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From the Calm of the Tireuse to the Mania of the Pigalle Country Club

December 18, 2013
bradspurgeon

pigalle country club

pigalle country club

PARIS – I started the night at the Tireuse open mic, beneath the shadow of the Panthéon in Paris’s 5th Arrondissement, and I finished it at the wild Pigalle Country Club open mic near the manic place Pigalle. Both open mics were cool and worth their price in beer….

The Tireuse had a really good crowd and enough interesting musicians to keep the heart beating fast, and the mind and musical appreciating spirit wondering what might happen next. There were a lot of first-time musicians, and there were a number of surprises, like the saxophone player who played along with Ollie, the MC.

As it turned out, Ollie and the sax player played just before I was supposed to take to the mic – oh, and incidentally, I cannot mention this night without saying that suddenly there was a new and improved sound system. One of the only downsides since its inception of the open mic at the Tireuse, previously the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, was that the sound was horrible. A small, crappy amp. But now, there are two good little amps which make for great sound on both guitar and vocals.

It was wonderful. But I was immediately disheartened to discover that the sax player would play with Ollie just before my two-song set. How could I compete with that?!?! I decided, in fact, in a sudden moment of perspiration, to invited the sax player to play the first song with me. He agreed. And so we did “Crazy Love,” by Van Morrison, with this guy on sax. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I then did “Just Like a Woman,” which I had not done for a long time.

And Then the Contrast of the Pigalle Country Club open mic

After that, and after hearing several performers, I decided to go off to the open mic of the Pigalle Country Club bar, near Place Pigalle. This open mic is run by the members of the band “The Burnin’ Jacks,” the lead guitarist of which has played and recorded with me. It turned out he was not there last night, but the rest of the crew was. And what a contrast to the Tireuse.

Here, in this cool small bar where anything seems to go, the feeling of the open mic is, anything goes. It’s lots of acoustic rock ‘n roll, and lots of fun. It’s chaos and and anarchy, and no list for the performers, but just, “Hey, take the mic when you want.” I played my staple “Mad World,” but I started off telling them that I had a new cover song that I do, but cannot really do. That is “D’yer Maker” from Led Zeppelin, and I immediately wished that I had done the whole thing from start to finish, because it did decide to do the first few verses just to show how I cannot do it… and lots of people sang along… and then I quite in the middle.

Anyway, for me, it wasn’t about going to sing as much as going to hear. And the lightness, the fun, the rock ‘n roll vibe did not fail. I love this little open mic, even if it is not totally designed for my kind of cover songs (or my own songs). As a study in contrasts and different styles, I don’t think I could have done better than the Tireuse and the Pigalle Country Club in the same night…. You might call it the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones….



Travel Weary Zoom Q3HD Takes a Break at Cosy Night at La Tireuse

December 11, 2013
bradspurgeon

La Tireuse

La Tireuse

PARIS – I’ve been making the rounds of all my regular open mic venues that I so rarely visited in the last few months while travelling all over the world for the tail end of my worldwide open mic tour, and last night it was over to the Tireuse – formerly Ptit Bonheur la Chance – for the cellar open mic that became the favourite of many people in Paris. It turned out to be a kind of quiet and cozy night in the basement room of the Tireuse, so much so that my Zoom Q3HD recording device decided to either go on strike or take a nap.

I’m not sure which it decided to do, but I could not get it to recognize the SD card. The result is that I just did a couple of videos on my iPhone, which means pig bad sound quality. Having today put a different SD card in my Zoom recorder and found it recognized, I’m hoping it will work again and I don’t have to replace it.

But my feeling is that it has been around the world several times since I bought it a few years ago, and I think it is becoming travel weary…. Let’s wait and see. In the meantime, check out the feel at the Tireuse, with Wayne on one video, and a new French performer on his resonator guitar on the other video.

La Tireuse is still attracting lots of musicians, and I wish I could have recorded more of them last night. There were a few great performances, including Brislee doing a third Queen song in two nights, and getting all the spectators singing along. He did a very good Freddy Mercury approximation….

The End of the Tennessee Bar Open Mic in Paris

October 5, 2013
bradspurgeon

tennessee bar open mic closing

tennessee bar open mic closing

MOKPO, South Korea – For the second day running, the news from Mokpo is about Paris! Mokpo is the little “bled” – to use a French word – where I am located this weekend in my worldwide musical adventure. There’s no open mic from what I can see – or have seen in the past. But lots is going on in Paris. No sooner did I yesterday update my Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, by reinstating the existence of the former Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic now reborn as La Tireuse, than I learned through a Facebook announcement that the longstanding and great open mic in Paris at the Tennessee Bar has just ended.

