Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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A Concert at a Cool Venue in Paris – Bab Ilo

May 30, 2013
bradspurgeon

Bab Ilo

Bab Ilo

PARIS – I love discovering new music venues, and a couple of nights ago I went to a friend’s concert at a place I had never heard of, in Paris, on the “other” side of the Sacré Coeur, and it turns out the bar has existed for music since 1984. How could I have not been there before???

Well, probably part of it is that I so rarely go to other people’s gigs and concerts, being always out doing open mics myself. And because I’m going out to open mics almost every night of the week, I’m always going to the same venues, and not making new discoveries. This bar is called Bab Ilo, and it is a small, cosy bar on the ground floor, with a basement room of the more or less classic Parisian style, where the stage is and the music takes place.

Bab Ilo Bar Was a Full House

It is a very, very cramped quarters in that basement room, and it would be fabulous for an open mic, but Bab Ilo is usually used to host jazz evenings, Latin music, comedy and other recitals. When I arrived for the show, I ordered a beer and paid my five euro entry fee, and went down the narrow staircase to find the room so packed that there was no sitting room – or at least, only on the floor, since all seats were taken.

That meant that I managed to catch only one bit of the first act on video, and the camera is CONSTANTLY moving as I evaded movement of people standing in front of me, and as I moved my body with the push and shove of other people’s bodies, etc. That one video was of the woman who organized the three-part concert, Jeanne La Fonta. She sings amusing, clever, sometimes tongue-in-cheek songs, recites poetry and other writings, and… well, you’ll see in the video. But don’t get sea-sick with my movements.

After her I managed to move down the room to near the front of the stage where I saw on the doorstep to some other room, and I then managed to get a seat at a table after all, as the evening progressed.

The Traditional Finnish Harp of Feather Feather

I also managed to get a few videos of the second group of the evening – although my placement was not perfect, and my telephone invaded the sound at one point. Called Feather Feather, this band features a couple of people singing and a guy on violin, and most interesting of all, the man who La Fonta described as “not looking anything like Pierre Richard,” who is a famous French actor – notably in the 70s – played a very cool and interesting Finnish harp-like instrument the name of which I forget completely…. But have a listen, because it is very cool.

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