I was thinking of doing the blues jam at the Cabaret Culture Rapide in Belleville last night, but instead I opted to go listen to Corey Webb‘s evening at the Tennessee Bar. I took my guitar thinking I might be able to do both. But Corey’s concert proved so captivating that I stayed a little too long there to make going to the blues jam worth it – not to mention that my jet lag from Australia hit a peak.
Corey has been in Paris for a couple of months, and he has done many of the open mics, including my Sunday brunch. He differs little to most musicians armed only with a guitar in that he’ll tend to do his most proven, successful songs at these open mics. But when he finally got his own gig, last night at the Tennessee, he not only found a way to fill the room with a cheering fan club – a very healthy number of spectators – but above all, he knew how to vary the show so much that he kept the audience interested.
So often I will see people who have no more than a guitar, or even bands for that matter, just playing the same kind of music and using the same kind of approach, all night long. Corey found a couple of guys to beat makeshift drums with him, and Sven Cosnuau – one of the drum beaters – also joined occasionally on back up vocals. But what was most impressive about the variety Corey offered was that he really did find all sorts of small means of changing the furniture, as it were, so that we never had the sense of monotony.
Corey is a lively performer anyway, and always aware of the needs of the audience. He has performed extensive in the U.S., won prizes, done some CDs – I bought two of them last night – and in general is a very enthusiastic and talented musician. But here’s how he mixed the show last night: There was a piano on hand, so it turned out that Corey can beat the piano as well as his guitar, and so we were treated to a few songs on piano, then guitar. But he also used the guitar in various ways to keep our attention, adding fuzz and wah-wah occasionally, while often doing pure acoustic playing as well.
As I said, there were the drum beaters and Sven’s backup vocals as well. But the crowning moment of difference was when he invited his friend Lorette to join him for a couple of duos. One they did with the guitar, and the other they did a cappella, and it was very sweet indeed. At one moment Corey rushed to the front of the stage during one of his own songs and did a bit of a cappella himself just to wake up anyone who might have slipped off. I don’t think anyone did. It was a wonderfully well done concert and should be a lesson to anyone who does small gigs here and there in an effort to move on up to the bigger stuff….
Too bad for Paris that Corey is soon to leave for London.