (along with Insu), will host the first open mic on Sunday aux Noctambules, on the place Pigalle!

That’s the future taken care of! But what happened after that was that we went over to Trelys’s open mic at the Oasis 244 bar near the Jaures metro, and played some songs and had a really great laid-back time. Two of the high points for me of that open mic last night were definitely when Pascal segued into playing Bach on his harmonica (see the video until its end) and when another guy played AC/DC, “Highway to Hell” on his ukulele! I was out of battery power again for that on both sources, so only got a small bit. It was very funny – and later in the evening, he would play “Smoke on the Water” on the ukulele, which was also fun….

http://www.pariswebtvquartier.fr/fr/tv-pigalle/mon-quartier/bars-et-pubs-16/noctambules-aux-604/

Da Beat at De Klomp Open Mic in Nice

May 27, 2014
bradspurgeon

de klomp

de klomp

NICE, France – The idea Sunday night was to enjoy a good, simple meal in the old town of Nice, take a walk along the Promenade des Anglais, maybe film a few scenes for my next song video, the song of which has now been all nicely mixed and ready for posting. Then, somehow, an open mic intervened. I just happened to stop by at the De Klomp bar, in the old town, and discovered that the open mic still existed, that a crowd was building, and that there was a place for me to play. I couldn’t resist.

So ended any possibility for filming in Nice, since after the open mic the rain began to fall and it was a much better idea to get back to the hotel. But in the meantime, I had a great time playing in the De Klomp bar open mic, doing mostly my own songs – including here posted my “When You’re Gone Away,” the official video of which I posted a few weeks ago – as well as some cover songs.

And then the was the listening to the very cool voice and neat music of the new MC, Erik Marchini, who for a newcomer to performing his music, is pretty hot. He said he has only being playing in public for around three months. Amazing.

De Klomp is a pretty hip bar, with a central bar area and two different, but connected rooms, so that with the music on one side and a drinking room on the other, people can choose whether they want to listen or talk. Of course, you get a bit of both, like anywhere. But it is a very nifty, and has a kind of underground feel to this place – I highly recommend it.

It was really one of my favorite open mic situations: You don’t plan to attend an open mic, you enjoy a meal at a restaurant, show up in a bar, there’s an open mic, they invite you up, you play, you have fun, you listen to others, you leave. Perfect recipe for a night out….

From the De Klomp Jam to Baby Cougar at Blue Whales – Last Night in Nice

May 27, 2013
bradspurgeon

PARIS – I’m back in Paris now writing these words, but I was in Nice last night on my last night in the city after nearly a week. And it was a great end to the trip, with an open jam session at De Klomp, which is where the week began for me last Tuesday playing along with Harry….

Harry was there again last night, organizing the jam. And I had a great time playing with him, and then doing one of my songs – “Except Her Heart” – along with a drummer and some guitar players who specialize in Jazz Manouche. It actually worked, and was fun!

From the jam at De Klomp, which takes place every Sunday, I then went over to King’s Pub to see if I could still take part in that open mic … only to be told that there was no open mic or jam, that it was mostly in the winter…. despite having been told on Tuesday that they had one, and despite their web site advertising one on Sundays and Mondays. Yes, well, that’s par for the course with King’s Pub, I’m afraid. (I will have to update my new guide to open mics in Nice accordingly.)

But I had a fall back plan: Harry had invited me over to the Blue Whales bar, which he said is one of only two that stay open late in Nice – ie, beyond 12:30 AM. So I went, and I did not regret a moment of it. Harry had invited me to see a duet/band who are friends of his. And boy were they worth it. Called Baby Cougar, it was cougar cool. Just take a listen….



Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide: Nice (& Monaco) Edition

May 24, 2013
bradspurgeon

Cote d'AzurMONACO – For my seventh city installment of my worldwide open mic guide today I am loading my Nice (& Monaco) page. As a reminder, it all started with my now very popular Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, and due to that guide’s success, I decided this year to do a similar guide for each of the cities I travel to during my worldwide open mic tour.

Worldwide Open Mic Guide Philosophy

The only guide I am really in a good position to update regularly is that of Paris, since I live there. But I decided to do guides to all the other 20 and more cities on my worldwide open mic tour in order to give the knowledge I have personally of each city’s open mics. The guide has links to sites I know of local guides that may be more up-to-date, but I have chosen to list the open mics or jam sessions that I have played in myself. There may be others that I know of, but if I have not played there, I will not include it on the list. That way, the user learns a little of my own impressions. But I cannot be as certain that the guide is up-to-date – so check before you go.

More Experience Than Existing Open Mics

Unfortunately, given the ephemeral nature of open mics – and bars themselves – in virtually all of the cities in the guide my own personal experience of playing open mics in the city in question usually goes way beyond the number of venues listed, since they things arise and close very frequently.

