Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

100th Open Mic at Pomme d’Eve in Paris – and My First There

April 16, 2023

Pomme d'Eve Open Mic

Pomme d’Eve Open Mic

PARIS – I had the strangest experience on Friday evening attending for the first time the Pomme d’Eve open mic in the bar of the same name on the Rue Laplace in Paris. This was the very same cellar bar that had hosted the first ever open mic that in around 2010 immediately transferred up the street to the P’tit Bonheur la Chance bar and became one of the best in the city for years. But I loved the atmosphere of the Pomme d’Eve, with its kind of medieval cave and thick pillars, and small stage, and a great mixture of both intimacy and space. I had seen that my friend Riyad Sanford had been running this “new” open mic in the Pomme d’Eve for probably around two years, as a new addition post-Covid to the Paris open mics, and I had intended for two years to attend! Friday was the first time I could, and the strange thing was not so much the absence of Riyad – who had gone on a trip and been replaced this week by Vedit Raisinghani as host – but the fact that for the first time probably in more than a decade at a Paris open mic, I did not know or recognize a single musician in the open mic!

Yes, here I was, some 13 or more years later at this very same venue from which so much had grown, and at which now Riyad – who for years hosted the open mic at the Klein bar, as well as others like the Galway and occasionally the Highlander – hosted this one and so I assumed that I would find all of the familiar faces. In fact, no. Not a single face I knew. Or not, rather, until I later learned that the violin player who accompanied those who wanted to be accompanied, had remembered me from the Osmoz Café open mic of Sheldon Forrest, and I did have vague memories of him.
Man on piano at Pomme d’Eve Open mic

But what I realized had happened was that a whole generation of performers had suddenly supplanted the previous generation of performers, in the period in which I had greatly reduced my own visiting of open mics due to both Covid and other activities – notably TAC Teatro activities – and so I realized only by not recognizing anyone and also seeing for the first time a new generation that looked sooooo much younger than the previous one, that I had been away a LONG time!
MC and Ales on violin at Pomme d’Eve

But what I found was greatly reassuring: Faces change, generations come and go, but the music and the spirit of the open mic continues in the same way. Signup was advertised as being at 8:30. But by the time I arrived at about 8:35 I was already the 12th, and designated last performer, as there is a strict adherence to the need to close the open mic for the evening at midnight. With three songs each, I just barely managed to get in under the time limit to have my own three songs. But it was a huge pleasure, and there were still lots of audience members by the end of the open mic when I went up, since, I was told, the bar is one of the few that stays open until 5am!
French one at Pomme d’Eve open mic in Paris

From where I was sitting and taking a few videos, you will not see that there was a very nicely sized crowd of musicians and spectators. And my only criticism is that I found the sound system could have been better for the vocals – as you will hear it is ever so slightly muffled. But that may well be because I was not sitting directly in front of the speakers.

This place also has something that is usually missing in most such open mic venues, which is a piano. So it is well worth it for a broad cross-section of performers. And the added touch last on Friday of having Alex, the violin player, was really great. I insisted he play along with me, as I thought he was about to leave as he had not yet recognized me either as the guy he had seen at Osmoz Café. I was glad he joined me on all three songs: “Mad World,” “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” and my “Borderline.” I was really touched when afterwards one of the other young musicians came up and told me the Dylan song is his favorite … or was it one of his favorites? In any case, it showed me that the generations may change, but the same great songs go on touching them all one after the other.
Duet at Pomme d’Eve Open Mic

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention. Another shocking moment for me came right at the beginning when the MC announced that this was the 100th edition of the open mic! Boy, had I really been gone for a LONG time!

Check it out!

Another at Pomme d’Eve open mic in Paris

Laughter in a Gothic Cellar in Paris – the Art of the Word and Music Too….

February 28, 2014

pomme d'eve

pomme d’eve

PARIS – Now that was fun. Really fun. And, actually, funny too. I rarely ever go to stand up comedy open mics, and when I do go it is usually because I have heard that there is a chance to play music as well, and I’m desperate to play a song or two. Last night, it was neither open mic nor desperation on my part, but I ended up attending a very cool evening of comedy by a Paris group of comedians, and I ended up playing a bit of music too.

They call themselves, “l’Art de la Parole,” which means “The Art of the Word,” and last night was the sixth edition of their gathering together for an evening of standup comedy – and magic – and a little music. I ended up attending because my friend Raphaëlle was invited to play some songs, and she invited me along. It then turned out that one or two comedians failed to show up, so one of the organisers, and MC, invited me to play a couple of songs as well.

That invitation came after I had thoroughly and relaxedly enjoyed the first half of the evening. Needless to say, while I accepted to play my music for the end of the evening, I spent most of the rest of the evening in a state of nervous stress about playing in a medieval cellar with arched ceilings amidst a group of people who came to laugh, not cry! My experience in the past of playing music during comedy nights is that either the audience has been so laughed out by the time I get to the stage that they’re ready to laugh at my sorrowful sounds of music and it doesn’t go over so well, or I have laughed so much that I cannot reach the depths of my soul to find those sorrowful sounds of music and emotion and I end up wishing I hadn’t come.

Last night would turn out to have none of that existential problem once I got on stage. For the comedians had been of a high and entertaining level from the beginning, and the room itself is an absolutely fabulous one. I had actually played in a music open mic in this bar three or more years ago on a single-night open mic that started there and then moved to the Ptit Bonheur la Chance. For this bar was called La Pomme d’Eve, and it is located on the rue Laplace, just up the street from what used to be called the Ptit Bonheur la Chance and is now La Tireuse.

Pomme d'Eve Walls

Pomme d’Eve Walls

The Exceptional Location of the Pomme d’Eve Historical Monument of a Bar

And the Pomme d’Eve is a bar that everyone in Paris should go and visit at least once, because it is a 12th Century Gothic cellar that is so impressive in its architecture and history, that it has been classified as an historic monument by the French government. The bar is run by a congenial South African named George, and he loves putting on shows: The stage is fabulous, and the feel of the place is really 1960s beatnik New York. That is what inspired me to sing “Just Like a Woman,” and my own song, “Crazy Lady.” Raphaëlle did a couple of her own songs, an it was a pleasure to hear her sing without a mic in these intimate surroundings.

The comedy night was a real pleasure as well, as I said, and is an excellent idea put together by Olivier Bergot et Mikaël Bianic. Bergot, by the way, was one of my favorite of the evenings performers, as he had a very funny sketch about being an alcoholic!

Someone ought to try doing a worldwide open mic comedy guide and blog like this one I do mostly about music open mics. That would be a real adventure! Of course, the advantage of music is that you don’t have to speak the local language to be understood…. Which brings up a point about my brief videos from last night: My apologies to readers who do not speak French….

Powered by