Open Mics in Paris:
Sunday – Pop’ In – only two songs, and you have to be there early to sign up because they accept only 15 singers, or slots. It starts at 9:30 PM , but you have to be there by 7 PM to be sure of getting a spot, and even then sometimes you might be 14 th . Still, they go like clockwork, so it runs basically 9:30 to midnight . Address: 105 Rue Amelot, 75011, Paris, Tél : 01 48 05 56 11. Metro Oberkampf or Filles du Calvaire.
– Caveau des Oubliettes jam session, 52 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris, 01 46 34 23 09. Blues Jam. See main entry under Thursdays, below.
– Bastille Blues Jam at the Angora, 3 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011 Paris – Tél : 01 47 00 25 00. Like it sounds: A blues jam. This is a great venue with a massive oak bar and the management likes music, running frequent concerts in the room on the first floor above the bar. But the blues jam takes place on the ground floor by the front window, because they cannot have drums on the first floor.
– Belushi’s, 159 Rue de Crimée, 75019 Paris, France, 01 40 34 34 40. This open mic has been going on an off under various guises in the building of a youth hostel. There is a jam side to it, if you feel like playing with the musicians that run it – but its open to solo. The first and only time I went to the most recent incarnation of this open mic, I was great, hugely let down by Belushi’s open mic and if you read the post I wrote about it then you will see why. It was the only time I encountered anywhere in the world a crew that takes your name down on the performers list, has you wait more than two hours – along with a string of other performers – only to say that it is now midnight, and the open mic is finished, and if you did not get to play, come try again another time. So, yes, it starts at 8 p.m. and finishes abruptly at midnight, never mind if your name is on the list and you have waited for hours to play. Otherwise, it is a very successful open mic, a bit of a jam, a great MCing job aside from the brutally incompetent list making…. Go at your peril!
Monday – Galway Pub (get three or four songs in, normally): 13 quai Grands Augustins Paris 6, Téléphone : 01 43 29 64 50 This is a great open mic to play at in terms of its stage, as you play with your back to the front window of the bar, which opens in summer, and you get the feeling you are singing to the people in the street as well as the people in the bar. Which is, in fact, the case. But some nights are definitely busier than others in terms of the musician attendance. It can vary from absolutely great nights, to so-so nights. But it is definitely a “must do” in Paris open mice.
– Some Girls, 43, rue de Lappe, 75011 Paris, France, Phone 01 48 06 40 33. Starting around 21:30, and located on the Rue de Lappe, one of the Bastille area’s most famous streets for nightlife, this is the new open mic run by Ollie Joe, the guy who used to host the fabulous Ptit Bonheur La Chance bar open mic, until that fizzled out with the change of bar owner. This cozy rock ‘n’ roll bar named after the album by the Rolling Stones has as a theme…the Rolling Stones, as I pointed out in my writeup about the Some Girls open mic after my first visit. And the music is decidedly rock. But the open mic itself is open to everything, pretty much, and likes to encourage the jam situation too… Oh, and the beer is cheap! An essential part of the open mic experience….
– Yellow Mad Monkey, 8 rue de Lappe, Paris, France, 01 43 38 30 20. And yet another open mic and jam session on the Rue de Lappe on the same night as the one I just wrote about above! Decidedly, the rue de Lappe is coming back to life… if it ever left it. This is a sprawling, neat bar with a very lively atmosphere, and the open mic jam session is more of a live karaoke, whereby the MC musicians will play along on their guitar and bass with people who want to sing, as I pointed out in my writeup about the Yellow Mad Monkey open mic after my first visit. But if you want to go up with your guitar and sing, that’s just fine too. Two songs each, it starts at 8:30 pm, and it is fun, good sound, good hosting, and the beer’s … beer.
