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The Film: P’tit Bonheur la Chance Closing

May 15, 2013

p'tit bonheur la chance

p’tit bonheur la chance

PARIS – Readers of this blog may well have grown sick and tired of the myriad posts I have written over the last two to three years about one Paris open mic in particular. That is the P’tit Bonheur la Chance open mic, run on Tuesday nights, first by Ollie, then when Ollie went to Berlin, by Ollie. Yes, yes, somehow the one Ollie left, and the other Ollie took over. Also known as Yaco, the second Ollie defied all expectations that a great open mic must be entirely about the person who runs it – and he made as big a success of it as the first Ollie did. So that is when it became clear – I think – that an open mic is about the MC, the bar shape and layout, the proprietor and/or manager, the style, the musicians who come, the neighborhood… okay, you get the idea. Well, last night was the bar’s last open mic, and I decided to make a short film of the evening. Pierre, who owns Au P’tit Bonheur la Chance, is moving on to bigger and better things – if I understood correctly. So this is not totally one of those sad stories of complaints from the neighbors – although there were some of those.

In any case, I think I want to shut up now and let the film take over and tell the story. Last night was the last night of the open mic, and I was eager to do something different and special in terms of this blog. So last night I did an interview with Yaco/Ollie – or is it Ollie/Yaco – and I caught some of the great moments of the evening on my Zoom Q3HD recording device, and decided to not do what I usually do, which is to inundate this page with videos, but rather to spend the day editing bits and pieces all together to make a little documentary of the last evening. All bits from this shaky little roughshod documentary come from last night – all the performances, interview(s), etc., all represent the last night at the P’tit Bonheur la Chance open mic. I forgot to bring my wind protector from the camera, so there are some brutal wind sounds, brutal cuts, it is full of flaws, but I HAD to get this one down. I wish I could have got and fit everyone on this film – in fact, from all the P’tit Bonheur open mics…but it was not possible.

A Great Open Mic Gone

Paris is losing one of its best open mics – but I am sure there will be more to come. Oh, and by the way, as you will see in the little – actually waaaaay too long film (for Internet purposes) – there was some kind of prize-giving last night to the people who had come to the open mic the most and contributed the most, etc. I got that, and so did Wayne, John and Sven. I hope I have not forgotten anyone – I made frequent trips from the music to the bar to the street, playing, talking, having a great time – as usual. There must have been close to 30 musicians, but I only managed to grab a few of them for this.

Oh, and I have to mention that 1) a massive thanks to Brislee Adams for using my Zoom to film me – and somehow I was elsewhere when he played his great open mic song – and 2), the bit in the film towards the end where my interview cuts off brutally with Yaco/Ollie happened because there was no more space on the 8 gigabyte SD card!!!! But as he had just talked about the mic cutting out abruptly and brutally one recent night, it seemed like a great way to end the interview!

Hope you like it, and please bear in mind that in the interest of getting this out on the site tonight before midnight, it is a bit roughshod – but it is intended as being as off-the-cuff as the average open mic night at the P’tit Bonheur la Chance…..

PS, the bar will not close until Saturday night, so there is still time to go and imbibe – and in principle, there is supposed to be quite a celebration on Saturday night….

A Return to the Ptit Bonheur la Chance

February 15, 2012

I have missed a few nights recently at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic in Paris due to problems of a lingering cold, a late start, or various other things. But I returned last night and did not regret it, especially thanks to the return of someone else – Ollie Fury, the man who started the whole thing maybe two years ago….

Ollie has been away in another country – like Stephen Prescott of the Galway open mic – lately but returned to delight us with his extraordinary voice and cool guitar fingerpicking.

There were some other interesting musicians as well, including one very adept at beat box stuff, an Italian rap thingy, and some new voices from elsewhere that I had not seen before.

My own personal set was done with a terrible feeling of how small my repertoire is and the knowledge that any of my songs I do there will have been heard several times before. That is the advantage of my worldwide travels to open mics where I play only once a year or never before – people are not hearing me do the same songs over and over again. But I find it difficult to take time off to close myself up in my apartment and learn, say, 10 new songs. Especially given that my memory is one of my weakest functioning traits…. Another weak trait is rambling on and on with little to say. So I will stop that right now!

Ptit Bonheur at the Ptit Bonheur

January 18, 2012

Yesterday I wrote a post about the ups and downs of open mic attendance figures. Today I can write another in that series, as I attended the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic last night and it suddenly returned to its normal level of high attendance, standing room only, and a number of very cool acts.

It all started fairly slowly, but as the evening built up and moved onwards there was an inexorable flow toward a huge audience and more and more people inspired to play inspiring music. The whole first came to an end with the acoustic session in the basement, but that was so much fun that once it went beyond the allowed time to play there – out of respect for neighbors – it carried on in the ground floor bar with a fabulous performance especially by the singing of Morgane sitting at the bar, with Thomas Arlo on the guitar.

This moment reminded me profoundly of the closing of the evening at the Caffe Vivaldi open mic in New York City last August when Kate Sland sang “86d” at the bar with Erik Frandsen providing a guitar and singing accompaniment.

