“After a few years’ sabbatical, Paul L Martin’s original Open Mic Piano Bar returns – in a brand new home! Our wonderful roster of hosts includes Jamie Anderson, Champagne Charlie and Paul L Martin, ably accompanied by pianists Tom Carradine, Simona Budd, Birgitta Kenyon and Nicki Williamson. So – just rock up with sheet music and ask to sing, or just come to listen – all are welcome! Entry is FREE but a hat is sent round for tips for your host and musicians “
Last Thursday I headed down to the intimate cabaret venue that resides upstairs in Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec Kennington. Excited not only about a new Open Mic evening in South East London, but also by this unassuming cabaret bar being located 15 minutes walk from my flat! The venue is an intimate space reminiscent of a gay Paris paying homage to artist Toulouse Lautrec and “brimming with the bohemian charm of the Parisian jazz bars of a bygone era”. As well as an inviting wine list, we are also offered a menu of hot and cold snacks including Toulouse sausage, snails from burgundy and baguettes.
Paul L Martin from www.excessallareas.co.uk is producing this Open Mic night and to do this he is collaborating with hosts new and old! His idea is to have 4 rotating hosts for the evening – and he is auditioning talent as you read this!
For last week’s entertainment I was treated to the ever-so-talented Champagne Charlie (Champagne!) and his on-stage husband Tom Carradine. As Emcee for the night Champagne Charlie welcomes, teases, invites and encourages all; whether you’re a musical voyeur or willing participant, Charlie is there to warm you up and ensure fun unfolds throughout the evening! For those of you who attend regular Open Mic nights you’ll be familiar with Champagne Charlie, his aura of decadence and flamboyant style is famous within the underground cabaret scene.
Champagne Charlie is a superb host for this kind of event, his evocative style tantalises the taste buds of audience and performers and his decadent style frame the evening’s entertainment beautifully. I have not seen the other hosts yet, although I’m sure Paul’s choices will also prove a huge success.
Throughout the evening I watched a number of performers whose talent varied from amateur singer, to professional performer. The music styles and genres varied lots and all levels of talent and style of music were received equally with support and love.
In the first set (of three) we are treated to a performance of Noel Coward’s Bar on the Piccola Marin, Miss Emily Davies’ (host on the 5th /2/15) regales her memoirs from the Valleys. We are treated to a solo performance of bewitched bothered and bewildered by the ever-so-talented Katie Baker, one of Four Femmes on the Thames. Sean Malynn changes the tempo with an Oleta Adams classic I just had to hear your voice and Jo Jolley (AKA Chardonnay Sharon) belts out a number from her recent show 80 men around the world. We also get to hear relative newcomer to the open mic scene, Gary Bland sing his “Audition Song”. (I’d cast him with that rendition)
The event is free to attend, however, they do pass a top hat round the audience, New York style, for you to show your appreciation for the host and house-band; I see notes and coins being offered with cheers of happiness and support of the evening’s festivities.
I have been to many open-mic nights in the past years, however, I can confidently state that Paul L Martin has got it right with ‘West End Wendies‘. It is welcoming to all, people are there to sing and receive support, the audience enjoy the performances and show respect by remaining quiet whilst the singers are on the stage. The venue is small and intimate and allows all to feel part of the show. Even though I never sing, I really felt part of the evening’s frivolities and festivities.
If you enjoy the night, then Champagne Charlie has available for sale, his new album full of 1920s party hits and some of the performers are performing at the venue in the coming weeks – namely Four Femmes on the Thames on 13th February.
Review by Faye Stockley
Tuesday 3rd February 2015