Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Playing at the R&B Melrose in Nagoya, Japan

October 6, 2011

First night in Japan, first night lucky. I had a cheap meal of noodles – very good – and then made my way directly over to the R&B Melrose bar in Nagoya. I first played here two years ago, and when I returned last night, the owners not only remembered me, they actually had a piece of scrap paper on which I had drawn a little map-like thing showing the location of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

This is a very cool bar that has a full stage of equipment – drums, Marshall amps, microphones, and a collection of guitars, all there for the public. It is a cross between an open mic and a jam session, and last night I realized that it reminded me a lot of the Actors’ bar in Singapore. You can show up several days of the week and take the stage either alone or in a group, or joining people who are present, and play whatever you please.

So it is indeed an open mic, and a jam. The owners love music, and just let people play what they want, while making sure that each client has a chance to play. A really classy place.

Last night I played alone, and then with the drummer. Then I ended up playing with all the other musicians and we did a lot of songs, and I got a lot of them on video – me, a bass player, two guitarists and the drummer. But the videos are too long for the blog and I’ll save them for bits in my documentary film.

For the moment, though, I have the What’s Up video and a couple of others of the other guys jamming.

What luck, first night and I scored! (Well, yes, musically, I mean.)

Weirdnesses – White French Guy Doing Japanese Rap – and Coolnesses at the Paris Monday Mics

August 9, 2011

It was a little world weary that I was last night as I returned to the open mics in Paris in the middle of the summer, not having played in an open mic since, could it be, more than a week, and Budapest? The trip to Brussels set that up, and a return to Paris on a quiet period for open mics. So I felt off center going to the Tennessee Bar and the Galway, my regular Monday haunts. But it was with a great sense of suprise and pleasantness that I entered the Tennessee Bar to find Jesse Kincaid on stage doing his number. Jesse, readers will remember, was in Paris a few weeks ago and delighted audiences with his compositions, and songs from the New Rising Sons. He had so much fun here, it seems, that he returned early from a stay elsewhere in Europe.

There were some unusual things happening on stage at the Tennessee, with the gold medal being taken by a French white guy dressed in conservative bureaucrat clothes and haircut, who brought his own canned music and did a few rap numbers. He had been there before, it seems, and it was with great acclaim that the audience requested he do his rap in Japanese. You can see just why when you look at the video. Didn’t catch his name. But if a video of him doing this – mine or someone else’s – does not go viral, I do not know what will!

I played four songs, starting out with four of my own songs, and making a mess of “Lara, Lara,” which I had not sung in a while and for which I suddenly forgot the chords. But I managed to get through it, and two others and then I decided to lift the joy level a little by doing “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right.” But I forgot the words on that one and then suddenly felt really foolish and pointless playing such a cliche Dylan song in an open mic, so I stopped in the middle of the song and left the stage – in good humor. It was, after all, an open mic. I try my hardest, give my all, but the open mic allows for caprices too.

The Galway was ticking along well as well, and I tried a few more songs I don’t usually do, like Marc Bolan’s “Catblack the Wizard’s Hat,” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” by Hank Williams. But then I felt the urge to do my usual “Borderline,” and it seems it went down the best. I also did “Only Our Rivers,” the Irish sort of protest song.

Jesse came along there too and regaled us with a fabulous rendition of Autumn Leaves on my guitar, which made me feel even more massively deficient – but it was great to hear how good my guitar can sound.

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