Thomas Arlo had taken over the running of the open mic for the first time, and he lucked into quite a successful evening and did a great job. Actually, I don’t think it was JUST luck, as Thomas had been sending emails out to people saying: “Come!”

Anyway, it was a fun night, and I played my newly learned cover song, “Wicked Game,” of Chris Isaak, and it went over qutie well – thank goodness, as I was worried.

Among the interesting new singers was Kit Buchan with his original song, “Virginia,” and Maddie Speed, from England, whom I had met at Leander Lyons’ show at the Baroc on Friday. Small world. She had some interesting melodies and lyrics and played on a cool Dean guitar, with her lovely voice and presence – which I had missed at the Baroc on Saturday, when she had opened for Leander… as had Ollie, the original founder and MC of the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic. Even smaller world!

Passing on the Flame at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance

September 28, 2011

I have little time today to say much on this blog as I prepare to rush off to the Highlander for the fifth anniversary of one of Paris’s best open mics. But I must get in a word or two about last night’s session at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, which has only been around about a fifth the time of the Highlander, but which immediately established itself as another of Paris’s best open mics. Last night Ollie Fury was back in town after a couple of months or so in Germany – was it only six weeks? – where he has decided to stay for sometime to come. He showed up at his open mic, yes, Ollie started it and MCd it from the beginning, to pass on the flame of the MC job to Yaco Mouchard, (also known as Ollie Joe!), who has been running it for several weeks.

The evening was a warm and cool one – if that is possible – as it usually is. And there were moments of moist-eyed significance in the handoff. There were great moments of music as well, and I have put up a few of the high points on videos below.

Oh, and I was again flattered to find a musician from out of town who had discovered the open mic and others through my blog and thumbnail guide of open mics. That was Hugo Kensdale from Manchester, who brought a new voice to the show.

A Good Night at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, Especially Kuku and Ilan’s Jam

September 14, 2011

Ollie Fury, who founded the open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, has moved to Berlin and hence has not run the most successful recent open mic in Paris for several weeks. The job at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar has now been taken over by his friend, Ollie Joe…. So if the names are similar, so is the open mic. It was quite a success last night, my first return in a few weeks. A number of the regulars were there, but there were some very interesting new acts, like the American-born Nigeria-raised KUKU, who returned to the U.S. to live many years ago. He is living for a while in Paris, and attending open mics. One of the high points of the evening was when KUKU and Ilan, of Israel, did an impromptu jam, that came out like a real bona fide “world music” vibe.

There was a very nice instrumental by Chardes and Nicolas, and Fabien Fabre presented one of his hit songs about a town in Essex, England.

I am in one of my perpetual rushes, so I cannot write that much more about the evening, and will let the videos do the talking. Unfortunately it is so dark in the bar where the open mic takes place that lighting is always a problem for the videos, and even worse, I was sitting in such a position last night that I had glare off the only light near the performance area.

A 30-Hour Day is Too Short From Paris to New York

August 10, 2011

I have just arrived in New York City for a week of open mics. With the time difference from Paris to NYC it means I have a 30-hour day today. But it also turns out that is not nearly enough for all I need and want to do. For instance, I would love to give a detailed report of the open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance in Paris last night, but a), I have to run out to my first open mic in NYC, and b) I don’t think the wi-fi in my hotel here is going to be nearly fast enough to upload all the videos I want to upload.

Anyway, it started off being kind of like an oldies night at Ollie’s open mic last night as Ollie sang an oldie, Thomas Arlo sang an oldie, a Frenchwoman named Vanessa sang an oldie, Wayne did to. In fact, it was Jesse Kincaid who mentioned that theme to me early on.

So then I decided to try an oldie too, although it is only a 1990s oldie, called, Runaway Train, by Soul Asylum. I had begun to sing this song two days before… or was it the day before…? An and so my memory had no time to memorize it. But I wanted so desperately to sing it that I decided to read the lyrics on my iPhone. I failed at that, Ollie saw my problem and came and held the iPhone in front of me, I still failed, made a bloody mess of the song, and should know better than trying such a thing. It was a most embarrassing and horrible experience. So what! It was an open mic, after all. (Even though that was TWO bad nights in a row for me…what do I have?)

The other acts were of a pretty high level and the night was full and crowded as usual.

Looking forward to many discoveries here in NYC. Keep posted as I post it… 🙂

PS, yes, my wi-fi connection is far too slow for the uploads, so I will have to wait until later to upload the videos. Bear with me.

Too Late for Ollie’s, Just on Time for the Baroc and Its Live Web TV Show

July 27, 2011

I was sure that the summer months would mean Ollie Fury’s open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance would die out a little, so I arrived well after 10 PM. But I was wrong about the popularity of the place dying out. And I paid for it. I had taken a cab to Ollie’s with Vanessa as we decided to pick up where we left off at the Galway and try our songs again. But when we arrived at Ollie’s the place was so packed with singers and spectators that you could not get down the stairs, and worse, there was just no more room for any more performers on the list. I waited until a few cleared out and I took a brief bit of video footage to show how packed the tiny room was. Then we took another cab and headed off to the Baroc bar open mic near Belleville.

