Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Another Fabulous Find in Milan at the Arci Turro Open Blues Jam

April 22, 2017
bradspurgeon

Arci Turro

Arci Turro

MILAN – This is just the kind of thing that confirms my increasing belief and understanding about the Milan cultural scene: It took until Wednesday evening for me to discover one of the coolest open jams in the city. And the Arci Turro open blues jam has been going on weekly for more than three years. How could I have missed it? The answer is simple and goes back to that bit about my understanding….

Milan is spread out all over the place. There is no real concentration of any particular kind of life in the city – except perhaps the most easily recognizable Duomo kind of life and its major commercial center in the middle of the city. Elsewhere, to find an open mic, an open jam, a theater, a music venue, you have to know where they are, either by word-of-mouth, or long, long experience and contacts.
Arci Turro blues jam second

Of course, it is all up there on the internet in one form or another, but that seems not very clearly communicated either. In any case, the xxx open jam takes place in one of the coolest bars I have discovered so far.

Located in a completely residential and/or business area just off the via Padova area, the venue sits on a side street with complete anonymity. It has a completely laid back club house sort of feel to it, with large dining tables in the front room, a neat bar in the back, a giant billiards table – the kind with no ball pockets – and a multi-level back porch with more tables and chairs. It is also decorated in almost a clubhouse kind of way, with newspaper clippings pinned to a corkboard, books in shelves, and various other bric-a-brac.
Arci Turro blues jam first

In fact, it is something of a clubhouse, as it is the location of an association that is linked to all sorts of events, and just happens to have this bar and jam – the blues jam is run by Giulio Brouzet, who joins in on harmonica and vocals, depending on the situation. There is also an upright piano, and basically it seems every kind of instrument is accepted.

I played with my guitar and sang, and accompanying me were a trumpet player, a violin player, a harmonica player, a drummer, and a lead guitar player. There may have been more, but as you sit in something close to a circle halfway between the two main rooms of the venue, I’m not sure I saw all the people who were playing along when I did my number! And, yes, I did not do a blues song, since I don’t know how to play any – so although the emphasis here is about 90 percent blues, the jam is open to other things, or at least a broad definition of blues.
Arci Turro blues jam … after the jam around midnight….

In any case, the atmosphere is so cool at the Arci Turro in both the jam and the bar in general, that I will be sure to return whenever I can. It also happens to be on the same night of the week as the Joy Milano jam that I have written about several times, but as it turns out, the Arci Turro ends around 23:30 and the Joy Milano only really gets swinging into high action at around that time, so you can go from the one to the other. As did several of the musicians last Wednesday, I was told. But I was so comfortable at the Arci Turro that I hung around for another hour or so talking to people on the back porch and drinking some of the many available wines….

Another, Even Better, Night Playing at the Bachelite Clab (sic) open mic in Milan

April 14, 2017
bradspurgeon

Bachelite CLab Milano

Bachelite CLab Milano

MILAN – I finally had the chance to attend my second Bachelite Clab open mic in Milan last night nearly four months after my first time there. As I have mentioned many times before on this blog, Milan is not really that rich in open mics and open jams. But the ones it does have, are fun – maybe for that very reason of their rarity. In any case, last night, what turned out to be my second taste of this new open mic in Milan also turned into basically something like a 1-hour gig, complete with a drummer and pianist backing me up with my guitar….

Running every second Thursday, this Bachelite bar open mic has so far had a perfect score for me in terms of enjoyment. And much fun as I had the first time at the Bachelite, last night was even better. They changed the location of the stage from the high “bird’s nest” mezzanine at the back of the bar to the front area between the bar and the entrance to the venue.

first at Bachelite Clab open mic in Milan

So it was that the piano and drum set were also located in that quite sizeable area, and for the musician you now have a view of the whole venue, including the bird’s nest part, which is now a mezzanine for customers to sit at tables. The effect is that the open mic is much more intimate. This new stage area is also located next to the front pane glass window and the bar entrance, so you can see and play to the people standing outside smoking cigarettes.

second at Bachelite Clab open mic in Milan

In any case, I managed to play in two sets – the closing set being just two songs – a total of probably close to an hour. And most of that with a pianist and the drummer. Great fun. I do wish there were more Italian musicians showing up to this open mic, but the word still has to pass around, no doubt.

third at Bachelite Clab open mic in Milan

The bar, in any case, and its owner, are clearly made for music. There is also a weekly blues jam, as I have pointed out on my Thumbnail guide to open mics in Milan….

A Jam in Milan, a Jam in Paris – and the Jamming Goes On….

February 13, 2017
bradspurgeon

Le Paradis

Le Paradis

PARIS – Back in Paris now, I attended a great open mic/jam on Saturday that I have written about several times. It has never ever let me down, even though it can vary from week to week. But the feeling at Le Paradis bar jam is invariably worth the attendance. And when I think of it, the second version of the Joy jam bar in Milan on Wednesday was even better than the first edition. In any case, despite their differences, there is a similarity of feeling between the two: People loving to play and people loving to listen, to music.
In bars, in open jam situations with no stage, just musicians getting up and playing together, musicians who do not know each other, and the clients who do not know the musicians.
Joy jam milan second

I’m just running on at the mouth at the moment, trying to make text areas on this page with which to divide up the space where I will put the videos from each of these open jam sessions.
joy jam milan first

I waited longer than usual to post, and so therefore, I have been terribly irresponsible, and only the general, fantastic vibe of the two nights has remained with me. Along with the point that a jam session, whether it is in Milan or Paris or Shanghai or Seoul or Melbourne or New York or London, is ALWAYS a moment of great emotional celebration, togetherness and release.
joy jam milan fourth

Too bad the rest of the world could not learn from that!
atmosphere at le paradis jam

Check out the videos….
fifth at le Paradis

third at le Paradis

sixth at le paradis

second at le paradis

Joy jam milan third

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music

February 4, 2017
bradspurgeon

Milan

Milan

I have updated my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I’m really pleased to be able to add another open jam session just weeks after I updated this page in a city where I have such a hard time finding open mics and open jams. That’s the Joy Milano bar jam that I attended a few days ago. I hope it lasts!!!

