Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Que du Happiness at the Big Happiness Bar in Paris

September 5, 2012

Yes, it is called something like the little happiness bar, the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, but last night it was real big happiness at the little happiness bar. All you have to do is check out the videos I caught of the jam sessions upstairs that followed the open mic to see that this was real, bona fide, big time happiness jam shit.

I mean, this night at one of the best open mics in the city just went on from start to finish in the same happy nice way. And then when the bar closed at 2 AM, it was off to another bar in the area where we ran into numerous Bonheur people and people from other bars, including, hey, the Highlander and the Coolin – two other open mic bars I write about frequently.

It was such a great night last night at the open mic, speaking to people, playing music, listening to other people’s music, etc., that I was more satiated than usual, and have decided to keep this blog item to a minimum, pack my bags and get off to Milan tomorrow. Hoping to find music other than opera….

Natas Loves You Does King Crimson, and Other Surprises – worth it, watch out! – at Ollie’s

March 9, 2011

I could not believe my ears last night at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar when Natas Loves You got up and began singing “I Talk to the Wind” from the first King Crimson album. I mean, this fabulous band originating from Luxembourg – and all over the world – does frequently surprise me and most people in the audience with their harmonies and original sounds.

But here I was faced with not only the nostalgia of listening to this fabulous sound of one of my favourite bands from my youth. I was also faced with the existential question of, hey, when these guys do this it is out-of-this-world-super-cool and hip and original. If I did the song or another from that same album – In the Court of the Crimson King – would I not just be considered an old fart who has never gotten over his first musical loves and cannot move on?

Well, who cares!! Just enjoy the recording I did on the video. Kudos to Natas for this original idea. To top it off, they told me they had only been singing the song for a day or two….

That would not be the only surprise at Ollie’s open mic last night. After a one-week dip in attendance suddenly the scene was back and boiling. It was standing room only for a while, again. And I got hit in the face with several other surprises. They included yet our slide guitar girl Nicole doing her own song for the first time in public; the fuck-poem girl doing another fuck poem – but with much more poise than the last time; Wayne Standley bringing along his banjo instead of his guitar; and Emma doing a crowd-killing “Preacher Man” a cappella with another singer….

I’m returning next week, no problem. But I will have to arrive earlier. Due to all this success, Ollie is moving the start time to 21:00 now from the 22:00 it was when the open mic started a year or more ago….

A Moriarty-linked Open Mic Moment

January 26, 2011

One of the beauties of attending open mics is that it is really live music and that means it is really unpredictable as to what will happen, who will be in great playing shape, how you will react and play and how the audience will be in listening. It’s a real-life, live music situation – totally unpredictable. But another thing that sometimes happens at open mics that is even more unpredictable is the various synchronicities that can happen in meeting people.

It was by happenstance during a conversation a few months ago at Ollie’s open mic at the Ptit Bonheur La Chance bar that Ollie himself would be playing in Singapore when I was there last September. I learned this through a family member of his, and not through him. So we decided to link up and play at a bar while in Singapore, and it was very cool.

Last night at Ollie’s among the musicians was a friend whom I first met and discovered singing at the Galway last June. One of the main songs on her repertoire is “Jimmy,” by the band Moriarty. “Jimmy” was the band’s first single, and it was a hit.

“Jimmy” also happens to be the song that my friend sang in the first video I put up on this blog of her (deleted many years later, at her request), where I mention sung by “a Dutch woman.” Last night my friend decided at the last minute to go to Ollie’s open mic, and one of the songs she sang was “Jimmy.”

Let’s rewind a little. One of the regular musicians at Ollie’s open mic in recent months is an American who has lived in Paris most of his adult life – like me – named Wayne Standley. He sings a pretty classic American repertoire that runs from country to Bob Dylan, as well as some other 60s rock classics. I’ve put up videos of Wayne since as early as June (Wayne Standley is in the first video on the page under this link, for instance.)

In recent weeks I learned the Wayne was, in fact, the father of Rosemary Standley who is the singer at Moriarty who sings the song “Jimmy.” So last night, without her knowing it, my friend sang one of the main songs in her repertoire in front of the father of the woman whose song it is. Rosemary, like the other members of the band, grew up in Paris, but has a very strong American country, rock and folk background, and when you meet and hear Wayne, you know why.

After, up in the bar, Wayne presented himself to my friend. Needless to say, she was blown away by the news that he was Rosemary’s father. She also realized that she had heard the father of Rosemary singing too, without knowing who it was. (As it turns out, Rosemary and Wayne sometimes performer together too.)

And I thought, yes, this is the open mic. This is the rear nerve center of one of the great reasons we do these things – we meet people, connect with people, and we see and feel and hear our music different because of the context as well.

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