Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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From the Kaf Cafe to the Wah Wah…With Nothing in Between

June 26, 2010

My second night in Valencia proved to be as big a deception on the open mic/jam front as the first night, and I feel as if I’m really edging toward the first Formula One race venue ever for me where I will not have found a place to play and sing. Oh, well, that’s not quite true – I’ve been playing every night in my hotel room before going out to dinner, but that’s to no audience.

I mentioned in my previous post that I met Pepe, the Spanish singer and guitar player from the Paris open mic scene, at the airport on my way to Valencia. The last thing he said to me as we departed at the airport in Valencia was, “It’s not like Paris here.”

But he had told me that I should check out a place called Kaf Cafe, a coffeehouse-like joint where they sell alcoholic beverages nevertheless, and where he said it was sometimes possible to play. So I went there last night only to find it in full swing with a night of a tribute to a professor and some kind of Mexican theme. I’m afraid my Spanish is non-existent and I had to depend on French sorting out the Spanish to understand that much.

But the night was a real breath of fresh air culturally, and I am sure that it would be a great place to play – when that is possible. The name is as it sounds, a play on the name of Franz Kafka and “cafe.” It’s a nice sized, long room with bookshelves full of books, a nice little stage and a bar, sofas, a bicycle on the wall, and an art exhibit. This is hip, cool, very much the kind of place I’d love to hang around in. I tried, in fact, to look at every possible way of presenting myself to do some music, but I could see it was just not going to work.

There was a kind of poetry reading with a guitarist backing the speaker; another group consisting of a man on cello and another on guitar and vocals; and a group of women who sang something and with a couple of guitar playing women thrown in too. It reminded me of the vibe I felt in Sao Paulo, actually, on the all-night jam I did there after the race last year. But here at Kaf Cafe, it was not open to anyone to play.

The crowd ranged from babies to grandparents and with everything in between, and I was content to sit, drink a beer and listen. But I was itching to try my luck in another part of town, where I had read there were one or to other venues, so I left.

I took a cab over to the university area and sought out the Wah Wah, which I read a review of that had this to say: “A rocking and grooving live music club in a student friendly zone. Mostly local and national bands loving it live, week in and week out. International groups like The Frank and Walters and The Sugarman hree play in spacious surroundings with a relaxed, open and bohemian crowd.”

Well, yes, that describes it well. The only thing that is not clear in that picture is that the crowd I saw last night was insanely young. I am not lying or exaggerating when I say that the majority of them looked 13, 14 years old. But this place sells beer and alcohol and there were some adults around as well. So I don’t know what was happening but I had the impression there may have been a special event for an end of school year party, or something like that.

The band was pretty young, but not that young, and not that charismatic either. The volume was not ear-shattering. But couldn’t take much of it, and I had seen enough within half an hour to know that I would never have a chance to play there, so I decided to leave and check out the rest of the area. There were lots of other bars, but none with live music from what I could see. I did, however, find a park that looked full of students, and I saw the occasional guitar there with people strumming and playing. That, I thought, might end up my last resort if I really MUST find a place to play in Valencia.

But I hold out hope and will continue the search. Oh, yes, Monday my flight is late, so there’s always the beach – as Pepe also suggested to me…. Strange, all this, however, given that this is guitar-building territory around here….

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