PARIS – Paris in August is great in the day and crap at night. Everything closes down, the musical venues decide that the business the tourists and vacationers might give them is not worth losing their own vacations for, and generally, it’s a place to avoid. Last night, with these negative thoughts in my mind, I set out for the open mic at the Tennessee bar, deciding that in order to get there early for once I would sacrifice my normal dinner mode and grab a falafel near the Place St. Michel and eat it on the Rue St. André des Arts before arriving at the Tennessee. Once I got there, I found the bar open, but the open mic cancelled – as it has been for weeks, apparently. The bartender could not tell me when it would start a again – a week or two, or maybe three.
With this in mind, I thought my night was a catastrophe and I should return home and continue working on my books and film. I’ve been on a good run with them, and nightlife and adventure and music were obviously dead in Paris. But then I decided I had better burn off the falafel and I decided to walk to the Escargot Underground open mic that I attended last week, to see how things were going this week. It’s not like I did not have a great time last week. It was just I wanted variety, and I feared there’d be practically no one there.
At the Escargot, Suddenly, Wayne Standley Sings Jimmy
By I did not drop my arms and lose my hope and I continued on my march across Paris, stopping only for a Magnum ice cream from a supermarket near the Rex cinema. Once I got to the Escargot, I found some old friends, including Trelys, and Wayne Standley, who was one of the mainstay musician – along with me – at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar, now since ended…. It was great to see them both again, and great to sing my songs in this wonderful open mic, and great to listen to more Russian music and other things…. And then… BANG! Suddenly, without announcing the name of his next song, Wayne lays into “Jimmy,” by the band Moriarty. Readers of this blog may have seen in the past that I have referred to Wayne as the father of Rosemary Standley, the singer in that same band. But this was the first time I had ever seen Wayne sing the band’s biggest hit.
It turned out that it was, indeed, actually, the first time Wayne had ever sung the song in public. So I was fast on him with my Zoom Q3 HD, not wanting to miss my opportunity to slap that up here on the blog in a world first. It was a beautiful rendition, and I only regret that I did not start going for the closeups until much later in the song, so the first part is a little distant, but it gets better. Wayne’s singing of it is beautifully emotional, and when you know the backstory, wow!
So after the Escargot Wayne and I decided to walk over to the metro together and then Wayne suggested we go somewhere for a drink. We were within walking distance of a bar called the Zelda – after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife – that is owned by a friend of mine, Matthias Cadéac d’Arbaud. The Zelda opened up a couple of years ago, and it has had quite a bit of good press and is considered something of an “in” place in Paris now. It is small and comfortable and hip, and I had seen David Broad play there in the past, and thought that it would be a cool place to show Wayne, and thought it would be cool to speak to Matthias again.
I have very fond memories of jamming with Matthias at the Truskel in the days of Earle’s open mic there in 2009. Matthias was the guitarist (and also played drums, keyboards, some vocals and bass) in a very cool band called Rock&Roll, that had the cover of one of its albums done with a photograph of the band taken by Karl Lagerfeld. For a couple of years they were looking set to be the next big thing from France musically, and they had top management in the U.S., as well. And very hot, rhythmic and colorful music. Their producer had worked with New Order, Pet Shop Boys and Blur. The French rock magazine, Les Inrockuptibles selected them from 7000 bands as the top new band of 2006.
Then Matthias of Rock&Roll and Zelda Owner, Comes Out of Retirement and Plays Jimmy With Wayne
But Matthias ended up packing up his musical instruments and opened the bar and he has not played guitar for a long while, he said, although he said he sometimes goes to a nearby bar after he closes his Zelda and he plays piano for fun, late into the night. Well, I mentioned to Matthias that my friend Wayne here was the father of Rosemary of Moriarty, and Matthias just lit up and said that Jimmy was one of his favorite songs. He put it on the sound system, as it was in his iPod. That’s when Wayne pointed out that he himself actually provides backing vocals on the original recording of the song (the recording we hear on the radio, etc.). We heard him doing them, and that was news to me.
After Matthias closed the bar I suggested that Wayne show him his 1962 Guild guitar, and that’s when Mattias proposed that Wayne sing Jimmy, and I proposed that Matthias play along. So started a jam that lasted around 45 minutes, with all of us playing together or separately. The high moment was the Jimmy moment – even though it was around 2:30 and we were all pretty tired at that point – and the first take of one of Wayne’s songs, with Matthias playing a bit of lead and rhythm along with Wayne. It was full of energy, and a great song and a great moment.
All in all, I was totally astounded by the richness of the evening. And for fans of Moriarty, if there is any single one of the covers of Jimmy that you have to choose from, then Wayne’s is it! Check this stuff out, and keep in mind that these are the first and second times only that Wayne has sung this song in public. Of course, now he joins the thousands of other – mostly young women – who sing this amazing song at open mics. A quiet night in August breaking out in all directions….