Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

New Rush Bar Open Mic Another Real Rush!

August 15, 2018
bradspurgeon

Rush Bar open mic

Rush Bar open mic

PARIS – I have always said that for an open mic to be a success it is necessary to have three essential ingredients. And the new version of the Rush bar open mic has proven this to be true again:

First, a great location both within the city, but also the nature of the bar room itself. There has to be a bar that lends itself to intimacy for the musicians and the spectators. But it should also have a way in which the spectators can listening quietly to the music, or go to another part of the bar (or outside) in order to talk and socialise. This the Rush bar has in spades. Something about this room and the precise location on the corner of a couple of quiet streets really works.

Second, an owner of the bar that loves music and really wants to have an open mic, and understands what is necessary to ensure that the musicians and spectators are happy. The Rush bar changed owners last year and while I had met one of the two new owners before they took over, and they said they were really enthusiastic about keeping the open mic, that is not something that you can believe in until you see it. Well, attending the open mic on Monday night I found the owner I had met before and he seemed even MORE enthusiastic now about the open mic than he was before he bought the place.

Third, you must have someone running the open mic who has a knack for doing this highly specialized job. The knack involves a nice way with people – both musicians and spectators – and a love of music, and even sometimes a little bit of a side to them that is happy to see a big party…. Igor and the gang from the Escargot Underground Radio fit this bill entirely.

And that is why the old Rush bar has managed to successfully make the transition from its status a year ago to what it is today, as I saw on Monday. The open mic had been run from its inception only around a year or so earlier by Charlie Seymour, who ended up moving on when the management changed, and who now runs the Bootleg bar open mic near the Bastille. Charlie did such a great job at the Rush bar that I was very worried that this great open mic would die upon his departure.

It went through some months of I don’t know what – since I never went – until the open mic became the new Rush bar open mic, with Igor and the gang running it. And it looks like it has saved one of Paris’s great new open mics, and given it a different twist too. Like I said, it needed all of the ingredients to be a success – and it now has them all. Oh, and I really must add that an open mic also needs understanding neighbors who are inevitably exposed to the cacophony of music and talk that a great open mic invariably produces – and for the moment it seems the Rush bar has this ingredient too.

I’ll definitely be returning!

Playing Slow at the Escargot – A Touch of Russian at Paris Open Mic

August 2, 2013
bradspurgeon

escargot touristic centerPARIS – The Escargot Underground open mic in Paris started last year some time and then ceased, and then recently started up again. That’s a kind of escargot movement, when you think of it. And escargot means snail in French… but this open mic takes place in the cave basement of a ground floor office for a Russian tourist agency called Escargot Touristic Center.

Now that you get the meaning of the name, how about a sense of the place? Given that the temperature in Paris was around 35 degrees celsius yesterday, a visit to the Escargot open mic was a great relief; the cellar is a classic Paris brick vaulted room, which means it is very cool in temperature, and just what was needed to counter the suffocation of the airless heat of Paris.

It is also the kind of room where amplification is not really necessary, and some people played without it. There were a few familiar musicians, like John Redford and Brislee Adams, and Raphaelle Bouskela. But there were some I did not know, including one of the two Igors present, who did his Russian music along with another Russian on bass, and changed the atmosphere into that of a Russian expat gathering for a few minutes. The other Igor, whom I met at the open mic at the Blanchisserie in Boulogne, by the way, I learned is apparently the member of a well-known Russian band from St. Petersburg. Wish I’d heard them play….

As it was, because the emphasis was on cooling off and slowing down and not really doing loud music, I decided to change my repertoire a little, and I sang “May You Never,” by John Martyn (without the incredible guitar work that makes that song so amazing), and the “Raggle Taggle Gypsies,” of Irish/English tradition, as well as “Just Like a Woman” and my own “Except Her Heart.” Thanks to Brislee and Raphaelle for the videos of me – although I think I made a mistake in every song I sang!!!

A very cool evening, cooling off in the Russian travel agency Escargot….

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