Mostly Open Mics and Jam Sessions in Nice, Not Monaco

I do not claim that this worldwide open mic directory is anything other than a quirky Brad Spurgeon centric guide, based mostly on my travel as a journalist following the Formula One series around the world. It is for that reason, in fact, that I include Monaco on this latest list: Monaco is where the race takes place, and most of the people who attend the race stay in Nice, because it’s cheaper than Monaco. It is also more conducive to open mics and open jam sessions. Over the years I have always been able to play in Monaco, but usually as an invited guest by generous musicians. So there is no real listing for Monaco!!! McCarthy’s Pub was a mainstay, but I heard it was all over now, and I have not yet confirmed if that was an illusion… I no doubt will, though, so keep posted…!

So here, now, in any case is the Thumbnail Guide to Nice (& Monaco) Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. Please do help me whenever you have information to give me on the venues – i.e., especially if they close down!

Mini Great and Nice and Cool Time at De Klomp Bar in Nice

May 22, 2013
bradspurgeon

de klomp

de klomp

NICE, France – Nice is a kind of mini city with a little bit of everything, and last night, on my first night of six in this Mediterranean wonderland, I had a mini experience of the kind I love and speak about so often on this blog. It was the kind that started bad and ended great – but there was something mini about it anyway.

I had begun with the doubtful prospect of finding an open mic at the King’s Pub. I say doubtful because I had not yet managed to find an open mic at the King’s Pub on my Tuesday nights in Nice in the past, so I doubted the Internet site that said there would be one.

It All Started With a Le Cenac Dinner

Still, I went out for a great dinner at a favorite restaurant, Le Cenac, eating fruits de mer and a good red wine of Provence. Then I walked toward old Nice, the old town, where I knew that my first stop would be at the King’s Pub, and if, as I expected, there was no open mic, then I would head off and visit the several other bars and pubs and venues where I have played in the past, hoping to stumble upon music in at least one of them.

At King’s Pub, I was told by the man who organizes the music, that, No, there was no open mic last night. On the other hand, he told me there was one on Sunday night, and that it starts pretty late – so I knew I had some good times ahead on the weekend.

I left the pub and decided to visit each of the other places that came to mind and in the most logical order: Paddy’s Pub, the Snug pub, Shapko Bar and then Jonathan’s…oh, and it started with a place the name I know not. At each successive bar I found that there was either no music, or no open mic. Mostly no music. That will come later in the week – Shapko is only open Wednesday to Sunday, but it does not exactly have an open mic, from what I can see.

I was feeling really crappy, and my entire sense of optimism faded. In fact, before I visited the last bar, Jonathan’s, I began feeling as if my entire good sense and feeling for the city of Nice was suddenly changing. Had the place gone down hill? I thought of all the fun musical evenings I have had in the past, and I felt I was facing the lowest ebb of musical nullity yet.

I then had the option of breaking out of the old town by turning right and heading the shortest route back to my hotel near the Nice train station, or turning left and taking a longer, more scenic route through the old town where I would perhaps run into a few more bars that, who knew, might have live music?

And Then There Was De Klomp

No sooner had I opted for the optimistic, left turn down a narrow street – like most in the old town – than I heard music coming from a bar on the left, saw hip looking people standing outside smoking, and began to examine the front of the pub, and saw the name of the place: De Klomp. Then, at the same moment I noticed the word “Jam,” chalked up on a sign, and I heard a man from behind asking me if I played music – he saw my guitar on my back – and if I did and I wanted, I could go in and play in the jam.

Wow! So I entered, feeling much lighter and immediately better about Nice and its music scene. It turned out to be a cool, young crowd of listeners, and a nice, low-ceilinged pub with plenty of choices of draught beer. And the man behind the mic playing a Godin guitar – same company as my Seagull S6 – had a great voice and played well. He was young contemporary, the whole place and vibe was just that.

Enter Harry, the Musical Host of the Open Jam at De Klomp


So I approached him after he sang a couple of songs and I ordered a beer, and he said before I had a chance: “I saw you have a guitar. Do you want to play? It’s not actually a jam session tonight, but you are welcome to play.”

This is the attitude I love! It’s the real music attitude, and at once common and not also rarer than it should be, around the world. So I accepted. His name, by the way, was Harry, and he not only plays that night, but also said that he runs a jam session at the bar on Sunday nights, and that I should come. Hmm, that makes for two on Sunday!

After I played my first song, “Wicked Game,” Harry returned and asked if he could play lead with me. So began at least 45 minutes of playing together, and the audience built in size, came closer to the stage, listened, sang along, and applauded warmly. I took a break after sweating out my insides to the point of no return, and Harry took over again completely.

Oh, and another audience member eventually joined Harry for one song, so it did become a kind of open mic, open jam, after all. Still, it was a kind of mini one…. But boy was it gratifying! First night in Nice, very, very nice….

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