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Three Nights, Five Open Mics, an End of a Week Feast in Paris

January 30, 2016

Zebre Rouge

Zebre Rouge

PARIS – The last three nights were a rollercoaster of exploration for me in Paris as I bopped from one open mic to another, visiting four new open mics out of five attended. The verdict? From potential to good to great!

It all started on Wednesday, when I went to a new basement open mic in a hip bar in Montmartre. That was the first time I attended an open mic so high up on the hill leading to Montmartre, and while it was pretty quiet that first night, it shows great potential. The bar, called L’Atelier Montmartre, has a neat “living room” feel to the ground floor, which is on two levels, and it has a kind of almost North American recreation room basement to it, complete with smoking room.
Brian presenting the Soiree Buzz

I learned from the MCs that they had actually held one event already, but that it fell on the Wednesday after the Paris attacks in November, and basically no one went. Of course, those were dark days. So they held off in December and launched it again on Wednesday. It’s a classic open mic and jam if you want that kind of affair. I played three songs, handed out my CD and then left, as I knew that there was the much more established “Soirée Buzz” at the Très Honoré bar on the place St. Honoré, not far from the Opera, and I could walk there in 25 minutes.
first at L’atelier montmartre

I also knew that my new friend from New Haven, the blues, rock and soul man Greg Sherrod, would likely be there. So it was a great contrast to find the hugely bopping, exciting, burlesque and live-karaoke scene at the Très Honoré. There are some top quality voices each week, and this time, as I mentioned, the super neat set of Great Sherrod, with a real backing band (compared to the last time, at Some Girls, backed by guitar and sax only). And I too played a couple of songs with the band – drums, bass and sax, with me on my acoustic guitar.
First at Soiree Buzz

Thursday night it was time to try out the new open mic of Thursday nights at the Zebre Rouge, run by several people who were regulars at the Baroc. I’ve mentioned an open mic on Tuesdays at the Zebre Rouge, but this one had a much bigger turnout, and the feel was more jam than open mic. But the neat little bar near the rue J.P. Timbaud is a great, warm place to jam.
Greg killin em at Soiree Buzz

I had heard that there was another new open mic just around the corner from there at the genial, loft-like space of the bar called the Quartier General, so I left the Zebre Rouge, walked about five minutes and found myself at Renan Mazeas’s new open mic at this really cool bar on the rue Oberkampf, with its fabulous little stage and excellent sound system, and the wrap-around-the-corner windows that expose the bar (and stage) to passersby on the the street.
Oma God at Soiree Buzz

There were not that many musicians, and not really that many bar patrons at that point, but that all meant that I got around eight songs on that fabulous stage and had a feeling like I was providing the soundtrack to the bar, with a happy, genuinely warm audience, even if they were there to only half listen to the music. It was a great experience and I’ll gladly return, if it continues – which is not yet certain.
Piaf stuff at Soiree Buzz

Renan told me that he was also hosting another open mic the next night, last night, Friday. In fact, it was not entirely new, as he had already hosted it around 10 times. But it was certainly new for me, and 10 editions is still far from some that have been around for years. This one would be a completely different kind of thing, in a classic Irish pub called Murphy’s, which is located on a slightly off the beaten track street behind the opera Garnier. It is an absolutely fabulous Irish pub, with lots of regulars, and the open mic set up right near the bar at the front of the pub works just fine, as the music can be heard throughout the pub.
Second at L’Atelier Montmartre

I was at first worried that the chatter from the patrons meant they were not there for the music at all, but as the evening progressed, as well as for me, as my set progressed, things got warmer and warmer and warmer! I got some encores after my “What’s Up!” and regretted only that I did not have another really great foot stomping sort of pub favorite as that to do. But I nevertheless had a fabulous time and wonderful reception.
Insu blues at Zebre Rouge

Renan did some neat duets with other musicians – including the fabulous Laetitia – and he was also available to play guitar for “live karaoke” for anyone else who wanted to sing. I managed to stay quite late chatting to lots of different and interesting people, and basically had a fabulous evening. This open mic is just once a month, the next being 26 Feb. But if it keeps going the way it did last night, it’s an excellent new edition to Paris’s ever-growing open mic scene.
Renan and Stephanie at Quartier General

Not bad, four new open mics in three days in Paris! And I’m sure I missed some others too!
Renan with lead at Quartier General

Rocking the Zebre Rouge

Another from Laetitia at Murphy’s Pub

Laetitia at Murphy’s pub

Opener at Murphy’s pub

Renan with Laetitia at Murphy’s pub

Renan with another at Murphy’s Pub

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