– Madame Louis, 1 Quai de Bourbon, Paris, France, 01 40 51 05 05. It is rare to find an open mic, jam session, on the Ile St. Louis. But now we have this new one, located in the second basement – with a balcony view of the stage from the first basement – in an old building that feels like a maze of a pub. An absolutely fabulous environment to play in, a great stage, fine hosting, and there is even a piano on the stage. Again, this is more jam than open mic, but again, if you want to go up with just your guitar and vocals, you can do so. Each performer gets two songs, and, in fact, this usually means that the jammers as a group stay together for a couple of songs… i.e., they ask which musicians in the audience want to join the stage for which instruments, and the jam begins. It’s mostly pop rock folk blues soul – i.e., probably not jazz… but I bet they would not reject a jazz musician or any others. As you can see from my writeup about the Chez Loui open mic at Madame Louis after my first visit
– Abracadabrabar Just once per month, on the third Monday of each month, a traditional open mic with a good sound system, bright lights and good organization. Write in advance to email@example.com to be put on the list. ABRACADABAR 123 avenue Jean Jaurès 75019 PARIS
Tuesday – Café Oz, 1 rue de Bruxelles, 75009 Paris, Tél : 01 40 16 11 16. First watch out: This is the Café Oz in Pigalle. There are several others around Paris and elsewhere in France. This open mic runs from 8:30 to 11 p.m., and sign up starts as early as 7:30. It is a classic open mic, a good sound system (two mics), a comfortable room, where the listeners gather in front of the stage area while the talkers gather on the other side of the pub. All together a nice experience.
– La Féline, 6 rue Victor Letalle, Paris, this has grown into a fabulous open mic at a very cool bar that has long been a mainstay of the underground music and nightclub scene in Paris. The addition recently of a very cute stage with a kind of proscenium arch made this a natural location for an open mic. There is a drum set, and enough ways to plug in to do a whole band. Three songs usually at the Feline, and warm welcome arms of the managers and MC. Watch out for the people going on stage during your set to access the toilets…. Usually ends by around 23:30. So best to get there for the start, around 20:00.
– Pigalle Country Club, 59 rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009 Paris, near Metro Pigalle and a few others as well…. They call it the Wapaphalooza Open Mic, and it starts after 8PM and goes on until after midnight, maybe well after. It’s a romping, rocking affair, and usually run by the members of the Burnin’ Jacks band, an up-and-coming French band. The bar, located near the famous Place Pigalle, has this big country club name, but could not be further from a country club in style and atmosphere. It’s a freewheeling, laid back, small but cosy bar, and the open mic takes place behind a mic at the back with no stage. It’s as much a jam as an open mic, and it’s a free-for-all. Don’t expect to sign a list – just go and take the mic or join in with those who are already behind it. The accent is on acoustic rock and rock blues. Even classic rock.
– Nul Bar Ailleurs, 18 rue de cotte, Paris, France, 01 43 43 68 71. This is a sensational jam open mic that calls itself, “Jam Around the Table.” Located not far from the Bastille, in the very cozy cellar of a very cozy bar, the place when I went was not just all jamming, it was jam packed with people. You had to tip toe around the cellar room where the jam takes place as there were so many people present. It is well hosted, convivially, and basically goes by several rounds, asking performers to take to the mic and do their number – with or without another musician – and then they pass to the next performer, going through several rounds, so you get to play early in the evening, in the middle of the evening, then at the end – if time and the number of musicians allows. It starts around 21:00.
– Acoustic Bazar. A fabulous open mic that has been around for 20 years but is only the first Tuesday of each month. And only two songs on your first try there, and you have to be there at 8:30 to get a spot. Le TEMPO, 18 rue Brochant 75017 PARIS Métro Brochant Tel.: 01 47 00 48 87
– Le Baryton, 16 rue des Bernardins, Paris, tel. 01 76 53 81 15 See the main entry about this under Thursday’s open mics below. It starts late, at 10 PM and can go until 2 AM.
Wednesday – The Highlander, rue de Nevers, 75005, 7-year-old open mic hosted by Thomas Brun, a classic, but get there soon after 8 PM for a good spot. Each performer gets three songs. The atmosphere is always lively, the pub always full, the list of musicians invariably long. But this has become one of Paris’s longest running open mics, and the level of the presentation and music is guaranteed to make for and interesting night out.
