Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide: Austin Edition

December 6, 2013

austin pubFor my 21st city installment of my worldwide open mic guide today I am loading my Austin page. As a reminder, it all started with my now very popular Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, and due to that guide’s success, I decided this year to do a similar guide for each of the cities I travel to during my worldwide open mic tour.

Austin’s Open Mic Scene in the Midst of the Musical Capital of the….

Austin likes to call itself the Live Music Capital of the World. My own feeling is that it is certainly the live music capital by square mile of the U.S., and but I think there are other amazingly equally vibrant live music places, like Istanbul. Whatever, the truth is, there is music everywhere in Austin. Of that there is no doubt. On the other hand, there are so many musicians and so many concerts of every level and in every kind of location, that the open mic scene itself does not necessarily profit by the musicality of Austin, in my experience so far after only two years’ brief visits. The city has so many locations for musicians to play, in other words, that it has less need of open mics as entertainment spots, and there are more places for musicians themselves to play. That said, Austin is a cornucopia of open mics! One open mic organizer told me that she thought there were five to 10 open mics on any given night in Austin. I think it might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there are certainly lots. My problem is that in the limited time I have been there, and with my job responsibilities, I have not played in that many.

Worldwide Open Mic Guide Philosophy

The only guide I am really in a good position to update regularly is that of Paris, since I live there. But I decided to do guides to all the other more than 20 cities on my worldwide open mic tour in order to give the knowledge I have personally of each city’s open mics. The guide has links to sites I know of local guides that may be more up-to-date, but I have chosen to list the open mics or jam sessions that I have played in myself. There may be others that I know of, but if I have not played there, I will not include it on the list. That way, the user learns a little of my own impressions. But I cannot be as certain that the guide is up-to-date – so check before you go.

So here, now, in any case is the Thumbnail Guide to Austin Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. Please do help me whenever you have information to give me on venues.

Is Austin, Texas Really the Live Music Capital of the World

November 15, 2012

I arrived in Austin, Texas last night late and had a problem at the airport and no time to go out and play in my first open mic. But I will have plenty of time in the coming week to do so, and I just wanted to put up a quick post to lay out the challenge and set the stage for the coming days. On my worldwide adventure of attending open mics and jam sessions over the past four years I have found lots and lots of musical cities and made new discoveries. I had never been to Austin before, but I knew that it called itself “the live music capital of the world.” Naturally, my reaction to that was: Prove it.

My feeling was, this is another one of those American boasts that if it happens in the United States, it must be the best. The center of the world. The “World Series of Baseball Syndrome,” you might say. But two things have led me to believe that I might, I just MIGHT have my mind changed over the course of the next week as I taste the music scene and perform in the open mics in Austin.

That feeling not only has to do with the massive number of open mics and music venues that I see listed on the internet and in the local papers. It also has to do with the small taste of the city I have had in my first couple of hours there this morning before heading out to the race track.

And ultimately, can you imagine my enormous surprise when I went to the baggage claim belt at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport and found a bunch of statues of guitars above the baggage belt?!?!?! I had my own guitar on my back, and a feeling of come “home” was huge. I could not believe it! I almost felt comical, like someone who has show up by accident at a Halloween party in bizarre costume one usually wears out of eccentricity.

That may be pushing for metaphors, but it was an amazing and odd feeling. Keep tuned to see how things progress.

Having said all that. While I am seeking my own answer to the question, what do you think? Answer my poll question:

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