Open Mics in Paris:
Sunday – Paris Songwriters Club at O’Sullivans Rebel Bar. – As I post this, this open mic has had five editions, and I’ve not yet been to one. While I usually only put on this list open mics I have attended, I am making an exception here for several reasons. The main reason is that this is actually the same open mic that started last year running on Sundays at the Tennessee Bar, and I attended it several times, so I am sure it’s the same, and no doubt better. Why the same? Why better? The same because it is run by Paddy Sherlock, the longtime Paris expat Irishman musician who has graced the venues of Paris, France and Ireland with his great presence and sounds for decades, and he is solid. Why better? Because I’ve had lots of experience of open mics held at O’Sullivans Rebel bar, and so I know this place well, and I can only imagine this to be a perfect match – intimate, warm, and a music-loving management. This is an open mic with a difference, because the concept is that you only play your own compositions. Here is a blog post I did of the Paris Songwriters Club open mic at its previous location. Oh, one thing: Do check in advance to make sure the open mic is taking place on the Sunday you want; Paddy’s plans are to run every Sunday, but that is perhaps not yet guaranteed. Check it out! It starts at 7:00 PM. Address: 10 Rue des Lombards, 75004 Paris, Tél : 01 42 71 42 72. Metro: Châtelet.
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.
– Le Klein, 36 rue du roi de Sicile, Paris 4e. M° Hôtel de Ville / Saint-Paul A fabulous bar in the heart of the Marais, Le Klein is a great location for an open mic too. But it is the vibe created by the people running the bar and the open mic that really makes this one a success. A classic open mic system, with a small stage area at the front of the bar, so no room really for a whole group – but if you are two or three, guitar, vocals, violin, that sort of thing…perfect! It starts at 8 pm, with a sign up an hour before that. They announce they go until 11 pm, but they were playing until midnight the night I went when I wrote this report of my first visit to Le Klein open mic…
– 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!
– Tennessee Jazz Bar, 12 Rue André Mazet, 75006 Paris, 01 43 54 36 10. Another open mic at the Tennessee Bar – see Thursdays, below – this Sunday night event is called the Paris Songwriters Club, and is run by Paddy Sherlock. It has only been going since late 2017. and it only runs about once per month, but you should check the Facebook link in the previous sentence in order to see when it is. The concept is simple: It’s an open mic, but the point of this one is to perform only original material. Still, Paddy is also open to original material in other disciplines: Spoken word, poetry, theatre, etc. This open mic has the potential to be one of the best in Paris, as I have said in my reports on the Paris Songwriters Club nights. Not surprisingly, Paddy does a fabulous hosting job, and as a longtime Paris institution of a performer himself – he had a hugely long-running night at the Coolin’ pub before the pub closed down – and his own performances are some of the high moments of the evenings – as you can see in the video I made of the first evening I went to the Paris Songwriters Club open mic.
Monday – Galway Pub: 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 mics.
– Rush Bar: 32 Rue Saint-Sébastien, 75011 Paris. The Rush bar open mic quickly rushed onto the scene in Paris to become one of the fastest growing, best know, most fun open mics. Set in a fabulously cosy bar, with a multicultural feel – I mean, musicians and spectators come from all over, including a healthy showing from France itself! It was at first run by a long-time Paris expat musician, Charlie Seymour, and done in the classic way of two or three songs per guest, mostly guitar and vocal stuff, but other instruments and all styles are welcome. The first night I played there, I immediately felt at home, as I wrote in my blog post about this fabulous new edition to the Paris open mic scene at the Rush Bar. But then when Seymour and his crew moved to the Bastille area bar called the Bootleg – see below – this Rush bar open mic was taken over by the people who ran the open mic called the Escargot Underground. And, like magic it is just as good as the original! I mean both the original Rush bar open mic and the original Escargot Underground. Highly recommended!
