My worldwide open mic journey began in China in 2008 after the Formula One race in Shanghai, and little did I know that it was a journey that would continue for six more years and cover most of the globe, every continent except Africa (where I once lived and played music in an open mic decades earlier) and Antarctica, and that it would spawn a book, a blog, an album, a documentary film, numerous podcasts, music videos and other multimedia projects.
This year, 2014, I have decided to finish all of the projects and tie them together into a consolidation of multimedia. As part of my personal impetus to gather it all together for myself, but also put it into perspective on this blog, I have decided to create a page for each city I have visited on the journey, tying together samples of the whole multimedia adventure linked to that city.
It is such a cliche to say the Internet has transformed our lives. But in the context of my open mic journey around the world, it really has made it possible to arrive in a country or a city and stay there only a few days and to find an open mic or jam session, producing it out of the blue, thanks to postings and lists and other forms of communication on the Internet about where to play and when. On the other hand, sincce the Internet is not a professionally run listing either, there are occasionally pitfalls and traps.
Yesterday arriving in Tokyo for two days, I decided to see if there were any open mics on Mondays. I know of one on Tuesday, but I decided to see if I could hit two on this short stay. Eureka! I found a listing all over the place for an open mic on Mondays in Tokyo in a place in the Roppongi neighborhood called Rock Factory. I tried to confirm it was still hosting the open mic by going to its web site, but several of the web site addresses I had for the place did not work, and another was in Japanese.
There seemed no reason for it not to still exist, though, since I found so many traces of it. In any case, I saw also that it was just around the corner from a bar called Bauhaus, where I had sung two years ago with the cover band that allows anyone to go up and sing along. Bauhaus is a very cool place that has been running since 1981 with the same band, more or less. It is not strictly speaking an open mic, but I thought at least I would have a place to play if there was a problem at the Rock Factory.
Problem there was. The place was closed down and looking like it had not been open for months. It also looked as if it must have been a very cool place. But I was very pissed off, since I had traversed the city in the metro and spent more than an hour trying to find my way around the metro and to the Rock Factory. Only to find, as I say, something that looked once very cool indeed.
I will put up a little video segment of me discovering the place, but the weak of heart and mind should not watch the video as I use so many expletives in a very short period of time that I now understand how bad that can sound…. But it is authentic! I came all the way to Tokyo to play an open mic, and it was closed.
No, okay, I exaggerate. I only really thought I’d do the Tuesday one, and I still had the Bauhaus.
But when I went to the Bauhaus, I noticed on my way up that there was a cover charge for the music of around 28 euros! I figured I would not get out it of there for less than 40 euros once I got a beer or two, and that although I had the time of my life there two years ago, the place would be absolutely useless for my film, and worse, my guitar amplification no longer works thanks to a luthier in Paris that killed a contact somewhere inside the guitar when working on the wood outside…. So I decided to call it an early night, eat in a Korean barbecue and put all my open mic eggs in the basket of the Ruby Room tonight.
PS, Going to the Bauhaus web page just now for the link above, I notice that they have a part they call “open mic.” So I shot myself in the foot by once again failing to heed my own personal inner call to not sit on your laurels and always go the extra step as you never know what you will find. Still, 40 euros is a lot of cash! (Not to mention the cost of a taxi after that when I would leave too late for the metro.)