Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Tennessee Looking Great From Singapore – Monday Night Memories

September 17, 2014

tennessee bar facade

tennessee bar facade

SINGAPORE – I’m kind of wiped out, having attended the Tennessee Bar open mic on Monday night in Paris, having it turn out to be an epic night, and then getting up early Tuesday to take two flights to Singapore, where I now write these words on what is the evening in Singapore and mid-day in Paris. But I just had to put up a post about that evening at the Tennessee, after I checked out my videos….

I had left my Zoom Q3 recording device at home and so I ended up having to use my iPhone 5S to record the open mic stuff. That’s great visually, but the sound would have been better on the Q3. No matter, though, a the sound at the Tennessee was so good, and the quality of the performances exceptional, that the videos are worth seeing AND hearing.

First, let me note that the Tennessee open mic had a different feeling to it this week thanks to the replacement of the regular guy (a one off?) by Brislee Adams, who hosts the now very successful Café Oz open mic. It was Brislee’s usual deft touch. But what really made the night stand out was the number of exceptional acts.

Oh, by the way, my own slot was a total disaster! For some reason my guitar – my Seagull S6 – ceased to work through the amp now and then particularly when I began moving in time with the music. So I was interrupted throughout by the bad connection, or, what I hope is the case, the need for a new battery. I’ll find out now in Singapore…. But the result of the cutting guitar was that I started to sing my first song, the French, “Et dans 150 ans,” which I had perfectly performed in three open mics recently, only to go blank on the lyrics after just one verse. I had to bail out, and just made a complete mess of it, and quit. Then I did my new song, “Chanson d’amour,” and the guitar apparently did not like that one either, and kept cutting out, and I forgot one or two lines. And the same thing happened with “Borderline,” in terms of the guitar, although I did not forget the lines. But I was totally, totally outside the song. Worst set I’ve done in ages.

While I was ordering a beer at one point during the evening I noticed a familiar face in the bar on the ground level. He had showed up with a friend, Louise, and was just having a drink in a bar he’d never been in before. As Theo is the fabulous lead singer of the band Velvet Veins, which played at the Rock en Seine festival a few weeks ago, and for which my regular lead guitarist, Félix Beguin, also plays, I said to Theo, “There’s an open mic downstairs. Come and play!”

So Theo and Louise came down and did three songs, including the Elvis Presley one that I’ve put up on the blog. It was part of a finale to the evening that was extremely powerful, thanks also to the man who had just preceded Theo and Louise, that is Desmond Myers. Desmond, with a great little Martin parlour guitar that someone lent him, and with his amazing mix of rap and roll….

Well, anyway, just check out the videos.

A Couple of Discoveries at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance – What Luck!

July 4, 2012

It was a night as relatively quiet at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic in Paris last night as it was the previous night at the Galway. We ARE in Paris in July. Of course, there may be fewer and fewer French people as the summer progresses, but there should be more and more visitors – guitar carrying and others. Last night, one of the visitors was the astounding Desmond Myers, an American singer songwriter from North Carolina but who lives in Germany and is currently touring France, Spain and Italy in a walkabout open mic, busking and concert tour.

Desmond is a very rare musician in that his guitar playing, vocals, lyrics and melodies are all quite original and extremely well executed. I was impressed, to say the least. I was trying to figure out what made his guitar playing different, but it is hard to pinpoint, and I got too much into the music and stopped analyzing. He mixes elements of hip hop, folk, pop and country ballads to come out with something quite his own. Oh, there are sounds I can find in here whether he means it or not – like there is definitely a Jack Johnson sound to his voice … except he varies his delivery a LOT more than Johnson does, has a wider range. Thank goodness.

I listened to a CD sample of his called The Yellow Rose – IE, an EP – and he has a full CD coming out in the fall, apparently. What was interesting in these well produced songs on the CD was that, actually, the brilliant guitar playing does NOT come out. But a lot of other elements do. And you realize listening to the six songs together that he has another advantage in being a rare musician whose songs do not all sound alike!

Oh, it was a cool thing for me too that as I went to ask him for his name he said, “Are you Brad Spurgeon?” Yeah! This blog does it again. Turns out he found the Ptit Bonheur la Chance and the Pop In through this blog. Also turns out he’s doing European tour kind of similar to my worldwide tour of open mics. So all together a very satisfying evening on that front.

But he was not the only one at the Ptit Bonheur who gave me food for musical thought and musings. I had seen these two women there in past weeks but never heard them play. Last night I listened to this duo calling themselves Skins of the Count. Their French accent made me do a real double take when I heard them pronounce the name through the mic, and I had completely misinterpreted the last word. But afterwards they confirmed the REAL name of the band.

What’s interesting with them is daring, unusual lyrics, and original delivery. The execution really has to be worked on, but there is gold in the making here.

I played my songs, others played theirs, it was a quiet, but full and interesting night in the beginning of the hot summer in Paris.

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