– L’Oasis 244, 244 Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin, Paris, Tel. 06 52 65 75 32 is a classic open mic at a very small bar in a part of town where there are no other open mics: Near the Stalingrad metro, near the Jaures metro. The Oasis 244 is owned by a music-loving proprietor-manager, and he has been seeking out the right formula for an open mic over the last year or so. This may now have been found, with the Wednesday night open mic run by Julian, a young singer guitarist. It’s a completely open stage, all styles welcome. Julian’s Oasis 244 open mic starts pretty early, no later than 8 p.m., and ends fairly early too, midnight or before.
– Soirée Buzz, at the Très Honoré restaurant, bar, salon, 35 place du marché St Honoré, 75001 Paris. Run by American expat, Brian Scott Bagley, this is a cabaret style open mic in the posh underground room bar of the restaurant. Anything goes at this open mic: solo guitar singer songwriter stuff, cabaret singing with the backup band, jazz singing with the backup band, pop-rock singing and playing with the backup band, dancing, burlesque, anything you want. The backup band consists of a pianist, keyboard player, bass player, guitar, sax, whatever. Expect a big show feel. The only drawback is the high cost of the drinks in this posh bar – oh, and when I did it, for a place that caters to singers, the vocal mic and speakers were not up to it.
– Belushi’s Gare du Nord, 5 Rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris, France, 01 70 08 52 22. This is located in another branch of the Belushi’s bar mentioned above on Sunday nights. But this one has a completely different feel: It is a cavernous beer hall that attracts a young, hip clientele, which is mirrored in the wall decorations of rock stars. The open mic is really special to perform in, as the “stage” is like a crow’s nest way high up above the barroom. You do not have much direct contact with spectators – who are not really there for the open mic, but to drink and talk – but it is a great feeling to play up there and a challenge to grab their attention. There is a jam side to it, if you feel like playing with the musicians that run it – a bass player and lead guitarist – but its open to solo. Starts around 8:30 PM and goes until 11:00 PM, unless things are really kicking, in which case they continue later.
– Caveau des Oubliettes jam session, 52 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris, 01 46 34 23 09. Soul Jam. See main entry under Thursdays, below.
– Les Chansonniers, located in the small lobby of a small hotel in Menilmontant, this is a classic open mic, which tends to change its dates, but traditionally runs on Wednesdays. But it is necessary to contact the place to find out if there is an open mic…. Starts at 8 PM. A warm environment, a cool quarter of Paris. 113 boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75011 Paris, Metro Menilmontant.
Thursday – Le Baryton, 16 rue des Bernardins, Paris, tel. 01 76 53 81 15 A classic live karaoke type of open mic in a neat, small cellar room of this classy bar. This Baryton open mic is run by Vincent Lafleur, who plays keyboards to accompany singers. But you can also bring your guitar and play yourself and sing. It starts late, at 10 PM and can go until 2 AM.
– Tennessee Jazz Bar, 12 Rue André Mazet, 75006 Paris, 01 43 54 36 10. Don’t be fooled by the word “jazz” in the name of the bar, this is a traditional open mic for any kind of music, mostly folk, pop, rock, etc., allowing two or three songs, and starting around 8:30. One of the most successful and long-standing open mics in Paris, it was for a long while MCd by expat American, James Iansiti in the cozy basement of a cool bar. It has gone through several hosts and transformations since then, however, and I cannot vouch for what it might be at any particular time.
– Café Jean, 181 avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris, France ATTENTION: This takes place only on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. It is run by Nicolas Blampain, who used to run the Lou Pascalou open mic. A fairly hip young crowd goes to this restaurant/bar on the edge of Paris, and while it can be fun to play here, a lot of the clientele is not present for the music. It is a classic open mic with a list to sign up for and you can play two or three songs, depending on how many musicians there are.
– Caveau des Oubliettes jam session, 52 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris, 01 46 34 23 09. This is not a classic open mic, but rather a classic jam session: A fabulous underground room with a great little stage, drums, keyboards, bass, amps, and a good organization. The idea is that you sign up to the list and join in the jam either playing an instrument or singing. You are grouped together with other musicians also signed up on the list. There are several jams per week: The Blues Jam on Sundays; the soul jam on Wednesdays; the funk jam on Thursdays. In my experience, you can fit in to any if you have something that comes close, even if it is not exactly, strictly, within the desired definition.
