Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Jim Beam Celebrations at the Ptit Bonheur

December 22, 2010

It was the last open mic of the year at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance yesterday, and Ollie Fury made available a bottle of Jim Beam whisky for the occasion. He served everyone who wanted it a shot glass of the hot liquid, and with the cold outside and many colds in people’s lungs, it was worthwhile.

The evening was pretty lively, with some interesting stuff from some regular guests and some new guests too. Personally, I enjoyed discovering Blaise and Christian on guitars and vocals together, two guys of Cameroon origin who did a great rendition of a Charles Aznavour song. At the end of the open mic they could not get enough of playing, so they continued a jam session upstairs in the bar area, where you will hear another aspect to their vocal talents….

Jay from the band Red Rooster, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post, also turned up and sang some cool stuff. I did four songs and felt less inspired than the night before and somewhat shaky, but I put the shakiness down to the Jim Beam…and then I was delighted when I received some compliments I had not expected, and once again realized that sometimes when you feel you’re not on top of it, you are in fact communicating more than you think….

I’m Not the Only One to Travel from Tennessee to Galway

December 21, 2010

Monday night is often the double-header of the Tennessee and the Galway, two Paris open mics within 10 minutes walk in the Latin Quarter. Last night at the Tennessee I was thinking it was the holiday season doing in the attendance figures when I arrived “late” only to find practically no one there.

But just like at my brunch on Sunday, the crowd began to fill in, the musicians came, and soon it was a Tennessee classic like any other. Having said that, I played as the first musician, a task that is rarely easy, and I felt a little stiff and uncomfortable. Played four songs to a big backdrop of talk, and I probably deserved it.

I hung around for several more performers and I was particularly interested in a newcomer from Brooklyn, named Jay Erickson. He played some nice, laid back country/folk/blues kind of stuff and had a rich, deep voice that carried, and his guitar playing – on Sood’s guitar – was quite effective. He reminded me a little of Viking Moses, the anti-folk guy who played at my brunch a few weeks ago.

So I took Jay’s card after he played and I decided I should go off to the Galway. I really wanted to go up to Jay and say, “Hey, listen, clear this place out now and come to the Galway, another open mic just up the street and down the quai.” But I thought that was very disloyal service to the Tennessee, a kind of poaching, in fact, and so I refrained.

Off to the Galway I went to discover that the holiday season had in no way affected the crowd or the number of musicians. The place was bursting with people and Stephen Prescott, the MC, told me I would have at least an hour and a half wait before I played. No problem, I said, and went to drink a beer and chat with a friend – and met a new friend.

So anyway….

I went back down to refill the beer and found Jay walking in the door, having found the Galway himself on a web site of Paris open mics. I welcomed him, told him to speak to Stephen, and I told him I was so glad he came and that I had been thinking of tearing him away from the Galway.

My turn came up to play after midnight, and I got to do four songs. After my talk with the friends, after the beers, after the arrival of Jay and just a general feeling of satisfaction, I found myself totally into the playing. From the low at the Tennessee, suddenly I felt like I was riding a high on my four songs – “Andalucia,” “Father and Son,” “Crazy Love,” and “Since You Left Me” – and I could see that the talking had been reduced to a very low level and I recieved some nice compliments afterwards. I repeat how astounding it is that live music is so entirely spontaneous and “living.” Sometimes it works perfectly, other times it wilts, finds it hard to take off, and just fails.

So anyway…. (I’m feeling like Kurt Vonnegut with, “so it goes…”)

Jay finally went up and played some of his own stuff and cover stuff – I think – and then he did the famous song by The Band, called, “The Weight.” His girlfriend, or wife, invited me to go up to sing with him, but I had to back out, knowing I would fail even on the very few words of the chorus, which I really do not know. But having done the song within the last week with, I think, Stephen, I told Stephen to go up. He went up with a woman also in the audience, and together the three did a pretty cool job of the song.

Afterwards, I learned that this cool Mr. Jay belonged to a very cool group in the U.S. that has had some very good press in some impressive newspapers, and I gave a listen to the album – their third release, called “Walk,” – and I liked it. His band is called Red Rooster, and it is interesting in the way it mixes the old folk, bluegrass, blues, folk-rock, country sound with some wind instruments and computer sounds. A very modern mix, in fact. And all based on the nice deep vocals, too….

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