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Four Years of Highlander, and an Annual Open Mic at the Copains Bar in Paris

October 1, 2010

Missed a day on the blog, but went out both Wednesday and Thursday to open mics – as usual. The first was one of the usual Wednesday places I have written about so often, but this time there’s news! It was the fourth anniversary of The Highlander’s open mic on Wednesday, and Thomas Brun had balloons and other party decorations hanging from the walls and ceiling, and he greeted people – well, me, in any case – with: “Happy Birthday!”

Four years for an open mic is a long time, I have begun to learn, as I have traveled the world and found simply from last year to this year a huge number of open mics have closed down, while others have opened.

Highlights at the Highlander were a new guy from the United States who has just moved to Paris and who calls himself, Glass Petals, and another woman singer, named Megg Farrell, who is also from the U.S., and who played with a ukelele and sang. But unlike so many of the young women I see these days playing the uke and singing, she really made the uke sing and got the crowd stomping along with her strong voice. It was a high moment.

On Thursday I went to Isabelle Sojfer‘s open mic at the Copains bar in Menilmontant. This is a tiny hole-in-the wall bar with a very big friendly atmosphere once the night gets going. And last night it REALLY got going. Isabelle Sofjer is an author, slam artist and…ukelele player and singer. I have seen her at two different open mics, and I learned that she has her own open mic once a year. So I went last night to the annual edition not only to find that it was just full of performers and quite wild and warm, but also to discover – with everyone else – that she would be holding the open mic again in two weeks, on 14 October, exceptionally running a second time in the same year.

Isabelle does not run the open mic the same way as most people, and while I was a little upset as the first performer to be invited to leave the “stage” after only one song – “Borderline” – I soon discovered that everyone had only one chance. Well, at least in the first round. She did a second round and all the remaining people got to do another number. I decided that since the bar was so small I would not use a microphone, and that enabled me to succeed for the first time ever in public in doing a half-decent job of my interpretation of the Hank Williams song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” I do it with a pretty strong blues approach. The bar owner, Momo, jumped up and started playing a bongo drum with me and it turned out to be quite a powerful moment, I think.

On the other hand, there were only about four musicians throughout the evening, and the accent was on slam poetry. So the music was no doubt happily received as a break from the slam….

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