Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

The Imminent Closing of the Coolin and its Crazy Cool Open Mic in Paris: And the Definitive Video of an Open Mic at the Coolin

March 1, 2015

Outside the Coolin

Outside the Coolin

PARIS – It will not be news to most people who attend open mics in Paris, since we’ve known about this for several months, but there are only three more occasions to take part in one of Paris’s best open mics at one of Paris’s best Irish pubs: The Coolin Irish Pub.

I have written so much about the Coolin open mic over the years since I first discovered it around four or five years ago – I cannot find my first post!! – that I do not need to introduce it to many regular readers of this blog. Suffice it to say that it quickly became one of the most fun, crazy and popular open mics in the city thanks to the usual recipe that makes open mics a success around the world: A great pub environment (this one is pretty voluminous, and that’s pretty rare for success); a great pub owner who loves music and never complains about the “noise”; a great MC in Etienne Belin (and his assistant MC, Ellen Banville); and a usually full and great audience and musicians….

You can see all of that style, feel and sound in a wonderful video on the Coolin open mic filmed and edited by my daughter Emily Spurgeon, posted on this page, above. Emily attended a night recently in order to film me for a school project documentary she called Rebellious Youth, and she was so fired up by the evening that she decided to use a whole lot more of the rushes she got from the evening to string together a fabulous final video – and advertisement for the last three open mic nights – of the atmosphere of an evening a the the Coolin open mic. Check it out and see all the incredible moments and emotions a single night passes through….

Yes, Coolin had everything. Oh, if there was one downside, it might be that this was far from the intimate kind of environment that the Ptit Bonheur la Chance could provide to artists testing new, tender material – but I assure you, those moments could happen as well at the Coolin, especially at the end of the evening ’round midnight, when most listeners had exhausted their frenzy, and some musicians were called up a second time to perform, and launched into something more intimate….

Anyway, in general, the environment at the Coolin was always one of good cheer and warmth, and the staff was always part of that environment. I only ever saw the pub on open mic nights on Mondays – and tomorrow will be the third to last Monday for that before the pub closes for good on 21 March, so get there!!!!! – but I understand that many of the other musical nights, like Paddy Sherlock’s Sunday, were among the most popular in Paris.

The pub is not closing out of any kind of failure, it is closing on success. It is closing because the fabulous Marché St. Germain in which it is located has been bought by a technology company that doesn’t need any more real estate in Paris, but feels it does. I’m not so happy about the fact that I’m writing these words on one of the computers made by that technology company, and that while I love the computer, I am sorry to see that another real world meeting place is being replaced by a company that prefers virtual worlds….

5-Minute Documentary About Dad at Open Mics by Daughter: Me by Emily

February 17, 2015

PARIS – Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my ongoing project making a film about open mics around the world. Well, guess what? My daughter, Emily, beat me to it! As a student at the Ecole de la Cité film school outside Paris, she had a class exercise to make a 5-minute documentary film portrait of a person. She decided to choose as a subject her wacky, crazy Dad who travels around the world doing open mics – while writing about Formula One car racing as his real job….

One of the main riddles she had to solve in doing the 5-minute film, called “Rebellious Youth,” was what story to focus on in the telling? My bizarre past working in a circus, acting on TV and in films, in bit-parts, or busking in London and working as a bartender at the National Theatre, or writing about Formula One car racing and writing short stories and novels, etc. Where to start? So in order to find coherence to the story within the 5-minute limit, she decided to focus entirely on the story of a guy in his 50s who has a straight – or actually really exciting – day job writing for a major newspaper, who spends his spare time singing in bars at open mics with a generation that is generally many times removed from his own.

So that’s why there is the emphasis on the “old guy” playing music with young people…. Check it out for yourselves. I’ve been given permission by Emily to put it up on the blog. There are a few moments of pretty average sound quality, but keep in mind that Emily filmed the whole thing by herself with no crew, and then she edited it too. Thanks a million to the Coolin, the Galway and the Escargot Underground venues for letting her film during the open mics – and thanks to the people she interviewed for being so nice about what you say about me!!!!

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