Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Worldwide Open Mic Journey 2014: The Multimedia Consolidation – Barcelona

May 11, 2014
bradspurgeon

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

BARCELONA – My worldwide open mic journey began in China in 2008 after the Formula One race in Shanghai, and little did I know that it was a journey that would continue for six more years and cover most of the globe, every continent except Africa (where I once lived and played music in an open mic decades earlier) and Antarctica, and that it would spawn a book, a blog, an album, a documentary film, numerous podcasts, music videos and other multimedia projects.

This year, 2014, I have decided to finish all of the projects and tie them together into a consolidation of multimedia. As part of my personal impetus to gather it all together for myself, but also put it into perspective on this blog, I have decided to create a page for each city I have visited on the journey, tying together samples of the whole multimedia adventure linked to that city.

So here is the page devoted to tying together the pieces of the open mic adventure that I have lived in Barcelona since I first started. At each subsequent Formula One race that I visit this year, I will add a new such page. Keep posted….

Worldwide Open Mic Journey 2014: The Multimedia Consolidation – Shanghai

April 20, 2014
bradspurgeon

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

SHANGHAI – My worldwide open mic journey began in China in 2008 after the Formula One race in Shanghai, and little did I know that it was a journey that would continue for six more years and cover most of the globe, every continent except Africa (where I once lived and played music in an open mic decades earlier) and Antarctica, and that it would spawn a book, a blog, an album, a documentary film, numerous podcasts, music videos and other multimedia projects.

This year, 2014, I have decided to finish all of the projects and tie them together into a consolidation of multimedia. As part of my personal impetus to gather it all together for myself, but also put it into perspective on this blog, I have decided to create a page for each city I have visited on the journey, tying together samples of the whole multimedia adventure linked to that city.

So here is the page devoted to tying together the pieces of the open mic adventure that I have lived in Shanghai since I first started. At each subsequent Formula One race that I visit this year, I will add a new such page. Keep posted….

The 2013 Edition of the Worldwide Musical Adventure Begins – An Outline….

March 10, 2013
bradspurgeon

someone's guitar on a plane

someone’s guitar on a plane

Here it is, my fifth year in a row of traveling the world to play in open mics and jam sessions. It starts tomorrow with my flight from Paris to Melbourne, then the following week I go to Kuala Lumpur. As regular readers of this blog will know, I have been documenting my musical adventures around the world on this blog for the last three years, and for the year before that I began writing a book about it. This year I will again visit 20 countries in the next nine months, and play in a massive number of open mics and open jam sessions, and I will write about what I find here….

To recap a little, the first year was the book. The second year was the blog. The third year was the blog and a documentary film. The fourth year was the blog and me recording myself playing music with musicians in the open mics around the world, as well as a series of podcasts of people running the open mics and playing in them.

So where does this whole trans-media epic stand at the moment? Another recap: I take these worldwide trips as a journalist reporting on Formula One auto racing for my newspaper, and in my free time I seek out places to play, in these cities and countries where I would not otherwise expect to find open mics – in many cases. And each time I like to have a new project to work on to document it, or do something “else” with it. This year will be no exception. I again have projects in the works. What are they?

First, I want to say that my goal this year is perhaps more ambitious than in all the other year combined. Because my No. 1 goal will be to COMPLETELY finish all of the projects that have accumulated but never ceased to spin out. In other words, I’m still working on the book – it’s written, but I’m now editing it – and I want that finished finally by the end of the year, but hopefully within the next couple of months. I want to work with all the recordings I did and make some kind of CD – ie, the podcasts and some of the stuff of me playing with other people. And I want to finish the film, finally. To that end, I have made a number of very important steps in recent weeks, and I’m very, very excited about them, and I will write about that in the coming weeks.

For this year, I will not simply sit back on my laurels and be satisfied with finishing the other projects, but I will start one or two new ones. In addition to simply continuing to play at open mics and jam sessions everywhere I go, and recording it here on the blog, the first new project is that I will be adding a new page to the blog at every location I go to, which will be a Thumbnail Guide to the open mics and jam sessions, etc., that I know of in those cities. Having now had four years, and this will be the fifth, of accumulated and growing knowledge about each city’s open mics, I finally feel like it is time to put it all up on the blog in a usable form. Of course, my Paris guide to open mics will always be the most up-to-date, since that’s where I live and play the most. But the other pages will, I hope, serve their purpose well, and give a whole knew heft to this site.

The other project I plan to do, but this one may or may not be feasible, is that I plan to write a new song in each country and city I visit, and the song will in some way be inspired by the place. I have no idea how big a task that will prove to be, but I really want to face the challenge and try it. If it produces one good song, then that’s cool enough – the rest will just be a great exercise and discipline…. I will decide whether or not to make the songs heard on the site, but I expect that I will only manage to lay down the melodic idea and write the full text, but not perfect the song at each place – since I’m often not present in the countries long enough to do that…especially given all the work I have to do for my day job.

So that is it in a nutshell: 20 countries in 9 months; a new web of evergreen material for a worldwide open mic thumbnail guide of where to perform; 20 new songs inspired by the places I visit; and finally, all of my previous years’ projects finished and finalized to tie together the entire multimedia, trans-media, worldwide musical adventure. Sound like I’m a dreamer? I hope so!!!!