I have tried to contact the person who maintains the page to confirm that the statement they made means there is no longer an open mic, but I have not had a response (on my accelerated South Korea time). But that the open mic is finished is the way everyone else who has written in queries has interpreted the statement, and it is the way I think the statement has to be interpreted. (Note: Today, the following day in South Korea, Oct. 6, I received confirmation from Valerie and James that both the downstairs Whiskey bar concept and the open mic itself have now ended. Later in the day, however, I then received a comment on this post telling me that the open mic will continue on Mondays, but with a different host. As James Iansiti and the Tennessee Bar open mic have been part and parcel of the same thing, I will henceforth treat this open mic as a new one. I’ll put it back on my open mic list once I see that it is really here to stay, and once I get a taste of it myself, like all the open mics on my list in Paris.)

Here is what they said on the Tennessee Whiskey Bar Facebook page: “The Tennessee Whiskey Bar regrets to inform you that we are now closed. The owner and manager of the Tennessee Jazz Bar were not happy with the project. Thanks to all of our musicians and guests for sharing the bar we created.
James and Valérie love you!”

So what else can that mean? If it is not closed (see above note), I’ll update as soon as I get the news. But for the moment we have to assume the open mic has ended after many years. This is one of the best open mics in Paris, it was run by James Iansiti, and I have written about it extensively on this blog. After James and his girlfriend, Valerie, redesigned the fabulous basement room of the Tennessee bar over the summer and re-opened the open mic under the name of the Tennessee Whiskey Bar, it seems the experiment has ended, the owner and manager of the Tennessee Bar having decided that he did not like the new deal.

And so ends what I can only imagine was a great business deal for the Tennessee bar. But what do I know about the economics of running a bar in Paris and its open mic. It is not the first time I have seen an open mic just bubbling over with clients, bursting at the seams, incapable of holding all the spectators and musicians, and then seeing the bar owner say that they don’t like the business the open mic is providing them with. But why now? The Tennessee Bar open mic has existed for at least five years, and earlier this year it was so popular it became a twice-a-week event, putting on an open mic on Mondays and then also on Thursdays.

Of course, the last time a mainstay open mic in Paris collapsed, it rose from the ashes again – as the new owner saw the business and community value in it – and that was the very one I mentioned at the top of this post, now called La Tireuse. Well, the only good point to this loss of another great Paris open mic is that there were already two others in the neighborhood, and now musicians will no longer have to toss a coin to decide which bar to give their business to: The Coolin or the Galway.

Bye, bye Tennessee, and thanks for all fun years. May you rise up out of the ashes too!

Note and Update on Worldwide Thumbnail Guide of Open Mics

October 4, 2013
bradspurgeon

MOKPO, South Korea – This short post has practically no connection at all with my dateline of Mokpo, South Korea. Or rather, maybe it does: Because I failed to find anywhere to play last night in this less-than-lively town on the south tip of Korea, I decided that my blog post would be connected to the worldwide open mic guide.

I have just returned to make updates in the Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, the only major change being the return of what used to be called the open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar, but which is now called, “La Tireuse.” As most readers of this blog will know, I’ve written extensively about the former, and now the great news is that after being closed down from May to September, the open mic was reborn last month at the renamed bar, which is under a new ownership. It looks as if it will continue to operate in the same way, and is being run by the same genial MC, Ollie Joe. I could not keep it off the guide any longer.

The Coming Weeks of the Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide and Adventure:

I also decided I would use this short post just to mention that in the coming two months I will hardly be present in Paris at all, as I complete the final stages of my around-the-world open mic adventure in visiting another six countries and putting up at least another six editions of the Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide. I’m in Korea now, and in the next seven weeks there will be a rapid-fire succession of new entries covering cities in Japan, India, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Brazil.

I also intend now to add during the same period a new section to the Thumbnail Guide: Up to now the only open mics that I have listed on the guides have been those that I have played in myself. I will continue to keep those under their own listing, but I will henceforth begin adding a list of open mics that I have heard of from other people and intended to play but couldn’t, or just thought seemed like good open mics. But they will be listed under a different category so that my own list remains the only one I can really vouch for, and the other list will be recommendations from others – for which, if you want to send me information from the places you know, please do.