We arrived at Le Baroc bar after 11 PM, and while there were a number of musicians there and they were having fun jamming and playing, there was still room for Vanessa and I to try our material again. In fact, we did a total of 25 minutes of stuff, including most importantly the “I’m No Good,” of Amy Winehouse that we learned the day before. I am still horrendously shaky on the guitar playing and had to read it on my cell phone. But Rejean, the MC of the open mic, heard Vanessa’s voice and decided to join us immediately on piano. So it was a nice moment.

What’s really cool is that although I recorded it myself, I had to do all 25 minutes, and I don’t want to cut up the video – no time to edit. But Le Baroc has recently started a new feature of their musical evenings that I am sure is going to catch on all over the place: Web TV. So you can actually watch the evening live on the Internet at the Baroc web TV site, and you can also check out the archive videos. So I have put up a link here to some of our stuff. There are two songs on each of these, and the Amy Winehouse does not open the video, so it could be worth it to fastforward to find it….

The first video in this link contains “Just Like a Woman,” and “I’m No Good.” The second video in this link contains my song “Borderline,” and “What’s Up!” – on which we both sing, and we are later joined by a sax player.

Nice Ollie Open Mic in the Summertime

July 20, 2011

I’ve been talking about the open mics not being quite the same as usual in Paris now that it is the middle of the summer. But last night, Ollie’s open mic at the Ptit Bonheur La Chance defied the trend and was full right from the beginning. And there were lots of the cool regular acts and a few of the newer ones and some completely new. I did a number of videos, as usual, played my songs, had fun. But now my back is right up against the wall with preparations for my trip to Germany starting tomorrow, so I have for once not really got time for words. But as per usual, Ollie’s place robs me of words anyway. So take in the videos below, and if a picture tells a thousand words – or sells a thousand words – let’s hope a video tells a million!

Jammin’, Dancin’ and Groovin’ at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance

July 13, 2011

It hurts so bad, just trying to keep to myself all the material I want to use in my documentary of the open mics around the world. But I caught a very cool, laid back little jam at the bar last night after the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic had formally ended in the basement room, the “cave.” Here it was Thomas Arlo playing Chardes Bourdon’s Epiphone at the guitar with Vincent Barriquand of the band Black Butterfly, sitting at the bar and jamming – and Ollie’s dog coming up at the end. And this just topped off a beautiful night with the final songs of Ollie closing off the show eliciting the remaining spectators to their feet to dance. Another beautiful moment of a beautiful evening.

It was summertime at Ollie’s open mic, which meant as with the previous week, a different crowd. But some of the regulars nevertheless. And the fact there were so many different people in the audience made me relax and feel I could repeat myself a little, so I did “Borderline,” I did “What’s Up!” and then I took the big risk with “A Change is Gonna Come.” I still did not feel I had done a good job of that song, that I seem to perfect only in my living room. But I recieved some good responses on it and was told that I should do it more.

I had, in fact, faced a big challenge on what to play since immediately before I went up there was this guy Elian Dalmasso, who was extremely interesting. He is a Parisian who lives in London and has a band there called “The Burnetts.” It was his birthday or something, and he had a little group of people with him, and he gave us all a very good little concert – so good that I thought I should put up here three of his songs. But that meant that I had to really search for the right thing to follow him with. I chose my songs for both the contrast to his, and what I thought might engage the audience. It worked.

Fete de la Musique at Ollie’s Place in Paris

June 22, 2011

Last night was the annual Music Festival and I decided to learn from my experience with the Fete de la Musique from last year: I did not want to walk the crowded, rowdy, chaotic streets of Paris looking for and listening to all manner of music on this mad night of musical letting go.

For many musicians in France, the music festival, au contraire, is something that goes on all year round. The annual organized music festival is for them just an excuse for people who don’t usually care about music to go out and get drunk, hurt, involved in fights and public rowdiness.

So as it fell on a Tuesday this year, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to continue living as usual and to attend the best open mic in Paris at the moment, which takes place on Tuesday nights at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar in the Latin Quarter. As it turned out, Ollie Fury, who hosts the evening, had a job beforehand playing music on the street in front of a crafts shop, because it was, indeed, the Fete de la Musique.

But he ran to the bar and started the open mic on time after singing for an hour and a half, and the bar was already nearly full of waiting musicians and spectators. Still, there were a lot fewer of the regular performers. But there were a sufficient number of interesting acts, and a big audience, to make the evening a memorable one nevertheless.

Most of all, like always at Ollie’s, it was a comfortable, fun, warm evening, and one that felt all the better when once I left the place and set foot in the streets made me appreciate my decision: The streets of Paris even at 2 AM were full of rowdy, drunk, aggressive people and very few musicians by that time. Cabs were all occupied, and the general feeling was one like New Year’s Eve, which did not drum up particularly good memories for me.

So thanks to Ollie and the Ptit Bonheur la Chance and all the musicians and spectators for supporting the regular night of music on an evening where it might well have been cancelled – as other open mics did last year.

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