Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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New Music at the Highlander, Serenade at Shakespeare and Company

February 16, 2012

Some days it seems you run into new things and people, even repeating your regular habits, while other days it seems nothing happens. Last night at the Highlander I met some interesting new people, and enjoyed my set in a different way than usual, singing this new song I’ve been working on, called “Sing It.” Then today I found this extremely cool musical atmosphere where I least expected it: at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.

The highlights of the Highlander came in like the parts of a short story; at the beginning, middle and end. In the early part of the evening it was a performance by the interesting and talented and tastily named “Whiskey Bliss.” Whiskey, whose real name is Whitney (!), is an American who is traveling all around Eastern and Western Europe, busking, performing in bars, open mics, and wherever the adventure takes her. No wonder I had to leap over to her table as quickly as I could to ask her about her adventures.

She is from the U.S., and plays accordion and sings, often performing with jugglers and the like. There is definitely something cowboy saloon-sounding about her stage name, and the performance – well, check it out for yourself. She has a big, beautiful voice and a handy accordion style. She is based in Athens at the moment, I think – if the bliss from the Scotch single malt whiskey that I drank last night has not killed my memory – and she has spent time in Bucarest and Budapest and other such dazzling places, and will be moving on to various other ones, like Berlin…. Keep an eye out for her.

In the middle of the evening it was the interesting performance by Brislee Adams, who played a Leonard Cohen, and showed another aspect to his vocal prowess. I had never heard him doing the deep voice. At the end of the evening it was a man named Peter, of Irish origin, who sang the blues and played some slide guitar along with it. He did some Robert Johnson and some 1930s blues. I was pleased to learn that he had discovered the Highlander through my open mic guide on this site. I love it when that happens.

Today I had to go and pick up a book I had ordered at the Abbey Bookshop. It was the book called “The Billionaire’s Vinegar,” about that wine scandal that I wrote about and posted in my articles area on this site. Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to make my first visit to Shakespeare and Company since the owner, George Whitman died in December. There I decided to by the Steven Jobs biography as a way not so much to pay homage to the man who so recently died, as to really jump as deeply as I could into the Mac world, having just bought my first Mac computer last Sunday.

I also bought the New York Review of Books, and then I said, well, I’m here at Shakespeare and Company, a place where I had done one of my rejected stories that I put up on this site after Whitman’s death in December, so I must go upstairs to the first floor and just absorb the atmosphere.

I had expected to absorb the atmosphere of books, but as I climbed the stairs I heard the piano chords to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and I thought it was the radio or a recording. I followed the music into a back room and found the song was being played on a piano. It was a guy playing it, I listened for a moment and absorbed the wonderful atmosphere of music and reading- other people sat around reading books – and then I explored the rest of the floor.

I was then attracted back into that piano room by the sound of a lovely singing voice, along with the piano again. This time it was a woman, a Dutch woman named Vera van de Seyp, and she was singing to the guys, while others continued to read. I had to make a video of the moment and spread the atmosphere. And Vera kindly allowed me to put it on the blog.

Talk about a lot of new and interesting encounters for less than 24 hours! May it continue….

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