The Superb New “La Tireuse” OpenMic in Paris – or Rather, the Ptit Bonheur la Chance Reborn

September 4, 2013
bradspurgeon

PARIS – Unfortunately, I have been working all day and evening in preparation for my trip to Italy tomorrow, so I am unable to do justice to the blog post that the reopening of the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic merits and calls for. But I sure did go last night, and I sure did enjoy myself. I had written for maybe three years about all the great nights at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic, and suddenly it was ended, abruptly, last May when the owner/manager decided to sell the bar to a new owner. All the regular musicians who loved the bar and open mic every Tuesday were sure it was finished for good. Thank goodness, the new owner has had the great idea of keeping it going….

So now it is La Tireuse, and the spirit is still there. The bar has been very little changed, just the old boxing photos and posters were removed. Oh, and… they redesigned the basement room, where the music happens. It is now adorned with low tables, couches, lighting, it is, in short, comfortable in a way it never was before. Even better, the open mic performance area has now been moved from the kind of second-thought of a dark space near the stairs at the entry of the room to the other side of the room completely, the other end, against the large brick back wall (or fake bricks).

To play in this spot is just wonderful. There is now sufficient light on the performer that you can actually see their faces as they play. And when you perform in this space, you feel much more like you’re put in position of value as a performer. It’s funny, there was a feeling of insecurity I could never put my finger on when I played at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, even though I loved the place – and insecurity is a part of performance. But last night, playing against the wall, I felt it was much more like being on a stage, where you can feel secure in a way….

But anyway… there is a downside to this new move: The bar is so successful on the ground floor that there is always lots of chat and raucous noise going on up there. But in the previous setup, the noise from upstairs was blocked by the musician(s) and the amp throwing the sound into the room from the stairs end of the room. Now, unfortunately, that noise permeates the room up to about the halfway point, so if you want to hear most of the musicians – ie, maybe not the loudest of them – you have to sit close to the stage area. At least halfway into the room. There’s just too much noise coming from upstairs for the sound to be distinguishable at the new “back” of the room, i.e., the entrance, where the stairs are.

I hope they figure out a way to improve that, because the new set up is otherwise superb…. And above all, Ollie Joe’s MCing and the whole warmth of this open mic are exactly what they were before, and what made it such a success. If feels now, retrospectively, as if this open mic just simply took a summer break like so many others in Paris. Bravo for La Tireuse!
https://www.facebook.com/video/embed?video_id=562184717151567″ width=”640″ height=”480″ frameborder=”0″
And thanks to Wayne Standley for the video he did of me doing my “Crazy Lady” song, above….


Ptit Bonheur la Chance Open Mic Returns Under Another Name: La Tireuse

August 31, 2013
bradspurgeon

la tireuse

la tireuse

PARIS – On this lazy Saturday afternoon in Paris after I have found myself with nothing to say on this blog, it suddenly occurs to me that I really DO have something to say. Something in a way I rarely do, that is, to announce the return of an open mic, rather than an open mic I just attended, or worse, the closing of an open mic.

In fact, I did indeed announce the closing of the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar’s open mic on 15 May after a three year run. It had been one of the best open mics in Paris for its charm, its musicians, its MCs, it’s understanding bar owner/manager, its fabulous set up – a bar to talk in on the ground floor and a cave cellar to play in in the basement, and above all, for its quiet and respectful audiences. Oh, and beer and other drinks that are affordable to starving, broke and drunken musicians.

It came as a massive surprise to everyone who took part in it when we learned that Pierre, the owner, had sold the bar to a new proprietor and the open mic was being closed. It felt like the end of an era. In fact, I made a video of the last night, which I am reposting.

But now, the new proprietor has negotiated with Yaco Mouchard, Ollie Joe, the multi-named, multi-talented MC, to return the open mic to the same location – now under a different name (La Tireuse) – and to once again hold the open mic every Tuesday evening, running it the way it always was run … at least I hope that there will be no new constraints.

It starts again this coming Tuesday at 18 rue Laplace, near the Panthéon, at the bar now called “La Tireuse.” An 8 PM start. And it would be wise to show up early if you want to play. I know that many of the regular performers are ecstatic at this open mic’s return. But let’s see how it goes. My experience with open mics is such that I have seen that the most successful ones are always those that get ALL the ingredients right. So it will be interesting to see how the new owner/managers manage the open mic. Keep posted on this site to find out!

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