Brad Spurgeon’s findings on Open Mics in Shanghai:
As with many places, over the years I have performed at more open mics in Shanghai than I have listed here, but most of them have either closed down or I cannot find further trace of them. My first ever open mic after I started again attending open mics in 2008 after decades without, was, in fact, in Shanghai at a bar that no longer exists – the Blues Room, it was called. In the years since then, I have played in Not Me bar, now closed; Oscar’s Pub, which no longer has an open mic; the fabulous Bee Dees, which no longer exists (or not as it was, and not where it was); the Karma Lounge no longer a jam and sold by its jam organizing owner; a Chinese restaurant called Dreams of Old Shanghai, that I think still exists but was never an open mic, just a mic open to a guy with a guitar – me – and one or two other places the names of which I cannot remember. But restaurants and bars and open mics really turnover quickly in Shanghai from my experience in the last five years, so I have few places to list.
Sunday – House of Blues & Jazz</a>, 60 Fuzhou road (near the Bund) Shanghai, PR China. 200002 Phone: +86 021 6323 2779 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This is one of the oldest most venerable jazz clubs in Shanghai, and the style depends on who is running the show. I have seen it range from jazz and soft soul/rock kind of stuff to pop, rock and even my own rock folk on the night I played at the House of Blues & Jazz in 2016. The clients also depend on the night, ranging from anything to anything else, but this place is not cheap – close to 100 yen for a pint of beer – and the room, although with a jazz theme, is fairly posh too – by open mic bar standards.
Monday – Melting Pot – Describing itself as “the home of some of Shanghai’s most infectious live music and the place to go for a raucously fun atmosphere,” I have to agree. The Melting Pot has an open mic and open jam session on Monday nights, and I believe the jam is somewhat open on Sunday nights too, but I have not listed that here as I cannot confirm that. But the Monday night is worth attending both to play and listen. The stage is cute, kitty cornered almost, and with other musicians to join you as you play – or play solo – it is a wonderfully entertaining stage to play from. The bright lights pointing at you mean you cannot see the audience well, of course, but you know they are there, wanting to have fun, and often attentive. The bar is very dark, has nice cozy chairs and couches and low cocktail room style tables. The sound system is excellent. It really is more in the style of an open jam than a classic folky open mic – and the style tends more to funk, soul and jazz than folk or even rock – although there are some good solid rock musicians who take part. The music starts somewhere around 10 PM, but the open mic starts later, maybe 11:30 PM. Address: No. 288, Taikang Lu, Shanghai, Near Rui Jin er Lu/TianTzeFang email: email@example.com
– YYT– Kaixuan Lu #851, West of Yan’an Lu Metro station exit #2, Shanghai, China. This is a fabulous open mic/jam session. It has a big stage with a lot of musical instruments available to whomsoever wishes to play them, it has a sound man at the back of the room making sure your monitor works and the public hears you. It is full of people listening at high chairs on high tables, and at a bar to the left of the stage. A great mix of Chinese and expat musicians, YYT is really nevertheless a Chinese open mic, not just a foreigner’s thing. Beware: It may appear a little daunting as you enter and find that stage full of instruments and a drum set. But this open mic IS open to all kind of musicians, solo and groups. So just go for it, don’t be shy. The payoff can be big.