Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Ladies’ Night at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance

April 27, 2011

Ollie’s open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance practically never fails to provide me with a theme for this blog, and yesterday was no exception – despite that Ollie was off somewhere else neglecting his duties to us and leaving his MC job to Tristan, who did great job of it. But despite Ollie’s absence, and despite a slightly quiet start, the evening picked up steam very quickly. And there was something about it that seemed to be inspiring the women performers of the night because that was where I saw all sorts of fabulous new things, and great sounds and emotions.

For that reason, I will not put up any of the men in videos – although I was tempted to put up Tristan’s great “Tickle Me Pink.” (And I thank Tristan for doing videos of my three songs, too!)

No, the show belonged to the women and their songs and voices: I was touched by them all (I wish) and unfortunately one who hit me most I did not record, since I was submerged in emotion. (That was Aurore Clement’s second song.) But check out these performances. Victoire’s a cappella song in particular was great, and the first time I heard her voice – on the first song – I immediately thought of Melanie from the 1960s/70s (Look What They Done to My Song, Ma…). I told that to Victoire afterwards, and I’m hoping she will try the Melanie song, because the couple of bars she sang in the street made my feel goosebumps.

Then there was a young woman from the United States somewhere, Honor. She had a very nice voice too and did a nice song and then a duo with another woman. And then there was Kerry from Alabama, who was really in good form. And Fannie, who is French but also Swedish, and she who does a very mean “Chelsea Hotel” this time decided to do a Swedish song. Beautiful. Was it that that inspired Ayse Ayhan of Turkey to do a Turkish song after her English one? Very nice there too. And I was thinking that was a good preparation for my trip to Istanbul next week….

All in all, then, the woman OWNED Ollie’s joint last night. No question about it.

Tar0&Jir0 and other Amazing Performers at Ollie’s Open Mic

April 20, 2011



I was all ready to find myself regretting depature from Asia and the fabulous fun of the open mics in Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai when I dragged myself, dead tired and jet lagged from my comfortable home to the open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar in Paris near the Panthéon. Ollie Fury’s open mic, that is. And wow, there was nothing like an evening at Ollie’s open mic to wake me up and jolt me to my feet and realize that Paris may be a little routine for me, but the people it attracts are anything but. In fact, the electric shock of the night was a couple of brothers from Japan who have been hanging around in Europe in the last couple of years – mostly London and France – and electrifying audiences with their high-voltage duo act of frenetic guitar, vocals and movement.

THAT was a long-winded paragraph, but how else could I wind up the night’s activities? These guys call themselves Tar0&Jir0, and their real names are Kimitaro & Tomojiro Kukae… or perhaps not. Just check out the videos of Tar0&Jir0 and no doubt you will have a small idea of how mad these two are. I bought their CD and played it this morning and found the same electrifying – or electrified – acoustic scramble, and was glad I’d spent the 10 euros. I thought these brothers had named themselves after a couple of dogs who saved some people’s lives in a failed Antarctic expedition, but that is not the case. It’s just a coincidence. But I could fairly say they saved me last night.

I played three songs, not at all prepared, and only realizing how tired I was when I got up behind the mic. But it went well. I did “Streets of London” for the first time from beginning to end with only one real slip up in memory of the lyrics. I did a Dylan and my “Except Her Heart.”

There were lots of other fabulous performers and sounds, like another visit by Natas Loves You, doing one of their own and a Beatles they don’t often do. There was a trio of young people singing Dylan, The Band and something else – and I found it really refreshing. There was soo much variety – a new person coming in the form of Zoe Kelly, from Sidney, who has a very nice voice and style, and self-assuredly pulls it all off. Some regulars like Aurore Clement, and Tristan, and others. And finally, Angus Sinclair played Ollie’s for the first time in a nice set, the last song of which got the crowd really rocking.

Finally, I was not the only one electrified by Ollie’s great open mic. Ollie’s dog was also one of the best listeners, at least when Ollie was playing his songs to start off the evening. Check out the video of his dog listening to his master’s voice….

Ollie’s Twins and Triplets – or is it Duos and Trios?

March 16, 2011

I will refrain from writing too much here, as it was yet another night in Paris at Ollie’s open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance. The main lines here, though, are that after a slow start led me to believe that there is something in the air this week reducing crowds at open mics, it suddenly picked up and was pretty much as busy and as successful as ever chez Ollie.

The salient point for me would be the great new duos and trios. Or rather, two duos and the everlasting Natas Loves You in trio (before its concert at the Maroquinerie this Saturday).

The first new duo was that of Aurore and Tristan, and they did a nice number together – fully unexpected; and then there was the further development of the duo of Emma Guignebert singing with Yaco playing guitar, doing a song written by Yaco, and called, “Carry Me Back.” I really like it, and Emma’s voice is hot.

Then there was Natas, doing a couple of their songs and a couple of covers…. I’d love to put the Beatles cover they do down here again in video, but I’ve done that before… so space for the rest….

Original, Warm Moment at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance

February 23, 2011

Often when people try to be original they fall flat and sometimes even appear ridiculous. Last night at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, Tristan tried to be original and WAS. It was a wonderful moment, a high moment, of a very high open mic. As I said last week, Ollie’s open mic at this bar near the Panthéon in Paris has grown into a massive event, one of the best open mics in the city.

In fact, I’m starting to think if things continue this way there will not be enough room for it to continue in the confines of the tiny cave basement of the bar. But last night that all worked well with Tristan’s show where he sang an African song and handed out printed pages with the lyrics on them for the chorus so that the crowd could sing along. Boy did it ever work. Check out the video!

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