Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide: Barcelona Edition

May 11, 2013

BARCELONA – For my sixth city installment of my worldwide open mic guide today I am loading my Barcelona 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 popularity I decided this year to do a similar guide for each of the cities I travel to during my worldwide open mic tour.

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.

More Experience Than Existing Open Mics

Unfortunately, given the ephemeral nature of open mics – and bars themselves – in virtually all of the cities in the guide my own personal experience of playing open mics in the city in question usually goes way beyond the number of venues listed, since they things arise and close very frequently.

Mostly Jam Sessions in Barcelona

There are far more jam sessions in Barcelona than open mics as such – but the jams act as open mics too, and this is a guide to venues of both philosophies.

So here, now, in any case is the Thumbnail Guide to Barcelona Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. Please do help me whenever you have information to give me on the venues – i.e., especially if they close down!

A Jazz Jam at Big Bang and a three-course, 10-euro Meal with the Intellectual Mario M. Perez Ruiz

May 21, 2011

mario m perez ruiz cooking in his restaurant

mario m perez ruiz cooking in his restaurant

Barcelona is full of jamming venues that shift musical styles from one day to the next, most serving up blues, rock and jazz at one moment or another. Sunday is the busiest day for these jams, which are like open mics but usually like to have musicians join other musicians they may not know, playing in a jam session. Last night I dropped by one of these clubs, called Big Bang, even though I knew it was a jazz jam and that I would not be able to play along.

But I will probably return to the Big Bang tomorrow when it is rock, pop jam night. In any case, last night there was a jazz concert before the jazz jam, and I caught a bit of it on video, and I decided to make a couple of videos just absorbing and showing the venue to the readers of this blog. It is a very cool, old-style, almost 1950s feel kind of place. Set up in 1992 by a musician named Jesus de Kalle who played in the nearby Catalunya Place and decided to create a venue for bands to play together.

It turns out it is just around the corner from the JazzSi jam bar too, which also runs on the same principle and which is associated with a music school. Tomorrow, I might play at both.

One of the advantages to this area, near the Sant Antoni metro, is that just up the street from the Big Bang is a very unusual restaurant run by an unusual owner, Mario M. Perez Ruiz, who is a poet, author, and television and radio personality who owns and runs and cooks in his own restaurant. I discovered this place last year when I met some people at the Big Bang session and they took me to the restaurant afterwards.

In addition to the interest of the restaurant having bookshelves, paintings and drawings and other cultural artifacts – in addition to the poet-chef’s own books and large personality – there is the fact that the food is very tasty, filling and cheap as hell. I was looking at other nearby restaurants with menus at around 30 euros and I opted for Perez-Ruiz’s place. When I saw there was a three course meal with more than a quarter liter of red wine and an espresso coffee offered at only 10 euros, no tax, I was out of my mind with joy. So I ate my salad, paella, crema catalana, red wine and coffee and read my “Chronicles” by Bob Dylan, and then went off to the Big Bang, feeling pretty good.

Check it out!

Big Bang Jazz Jam Barcelona

May 9, 2010

That lead I mentioned on a place to play yesterday turned out to be a very cool place, the Big Bang Bar, and the music was fabulous. I was even invited to play by the organizer, since it was an open jam. But I had to turn down the invitation since the jazz music they played at the jam was just light years away from the kind of music I play. But it is music that I love and appreciate, and I took a number of videos with my Zoom Q3 – which was recognized by one of the audience members who said he had read about the Zoom Q3 and he owned a Zoom Q4, the sound recorder.

But what was interesting is that the Big Bang Bar is a place where in principle I WILL be able to play tonight, as they have a rock/pop jam on Sunday nights after the Jazz-Si jam. So I’ll head over there and check it out.

But I will put up a video of the jazz jam last night with a very cool sax player:

Famous All Over Town and Other Old Bits of News

May 7, 2010

Arriving in Barcelona yesterday for the Spanish Grand Prix, I discovered a few weeks after the fact that the French sports daily, L’Equipe, had published a story about me after the Malaysian Grand Prix. The journalist at the Equipe had been talking about doing a story on my musical adventures since last summer, but she never found quite the right occasion. In Malaysia, however, she learned about my experience with Eddie Jordan and the Hard Rock Cafe appearance that never happened, and she had her pretext.

The story is very short, but very well written, and she manages to get in my run-in with Eddie and a little description of my musical adventure that runs parallel with the Formula One season. Very cool! Check out Brad in L’Equipe for Eddie Jordan musical tale.

That’s one piece of old news. The other bit of old news was that I did get back to Earle’s open mic last Monday, but because of preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix, I did not have time to put up any of the video footage I took. Now I do not have an Internet connection quick enough to put up the footage, and the parts with me in it were just too long and need cutting. But the report is that I played and sang several songs with Vanessa, including our “Mad World,” and a new one we are working on, “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” which is based on the Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave version. This was chosen by Vanessa, and it is very cool. We also played “Jealous Guy” and “Just Like a Woman,” and Vanessa provided very nice background vocals and wonderful interjections – like on how I am a jealous guy.

It was a busy and good night at Earle’s, with a return of Felix Beguin and Syd Alexander of the Burnin’ Jacks, and they were hot as ever. Also, I was pleased to play “Except Her Heart,” with Felix, that song of mine that he arranged and that I have put up on the site. It was the first time we played it together since he learned it, and it went very well.

Vanessa jumped up on stage at one point during a Burnin’ Jacks song and shared the mic with Syd, but they are not at all the same height, so that required some handy mic manipulation on Vanessa’s part. I will put up whatever videos I can as soon as I can.

Now on to Barcelona. Last night I went to the George Payne pub which is near my hotel in Barcelona and which has an open mic on the first Thursday and last Thursday on the month. (I played there last year.) And I discovered that this was the first Thursday that they decided to drop the open mic from the first Thursday and turn it into every second week. So no luck. It’s not the first time I have showed up at an open mic only to find it has just ceased to occur on the night I show up.

I spent the rest of the evening exploring one of the most bar-filled areas of Barcelona, only to see that there was not a single live music venue among them. Dozens of bars with no music – thanks, no doubt, to the noise laws that are killing this city as they are Paris.

For the moment I only have the Jazz-Si club lined up for Sunday, but I will continue to try to find other venues, and will keep posting about the adventure.

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