– The Bootleg Bar: 55 Rue de la Roquette, 75011 Paris. The Rush bar open mic moved to the Bootleg bar in early 2018 after a change in management at the Rush bar. I still don’t know if there will be an open mic at the old Rush bar, but what is clear is that the whole team and most of the spectators and performers have moved the open mic that used to be at the Rush Bar into this new bar, the Bootleg. While the location is completely different, the rest is as written above under the old entry for the Rush bar open mic, as I reported after my first visit to the Bootleg open mic…!
– Cave Café: Downstairs at La Cave Cafe, 134 rue Marcadet, 18ème – Metro Lamarck Caulaincourt. 8pm – midnight. Monday nights in Paris are the most difficult for open mics in terms not of where to go, but where NOT to go! There is a wealth of locations, and these have recently been joined by a fabulous new open mic and jam session that calls itself “Montmartre Mondays at the Cave Café.” Created and hosted by Sheldon Forrest, who also does the Ozmos open mic listed below, I was surprised and delighted to find a completely different kind of vibe and location for a Sheldon Forrest open mic. Sheldon started out in Paris hosting the vocal jam at the now defunct Swan Bar, and he has held many others around town since. And while I always enjoy Sheldon’s style of accompanying singers on his piano, or joining in to jam with other musicians, much of the time the music has been jazz, cabaret or pop oriented. Here at the fabulous cave room complete with raised stage and excellent sound system, the accent seems to be more on rock and blues, but even folk and other 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, popular music. But nothing is excluded, and Sheldon is always available to accompany on the house piano – or the piano is available for others to play on. The bar is owned by a genial American, who mans the sound control system on his iPad through the performances while also serving behind the bar. A really great new open mic and jam session in a part of Paris that has few – in the back part of Montmartre.
– The Bombardier bar: 2, place du Panthéon, Paris, France 75005, tel. 01 43 54 79 22. The Bombardier has held open mics on and off for years, and this latest incarnation is run by Stephen “Cat” Saxo, mentioned above at the Cross of St. George pub’s open mic. This is a fabulous pub with the stage area set in the point of the angle that divides the two areas of the room, so people from all over the pub can see and hear the musicians. I laughed to myself when I realized that this romantic setting beneath the Pantheon was located right across the street from the staircase in Woody Allen’s film “Midnight in Paris,” where at midnight, the main character is transported back into 1920s literary Paris. Stepping into Stephen’s open mic here can transport you somewhere else too…. Stephen is available to accompany all musicians on his saxophone – or not. A classic open mic, three songs or more, depending on how many musicians are there. Starts around 20:30 and goes to near midnight.
– 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 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. The following open mic no longer exists, from what I hear from one who ran it. However, I have seen on Facebook that there is a jam session that appears to happen here on Mondays with someone else running it. So in the interest of providing as much information as possible, I will leave my original entry up here, as it will definitely tell you about the kind of location and environment this jam has the potential for. Here it is: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on the list. ABRACADABAR 123 avenue Jean Jaurès 75019 PARIS
– Spoken Word Paris at the Chat Noir bar, is as it sounds, a spoken word open mic. 90 rue Jean Pierre Timbaud 75011 Paris, France, Phone 01 43 38 19 72 But they do allow musicians, with, I think, some sort of emphasis on the text. It’s one spot, one song, two rounds per night. This is one of the main English-language spoken word open mics, in the basement of this cool bar on the corner of the rue Saint-Maur and rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud. Loud as hell upstairs, the atmosphere is quiet listening downstairs in the intimate location of the open mic.
Tuesday – 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
Wednesday – The Highlander, rue de Nevers, 75005, 10-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.
