Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Good Galway! And Another Karaoke….

July 26, 2011

After going through a slow period on its Monday night open mic, in recent weeks the Galway on the Quai des Grands Augustins has returned to its grands jours. (Big days.) It has been very crowded in recent weeks with both spectators and musicians, and last night was no exception. I returned from a long drive back from Germany to find that I was just slightly too late to try for my usual Tennessee Bar AND Galway open mics on the same night, so I did the Galway – and then dropped into the karaoke at the Pub St. Michel, just five minutes walk away.

Now that I think of it, that is a triple-header possible on every Monday night, as the karaoke goes on very late. After what I wrote about the karaoke in Cologne, some readers might wonder why I returned again to another karaoke. Karaoke is NOT my thing. But I am realizing that I can strengthen a lot of aspects of my musical delivery, playing, presentation, etc., by taking part more often in karaokes. I am WAAAAY out of my comfort zone when I am not playing my own guitar and doing songs MY way. The karaoke can help me get better, no doubt. But anyway…no, this blog will NOT turn into a worldwide karaoke adventure and source. But I suppose they deserve to be there once in a while.

The Pub St. Michel, by the way, had a predominance of men, and was pretty small and intimate, but good fun.

The Galway had some interesting acts, including another visit by Kensuke Shoji, the wonderful Japanese violin/fiddle player.

I played three songs with my friend Vanessa, our usual “Mad World,” “Just Like a Woman,” (in which she features as the “little girl”) and a song she insisted on doing AND learning with me last night. It usually takes me three months to feel secure enough learning and playing a new song, so there again I was out of my comfort zone as I played the chords – reading them from my iPhone – and she sang the lyrics. But it was essential that we do the song now, so she was right to force me to do this thing against my better judgement – and we pulled it off, much better than I expected. It was a homage to Amy Winehouse, with the song, “I’m No Good.” Unfortunately, no good as I am at videoing myself, I did not get a video of it.

88 Year Old Harmonica Player, Japanese Bluegrass Fiddler, More Songs From Jesse and Other Cool Stuff at Paris Open Mics

July 19, 2011

After a couple of slow weeks for me at my two favorite Monday night haunts in Paris, the Tennessee Bar and Galway Pub open mics fired up my imagination and fed my own musical needs quite well last night. It was uncharacteristically quiet for a while at the Tennessee because of the summer holidays, but it was as busy as usual at the Galway. The Tennessee open mic became very interesting with the music of Kensuke Shoji, a violin player from Tokyo who plays some mean bluegrass as well as other interesting stuff. In fact, the high point there was certainly when Jesse Kincaid of the New Rising Sons invited Kensuke up on the stage to play with him while he did some of his songs.

Prior to that Jesse made my own night there and later at the Galway as well, when he played harmonica and lead guitar with me on some of my songs. But we were all blown away by Tony, the 88-year-old vaudeville-like performer from England who occasionally shows up at the Paris open mics. He did his usual guitar bits, his pianos stuff and his harmonica number. Tony is a consummate showman, old time. But he never fails to get people laughing and enjoying his abilities and dreaming about if we will ourselves be so bold and active as to do the same at his age – if we even make it that far.

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