Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Horror Picture Tea and Belle Vie St. Martin, Two Open Venues if No Open Mics

September 4, 2011
bradspurgeon

Last night I found no open mics to attend, but I had my friend Calvin McEnron playing at the Horror Picture Tea and I had another friend invite me for a concert at the Belle Vie St. Martin bar near the Gare de l’Est. As it turned out, Calvin after his set opened the mic for me and another of his friends, Max of the band Misfits Galleon. So not only did Calvin do another great little concert, but he opened his heart and the mic for those who never say no.

I then went on to La Belle Vie St. Martin, and there I met my friend Elise, and I immediately recognized a few of the musicians from their recent appearances at the Tennessee Bar open mic. Talk about a small world. One of these musicians was the man I called an Iggy Pop lookalike, but whose name I have now learned is Franck. He and his band played mostly the blues. After they all finished up the bar stayed open until 2 AM, and I sat and jammed with my guitar at our table, singing several songs and having others sing along and bang along. Altogether a fun night, considering the lack of open mic. No, not true. I had brought my guitar as I had planned to go to the Swan Bar’s “Around Midnight” open jam. Just didn’t get there for what would have been the third day in a row.

It was all good warm up for my gig today at the Cabaret Culture Rapide, from 5PM to 7PM.

Also met an interesting poetess who gave me a couple of her magazines, Scarecrowcollective.

A Squat, a Brunch and a Be There

January 17, 2011
bradspurgeon

I have reported in the past about a squat art space in Paris, it was called 0XIII and it ended up being raided by the cops and closed down. Well, it seems the same gang found another location, much more chic, much more private, and much more music-friendly.

This one is called 08, and it is located near the the Place de la Madeleine and Place de la Concorde. It is on several floors, and in the basement is a great area for bands to play, with even a way of people in the upper floors to look down and listen – as you can see from a few seconds of video I took of the drummer from above.

Among the bands were one of my favorite young bands in Paris, Mister Soap and the Smiling Tomatoes. And last time I wrote about these guys – playing at the OPA – I said every time I see them they improve. It has happened again. They’re getting some faster tunes and sounds in with the slower more romantic stuff – something I need to do myself. And they sound generally more together than ever. So what do they need to do now to advance? Well, as one spectator said to me, “the smiling tomatoes never smile….” No problem!@!!

There was another cool duo, a guy on drums and a man on vocals and guitar – very primitive drum beat manic stuff.

And I enjoyed – for a minute or two – the gypsy jazz trio just jamming on the first floor. In fact, I managed to borrow the guitar for one song of my own, which I apologized would not be manouche, and not manically fast…. But the lead guy played along with me, and I enjoyed blasting it out.

That was Saturday night. Sunday turned into a double-header as I did my brunch from 3 PM to near 7 PM and I then went to an open mic I had long heard of but never visited. The open mic was quieter than last week, but I enjoyed hearing Rym and Elise doing a duo, among other songs. I also enjoyed using my new vocal harmony machine, which splits my voice into three-or-so-part harmony, and adds some sorely needed depth on certain songs.

The open mic I mentioned runs on Sundays and starts around 8 PM, and it is in a bar called “Be There.” It is located on the Ile St. Louis, which makes going to it a certain pleasure if you are not in the habit of going to the Ile St. Louis – which is sort of out of the way, despite being right in the center of Paris.

The small bar on two floors is very open and kind to musicians, and I felt great and relaxed – and well-oiled after my brunch – and so I followed a full-fledged band with no problem at all. This open mic is interesting in that it DOES allow full-fledged bands. There is a drum set read at hand, an amp, PA system, a perfect set up for bands. And although the place is mostly about rock & roll, the open mic accepts all kinds of music, acoustic and other.

The one constant, however, is that “Be There” insists that musicians play their own compositions, not cover songs. I liked that, and I played “Since You Left Me,” “Borderline,” and “Let Me Know.”

For me the revelation of the evening was a band of young musicians from various suburbs of Paris. Called, La Ronge, the band had some original sounds, and some charisma. I thought this band could go places in the young band music scene in Paris. The keyboard player sang most of the songs, and had some charisma, but one of the guitarists who also sang was a little disadvantaged by less sound on his mic. A band to watch.

Extraordinary Atmosphere and Music at the Mecano Brunch #3

October 18, 2010
bradspurgeon

I just had to write this down, as I prepare to fly off to Korea tomorrow for the Formula One race (if the Paris strikes do not prevent me from going). Yesterday was the third week in a row that I hosted my own brunch afternoon on Earle’s invitation at Le Mecano bar and restaurant in the Oberkampf area of Paris. And it was another wild and fun time. In fact, this time the music got really exotic and crazy, and the whole thing went on until after 7 PM, after starting at 3PM.

In addition to my sets – using my SE Electronics microphone, so really getting nice, pure sound on the vocals – we had Les DeShane doing a short set, and then my invited guest, David Broad, whom I introduced on this blog a couple of weeks ago after discovering him at The Highlander. This British guy from Leeds, England, out-does many an American singer/guitar player, on their own songs.

And what a great delight it then turned out to be when long after David had finished his set and I had finished my last set, suddenly Joe Cady showed up. I mentioned Joe on an earlier blog item too, as he plays frequently at the Bizart jam session on Tuesdays. So I didn’t give Joe a chance to even sit down before I asked if he brought his violin with him.

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “It’s out in the car.”

I told him to go get it, and I immediately asked David if he had some songs that would go well with a violin, and he said he thought he might. Indeed. We ended up being treated to another hour of fabulous music by David, Joe and a friend of David’s who came in and provided harmonies on a number of the songs as well.

It was pure bliss for an hour, and promises great things for the future. In the middle of my second second set we also had a nice moment with me doing “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Ring of Fire” with my friend Rym, and a solo number with our friend Elise, who played guitar and sang in what she said was her first ever appearance behind a mic. It will not be her last, I’m sure of that.

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