Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Back at Bonheur – Me and a Few Others – and a Mess of an Effort with a Great Lowden Guitar

April 24, 2013
bradspurgeon

Last night was my first time back at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic in what feels like maybe a month, after my travels. It was a refreshing return, and I found that this, one of the best open mics in Paris, was also hosting another two or three regulars from the past who had returned to Paris at least for a few days. But there were new people too, including several from England who have come just for the open mics…

One of the returnees was Tory Roucaud, who has been living in Switzerland for a year or so now and who has set up the only open mic in Zurich, called…Open Mic Zurich. So Tory returned with great relish, and it was with relish we listened to her hot vocals again….

Also returning was Arthur Goldiner – just call him “fang” – with his sensitive ballads and his amazing Lowden guitar. Oh, and speaking of his cool Lowden, Arthur was unbelievably giving, as he allowed me to use his guitar when I played my two songs. The Lowden has a very unique and pure sound, and is just a beautiful guitar, particularly good for fingerpicking – Pierre Bensusan, the French fingerpicking genius, is a longtime advocate of the Lowden, and even has a signature model of his own – and I foolishly used it only for strumming. But there was worse: Last night the mic cable or the mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance suddenly ceased working, so most of the open mic was done acoustic. It was great, intimate, and the room is small enough for it to work without amplification. But when I sat down to play my songs, and to try something new, I began with my song, “If I Only Had You,” and I suddenly felt vocally and melodically and tonically, very uncomfortable. Something was clearly wrong, and I felt my voice really low, the sound barely coming out….

I continued and as I played I forgot a line or two, but did the best I could as I was thinking to myself, “What is wrong!!!???” And then I figured it out: The Lowden, with its magic sound, MUST have been tuned down a level. After the song I asked Arthur, and he said it was – that he had forgotten to tell me. He then advised me to use the capo up two frets for everything….

So, I then decided to leap onto the edge of a precipice and do “May You Never,” by John Martyn, which I am still learning, and feeling very shaky about. In fact, after learning that it was a favorite song of the spectator sitting right in front of me, I lost all sense of confidence and groove, and could not get the song going, forgetting the chords, the lyrics, everything! So Tory, bless her, suggested I do “Mad World.” After at first saying I had done it a million times there, when she offered to sing along in harmony, I accepted…. it was pretty cool with that Lowden, in fact, despite my strumming, and with Tory’s – and other people’s – harmonies….

The evening ended with a supercool duet of Wayne Standley and Yaco playing very cool sounding 50s-ish lead….

2 Comments

  1. Hi Brad,
    Loved all the Lowden talk, and sorry again for forgetting to tell you about the tuning. But, you made it work! It was great seeing you and hearing how the film is going. Thanks for the post.
    Best,
    Arthur

    • Hey, when silly crap like that happens the payoff is I have something to write about on the blog that I haven’t said before already – so I’m delighted about the Lowden “incident”! (Not to mention how cool it was to try the guitar….)

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