Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Last Parisians in Paris – Another Limerick in Paris

December 9, 2012

Last night was an embarrassment of riches for me in terms of concerts by friends or acquaintances. I had four choices of places to go. It turned out to be easy to make the choice: I had to attend the last concert ever of the group The Parisians at the International, and from there I had to go to see my friend Paddy Mulcahy and his musicians in French Rumba at the Scoop Café, rue des Dames.

I could also have gone to see All the Roads at the Backstage O’Sullivan’s or Ollie Joe at the Bus Palladium. But once I had gone to the Parisians, and knew that Paddy lives in Limerick and so does not spend THAT much time in Paris, I had to go to his show. Not to mention that he said it would end in a jam, which made me think I could play a bit.

Although the Scoop had to turn down the music fairly early, Paddy led me down to a lower room after the show where I got to sing a couple of songs – making my night. Oh, no, sorry. Making my night! Paddy’s band was great. Accordion, fiddle, vocals, guitars, it was a wild eclectic mix of sounds from around the world and not just from Ireland. Lots of South American influence too. I enjoyed it immensely, it was warm and cosy and friendly.

Which, unfortunately, was NOT the case at the last concert of Parisians. The Parisians are a French band that have existed with one line up of musicians or another since around 2004. They were at the center of the whole baby rocker scene that sprouted up out of Earle Holmes’s open mic at the Shebeen. Interestingly, although the Parisians have been in an on that scene since then, they actually have never had any kind of hit song, or even anything vaguely recognizable by the general French public.

But they are very definitely a very cool underground kind of rock ‘n roll band. They surprised me last night by doing a cover song I do all the time, “Wicked Game,” in a very punk manner. And they had Miggles, one of the original members, join them as well.

But all in all the evening at the International with the Parisians’ last concert was way too successful to be any fun or entice me to stick around very long. I could not get close to the stage there were so many people. I managed to video some stuff from the stairway through the plexiglass window, so I did catch a bit of vibe for this blog. But mostly I got nothing – including a minimal personal interaction with people I know, as there were so many people and it was impossible to sort the friends from the masses. All in all, a big let down and I was glad that I had Paddy’s place to go to for something much more in the tradition of the original Shebeen….

Another Guy’s Open Mic Book and Adventure

January 15, 2012

Open Mic Travels

Open Mic Travels

Regular readers of this blog will know that for the last three years I have been working on a book about my adventure attending open mics all around the world in conjunction with my work as a Formula One journalist. Well, I guess this was bound to happen, but it seems someone else has also been doing an open mic adventure in conjunction with their work, and they have also written a book about it!

Yesterday I found this email in my Facebook messages from a man named Martin Christie: Hi Brad, your blog keeps popping up on google whenevr I search for open mics and I’ve just finished a book called ‘Open Mic Travels,’ so I thought you might be interested. It can be found here:”

What!?!? Well, it turns out, as he said in his closing sentence, we are not exactly covering the same terrain, as his adventure was all around the UK, and mine is all around the world. Still, you can imagine all the emotions I went through after working three years on this “original” idea! My immediate reaction was: “There is no way I will read this guy’s book until I finish writing mine.” Then I thought, no, take a glance, nevertheless. So I went and read the first few sentences of his introduction, and I said, “Crap! He is doing the same thing as I am.” I staggered away. Then later last night I pumped up my courage to take a look in a chapter, and there I found I could breathe again because there are huge differences between his book and mine. In fact, there is no comparison – my book also has this running theme of a personal effort to get over a family loss.

And now, suddenly, my attitude to Martin’s book and adventure has completely changed – except that I STILL will not read it until I finish my own book. It turns out, however, that Martin ALSO has a blog on which he writes about his open mic adventures. And I checked out some of his music as well, and found that we also differ completely in our approaches to music. So again I could breathe. And then, finally, my ultimate feeling of summation was, “Well, part of the reason I was writing my own book was also to inspire other people to do similar things with their lives. So seeing that someone already IS doing something similar can only be praised and promoted. It’s wonderful, in fact. And who knows, maybe we can start a whole new musical, open mic, travel movement or genre?

Anyway, check out Martin Christie’s music samples – most are done with music machines, but he said he uses the guitar sometimes too – and drop by to to buy his book, Open Mic Travels, if the sample you read interests you. I’ll do that once I finish mine! (Which I hope will be the case within a matter of weeks – all the writing is done, I’m still compressing and editing.) Oh, and by the way, some readers of the blog may discover eventually that I have now removed from this blog the introduction to my book that I had posted, and the sample from the Brazil chapter. It turns out that I think that introduction was bad, and the sample from the Brazil chapter was almost wholly unedited and not up to the level of the rest, either. One of the advantages of an Internet blog is that you can put up whatever you want whenever you want – but that is also its disadavantage, because there is no screening process even with oneself.

Anyway, what a cool story to put up today when I spent yet another night trying to get over my cold – which is almost gone…. Oh, I almost forgot, Martin also has a facebook page for his open mic adventure that you can “like.”

PS, all of this reminded me of another friend’s project. Paddy Mulcahy is an Irish musician I met at befriended at the Highlander open mic in Paris last year or the year before, and he has just come out with a short documentary film about a South American song he has translated into English and turned into an interesting, almost Irish, folk song. I’m reminded of that because last year I took around cameras with me to the open mics around the world and am currently working on making a documentary of the open mic journey. I’m posting Paddy’s video here.

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