Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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World Travel 2012 Pithy Wrap Up Part II: Paris

December 2, 2012

I left off on my long and rambling post yesterday by saying that I would end my open mic world adventure with the story of what I did upon my arrival back in Paris after two weeks away and two days return travel. That return was a killer, because it involved two night flights, sleeping in economy class two nights in a row on American Airlines, and in between the two nights, an 11-hour stopover at JFK in NYC. Did it therefore make sense to accept to do a musical gig on the very night of my return after all that, on Wednesday? Oh it sure did! It was just what I required to kickstart my return to Paris life.

The call came on my cell phone as my shuttle bus pulled into the airport in Sao Paulo on Monday evening. Someone had to withdraw from a gig slot on Wednesday night because they had a concert in London. Would I be able to replace them? Oh, yes, I would love to! First, the location seemed very cool. It was a peniche, or barge, on the Seine. Second, the gig was just a half-hour set, so I could do that with no advance preparation. Third, there were a number of other interesting acts on the same bill. Fourth, I learned this later, that the proceeds of the show went to a charity.

And finally, I realized instantly, that if I could get my favorite lead guitarist, Félix Beguin, to join me for the gig, then I would be finishing off immediately upon arrival my challenge of recording myself playing with a musician in all 20 of the countries I visited this year. I had not yet really done it in Paris, and time goes so quickly, I was sure I could let it lag and drag and the end of the year would come and I would not have found the occasion. So I texted Félix and he agreed immediately. I would only find out the night we played that he had another gig lined up for London, England the following day with his other band, the Burnin’ Jacks, and so he had to get up early for that. Imagine him accepting to play with me? So cool.

So I arrived at my home at 8 AM on Wednesday morning, dived into bed and slept until 2:30 in the afternoon as those night flights had not allowed me enough sleep to be in good shape for anything, let along a gig. Then I got up and ate breakfast, washed all my clothes and dried them and ironed something for the gig. Then I went to the gig.

The peniche, called La Dame de Canton, was even better than I thought it would be. I had heard of it, but never seen it. It is intimate, has three levels to it, or four really, with the concert hall level, a bar above, a bar below, and a restaurant in the very bottom. The stage is big enough for a band, it is well lit, there is an excellent sound system and a sound man who takes time to make sure everything is set up perfectly for you – we did this well before the gig – and there is a nice, relaxed feel to the whole room. I loved it and felt really at home, and in a place that is made for small concerts.

Facebook listed exactly 100 people accepting the invitation for the gig, and that had mostly to do with the other bands – including Blankass, and no doubt the guy I was replacing, and above all, Melody Says, the woman who organized the show. Melody Says got the whole place dancing at one point, and her show was very polished and together – which is quite cool for a woman of 20….

Anyway, after our set – which went very well, it was so great to see people listening – Félix and I decided that we would watch the other acts and then go off and play some more songs together at an open mic. That was the Vieux Léon, which is a young open mic, having existed only a couple of months or so. I knew there would not be a vast list of people – unlike at the Highlander – so despite showing up a little late, we got to play our songs. I think we did five songs, most of which we had not done at the Dame de Canton, and which we have barely played together before. So that was fun – and went down well again.

Now, tomorrow I will introduce a new feature kind of story on the blog, which has also occupied a lot of my time in the last week. I’ll keep that one a surprise – although it’s no big deal. Just an idea.

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