Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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The Wide-Ranging, Long-Lasting Lizard Lounge Open Mic

July 2, 2012

Last night was the last Lizard Lounge open mic of the summer. It was as cool as usual, with a large crowd of spectators and a lot of musicians – but not too many. The most interesting aspect of this open mic is just how many different style of musician and group are accepted. From the soloist to the full band with drum set, anything goes. That has its drawbacks too, of course, if you are a soloist and you go right after an amazing full sounding band.

I decided not to do my crowd pleasers last night, and felt it. But some people complimented me afterwards, so I assume it passable. I played my Crazy Lady, and Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train,” and Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” There was a fabulous group playing Depeche Mode, the closing group with its sax and two cool guitar players, and one or two other neat things – like the ever cool John McNulty and band.

But I ultimately left the open mic with the most interesting moment for me personally coming as I left and a couple of the organizers pointed out to me that this open mic has been around now for 10 years! Since I did not even hit the open mic road until three and a half years ago, and the first place I played in Paris was the Lizard Lounge’s Monday night open mic with Earle Holmes, I always connected the Lizard Lounge with Earle’s Monday night open mic which ended there in around early 2009 – if not earlier.

But the Sunday monthly open mic and jam session at the Lizard Lounge in its comfortable basement room was going even at that time. And although only once per month, it has its regulars and has never stopped. It’s easy to see why – it is very musician and spectator friendly. Last night’s session was the last for the summer – that means there will be no Lizard Lounge open mic until either the first Saturday of September or the first Saturday of October, it has not yet been decided which.

Now I have to run off to go and host the Galway Pub open mic just off the Place St. Michel, taking duties for one night as the regular MC takes a break.

High-Lights at the High-Lander

February 2, 2012

What’s new to write about another night at the Highlander open mic in Paris after attending so many of them? You can wonder how I can keep it up, a blog on visiting so many of the same open mics in Paris. Actually, I will soon return to my round-the-world adventure, so this Paris sojourn will thin out for a part of the year. But there was something new last night at the Highlander, as there almost invariably always is.

At least, it was new for me. I had heard and seen on the Internet about a guy named John McNulty, an expat living in Paris, who had run the open mic at the Tennessee Bar before James Iansiti took over. And John had also run one at the Beaver bar, a Canadian bar that no longer exists – although it was replaced by another bar….

Well, I had never in the last three years seen this John McNulty perform, and I did not even know he was still in Paris. Last night the mystery was solved as John did a slot at the Highlander. And this guy is really good. He has a large range in his voice, and does one of the best Johnny Cash covers I’ve heard, coming out with this Johnny Cash voice, but then throwing in some wonderful high-pitched voice parts for good measure, taking the song elsewhere.

There was a new young woman who was very vibrant, and one or two other interesting acts. Unfortunately, I got there too late to be anything more than about No. 27 on the list, and while I probably would have made it up, I quit at around midnight. I went over to the Cavern, but just got there while the band finished its last song of the first set. I thought about going to the Caveau des Oubliettes, but my cold had advanced so much that fatigue made me think better of continuing the night. So I returned home and slept like a rock (‘n roll star).

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