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Blinded by the Light: A Great New Host at the Galway Open Mic in Paris, and The Guinness Tavern’s Rock ‘n’ Roll

August 9, 2016

Galway Pub Paris

Galway Pub Paris

PARIS – Now that is the first time I’ve seen a woman at an open mic singing “Blinded by the Light” by Bruce Springsteen! Or maybe I should say that it is actually the first time I have seen ANYONE at an open mic singing “Blinded by the Light” by Bruce Springsteen. But not only did it inspire me just now to pick up my guitar and seek out the chords and lyrics myself to give it a try, but it also made me realize in just what good hands the Galway Pub open mic is now after having passed from the second or so generation host – All the Roads – to Tess Liautaud. Nor should I be surprised about Tess singing Blinded by the Light – after all, this is the woman who got invited up on stage by the Boss himself at Paris’s Bercy stadium (it has a different name now, I believe) a few weeks ago to join him for a song on guitar and vocals….

And so there I was last night at my first visit to the Galway run by Tess. I also realized tonight just how devoted Tess must be to Springsteen, as I realized that learning all those lyrics is the mental gymnastic equivalent of learning any of a number of Dylan songs, like maybe, “Shelter From the Storm,” and requires huge memory skills…. what?:

Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
D G A7 D
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
D G A7 D
With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older I tripped the merry-go-round
D G A7 D
With this very unpleasing, sneezing and wheezing, the calliope crashed to the ground

Tess doing Blinded by the Light at the Galway

Anyway… back to the open mic. It was a quiet night in August, with half of the open mics closed down for the month of streets emptied of Parisians by night, but full of tourists, and I decided to check out the Galway and Tess’s new presentation of the evening.

And there, I immediately discovered that not only was I seriously low on battery power on my Zoom recorder, as well as seriously low on my telephone, as well as having no charger for the phone and no charged batteries for the Zoom, but I was also around No. 10 or 12 on the list at the Galway, and it was 3 songs each and after 10 PM when it all started.

So having met a friend at the Galway who suggested we go check out a band at a bar I’ve never gone to, I accepted, and decided not to perform.

So off we went to the Guinness Tavern, a Paris institution for live music, with house bands that play until after 4 AM every night – I think it’s every night! Located on the rue des Lombards, I did notice that across the streets, the Duc des Lombards, the famous live jazz music joint, was closed. That was either because it was Monday, or again the month of August. No idea.

Anyway, we stayed an hour and a half or so and listened to the highly adept band play hits from the time of Blinded by the Light until today. And had a nice time listening to the band, Jesters, and when the musicians saw a couple of us had guitars, they even invited us at the break to go up and play. I will regret it for the rest of my life that I did NOT go up and play. How dumb of me. How unlike me. I’m always ready for a musical adventure. I guess I was feeling my music was so different than what the band was doing that I’d only let either me or the spectators down – but now I regret it.

Oh well, the Guinness Tavern will stay there, I assume….

And so, the good news is the Galway continues despite the departure of Romain “All the Roads.” I’ll miss his time there, but at least we still have the joint, and a fabulous new host…. Decidedly, the calliope has not yet crashed to the ground!

P.S. How strange is memory. I discovered as I was adding the tag for Guinness Tavern that I had actually already been to this joint, way back in 2011, just for about half a song or something, as I was clearly not impressed at the time!

Jazz Jam at the Duc des Lombards in Paris

March 12, 2011

I had heard about the jam session at the Duc des Lombards bar in Paris near Chatelet for some time. I had never ended up in the neighborhood on the Friday or Saturday of the jam – which starts at midnight – but last night on the suggestion of a friend with whom I’d just had a drink at the Café de la Paix, we went to check out the jam at the Duc des Lombards.

I am really glad I did. It told me two things: First, the quality was much higher than I expected, second, I would never find my place playing guitar or singing in the jam session of the Duc des Lombards. I had been told it was somewhat jazzy, and that was more than what it was. It was pure jazz. And it was fun, laid back, no cover charge great. The woman I went with told me that the last time she had gone it had not been quite the same level and it seemed just about anyone and everyone could and did go up. So maybe I just happened on a good night.

The bar, nicely and recently redesigned, has a very New York jazz bar kind of feel to it. But it was simplicity itself to walk in, find a place and listen, or talk. Sax players, trumpet players, guitarists, pianists, singers, drummers, upright bass players – all the elements were there. Even a young drunk or two in the audience of otherwise fairly respectful jazz lovers.

I highly recommend checking it out at least once.

Its location is kind of interesting too, as it is beside one of the Hideout bars and across the street from the Guinness Tavern, which I had also never been to and which we also checked out after the Duc des Lombards. But we stayed just long enough to listen to about half of a song of the rock band before we decided – mutually – to clear out. In any case, it was already 3 AM….

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