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Checkin’ Out the R&B Melrose in Nagoya for the Seventh Straight Year

September 25, 2015

R&B Melrose Open Mic Nagoya

R&B Melrose Open Mic Nagoya

NAGOYA, Japan – It has become a tradition for me now to spend Thursday nights in Nagoya at the R&B Melrose open mic. This cellar room full of musical instruments and warmth, is one of the more laid-back and friendly open mics I know of in Japan. It is also not one of the most crowded in terms of participants….

But that’s always a great way to start off my weekend in Nagoya, relaxed, low key, amongst friends. I calculated last night that it was my seventh time at the R&B Melrose – seven different years!! And it has not changed. Arrive, choose your instrument, play alone or with other clients, play what you want in terms of musical styles.

Drums, keyboards, bass, all sorts of different electric and acoustic guitars. And some great music piped in between times in the nice choice of the hosts…

Second group at the R&B Melrose open mic in Nagoya.

First one at the R&B Melrose open mic in Nagoya.

Jammin’ at the R&B Melrose, Nagoya, Japan, Chapter 6

October 3, 2014

R&B Melrose, Nagoya

R&B Melrose, Nagoya

NAGOYA – Got nothing done but a pizza eaten on my first night in Japan, in Osaka, before I checked out a music joint only to find it was not open for another 7 minutes, and I was too tired to move. So I returned to the hotel and didn’t sleep more than a couple of hours. That’s travel. So last night in Nagoya, for the first night here, I decided that nothing in the world would stop me checking out R&B Melrose, where the open mic night happens on Thursdays, and which I have played in once a year for the last five years.

So it was that after a quick meal of fried chicken and noodles, I dropped by the R&B Melrose and got greeted in the usual fabulously warm and kind manner from the owners, and got my beer and took to the stage. I played I don’t know how many songs, many by myself, many others with a couple of the other musicians who were there for the open mic. The R&B Melrose is a basement bar the main purpose of which is to have live music. The stage is comfortable cool and there are instruments all over the place for the public: Drums, keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, bass… you name it….

Did Mad World with one of them on the piano and the other on lead guitar. As I realized that it was my sixth time at this very cool and simple open mic with its devoted bar owners, here in Japan’s third biggest city, I realized just how much sake had gone under the bridge since then. (OK, water. I think I might have drunk sake once in Japan.) And I realized that I was using my same Seagull acoustic since that first visit to the R&B Melrose, and that it had been around the world 6 times now, too.

If I can, I’ll be back next year. But first, the rest of the weekend in Japan….

Quiet, but Nice, Session at R&B Melrose, Nagoya

October 11, 2013

R&B Melrose, Nagoya

R&B Melrose, Nagoya

NAGOYA, Japan – One of the greatest parts of my trip to Japan each year is that on my first day of arrival in Nagoya, I do not have to look for an open mic. I know that the doors to the R&B Melrose will always be open, will be open late, and that Thursday night is the night of the open mic. It was no different last night, as I arrived in Nagoya after two days of failing to find my venues in in Osaka, and I wandered over to R&B Melrose, bought a beer and took to the stage.

R&B Melrose is in a basement room, well insulated for sound, and it has a nice little stage, a drum set, bass, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, lots of amps. Everything you need for a jam or open mic. And that is exactly what it is open for: I arrived to find a couple of Japanese musicians, Diabolo on the guitar and Jo on the rhythm box. Jo is a woman, but Diablo is the devil, if you give a listen to his riffs on his six-string Fender bass, which he plays almost like a rhythm guitar rather than a bass.

I played two little sets – during one song of which, “Mad World,” the aforementioned “Joe” the woman, came and joined me on her rhythm box – as there were few musicians present, but I could not have asked for a better first night in Nagoya, especially a great way to warm up for my little cameo concert at the Plastic Factory on Saturday…. which, by the way, the people at R&B Melrose already knew I was doing, as they asked me about it…. Nice to feel at home in Nagoya, Japan – especially after the weird experiences in Osaka!

Warm Time at R&B Melrose Open Mic in Nagoya, Japan

October 5, 2012

I have rarely been as busy with travel and work as in the last week, and that is why there have been no posts for so long on this blog. I am STILL under pressure. But I did manage to force myself out to do an open mic last night in Nagoya, Japan, where I arrived the day before. And man am I ever glad I did it. It was at the R&B Melrose bar in downtown Nagoya, where they hold an open mic until quite late at night every Thursday. I had an amazingly warm time amongst only Japanese musicians and spectators with little English, but with the universal language of our music, that did not matter.

I got to play on three occasions, and on two of those I got to play with some of the other musicians in the room, who had spontaneously begun playing while I played. One man did harmonica, a woman took to the drums. Later, another guy took to the drums. I got great recordings of me playing with these musicians, with my own particular favorite being on my own song, “Crazy Lady,” on which I had the harmonica player and the drummer woman.

And their music was gentle and occasionally very emotional, as you can see from the videos. A super, super, super cool night, and once again I was able to fulfill my personal objective of playing and recording me playing with local musician in every country I go to this year. I would put up Crazy Lady here but it requires editing out of the other songs I recorded, and again I am under pressure – this time for an interview in my journalist job, followed by a return trip of more than an hour to Nagoya where I am the feature act in another open mic tonight – at the Plastic Factory venue. More on that tomorrow.

PS, almost forgot! Before I went to the R&B Melrose, I dropped off at the San Jose bar to see if a musician I met there three years ago was still the orchestra leader. And there was David and his two women singers, still there after all these years! So I did a video of them, David being from England, the woman being Japanese. Check that out too!

Playing at the R&B Melrose in Nagoya, Japan

October 6, 2011

First night in Japan, first night lucky. I had a cheap meal of noodles – very good – and then made my way directly over to the R&B Melrose bar in Nagoya. I first played here two years ago, and when I returned last night, the owners not only remembered me, they actually had a piece of scrap paper on which I had drawn a little map-like thing showing the location of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

This is a very cool bar that has a full stage of equipment – drums, Marshall amps, microphones, and a collection of guitars, all there for the public. It is a cross between an open mic and a jam session, and last night I realized that it reminded me a lot of the Actors’ bar in Singapore. You can show up several days of the week and take the stage either alone or in a group, or joining people who are present, and play whatever you please.

So it is indeed an open mic, and a jam. The owners love music, and just let people play what they want, while making sure that each client has a chance to play. A really classy place.

Last night I played alone, and then with the drummer. Then I ended up playing with all the other musicians and we did a lot of songs, and I got a lot of them on video – me, a bass player, two guitarists and the drummer. But the videos are too long for the blog and I’ll save them for bits in my documentary film.

For the moment, though, I have the What’s Up video and a couple of others of the other guys jamming.

What luck, first night and I scored! (Well, yes, musically, I mean.)

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