Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Nice Buskers in Nice

May 25, 2011

Funny, I arrived last night dead tired from a disastrous train ride to Nice from Montpellier – after taking a couple of other trains before that from Barcelona – and had a meal in Nice and said, “Early to bed, don’t even bother looking for a place to play music.” But I said, “No, push yourself, and walk off some of that three course meal.” Mainly I did want to push myself. It was late, and the music scene for open mics and jams has not proven to be too fertile here in the south of France in the past, so every moment is valuable.

So I headed off to the old town in Nice looking to check out some of the places I knew of in the past. I knew that Johnny’s Wine Bar no longer existed, and that it was there where I had one of my best open mics in the south in 2009. But I dropped by there anyway, only to find a jazz club just up the street and the owner sitting out front. That led to what may tonight turn into an opportunity to play. I will write about that tomorrow once I see if or how it goes.

Then I headed down a street to the left right near this music joint and suddenly I saw a group of four or five buskers taking a break from their busking and snacking in the narrow street. They had a guitar, an upright bass, a saxophone and some percussion things – a drum, bongos. They said hello when they saw my guitar. So I stopped, we chatted, I noticed that the Takamine guitar had a crack on its table that looked like the problem on my Seagull, but not as bad. I commented on that and pulled out my Seagull to show it to them.

One of the guys then wanted to try my guitar, then another, so we had a little tiny moment of jamming in the streets. But they gave me a couple of ideas for further musical possibilities – including a bit of busking tonight, perhaps. I may or may not take that one up. But as the conversation progressed I ended up telling them I was a journalist specializing in Formula One and taking my guitar around the races to play around the world in open mics and jam sessions. One of the musicians then said that he had played in Eddie Jordan’s band before, and we got to talking about our experiences with Eddie Jordan, as I had written about my musical experience last year with this former Formula One team owner who is now a commentator on BBC television.

I knew that Eddie was using a busker from Italy in his band lately, and here it was it turned out he had used two of these buskers I was now speaking to in Nice. These guys were not French, by the way – or at least not the bass player who tried my guitar and did some really nice tapping with it as you will see in the video. But naturally, I thought, what a bloody small world, and what a cool adventure! And crap, there it was again, that message: When you’re feeling down and low and tired, push yourself to the edge of something better. Had I retired to my bed after a contented meal and a long day, I’d have missed out on all of the above!

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