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In the Warm Lobby of the Chansonniers in Menilmontant

January 23, 2014

hotel les chansonniers Paris

hotel les chansonniers Paris

PARIS – I seem to be on a roll of attending and writing about open mics in Paris that are off the beaten path of the Latin Quarter. Last night for the first time in at least a year, I attended the open mic of the Chansonniers, which takes place just once per month, on the third Wednesday of the month. And I am so happy I did so….

The Chansonniers open mic is quite original, as it takes place in the nice, cozy, warm lobby of a small hotel, which I would not classify as seedy, since it does have this nice lobby, and this superb open mic. On the other hand, I don’t know what lies behind the lobby door… maybe I should find out….

Having said that, I first attended this open mic five years ago – already!!!!! – and made some of my first steps into the French open mic world there, and have some very warm recollections. But for various reasons, I have not been going in recent years. Part of the problem is its “once per month” angle. You tend to forget when you hit the third Wednesday….

Menilmontant is a very cool quarter of Paris in the 20th Arrondissement that has a real workers’, bona fide “lived in” neighborhood feel too it, but that is growing into an artistic center of the city. I love the area. So why am I not going back more often? The open mic is now hosted by Franck, whose stage name is She/Me, and it seems to me that this is probably the open mic in Paris that takes the title of being the most French of the open mics. I think the only acts that sang in English last night were my own, and the couple of songs that Raphaëlle did – both of which were recent ones for which I wrote the lyrics (so that makes my English omnipresent there last night) – excepting her fabulous Spanish song.

I managed to get a good video of her Spanish song, and she got a video of my Borderline. So those are both going up here. There were many more worthy acts last night, but I again have had a very slow internet connection today, so I will be unable to put up a full selection.

Oh dear, I almost forgot! There was indeed the interpretation – quite different – of Moriarity’s “Jimmy,” with Franck on guitar, and a friend of his doing the vocals. I got that up….

It’s three songs per performer at the Chansonniers, and it starts early, so if you do want to play, get there early. The sound system is not bad, but the guitar amp is behind your feet and the vocals come out of speakers in the back of the lobby – I’d have got some better vocal recordings otherwise….

A Moriarty-linked Open Mic Moment

January 26, 2011

One of the beauties of attending open mics is that it is really live music and that means it is really unpredictable as to what will happen, who will be in great playing shape, how you will react and play and how the audience will be in listening. It’s a real-life, live music situation – totally unpredictable. But another thing that sometimes happens at open mics that is even more unpredictable is the various synchronicities that can happen in meeting people.

It was by happenstance during a conversation a few months ago at Ollie’s open mic at the Ptit Bonheur La Chance bar that Ollie himself would be playing in Singapore when I was there last September. I learned this through a family member of his, and not through him. So we decided to link up and play at a bar while in Singapore, and it was very cool.

Last night at Ollie’s among the musicians was a friend whom I first met and discovered singing at the Galway last June. One of the main songs on her repertoire is “Jimmy,” by the band Moriarty. “Jimmy” was the band’s first single, and it was a hit.

“Jimmy” also happens to be the song that my friend sang in the first video I put up on this blog of her (deleted many years later, at her request), where I mention sung by “a Dutch woman.” Last night my friend decided at the last minute to go to Ollie’s open mic, and one of the songs she sang was “Jimmy.”

Let’s rewind a little. One of the regular musicians at Ollie’s open mic in recent months is an American who has lived in Paris most of his adult life – like me – named Wayne Standley. He sings a pretty classic American repertoire that runs from country to Bob Dylan, as well as some other 60s rock classics. I’ve put up videos of Wayne since as early as June (Wayne Standley is in the first video on the page under this link, for instance.)

In recent weeks I learned the Wayne was, in fact, the father of Rosemary Standley who is the singer at Moriarty who sings the song “Jimmy.” So last night, without her knowing it, my friend sang one of the main songs in her repertoire in front of the father of the woman whose song it is. Rosemary, like the other members of the band, grew up in Paris, but has a very strong American country, rock and folk background, and when you meet and hear Wayne, you know why.

After, up in the bar, Wayne presented himself to my friend. Needless to say, she was blown away by the news that he was Rosemary’s father. She also realized that she had heard the father of Rosemary singing too, without knowing who it was. (As it turns out, Rosemary and Wayne sometimes performer together too.)

And I thought, yes, this is the open mic. This is the rear nerve center of one of the great reasons we do these things – we meet people, connect with people, and we see and feel and hear our music different because of the context as well.

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