– Jay Golden’s Jam School, at Les Disquaires // 4-6 rue des Taillandiers // 75011 Paris // M° Bastille, Ledru Rollin ou Bréguet Sabin. The Jam School is held every Wednesday starting at 9:30 PM, but get there earlier to sign up. Great room, great stage, great sound system, great MC in Golden. But beware: This is a jam session with a plan. You must check in advance what the style of music will be for that evening, and you must also check out the set list, which is laid out in advance and goes for four months before it is changed. This means that you must be prepared in advance to join in on the well known standards of the set list, playing your instrument along with the other jammers, to the music of the set list. Check out my first report on this Jay Golden’s Jam School at the Disquaires to see exactly what I mean…. Oh, and here, in short, is the plan for styles of music: The 1st week of the month is Jazz, The 2nd week is Funk, The 3rd week is Blues-Rock, The 4th week is Soul, The 5th is a Tribute
– 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 running various formulas for open mics for two or three years. This is now run by the same people who did the Escargot Underground a couple of years ago, and they are again calling it the Escargot Underground. There are other jams and open mics later in the week, Thursday and Saturday, run by other people – but I have not attended those, so I will not put much up here on this list – except a small note.
– 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.
– Osmoz Café, 33 rue de l’Ouest, Paris 14eme, Metro Gaite, exit Vercingetorix, open mic, open jam and a kind of “live karaoke” of the kind that Sheldon Forrest, the American pianist in Paris, has done for years around the city, and continues to do at several different locations. He perfected the format at the Swan Bar on Montparnasse, where he hosted the vocal jam for years. It is a format highly appreciated by singers who do not play an instrument: Just go and ask Sheldon to accompany you on the piano. At the Osmoz Café, however, the atmosphere is completely different to that of the old – now closed – Swan Bar: Here it is a crowded, lively, loud, but appreciative room and atmosphere. The Osmoz serves Kabyle couscous and French bistro food in addition to just being a bar. And, as usual, Sheldon accepts all kind of music, cabaret, spoken word, or whatever you have to offer – as I found out when I went to the Osmoz Café open mic to do a monologue with Ornella Bonventre of TAC Teatro.
– 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 – 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 has always been an open mic for any kind of music, mostly folk, pop, rock, etc.. 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, with little success. But now, starting in September 2017 it was taken over by Etienne Belin, who hosted the very successful Coolin bar open mic for many years – as well as the Rebel Bar open mic – so this place has no doubt rediscovered its glory days. Sign up at 8 PM, music starts at 9 PM.
– Le Carré Jam, 10 Rue des Saints Pères, Paris. Tel. 01 42 60 82 84. This is a unique experience in Paris jams and open mics: Located in the Latin Quarter in a part of the city mostly known for its art galleries and other expensive stores, the Carré bar is in fact a pocket of arts history: It is a room beneath the famous cabaret Don Camille, a room where many stars (and the spectators) of the cabaret came to have a drink after the show. In fact, Serge Gainsbourg himself spent time here, and that is no surprise since just two steps around the corner is his famous Paris home still with its graffiti covered entrance, looking like a memorial to the idiosyncratic musical legend. The jam is run by Olivier Domengie, who also runs the Nul Bar Ailleurs jam on Tuesdays, and who has done several others in the past, including one that was also called Le Carré, but located just off the Place St. Michel, till that ended. In this 1970s-feel of the new Carré, you can jam with other musicians, but also sometimes play by yourself, and it goes on from 8pm to 2am. There’s a drumset, guitars, mics and a bass. Ask for the special prices for jammers. I highly recommend this place.
– 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.
– Olympe, 62 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris. Starting promptly at 20:15 and ending at 23:45, this is a very tightly organized open mic in a part of town with few others: The top of the 19th Arrondissement by the beautiful Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Watch out, though, part of the tight organization is that there are only 12 spots – three songs each – and so it is wise, and almost necessary, to call up the organizer (his phone at the moment is: 06 63 46 23 67) in advance to book a slot. All styles of music accepted, here is my report of my first visit to this Olympe bar open mic.
– L’Oasis 244, 244 Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin, Paris, Tel. 06 52 65 75 32 – this bar also hosts a jam/open mic on Thursdays; see the full entry about the bar in the open mic bit above on Wednesdays.
– “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.
– L’Oasis 244, 244 Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin, Paris, Tel. 06 52 65 75 32 – this bar also hosts an open mic on Saturdays; see the full entry about the bar in the open mic bit above on Wednesdays.
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