Brad Spurgeon’s findings on Open Mics in Milan:
Milan? Home of La Scala, opera, classical music like you wouldn’t believe. Oh, jazz, too, why not? But folk, rock, pop, blues? Well, it’s not a world capital. In fact, this list is one of my least successful. Part of my problem is that I always visit Milan in the first half of September, and that coincides with the summer holidays in which so many Milan music joints are closed down from June to mid-October for the “summer.” Another problem is that a lot of jam sessions apparently take part in private associations where you sign up and play in private buildings and residences, and not so much in bars. Over the years I have performed at more open mics in Milan than I have listed here, but they were one-off events – such as an open jam at a circle of anarchists and another impromptu jam at the Leoncavallo public space, and also at another place, a karaoke that allowed me to play with my guitar. Others, like the Fermento Art n Pub lasted for a few years and then stopped. I am thinking that I should start a new section on these guides of places I have heard about but never made it to myself, since my short lists like this from my own personal experience can occasionally be limited:
Wednesday – Joy Milano bar, Via Valvassori Peroni, 56, Milan 20133, Tel. 366 981 6519, a new jam as of February 2017, this is a fabulous vibe in a small bar in the middle of a municipal compound for the arts and public activities. The bar is private, so it is open after the hours of the rest of the municipal activities. The jam takes place throughout the whole space of the bar with musicians sitting wherever they want to, and joining in on songs when and where they want; it covers any style you want to bring “to the table.” The first night I was at this Joy Milano jam I had my acoustic guitar, sang songs, mine and covers, and had a couple of brass instrument players backing me along with a guy on a banjo, another on cajon and two others on electric guitars. They played everything under the sun, and I joined in where and when I could. Given it’s location, it’s the kind of jam that will only succeed through word-of-mouth. I hope it does! By the way, it starts fairly late, around 22:00 or beyond, and finishes halfway through the night.
Thursday – Bachelite CLab bar, jam, open mic, classic 2 or 3 songs per performer, unless the evening turns into an endless jam until the early hours of the morning, via Vertoiba 3, Milan, Italy, +39 349 477 1773 Starts at 21:00. Every second week, so make sure there’s an open mic the night you want to go. This is a fabulous, hip and cool bar with a lively crowd, and lots of fun musicians who like to jam. The stage is very unusual in that it is on a mezzanine high above the bar. That ensures both a sense of dominating the locale by the musician as well as having a kind of separation of the stage from the rest of the room. The organizers are nice, work on the sound until it’s as good as can be, and sensitive to keeping the fun going as long as everyone seems to want to have it. There’s a piano way up there on that mezzanine too. This was my first experience and report at the Bacelite CLab bar open mic in Milan.
Friday – Spazio Ligera, via Padova, 133, Milan. Watch out! This is only an occasional open jam session, really depending on how things go in this amazing bar in an amazing part of town. This jam, when it takes place and if it takes place, does so on the ground floor of this bar/venue, the basement of which is a relatively large gig hall for bands, in a classic underground, vaulted ceiling kind of “cavern club” sort of place. Ligera, which has a very hip and underground feel to it even in the above-ground bar, hosts bands and other events regularly. But if there happen to be a bunch of musicians in the bar on a night when there was no band, or after the band finished, then the ground floor turns into a real free-for-all jam with musicians just sitting around the tables of this small bar. That all pretty much jibes with the description of my first visit at Ligera in Sept. 2016 – and I’ve been been back a few times since, and even played in the bar on a night other than Friday, and it has always been about the same kind of vibe…!