Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Micro-Post: Two Songs, No Waiting, No Videos, at the Vieux Léon

February 14, 2013

There’s somethin happenin here…. I got to the Vieux Léon last night a little late, but around 10 PM, so not TOOOOO to late. I saw my friend Rony Boy of the Romantic Black Shirts band finish his last song, and I got invited up to do my set, by Kim, who was doing the MCing last night. He announced me as the last performer of the open mic!!!! It was so quiet that I did not have to wait, and I also missed my only chance to make a video of another performer. But I ended up having a great night anyway, talking to a friend at the bar…! Let’s hope for better tonight…. But blogal variety is good. (Some word that is! Blogal. I just made it up – you read it here first…. ;-))

Coolin Victim of its Success, Galway Great Relief

June 26, 2012

I occasionally write rotten, nasty, unfriendly things about open mics that a) I usually love, and b) I’ve written huge praise about before. I hate doing that, but if I kept the criticism to myself all the time and only ever said nice things about the places I go play music at, then who could trust that they would find anything like the truth on this blog? Who could respect me and think that there’s a real story being told here? And the friends who saw me angry about Coolin’ pub last night, if I said nice things about it – wouldn’t they find the real person and the public writer a bit of a hypocritical contrast?

So unfortunately, I had a rotten time at Coolin last for practically the first time ever and I feel completely obliged to say it. I will nevertheless temper the criticism with the statement that part of the problem was that I had to go off to the Galway afterward and so could not stay to the end of the Coolin evening to see how it all panned out, or even to play my own set. But the problem, at base, was this: Coolin has become such a fabulous success and draw to musicians as an open mic that last night there were 30 musicians signed up to play!

The organizers being so kind that they want to give everyone a chance to play, actually made a bit of a mess of it, as names on the list ended up not being on a first-come, first-serve basis, and some performers were surprised to see their slots not ending up where they had expected, and having to wait a lot longer than expected. One guy, in fact, discovered that his slot on the list had been taken by another guy who said he had the same name!!!! Had I not intervened on that one, the guy – whom I know – would perhaps not have played, or played last.

In short, it was total chaos AND the crowd was one of the loudest, least interested that I have seen. Having said that, the organizers made a big effort to get everyone up, and I’m pretty sure they must have, since the open mic went on until close to 2 AM. And photos I have seen show that it may indeed have turned into a great evening with warm audience connection and participation by the end. But I was embarrassed that my friends who came on my advice, ended up being thrown around on the list, at what appeared to be the convenience of other more important friends.

Hey, that’s all really petty, though, isn’t it? And actually, the only thing it really says is that for the first time Coolin, because of all of its success, had 30 people on the list and did not know how to deal with the influx – which is normal. I suppose all successful open mics have to pass through that situation at some point, and find ways to tell performers they will NOT be able to play.

In any case, I left at about 12:15, went to the Galway, and I was asked immediately if I wanted to play – as there were no more performers on the list, since they were at Coolin! – and I accepted happily (as I had told Coolin I would not play there) and then discovered two friends were there whom I had not expected. This was Joe Cady and Rony Boy, a fiddler and a guitarist from a band called The Romantic Black Shirts. I asked if they would play along with me, and they agreed happily. I had played with Rony Boy last week, and I have played with Joe many times. But we had never played all together.

So my Galway experience ended up being a fabulous dream compared to Coolin! I was so happy to play with those guys that I decided to place my Zoom Q3HD recorder behind us to record it, even though I was pretty sure the framing of the image would be crap. So I have placed three of those songs up on the site, but remember, I knew the image would be crap, and the sound comes from the monitor for the musicians, not from the speakers in the pub.

Oh, and by the way, I will not be returning to Coolin next week – but not because I’m pissed off. It’s because I will be hosting the Galway Pub open mic myself as the guest MC as the regular MC, All the Roads, is taking the day off. So all that ends well ends well… or whatever…. Of course, after this post, maybe Coolin would not even let me in again next week!!! But I have to be honest. I do repeat, however, that I might have perceived the Coolin evening different if I had stayed to the end – and my perceptions will not reflect those of all participants last night, I’m sure….

Coolin’ Off, so Cooling Off at the Tennessee and Galway

June 19, 2012

The Coolin’ bar’s open mic decided to take a break last night since there was some big soccer match on its TV screens in the first part of the evening. That meant I returned to the Tennessee and the Galway for the first time in a while, and I had a real cool time – especially thanks to friend Rony Boy who asked if he could play lead along with me during my sets.

It was so cool, and while I had begun the evening a little tired and in low gear, everything served to show me once again that live does not repeat itself at the open mics. Rony Boy played along with me at both venues, and we had a lot of fun doing my favorite covers – Mad World, What’s Up, Crazy Love, Wicked Game and I Won’t Back Down. Rony Boy then played his sets right after mine in both places, and he sounded amazing with his Larrivée guitar. I especially loved his Daniel Lanois cover, which I have praised him for in the past.

There were also lots of other interesting acts, and an invitation to me from “All the Roads,” the host of the Galway open mic, to host the open mic on July 2, which I accepted with pleasure. All that because there was no Coolin’!!! So, like, hey, you lose a lover, maybe there’s another in store somewhere…. 🙂

Great Use for Crap Guitar and other NEW things

February 8, 2011

martin travel guitar

martin travel guitar

At the Tennessee bar and the Galway last night I spotted some new things to write about: First was the great use of one of the worst guitars that exists in the world. When I started travelling around the world two years ago playing music I decided to check out all the travel guitars, and I quickly concluded and discovered that it didn’t matter what size the guitar was, the airplane would let you on board or not. So I stuck with my regular guitar, my Seagull S6. But one of the guitars I had tried was a piece of shit, and I could never understand how anyone could buy one for the crap sound it gives off…until last night I saw someone at the Tennessee doing a fabulous thing with it: Slide guitar. Check out the video. And the most mystifying thing about this piece of crap is that it is a Martin!

Then after that came Rony Boy playing this jazz standard on his Godin electric – same company as the Seagull – and he did a mighty fine job of a song that I know well for having been played by Lenny Breau on an amazing recording as a young man, at 20 with Levon Helm on drums and Rick Danko on acoustic bass – both of whom would later make up The Band and play with Bob Dylan.

After that, over to the Galway where for the second time that night Ollie Fury played his wonderful new song, and both he and Stephen Danger Prescott for a change played Dylan, and did it in their own ways, as you can also see from the video. All in all, a satisfactory “new” night.

By the way, Rony Boy will be playing on the same bill with me in his band The Romantic Black Shirts, at the Disquaires on 27 February in Paris when I perform with my little band of gypsies for the first time, and Calvin McEnron will also play a set.

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