Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Coolin Surprises Again

February 21, 2012

After a short visit to the Tennessee Bar open mic where an MC that looked, spoke, acted and dressed just like James Iansiti but said James was ill and he was a replacement – figure that out! – I went to the Coolin open mic at the Coolin Pub. This is the new one I discovered a few weeks ago and which was in its seventh week yesterday. I arrived and felt like maybe it had quickly run out of steam. Wrong!

I mean, when I arrived just after 10 PM there were a number of people there, but nowhere near the numbers we saw last week. I assumed that a whole new group of people tested it last week and quickly decided it was not for them. I found that an odd conclusion, as the vibe, the music, the warmth, the people, at this open mic are absolutely supercool.

And, as it turned out, I was very, very wrong. I got up early and did my set and by the time I got into my third song, after screwing up on the lyrics of one I decided my approach would be to forget about the world and close my eyes and sing for myself. When I opened my eyes I found that the bar had filled up with people and musicians. (Not that there is a difference between the two species.)

Fortunately, they were all in the process of saying hello, kissing cheeks and shaking hands, and very little of what I sang seemed to have been listened to. I would have another chance later – two chances, in fact – and both went down considerably better.

But in the meantime, I was treated to an insanely wonderful evening of music, with once again, some original musicians and instrumentalists. There was a trumpet, a trombone, a soul-like singer from France, a bongo player; Jamie Turner without the cellist; and just all manner of new song and singer.

There was much singing along and applause and carrousing. There was even the post-open-mic singalong around the table after 1 AM. This time, as I had an early morning ahead of me, I did not stay for the jam – although I did pick up a few moments on video as I walked out the door.

Any sense of a decline in the festivities was purely imaginary and due to the later start of this open mic than most others… which also happens to be to my taste….

New From New Year of Open Mics

January 3, 2012

It was a wonderful return to two Paris open mics last night for several reasons, not the least of which personally was the absence from behind the mic for four nights for me…. But I have a little news and a little observation to make. Oh, and I was clearly not the only one to be happy to get to the open mics again: There were lots of people at both the Tennessee Bar and the Galway Pub.

The bit of news I learned last night at the Galway was that Romain Bretoneiche, who performs under the name of his band All the Roads, will be taking over the MC job at the Galway Pub open mic every Monday. Stephen “Danger” Prescott, who has been doing it for three years is leaving the country. It is a sad moment in that regard, but great that Romain is taking over, too, as he is a great singer, a nice guy and very enthusiastic. So it will be very interesting to follow…. I got a couple of videos from last night of each of them, one with Stephen doing a Dylan duet with Julia Lins-Gordon, who works behind the bar – and is also a writer – and another of All the Roads doing a Damien Rice song, really well, as usual….

I found myself having fun when an Irish spectator sitting at the bar in front of the stage made a request to me during my set: “Do you know any Christy Moore songs?” Wow! I couldn’t believe that for once I could actually fulfill a request, and this time on a performer who is not obscure, but not mainstream pop, rock, folk either. Or rather, pretty much a mainstream kind of guy in Ireland in the folk area, but a million miles from being a household name elsewhere in the world. He was the singer with the band Planxty, and part of the traditional folk revival of the 60s and 70s. Unfortunately, I was so stunned by the request that it took me a while to find a song I should do, and I missed the most obvious one. I started by trying to do his own beautiful “January Man,” but I forgot the lyrics, which I have barely ever memorized. I then realized that although he did not write the “Raggle Taggle Gypsies,” he certainly sang it with Planxty, and so I did that one, which I have done for years. It was only after I left the pub that I recalled that I should have done “Only Our Rivers Run Free,” which Moore did, although it was written by Mickey McConnell, and I also do it occasionally.

At the Galway we were also treated to a performance by Tory Roucaud, who was on a Christmas visit to Paris from her new home of Switzerland, where there are not enough open mics for her in Zurich….

At the Tennessee I was immediately treated to two songs by James Iansiti, the MC, who when I arrived was playing one of his own songs – This Next Song – with his bass player. Then he joined another guitar player singing a song by the Police.

There were a lot of interesting bits going on at the Tennessee but the one that probably took my attention more than any was the combination of two people I met separately but who have written some songs together and travelled together and developed into an interesting and cool duo…. This was Zoe Kelly from Australia and Jamie Turner from England. They travelled in Ireland and wrote a song about being stopped on the highway by the police – and they wrote another song together as well. It was nice stuff, and very cool to see how open mic relationships can develop into something. Unfortunately, Zoe is about to return to Australia after many months in Europe….

Powered by