PS, here is the schedule of places I will visit, and when (although the date usually but not always represents the last day I am in the country – and while there are only 19 countries here, the 20th is France, where I will play in between times):

    Mar. 17 Australian Grand Prix Melbourne
    Mar. 24 Malaysian Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur
    Apr. 14 Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai
    Apr. 21 Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain
    May 12 Spanish Grand Prix Barcelona
    May 26 Monaco Grand Prix Nice/Monaco
    Jun 9 Canadian Grand Prix Montreal
    Jun. 30 British Grand Prix Silverstone/Oxford
    Jul. 7 German Grand Prix Nurburgring/Cologne
    Jul. 28 Hungarian Grand Prix Budapest
    Aug. 25 Belgian Grand Prix Spa-Francorchamps/Liege
    Sep. 8 Italian Grand Prix Monza/Milan
    Sep. 22 Singapore Grand Prix Singapore
    Oct. 6 Korean Grand Prix South Korea/Seoul/Mokpo
    Oct. 13 Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka/Nagoya/Osaka
    Oct. 27 Indian Grand Prix Delhi
    Nov. 3 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Abu Dhabi
    Nov. 17 U.S. Grand Prix Austin
    Nov. 24 Brazilian Grand Prix Sao Paolo

A Village Voice, a Bloomsday and a Bit of Music

June 17, 2012
bradspurgeon

village voice bookshop

village voice bookshop

Hugely mixed emotions yesterday night as I had a couple of literary evenings mixed with music to attend. The first was not mixed with music, in fact, but was the most bittersweet. That was a visit to The Village Voice Bookshop, for a party to “celebrate” the closure of this Paris institution of the last 30 years. The store is closing as it can no longer survive as an independent bookshop in our Internet and ebook world. The second event was a celebration of Bloomsday, at the Swan Bar, where I was invited to play music and to listen to readings of James Joyce prose and other Irish things.

The Village Voice was one of my first Paris hangouts, and I went there in the second year of its existence, starting in 1983. I had seen many readings there, met many people, and got to know Odile Hellier, the woman who started the shop and has run it all these years. She is a fascinating woman who loves American literature, and decided to open a store with the true feel of the American literary expat bookshop in Paris – I guess she is a mixture of both Sylvia Beach AND Adrienne Monnier, who ran their stores only a few blocks away a few decades ago….

When I arrived for the closing celebration, I found that not even my personal invitation to the thing would save me from the impossibility of getting through the doors, so full was the two-floor shop of admirers and book lovers. In fact, they were bursting out into the street. All I could manage to do was glimpse inside and see Odile reading something from the staircase to the throngs below. I made a video of this, to give an idea.

I went off and ate a wonderful pizza dinner at a nearby pizzeria, where I also devoured the London Review of Books that I had bought in Montreal last week. Then I returned, sweating from that hot and spicy pizza, and found that I could now penetrate into the Village Voice. There I found the place now had enough room available for a visitor to wander around, and meet old friends. I started by saying hello to Odile outside the shop, where she was talking with someone and no doubt getting some fresh air after her various readings.

Inside, I found some old friends, including Jim Haynes, the American Paris expat supreme, whom, I recalled, I had met for the first time at the Village Voice in the back room cafe it used to have, in 1984, while I was reading Jim’s very own autobiography, “Thanks For Coming.” Jim and I kept contact over the years, I have been to his famous Sunday dinners at his atelier in the 15th arrondissement, and our lives have criss-crossed occasionally.

I also saw David Applefield, whom I had met at Shakespeare and Company in 1983 in the writer’s room, but whom I had probably seen more often in those early days at the Village Voice. David, at the time I met him, was working on the first Paris issue of his literary review called “Frank,” which would go on to have many more issues and a long life in Paris. Last night he passed on to me a book he has just published, right off the press, in a new imprint, and which was written by another Paris literary alumnus, John Strand.

Strand had started another Paris literary review in the early 1980s, called Exile, or Paris Exile, can’t remember quite. But I do remember him celebrating one of the issues at some kind of evening at the Village Voice in the early 1980s. Strand has gone on to become a multiple prize-winning playwright based in Washington D.C., and his novel is called, “Commieland.” I’m looking forward to reading it, and seeing where Applefield’s imprint, called, Kiwai Media, goes.

Unfortunately, I could stay long at the Village Voice as I had agreed so sing Irish songs at the Bloomsday evening at the Swan Bar, a newer American-culture hangout in Paris. In a brisk walk from the rue Princesse to Montparnasse, I managed to digest that pepperoni pizza and all the desert items – macarons – that I ate at the Village Voice. I arrived to find Sheldon Forrest hard at work accompanying a singer, and the Swan Bar was just brimming full of people.

This bode well, and as I waited to perform my first song, it occurred to me that I had a nice little story to tell about James Joyce, and I could connect it to the build up of my song. It was a story about how the journalist and novelist Eugene Jolas had spoken to Joyce one day and asked him what he accomplished that day, and Joyce responded that he had worked all day and managed to complete a sentence. “Only one sentence??!!!” “Well, yes,” said Joyce. “I knew what the seven words were, but I could not figure out what order I wanted to put them in.” I then told the audience that I had several songs, but did not know what order to sing them in. The one that went down the best, and which I did sing the best, was “Only Our Rivers Run Free,” by Mickey MacConnell.

There were lots of other musicians, lots of readers, and the evening was in general a bigger success – I felt – than last year’s such celebration at the Swan Bar.

I returned home, had a good sleep, got up today and finally, finally, after nearly four years finished the book I have been working on about my first year of musical adventures around the world. I also came up with a new, final, working title: “OUT OF A JAM: An Around-the-World Story of Healing and Rebirth through Music” In the end, I must say, that it felt appropriate to complete the book on such a literary weekend….

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