Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

From the Velvet Veins at the Feline to What? at the Cul. Rapide

January 26, 2013
bradspurgeon

I got to see my friend and sometime-lead-guitarist Félix Beguin in his new band the Velvet Veins in their show at the Féline just in time for the end of their act. On the other hand, the bar was so full of rockers that coming so late it was impossible for me to get close to the playing area, and I had to content myself with standing at the back of the bar, by the door, holding a beer in one hand and holding my Zoom Q3HD in the other hand…as high in the air as possible so I could try to film this cool rockin rollin band. But most of all to get a bit of a sample of the sound on the Zoom’s good mics. It turned out I got neither image nor good sound, and the best view I got of the band was today when I played back the videos for myself. Still, you get enough of an idea to see what the Velvet Veins are about. I’ll have to go earlier at their next concert…at the Gibus in a little over a week. So after the Féline, I made my way over to the Cabaret Culture Rapide, which I have shortened to Cabaret Cul. Rapide.

This is one of the longer lasting of the Friday night open mics, but every time I go I have a hard time figuring out how this open mic – that has no mic – has been able to last these years now. I mean, the crowd last night had single individuals in it who were much more clearly heard than the performers, to say nothing of the crowd as a hole. (No, you got that right, I said “hole,” not “whole.”)

But I like to take any potentially negative situation and turn it into a positive one, if at all possible. So I decided that when it was my turn to take to the stage to perform for a crowd that was louder than the lack of a sound system I had to project my voice – read, no mic – I decided that the best thing to do was to go and stand right in amongst the loudest tables and to play my guitar and sing, “What’s Up!” from there. It worked like a dream. They all sang along. Of course, I did not help my efforts that they immediately jumped into “And I said, hey, hey, hey, hey… what’s goin’ on” well ahead of the moment. In fact, they were singing that while I was singing the first two verses.

Okay, they then jumped back in again and sang it when I did, and then then let me do the next verse, and then they joined me again with that chorus…. It was a great success – if you like mad houses.

Then the MC of the show seemed to decide the same thing: If you can’t beat them, join them. He managed to get the loudest voice of the room up to sing a couple of songs, even though he was not there to sing. That turned the night into a riot.

Oh, fortunately for the dear Laura of Pennsylvania, the crowd WAS more polite when listening to her songs – so at least one performer had a little bit more of a pure open mic experience. They really should invest in a mic, though….


Pretty Immense: Four Disparate, Unrelated, Extraordinary Venues in One Night in Paris

September 27, 2012
bradspurgeon

I may only have actually played in one place last night, but I attended three open mics and a concert in Paris and took in all vibes and sensations available and went home still with enough energy to ride my unicycle five kilometers around the neighborhood. If that sounds weird, keep reading!

First stop was the Truskel Bar to see the Velvet Veins, the new band of my lead guitar player, Félix Beguin – who was supposed to play with me at that ill-fated gig of ours at the Lizard Lounge a couple of weeks ago – and his shockingly good young guitar alter-ego and singer. Félix is still part of the Burnin’ Jacks, but he created this band, the Velvet Veins, in order to play exactly 100 percent the kind of music HE is addicted to… kind of 70s blues rock, metal rock, rockin’ rock, guitar-based stuff with amazing lead exchanges between the two guitar players, some mad drumming and even a bit of harmonica playing from the bass player. Don’t ask me to be literate or even precise or accurate about what this sounds like – just give it a listen. Unbelievable stuff. (I apologize for the shaky camera work, but the excited crowd was jumping up and down so virulently in front of me – and on me – that I could not do any better.

From there I head over on a short walk to the much quieter and down to earth Vieux Leon bar near the Pompidou Center for the first of a new Wednesday night open mic, which was this night hosted by my friend Baptiste W. Hamon, formerly known as Texas in Paris. The bar could not have been a bigger contrast to the Velvet Veins-bopping Truskel, but that was just fine as a way to come down and do some of my own bopping music – actually, I opted for Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” and my own, “Borderline.”

Highlander Open Mic 6th Anniversary Cake

Highlander Open Mic 6th Anniversary Cake

From there I used my new iPhone maps app thing to get lost just trying to find the quickest way over to the Highlander. But fortunately as soon as I found the rue de Rivoli, I no longer needed the app. (Piece of shit, and I dread where it will lead me next week in Osaka and Nagoya and Suzuka….) So I just HAD to go to the Highlander, even if I knew there was no way I would even dream of performing. The thing was, it was the sixth anniversary of this most popular of Paris open mics, run by Thomas Brun. Thomas not only does a great job with running the open mic, but he sings and plays amazingly, and even more importantly he comes up with good birthday cake on these annual celebrations, and last night he added some champagne into the mix. I got my cake and champagne as soon as I arrived, and the timing was perfect since I had by then digested my main course of duck kebab and pasta….

From there I headed up the rue Dauphine to the Cavern, where the agreeable bass player master of ceremonies, Guillaume, again invited me up to the stage to play. But I learned my lesson long ago that everything I touch at the Cavern turns to rust and I have to either persuade them to let me take my guitar up with me and we do songs I know, or I’ll have to go to a massive number of karaoke bars and hone my skills in that area on the same songs they do. But I’m pretty blown away by so many of the singers there, that I know I have far to go…. But the band is really worth going for alone, say nothing of getting on stage and making a fool of one’s self.

So that was it, after that, all the beers, cake and champagne, I just had to do the unicycle thing around the neighborhood, despite it nearing 4 AM…. What a night.













Back in the Bonheur and Things to Come

September 26, 2012
bradspurgeon

It was just astounding to see the number of people who had shown up for the open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance in Paris last night. Clearly the new season is upon us, and the open mics of Paris are overflowing – bursting at the seams. I got there at around 9:30 or so and found myself 16th on the list. Still, I got to play, and so did four or so others after me. Yaco told me his record for sign ups is 21. We must have got close last night.

Today, it turns out, is the 6th anniversary edition of the open mic at the Highlander, but I will miss it, thanks to a concert by my guitarist Félix Beguin with his band at the Truskel – which I would not miss for anything. The band, by the way, is his new band, “Velvet Veins.” After that I may try to drop over a couple of blocks east to the new open mic at the Vieux Leon – since it is so close. It is the inaugural open mic there. I heard from someone else that he will be hosting an acoustic night on Wednesdays at the Starbucks at Gare St. Lazare on Wednesdays as well. So Wednesday in Paris this year looks awfully crowded for open mics – there’s also the Orphee club jam on Wednesdays and a few others.

So here I am once again saying very little, and being terribly pressed for time to get out to that concert. Best to let the videos from last night do the talking.







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