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The Beat Goes on in Nice – or Does It?

May 24, 2015

Joe Danger at Jonathan's in Nice

Joe Danger at Jonathan’s in Nice

NICE, France – The question running through my mind over the last couple of nights as I have walked the streets of Nice, mostly the old town, is whether my imagination is playing havoc on my memory, or whether Nice had a brighter period for roaming musicians than at the moment? I passed many of the previous places I had played in here over the years to find either the businesses no longer existed, or there was a change of style, a change of owner, a different zeitgeist.

Shapko still exists, but I saw nothing inviting in the way of the jam that was kind of slapped on to the end of a jazz night of band gigs. The King’s Pub told me they no longer host a jam or an open mic, and only show sports on TV. Johnny’s Wine Bar is long since gone.

There are other examples of things past, but I’ll forget about them for the moment. There remains hope in places one would expect, though. I dropped in to Paddy’s pub to find a musician doing a nice little gig on the nice little stage, and warmly coming up afterwards to say hello, as I had a compliment to make of his music. I asked him about open mics and jams, and he only knew of one that I will try tonight – hoping it still exists. But his stage was not open, as it has been in the past during other gigs. That said, Paddy’s apparently has an open mic every Tuesday night, so that’s great news.

From there, I decided to head on down to the first of the former Johnny’s venues, this one called Jonathan’s Live Music Pub. There, as soon as I saw that it was Friday night, and therefore one of the nights served by one of the three D’s – three musicians all having the letter D as their first initial somewhere – and I saw it was Joe Danger, I knew I was at least in for a fun moment of music.

And as with years past, it was the same climate: Go into the bar before Joe is onstage and you’ll find it empty, or nearly empty of clients. Wait a bit, Joe Danger takes to his musical chair, and suddenly the whole cellar room of this great bar fills up with people, mostly young people, keen to go crazy with the music of Joe Danger as a backdrop.

Joe, an Austrian originally, but who sings and speaks in perfect English, has been playing Jonathan’s pub for 15 years. He is really part of the walls, I think. Or at least the playing stool. He also has the great warm trait of offering the stage to people who ask, to play a song or two, although it is not an open mic.

So he saw me with my guitar, we chatted, he remembered me from the past, and he invited me up to play. I high, high point of the week.

Last night, I dropped by the Snug, where there is an open mic on Monday nights, and there was a singer. She played some lovely material, and after when I complimented her, we got to talking about my guitar. She normally plays an acoustic, loved my guitar, and I offered to let her use it on her next set. All over wonderful time – but I didn’t play anything.

So there are bits and pieces of music and open stages still in Nice, but I still feel things have got a little reduced in recent years….

Danger Gig Playing at Jonathan’s Nice

May 25, 2013

Jonathan's Nice

Jonathan’s Nice

NICE, FranceJonathan’s Live Music Pub is a mainstay Nice music joint, and Joe Danger is one of its longtime fixtures, playing and singing in a rotating shift with a couple of other musicians for nearly a decade or maybe more. I had heard about the bar first through Jonathan, who founded it and later opened Johnny’s Wine Bar, then through other people, notably a guy at the De Klomp the other night who said if I wanted to play, probably Joe Danger would let me do so on his set at Jonathan’s.

So it was that I went to Jonathan’s with the intent mostly of hearing this dangerous Joe, and seeing and checking out the vibe at this bastion of live music in Nice. It was a fascinating evening as the music starts at 11PM, and I arrived around 20 minutes before that to a nearly empty long, cave room with vaulted ceilings. And within 30 minutes the room was full and people were being refused at the door above.

Joe Danger Let’s Me Into His Set at Jonathan’s

Chock full of young regular locals coming to hear and sing along with Joe – who, by the way, told me he was from London, but told someone else he was from Austria, and could easily be from both – and also, what was amazing, was that all these people also came to socialize and talk to each other. The decibels of chatter were louder than the music decibels, but I could hear enough to realize Joe has a cool style and voice and guitar playing.

And then I made my approach, and he immediately accepted that I play some songs in his next set. He let me do three! And he sat up there near me, but not on the stage or behind the mic, and sang along, just because he was into it – nice break Joe!!!

Very definitely worth a visit to Jonathan’s if you’re passing through Nice….

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