– “Paris Lit Up” at the Cabaret Culture Rapide, 103 rue Julien Lacroix 75020 Paris, M° Belleville / Pyrénées, 01 46 36 08 04, spoken word and music open mic is an open mic for music, poetry, spoken word. It is connected to a kind of collective called “Paris Lit Up” that also has a small press by the same name. Most people attending are English, a very large expat presence – it is run by an expat – but it is extremely cool, and although it it is mostly spoken word, guitar singer/songwriters really welcome. Only problem is, there is no microphone or amplifier. But in my experience the audience is very quiet and it’s a cool environment.
Friday – Cabaret Culture Rapide Barman’s open mic, 103 rue Julien Lacroix 75020 Paris, M° Belleville / Pyrénées, 01 46 36 08 04, is an open mic for music, poetry, spoken word as well, but it is run by a Frenchwoman, and is more French than the one on Thursday! Guitar singer/songwriters really welcome. Only problem is, there is no microphone or amplifier. But in my experience the audience is often quiet and it’s a cool environment. Starts late, at 10 P.M.
– Saturday – Quiet Man, is a longstanding mainstay of Irish music in Paris, and on Saturdays, starting at 18:00 there is an open mic for beginners, followed by a jam session for more advanced musicians that starts at 22:00 and goes on until 2 AM, or closing time. A wonderful feeling of really being in Ireland, but watch out: the emphasis is on reels and jigs and not so much on songs and singing. 5, rue des haudriettes, 75003 Paris, Metro Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville.
– Bar Le Paradis, starting at 20h30 au Bar Le Paradis, 7 rue Sofia, Paris 18ème, Métro Barbès Rochechouart – lines 2 or 4, this is fabulous open jam/open mic on Saturday evenings like this was really needed in Paris. Usually run by the Jambus people – who do a few other open mics in the city – this takes place in a small, intimate bar in a part of Paris where there are few open mics: in the 18th Arrondissement. There is a drum set, amp, mic, often sax players, keyboard players sometimes, guitar and vocals, and you play with other musicians present. A great crowd usually, standing practically right in front of the musicians, as I wrote in my report of performing at this Bar Le Paradis open mic.
– Le Baryton, 16 rue des Bernardins, Paris, tel. 01 76 53 81 15 See the main entry about this under Thursday’s open mics above. On Saturdays it starts at 10 pm and it can go until 4 AM.
The main places you would probably want to start looking at for full-fledged bands and other cool stuff are:
– Bus Palladium, 6 rue Fontaine, 75009 Paris
There are shows there almost every night.
– L’International, 5, rue Moret 75011 Paris
Another bar/venue place that has concerts all the time, and mostly young people, new groups, etc.
– OPA, 9 rue Biscornet, 75012 Paris, bastille
Another place with bands, concerts, usually no cover charge (as with the above places)
– Le Truskel, 12 rue Feydeau, 75002 Paris, Metro Bourse.
– Le Motel, 8, passage Josset, Paris, France, 75011 more often a bar with DJ, it does have bands, concerts, usually no cover charge (as with the above places)
– Le Point Ephemere, 200 quai de Valmy 75010, Paris, France
You get off at Metro Jaures and this place is located down on the canal below. You’ll see all the people outside, usually. An art space, concert space, bar, DJ thing, restaurant, (even has some privately run recording studios where I recorded four songs in the summer).
Here are some places where the focus is jazz:
– Petit Journal,one in Montparnasse, 13, rue du Commandant Mouchotte, 75014 PARIS, or the same one in St. Michel, 71, boulevard St- Michel, 75005 PARIS
– New Morning, 7-9, rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010 Paris
– Caveau de la Huchette, 5 rue de la Huchette, 75005 PARIS
– Swan Bar, Montparnasse, mentioned above, which is owned and run by an American who has lived in Paris for years and always wanted to create a kind of NYC jazz bar in Paris – and did so; although it’s not alway jazz! It’s at 165 Blvd du Montparnasse, 75006