So take a visit to my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

So check it out!

Joy in Milan at the Joy Jam at the Joy Milano

February 2, 2017
bradspurgeon

Joy Milano bar

Joy Milano bar

MILAN – Definitely I think I have the most fun when I am in a city where there are not usually that many different open mics or open jam sessions, and suddenly I discover a new one. If I am in Paris, London, Toronto or New York, or even Melbourne, and I find a new open mic or jam, I’m really happy to attend. But unless it is absolutely extraordinary and different, it’s not the same buzz at all of the kind I experience in a city like Milan, where last night I attended the first ever weekly open jam at the Joy Milano bar. And this time, the joy was not just in the discovery of a jam session at a bar in Milan, but in this one being absolutely completely different than any I have attended before, with some amazing musicians – not the last of which is the man who organises the jam, Raffaele Kohler, a well-known Milan trumpet player.
Joy Milano Jam Second

The Joy bar is located in part of a municipal building that includes an auditorium for local events, and public speeches. But the bar is independent, privately owned. So it sets up its own events that have nothing to do with the municipality. For this jam to succeed, therefore, it will require musicians to know it exists – it’s not located in the kind of place where passersby will hear the music and drop in.
Third at Joy Milano Jam

I was at first worried that because the first two musicians present were brass wind instrument players, that this might be a jazz jam, and that I could not fit in. Then in walked a banjo player with some penny whistles, there was a cajon player, and then two electrical guitar players, and others followed. And the music was every style anyone wanted it to be. Playing my own songs with the “brass section” turned out to be quite wild and educational, and another bit of evidence of the importance and fun of open jam sessions.
Joy Milano Jam first

The first edition of the Joy Milano jam last night, as you will see from the videos, was a fabulous success, with the sit-around-the table open free-for-all feel of jams I find occasionally, but rarely with such a fun feel. (By the way, check out the difference in quality between the videos, some of which were done on my new Osmo camera, the others were done on my old Zoom.) The people running the bar let the jam go without the least comment on volume, and while I had to leave at midnight, I understand it was to go on a lot later. A great sign.
Joy Milano Jam Sixth


Joy Milano Jam Seventh

Joy in Milan Jam Fifth

Joy in Milan fourth

Update of Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music

December 28, 2016
bradspurgeon

Milan

Milan

I have updated my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. I’m pretty disappointed that the moment I update this guide is also the moment I lose the mainstay listing of the Fermento bar, which stopped its open mic/open jam. But thankfully, I do get to add a new open mic, the even cooler one at the Bachelite CLab bar that takes place every second Thursday….

So take a visit to my Thumbnail Guide to Milan Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.

So check it out!

(PS: Update to the update!: I’ve also added the new quasi open mic/open jam of the Spazio Ligera, which I discovered in September, and which is one of my favorite bars in Milan now, although the open mic/open jam is not regular – as you can see by my description on the Guide.)

Finally, a New – for Me (and, in fact, its Patrons) – Open Mic Experience in Milan

December 17, 2016
bradspurgeon

Bachelite CLab Milano

Bachelite CLab Milano

MILAN – It has always been one of my greatest frustrations in my worldwide open mic travels that my annual visits to Italy coincide with the Italian equivalent of the French month of August vacation. That is to say, I always arrive in early September, when Milan is still in its annual June, July, August, September and October annual vacation. This is the period when all of the open mics and jam sessions in the city are closed down for the festive half year of inactivity that affects the entire city. Added to that is the fact that there just are not that many open mics in Milan. But now that I am in Milan for personal reasons in the month of December, I have finally been able to attend an open mic of a kind that I would never have attended before.

Having said that, the new open mic at the Bachelite CLab bar has only been going for a couple of months or so. But last night’s edition showed me that this must be one of the most fun, best open mics in the city. The bar is a lively, cool, stylish and easy going joint in the middle of a bunch of apartment buildings near the Porta Vittoria metro. The stage is not on the ground floor, but in a highly perched mezzanine above the bar and drinking area. This makes for a kind of area for the musician – complete with piano – that allows for a feeling of both complete freedom on your own as you perform, but also a contact with the audience below, any time you choose to connect with them with your eyes.
Italian song at Bachelite CLab

And you know they are listening when you see them looking up at the perch. The sound system is devotedly taken care of by the Doc – the guy who runs the open mic – and others, and there is a mic, a board to plug in several instruments, and it was no holds barred in terms of the kind of formation of musicians and the music. Both Italian stuff, and the usual U.S.-Brit-Canada whatever pop rock folk blues stuff….
Another bit at Bachelite CLab Milano open mic

Although it is completely an open mic, it is also totally open to the jam style of event too, where several musicians can go up and play with each other, as happened with me in a second set with a guy on a cajon.
Although I think that the open mic is supposed to go on officially until only around 11:30 – starting at 9:00 PM – last night they decided there were enough musicians and enough enthusiasm to keep going until 1 or 2 AM. The great sign of it all is that I cannot remember until what time we played. If that is not the highest accolade to an open mic, I don’t know what is!

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