I have been away from the blog since Sunday in Oxford – probably my longest hiatus so far – but that is not because I’ve been away from music. On the contrary, I’ve had a phenomenal week I will never forget, and I wanted to get a few words and videos down before it was too late.
First, briefly, the last night in Oxford I did go and play at the Old Bookbinder’s pub. Played four songs in two sets. There were some interesting muscians there as well, including one I had met last year, and one I had heard at the Catweazle Club three nights earlier. ‘Nuff said.
Monday back to Paris and a quiet evening listening to a new stock of LPs that Vanessa bought – some cool 80s stuff and some 70s stuff too.
Tuesday was the beginning of the musical adventure of the week. It was announced as the last of Earle’s open mics, and it was being held at The Panic Room, on rue Amelot, near the Pop ‘In. It was meant to be a celebration of the end of Earle’s open mics, which had ceased to happen for the last couple of months or so. The list of potential guests on Facebook had grow to more than 170 people by the day of the event, and that was a lot more than ever signed up for the regular open mics. So I had great expectations.
I had never been to the Panic Room before and found it to be a fabulous venue. It had a spacious upper bar on two levels with clean painted walls and a nice shiny bar. The basement room was a cave with a vaulted ceiling – typical Paris thing – and a big fumoir. The stage was small by most standards but big for an open mic, and the sound was good for the listeners and for the musicians.
Upstairs, part of the evening was not just that it be an open mic, but it was also a photo exhibition of photos done by Olivier Rodriguez and Céline LiLi Faye, two friends who took photos at Earle’s open mic for years. They decided to organize this last open mic and do put up a photo exhibit of the ones in the previous years, and they did a great job both of the photos and the organization of this open mic. I’m putting in a video below that takes a brief tour of the photo display and includes a moment where we see Olivier looking at me with a face that said, “Camera shy.” Sure thing, Olivier! In the video there is a moment at which you will see the oldest of the musicians looking a little like Jacques Brel, c. 1966 at the Olympia, in a white shirt, face in a grimace behind glasses, and that’s me. Just below that you will see a photo of a young man with long hair and a similar face to mine – that’s my son Paul. Yep, Father and Son.
And it was in reference to those two photos that I sang Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” when I went up on stage. I was the second person up. First was my friend – and my son’s friend – Calvin, whom I have mentioned here before. I also played “Just Like A Woman” and “Since You Left Me” and “Except Her Heart.” I know that I did a good job for two reasons: One was that I felt good, in the groove, and really delighted to be up there and singing for the audience. The second reason was that a few of the women who listened told me afterwards that they had been brough almost to tears by my songs. Sheesh!
The evening progressed at a nice cool pace, and Earle was at his best, promoting the singers, singing along, enthusiastic as ever. In fact, he said to me that he thought he might like to continue doing open mics, but perhaps only once a month. He just loves it. Despite this being the so-called last one.
A few of the big names of the many years the open mic has existed showed up to play and honor Earle and the audience. They included François, who is the singer from The Agency, and Stevan, the singer from The Parisians, as well as Xavier, the guitar player from the Parisians who backed Earle on “Teenage Kicks,” and Syd from The Burnin’ Jacks was there, as were other members of that rising band in the Paris music scene.
Among the aforesaid was the brilliant lead guitarist from the Burnin’ Jacks, Félix Beguin. I have played with Félix on and off at Earle’s since November or December 2008, when I first started playing at his open mics. And we were supposed to play my set together, not only as a tribute to the Earle scene, but also as a warm up for the following two days in which we were going to live out the next step of my week’s adventure, my time recording four songs in the studio at the Point Ephemere. This post has become so long that I have decided to do a separate post for the studio days. Coming right up… up there, up above this one…. î