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Bombarding the Bombardier and Hopping the Galway – Two Paris Open Mics in One Night

May 19, 2015
bradspurgeon

Galway Pub Paris

Galway Pub Paris

PARIS – Monday night has always been a great night for open mic hopping in Paris. But traditionally I have done the rounds of the Galway, the Tennessee Bar and the Coolin. Now, with the Coolin gone, and the Tennessee bar open mic in never-never-land, if it even exists anymore, the new roadmap enters around the Galway and the Bombardier, which has moved to Mondays from Thursdays. And also the Café Oz Denfert, which has moved to Monday from Sunday.

Last night I wanted to see if I could do all three of them, but the Denfert was too far out from the previous two, given my late arrival. But what I found, much to my delight and surprise, was that as far as the two I attended – within about 15 minutes walk of each other, the one being off the Place St. Michel and the other off the Place du Panthéon – there are two strong, and completely different open mics still available on Mondays in the Latin Quarter.

When I say strong, I mean that not only is the presentation top-notch, but the talent was great too. There was definitely enough of it to go around. I’m so sorry to have missed the Café Oz at Denfert to see how much talent was there last night too! (And knowing that the presentation by James Iansiti, formerly of the now-dead Tennessee Bar open mic, is great.)

I met old friends like Shelita, and new friends like Steve Kessler, and heard regulars like Ollie, who runs the open mic on Sundays of the Pop In and used to do the great Ptit Bonheur la Chance. There were people I’d never heard before, including a Scotsman singing Dylan, and some guy in his 40s or so daring to sing an Abba song, “Dancing Queen,” which I have never – fortunately – seen performed in an open mic before. I should have recorded it, but didn’t!

There are big differences between the two venues I did perform at, however. Despite moving to Monday nights, the Bombardier crowd was still one that goes more for the social visit, the sports, the drinking, than the music. But it is a great place for that, and to have music in the background via the open mic. So a musician can use it to practice playing live, but not really trying to worry about grabbing the audience’s participation. The talk will go on!

The Galway is by comparison more of a place where the musicians can listen to the musicians, and those who don’t want music, an retire to the back of the bar or the first floor and do as much talking as they want. The Galway has a strange sort of mix between the intimate and the public about it. And Romain’s presentation is as warm and smooth as ever. And the window out to the Quai des Grands Augustins remains one of the great things to perform in front of in Paris.

Both remain great places to try on a Monday night – as well as the Café Oz Denfert….

And a Trio of Performers at the Abracadabar

December 5, 2014
bradspurgeon

abracadabar

abracadabar

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!

Classy Gig from Open Mic Acquaintances at L’Angora in Paris, Bastille

May 3, 2014
bradspurgeon

AngoraPARIS – Thursday night was the May 1st public holiday, the Fête du Travail, in France. So it was a great day to think of nothing but maybe going to attend a little gig by some friends and acquaintances that I have met at open mics in Paris, and who have now decided to perform as often as possible in gigs as opposed to open mics.

Well, not all of them. But in any case, I’ve mentioned or filmed each of these performers on my blog in the past, and seen a couple of them several times, and one just once. They all impressed me and showed me another side of their talent at this entirely entertaining 2 and a half-hour gig they put on at very neat bar venue called L’Angora, just off the place de la Bastille in Paris.

I’m talking about the French guitar player singer who calls himself Ventru; about the American singer songwriter from Seattle, Shelita Burke; and about the visiting American from San Diego, Aaron Bowen. Together, they put on a highly entertaining evening that allowed the fairly large crowd or spectators to see different sides to their talent than what their open mic appearances allow for, due partly to the often raucous spectators at open mics, and the often bad sound systems, and the often too low quota of songs.

Ventru started the show, and played his distinctive rhythmic guitar style and vocals in French; he was followed by Aaron Bowen, who deftly managed to pull of a different style of song in just about every single piece he played, from quiet, ethereal singing melodies to hard hitting rhythms and jazzy leads and chords….all of which was tied together by his own unmistakable style. And then the evening was closed by Shelita, with her hard hitting rhythmic guitar playing and vocals that for me seem to be a cross between Tori Amos and Bjork….

The Warm and Funky Venue of L’Angora, in Paris

I just was not bored throughout the evening. And the Angora is a great discovery: Located at No. 3 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, it has a real 19th Century feel to it both on the ground floor with its fabulous long, oak bar, its old fashioned ceiling mouldings and on the first floor where the music takes place, in a low-ceilinged private room with a piano, carpet and great acoustics. There is a blue jam on Sundays, but on the ground floor, since they do not have the right to use drums on the first floor. Definitely worth the visit.


Tennessee Bar Thursday Night Open Mic in the Groove

May 3, 2013
bradspurgeon

PARIS – The Tennessee Bar and its MC, James Iansiti, seem to be a combination addicted to success, as far as open mics go. The Monday night one has for years been one of the most well attended and atmospheric of the open mics in the city. Now, as I mentioned last week, they are doing another open mic on Thursday nights as well. Last week it was OK, but yesterday it was great.

It was extremely well attended by both passersby and musicians, and this week, perhaps, it seems, having found that the plan of running a feature act was perhaps not the best idea for the rest of the musicians, there was no feature act. Suddenly the place was brimming with musicians.

Same Open Mic Style as Mondays at Tennessee Bar:

It was identical to the Monday night – except there were more people who wandered in off the street, I think (and witnessed) – and at one point I was saying to myself, “Hmm, if they held an open mic here every night of the week would it be so successful?”

Highlights of the Tennessee Bar Open Mic:

Among the standout acts for me were Geraint Jones, whom I have known and heard for a year or two. But now with his pianist and some new songs, it rocketed up to a different dimension for this Paris expat from the north of England.

I also enjoyed Shelita Burke, from the West Coast of the U.S. and the West Coast of Europe (Spain, where she lived for a while) – but who apologized at least twice for having lost her voice (apparently to laryngitis). And so, if that is Shelita with absence of voice – which was evident when she spoke – I can’t wait to hear her when she gets it back again!

I did my, “Crazy Lady,” and my “Gotta Shake Her,” and “Father and Son” – but I was a little late in coming and I was the last one up – or rather, the last one before the rappers took the stage for a second time….

A Few More of the Tennessee Bar open mic Videos from the Thursday Session:





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