Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide: Milan Edition

September 8, 2013

Milan, Italy – For my 13th city installment of my worldwide open mic guide today I am loading my Milan, Italy page. As a reminder, it all started with my now very popular Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, and due to that guide’s success, I decided this year to do a similar guide for each of the cities I travel to during my worldwide open mic tour.

Musically, Milan in September is a Disaster

Milan? Home of La Scala, opera, classical music like you wouldn’t believe. Oh, jazz, too, why not? But folk, rock, pop, blues? Well, it’s not a world capital. In fact, this list is one of my least successful. Part of my problem is that I always visit Milan in the first half of September, and that coincides with the summer holidays in which so many Milan music joints are closed down from June to mid-October for the “summer.” Another problem is that a lot of jam sessions apparently take part in private associations where you sign up and play in private buildings and residences, and not so much in bars. Over the years I have performed at more open mics in Milan than I have listed here, but they were one-off events – such as an open jam at a circle of anarchists and another impromptu jam at the Leoncavallo public space, and also at another place, a karaoke that allowed me to play with my guitar. I am thinking that I should start a new section on these guides of places I have heard about but never made it to myself, since my short lists like this from my own personal experience can occasionally be limited:

Worldwide Open Mic Guide Philosophy

The only guide I am really in a good position to update regularly is that of Paris, since I live there. But I decided to do guides to all the other 20 and more cities on my worldwide open mic tour in order to give the knowledge I have personally of each city’s open mics. The guide has links to sites I know of local guides that may be more up-to-date, but I have chosen to list the open mics or jam sessions that I have played in myself. There may be others that I know of, but if I have not played there, I will not include it on the list. That way, the user learns a little of my own impressions. But I cannot be as certain that the guide is up-to-date – so check before you go.

So here, now, in any case is the Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. Please do help me whenever you have information to give me on venues.

Finally, Jamming at Fermento Art&Pub in Milan

September 9, 2011

So it took three visits over the least three years to finally find a bar with a bona fide weekly jam session. It turns out it has less to do with Milan being non-musical than to do with the city still remaining closed throughout the month of September for “the summer.” Two years ago the only open jam session I found was amongst the anarchists – and it was great – and last year all I found was a karaoke where they allowed me to play with my guitar. Last night, it was a hugely fun and cool and real jam session, the weekly jam at the Fermento Art&Pub.

Although I had fought through hours of web surfing and spoken to many people in the last three years, I never managed to find anything aside from the aforesaid anarchist jam and karaoke. Oh, I did see an open mic and a jam, but they were closed. Yesterday I managed to find a page that listed jam sessions in Milan, and I narrowed down my choice to Fermento, as the only other that seemed to be happening was more about jazz, Fermento was blues. Of the two, I figured I could find a place in the blues jam better than in the jazz one.

My choice was right. I managed to play “Mad World” and “Crazy Love” with the band, and we did O.K. The band, however, was very interesting. I could hardly have imagined that I would find that the lead guitar player, Fred Pierre Gustave, and the harmonica player were both Frenchmen. They were in fact invited as the feature band of the evening, playing along with a drummer and with the bass player who organizes the jam, an Italian named Lucio “Omar” Falco. Fred PG, as he appears to be sometimes known, is a hot lead player who likes the blues AND French gypsy jazz. He lives in Madrid and plays in Spanish bands, and also all around Europe. He’s on a little tour in Italy at the moment, in fact, and Fermento was one of the stops.

After the feature act – the French harmonica player did interesting French blues songs of his own writing, by the way – the stage was then open to other musicians and there were singers, bass players, harmonica players, drummers, lead players. The whole, real thing. It was so a wonderful evening that I was just buzzing and flying from start to finish. Got a little interview with Omar for my film, too. And they invited me to play with them in Monza tonight, so I could not have dreamed for more. Check in tomorrow to see how the Monza thing goes – if it goes.

P.S., I have once again a very slow internet connection so I have been unable to put up all the videos I wanted to put up.

Milan Placeholder and an Ollie Story

September 10, 2010

I have almost nothing to report from my first night in Milan, Italy, except that things are looking as dismal here this year as they did last year in the way of live music. Last night I went to a famous rock club called Rolling Stone, which had existed for decades – since the 1960s – only to find that it no longer exists, as the building was bought by a developer and it will be turned into something like apartments, if I understood my interlocutor at a nearby bar.

This is a bad period for live music in Milan, as the summer extends through September. The first open mic I know of starts on 25 Sept., and most people want nothing to do with music unless it be opera….

But last year I managed to find a FABULOUS place to play, and I still hold out hope. I will perhaps go into more details later, but last year’s venue was a jam session at the headquarters of the longest running anarchist’s association in Italy. Yeah, I should give more details tomorrow. Gotta rush from the race trace in Monza now to see if I have more luck tonight.

In the meantime, I want to put up a video of my friend Ollie Fury, who is a musician in Paris who also runs the open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar near the Pantheon. I recorded this video at the Galway on the same night I did the video of Les DeShane, and he recorded me. But I am now putting up Ollie because I found that it was really inventive and daring of him to sing the song he does, which is Oh My Darlin’ Clementine! And he does it really well. But that is Ollie for you. I learned the following night at his open mic that he will be playing in Singapore the same time that I am there for the Formula One race in two weeks, so we will see each other there and I will write about that – no doubt.

Now is that a case of a small world or what?!?!?!

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