Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Village of Paris: From Highlander to Shakespeare and Co and Back Again

July 12, 2012

Grabbing hold of your own destiny. It feels great when you do it. Last night I went to the Highlander open mic and found it bursting with life, musicians and spectators. So much so that I was around 20th on the list of performers, and I wondered how I was going to make it from around 9:30 PM to 00:30 AM standing, listening, drinking, before I got up to express myself.

After a beer, I decided that I knew no one with whom I wanted to have an extended conversation – despite some great friends present – as I was feeling a little low. I decided that my life is my own, and rather than standing there, I should go out into the evening and take a walk down the street to Shakespeare and Company bookstore to see if they had a recent issue of The New York Review of Books. I would freshen my spirt, and return to the open mic with a different mindset.

So I went. A nice night, sun still, not dark. And when I arrived at Shakespeare and Company I still had an hour there before it closed. I found an issue of the 12 July to 15 August of the NYBR and then decided to look at the books. I found a few that intrigued me, but I bought none. I then heard some piano from the first floor, and applause. Hmm… Life music?

I went upstairs and found the piano room in the library and there were a couple of teenagers, one with a violin and the other on the piano. They also had an electric guitar. There was a nice little audience of five or six people or more, of all ages. The musicians finished playing their song, saw my guitar and asked if I wanted to play. I sure did! So I did “Mad World,” and “Father and Son,” and the pianist and violin player joined me on the first, and the pianist tried to join me on the second too, but they were on the way out the door.

It was a real pleasure to play in amongst the books at this monument of Paris bookstores where you are truly free to roam, read, play and whatever…. When I finished my song, a woman with her boyfriend or husband, said, “Do you play at the Highlander sometimes?” I said I did, and she said she recognized me from perhaps three months before. She and the man had only been to the Highlander once, but she had remembered me. Ouch! That was cool. And it showed what a small village Paris can be sometimes.

Of course, it brightened my spirits massively, and I left Shakespeare and Company feeling as if I had been in control of my life and raising my downer spirit. I returned to the Highlander after barely an hour’s absence and walked in the door to order a beer, and a woman greeted me: “How are you?!? Long time no see. You cracking?” Or something like that. “Ready for some action?” she added. Well, I had to admit, “Yes.” I was ready. What was she proposing?

Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening at the Highlander with her and a friend with her, whom I met and got on with like a highlander on fire. (sorry) I then performed my songs, and they liked it and the stuff went over well, despite me not doing only the usual stuff but trying something new.

The only drawback to what turned out to be a fabulous evening all together, was that I only managed to make three videos of the great musicians present last night. My favorite of the three is the one of Thomas Brun going crazy on the final song of the night with all his electronic toys. It was very cool, and grabbed the spirit of the night.

But meeting up with the woman of long time no see, and meeting the people who had seen me months earlier, it all made Paris feel like a village…. One where it is possible to control one’s destiny – or at least whether you are having fun or not…. 🙂

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