Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

First Night in Shanghai, Two open mics, one with Sister Fay from Paris/Sweden

April 14, 2011

I must be on a roll. I wrote about how great things had gone in Kuala Lumpur. Now I have had only one night in Shanghai and I have already played at two open mics, one with a friend I met in Paris and have written about on this blog in recent months. I am in a huge rush to get back to Paris now from the Formula One race track as I have two more open mics to do tonight. So I will keep this to a minimum….

The first place I went to last night was Oscar’s Pub, which I wrote about here last year. Last year it was one of the highlights of my trip to Shanghai, with wonderful musicians and a great atmosphere. (Remember Tom & Jerry, the bluegrass musicians from Mongolia?) Well, last night it was a horrendous atmosphere and aside from the MC, I was the only musician at the open mic. The MC, needless to say, is not the same one as last year. Last year it was the genial Paul Meredith. This year the man greeted me with open arms and kindness. But somehow the open mic just did not have what it did. It did not bother me to sing my four songs entirely for my own ears while the pub boiled with talk and carousing. I just needed a place to play.

But what I had not planned for was that just around the corner at a bar called Not Me – the idea is that when you are in this bar you are not yourself!!! – owned and run by Chinese people, there was another open mic, and this one had a very cool, laid back and hip atmosphere. I learned about this one through my friend Frida, whom I have written about on this blog during her time in Paris in recent months. She now lives in Shanghai and we met, and will meet again, to play further open mics.

Known also as Sister Fay, Frida has some clever and sensitive lyrics, and she really did a good job last night. It’s funny because Frida found Ollie’s open mic in Paris through my blog, and when she looked for places to play in Shanghai she also found my blog items about the places here, from my trip last year.

Small world? That cliche does not even begin to tell the story this time.

Unfortunately, the upload of the video files is taking WAY too long. So I will have to put them up tomorrow. Apologies. But I have to take an hour and a half trip back to central Shanghai so not to miss tonight’s open mics….

By the way, check out what Formula One journalist Joe Saward wrote about me in that last night in Kuala Lumpur….

Jamming With Tom & Jerry in Shanghai

April 17, 2010

First, a word of warning: The following blog post is far, far, far too long. But I had more than an hour to kill in the back seat of a taxi during a manic drive up the emergency lanes and down the soft shoulders of the off ramps from downtown Shanghai to the Formula One circuit. So my pen went wild – or rather my fingers, my verbal diahorea – and I just spewed out every thought that came into my head.

The Executive Summary would read this way: Went back to Oscar’s Pub and got a chance in a lifetime to play as a quartet with Paul Meredith and Tom & Jerry from Inner Mongolia. Tom played mandolin and violin and Jerry played banjo. Paul played guitar and sang, and I played guitar and sang. We did some of their songs and some of the ones that I usually do. I had the time of my life playing a full set of probably 40 minutes with this trio at one of Shanghai’s best known, best loved, expat bars – with a Chinese touch.

My only regret was that I did not record any videos of me playing with the band. On the other hand, Paul has invited me back again tonight to play with the band, and I will probably take up that offer, and make some videos.

In the meantime, I’m putting in three videos below to show the range of what unlikely and unusual and cool band does. Beneath the three videos the nut cases among you – like me – will want to read my more than 2000 word report written during the mad taxi ride to distract myself from the fast-moving, ever dangerous, fear-inducing scenery unfolding outside the windows of the run-away cab. (By the way, in the second video, a member of the pub crowd got up to sing with Paul & the Mongolians – showing the casual nature of this set at Oscar’s.)

And here is the far too long post that I wrote in the cab, and which really belongs in the book section of this blog, but which will just be a “bonus” of this post:

Continue Reading

Powered by