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Pigalle Rhymes with Raphaëlle: The Amazing New Open Mic on Place Pigalle in Paris

June 17, 2015



PARIS – I’ve always said – at least since I learned it – that the success of an open mic depends first on the attitude of the host, the attitude of the bar owner or manager, and the location and shape of the bar. If those things all pass the test – i.e., no negativity, a friendly open enthusiasm for music and people and noise – then the musicians and spectators will soon follow and the open mic will be a success.

So far, so good in the first two editions of the new open mic on the historic, legendary, lovely Place Pigalle in Paris at the Noctambules bar, in an open mic founded and run by Raphaëlle Pessoa. There have been two editions of this open mic now overlooking the place through the wide open front of the café/bar, and it was so successful that it has been launched into a weekly open mic as of now. Having first run on Sundays – last Sunday and two weeks ago – it will now feature in the open mic wasteland day of Friday. Paris has practically no open mics on Friday, now musicians will know where to go, starting this Friday, 19th June.

As a journalist I feel it important to note (disclosure!) that I was involved in the founding of this open mic with Raphaëlle, and that I will also be involved in the running of it when I’m not in some other country attending a Formula One race and an open mic. But the point of this post is not to say nice things about something that is not exceptional. Both the open mic, and Raphaëlle’s hosting and above all her singing, are exceptional.

In fact, this may be the only open mic in Paris where you are likely to hear the host break away from her guitar solo singer songwriter compositions – which are brilliant – into cabaret classics such as “Mein Herr,” or monumental pop songs like Dalida or Piaf. At least, Raphaëlle decided to leap into a few of those on Sunday, and I’m pretty sure she’ll do it again, if she feels the moment is right. For the spectators and fellow musicians, the moment will always be right, for those who know her singing and songwriting know that Raphaëlle is one of France’s great so-far undiscovered talents. Maybe the Place Pigalle exposure will change that!

In any case, Sunday was a day of great talent amongst many of the performers, with visits from Simon Ferrante, Wayne Standley, Stephen Saxo, Karina Kim, Igor of the Escargot Underground, Ivan of Ukulele fame (but without uke), Brislee Adams – who did an incredible Wings song on my guitar – and others. I will be sorry every time I’m out not able to attend…and assuming and hoping that the open mic will continue.

And a Trio of Performers at the Abracadabar

December 5, 2014



PARIS – On my exploration through time past, I have now arrived at last Thursday and an evening at the Abracadabar, with a trio of musicians performing a trio of sets in a single evening’s singer-songwriter concert format.

It was something of a perfect trio, in fact, with Ventru starting the evening with his probing style of lyrics and guitar, followed by Raphaëlle Pessoa with her eclectic, emotional and multilingual songs, to Shelita Burke, with her impressionistic vocal acrobatics.

The Abracadabar, is a mainstay of Paris singer-songwriters, being located near the Quais de Seine, in the Crimée area of Paris, and with an excellent sound system, soundman and comfortable stage, all separated from the main barroom by part of a wall and curtains (when needed).

I’ve attended concerts and the open mic they sometimes hold at this great little place off the beaten track, but the trio last week was one of the warmest times I’ve had so far.

And finally, as I stepped forward in time in my previous post, I want to just note in this one that the music-hall show that I mentioned in the previous post and put on by Raphaëlle Pessoa in her alter-ego, “Stella,” not only took place last night without a hitch and in triumph at the So Gymnase, but it also got a great review in a great French cultural web site called, Toute la Culture. The reviewer summed up the show and Raphaëlle’s talents perfectly, in a great story under a headline that perfectly sums up the show in a phrase: in “Stella dans tous ses éclats,” Raphaëlle Pessoa brings music-hall to the employment office!

Playing Acoustic at the 46 Pigalle and other Tales and Announcements

December 3, 2014

46 PigallePARIS – O.K., so where was I in my backwards step through time? Yes, yes, on Saturday, I attended a DJ night and open mic run momentarily by the inimitable Calvin Dionnet at a very cool microscopic bar of the kind I love, on the rue Pigalle.

This was the very new hole-in-the-wall bar called 46 Pigalle, located just down the street from the famous Place of the same name. Calvin, whom I have known for years – first meeting at Earle’s open mic at the Truskel in Paris – had a DJ night going at this very cool bar, and said that the first hour would be devoted to an open mic. Acoustic. No amp. Truth is, I don’t like playing without an amp most of the time. But at the 46 there was no problem at all, and I had no risk of being 86d.

In fact, it was a snug, fun, neat time playing for a crowd of expatriates passing through, and in a very intimate setting. The bar is really worth checking out, so keep an eye on the link I posted above, and especially if there happens to be another little impromptu open mic….

From there I went on to a crazy raucous evening at the Baroc – where I have frequently written about the Tuesday night open mic – where the musician who calls himself “SheMe” was celebrating one of his many birthdays…. It was crazy mad, with lots of music throughout the evening, and a kind of vibe that only the Baroc can drum up – something phantasmagoric in the barfly style.

Let’s Break the Rules and Make an Announcement or Two

As it turns out, right in the middle of trying to back pace myself in time and talk about my life over the last couple of “missing” weeks on this blog, I have decided to throw a spanner into the works and write about two events tomorrow that I am greatly looking forward to attending. One of them I will not attend, since I will attend the other – but since the first is just the first of many, I’ll attend in future….

So the first has to do with a meeting of a group of optimists on the Ile St. Louis in the center of Paris. I’ll be writing more about the location of this meeting in future, as it is a new cultural, event, optimist center on this great island in the middle of Paris, and I’m looking forward to returning. The point is, if you’re around tomorrow and want to check it out, I’m sure you will leave feeling more optimistic about life: It is a gathering of a group put together by Marie Deschamps, a leader among optimists. And it promises much more than just talk, if you can read French and see the invitation.

Stella dans tous ses éclats

Stella dans tous ses éclats

But I myself will be attending – and helping to put on – the brilliant show written, produced and performed by Raphaëlle Pessoa, whom I have no problem saying at once is one of the most brilliant young talents I know of in France at the moment. Raphaëlle’s show, “Stella dans tous ses eclats,” is a brilliantly written one-woman-show comprising dialogue, song and fun. She sings in English, French and Spanish, songs of her own composing as well as classic cabaret pieces like “Mein Herr,” or French popular songs by Dalida and others. In general, I’m no big fan of cabaret, but this is brilliant. It’s taking place at the So Gymnase Comedy Club, but it is not comedy, more every emotion possible….

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