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Three Completely Different Musical Experiences in One Night in Paris – for a Compleat Musical Experience

November 8, 2013
bradspurgeon

Touched by Grace

Touched by Grace

PARIS – As it turned out, I could have played in all of the three musical locations that I visited in Paris last night – but I played in none of them. And as it turned out, I was just as happy with that situation as going somewhere to play myself, as my real idea was to take in three in one night for a completely different cultural experience each time.

The first was the one where, I will admit, the idea of playing there myself is greatly exaggerated. The only reason I mention it at all was that when I arrived at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore to hear Gary Lucas play his guitar and talk about and read from his book, Lucas actually had a guy singing with him in a vaguely Jeff Buckley manner. The guy, it turned out, was just someone Lucas did not know or had never heard sing, and he had asked in advance if he could join in and sing along when Lucas performed at the bookstore. Lucas agreed, and it was a cool effect and a nice little addition to a very cool presentation. So it occurred to me that perhaps if I had asked, too, he’d have given me a chance – even if it was a longshot….

Gary Lucas was at Shakespeare and Company to promote his book “Touched by Grace,” which recounts his experience working with Jeff Buckley, with whom he wrote a dozen or more songs, including the famous “Grace,” and “Mojo Pin.” But Buckley is not his only claim to fame as a collaborator. Lucas has played guitar or otherwise collaborated with a Who’s Who of popular musical geniuses – to say nothing of Leonard Bernstein – from Captain Beefheart to Patti Smith to Lou Reed to Iggy Pop…oh and even people like Peter Stampfl, of the Holy Modal Rounders….

Lucas played his Gibson J-45 in opening tuning, filling the Shakespeare and Company bookstore and its full-house of people with the ethereal sounds that are his trademark. I bought one of his CDs, which I will be including in my next Morning Exercise Music review. Oh, and I must add that I was just delighted that although I arrived a little late, and the bookstore was entirely full to the point that the front door could not be opened, I was ushered up through the first floor library by another door into the building, and led down to the back of the “stage” to listen to Lucas. That, by the way, is why you only get my videos of Lucas from off to the side of the musician, and from behind.

From the Books to the Taps, it Was Time for a Beer at the Open Mic of the Tennessee Bar

From Shakespeare and Company I headed over to the Tennessee Bar to check out the open mic. There, of course, I’d have been able to play if I wanted to. But I had that third date of the night coming up, so I just stayed and listened to a few songs – including by the mainstay of the Tireuse open mic, Wayne Standley – and also by someone else using a Gibson, similar to the J-45 of Lucas, but which was either a Dove or a Hummingbird, and they were also using it in a similar manner. But to slightly less effect. Still, it was an incredibly beautiful sounding guitar and nifty playing. Once I had assured myself that my favorite Thursday night was going strong, I finished my beer and went off to the third location.

This final stop of the evening bore no resemblance to the first two. I was invited to this one by a Brazilian friend, who said that she had a Brazilian friend playing Brazilian music in this hotel – the Hotel Athenee. I was a little confused when I got there, as I had for mixed it up in my mind with the Plaza Athenee, or whatever it is. But this was quite a posh joint as it turned out, with a long lobby cocktail bar room in plush furniture and walls covered with casting photo portraits of famous Hollywood stars from the past.

With a Final Glass of Wine at the Hotel Athenee and Brazilian Music

The Brazilian music was guitar and vocals, mostly bossa nova stuff, and it was a very cool and relaxed evening and foretaste of my imminent trip to Sao Paulo. My friend got up and did a song too, by the way, and she invited me to play, saying the mic was open…. So that’s how I tie in that final unforeseen possibility of being able to play in all three venues, had I wanted to. But there at the Athenee, I felt that the atmosphere was so laid-back Brazilian bossa nova style stuff that my own songs or covers would be far too big a contrast, although I was definitely tempted.

In any case, it was a really cool evening, kind of like an all you can eat buffet of different foods and sauces, on the Paris plate….

PS, It turns out that in arriving late at the Shakespeare and Company performance by Gary Lucas, and hearing him talk about about his singer as someone who just contacted him and he’d never heard of him before, I had no doubt missed a more correct introduction beforehand. I’ve since learned from a reader of this bog – as you can see in the comments below – that the singer was Tim Watt, and he is a musician who was already known to Gary, and the two prepared together in advance… So the very premise of this whole blog post was faulty, as I’d never have been able to play at Shakespeare and Company after all!! 😉

5 Comments

  1. Gary Lucas offered us a beautiful performance !

    Just to clarify things and give credit to the singer – Tim Watt is actually a professional musician who met Gary in New York a few years ago during a gig. Gary heard Tim sing and they practiced together beforehand so Gary knew he was good 🙂 I didn’t hear any high note like Jeff Buckley so he offered his own interpretation.

    Here is his bio and a professional video of his music as I think it is important to get the facts right and not let people believe it was just a random person. Thanks 🙂

    Hertfordshire based musician Tim Watt captivates an audience with haunting melodies and complimenting soulful vocals. He has performed a vast array of shows over the years, from the neon lights of Las Vegas to such legendary folk venues as The Troubadour in London and The Bitter End in New York City. His songs are sculptured with poetic lyrical content inspired by the works of Cohen, Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Waits, with more recent influences consisting of Jeff Buckley and Ryan Adams to name a few. The eclectic collection of influences ranging from folk to the punk rock movement provides a unique body of individual compositions to the listener.

    • Thanks for that clarification. I should have checked with Gary and/or Tim Watt afterwards. But I was sure that Gary had said he didn’t know the guy and he’d just asked to sing in advance like that…. So perhaps that was tongue-in-cheek – or I misheard altogether.
      My apologies to Tim and Gary!

    • I suspect what happened is because I was late arriving, and Tim was already singing, Gary must have introduced him correctly before he sang, and then made a joking comment afterwards as a kind of compliment. I’ll add a little PS correction to the blog item and a link to something of Tim Watt’s.

  2. Thanks Brad ! 🙂 It’s nice of you to add that to your blog! You heard correctly – Gary and Tim only met briefly in the past but obviously with Gary touring around the world, it is hard to remember! They have been friends on facebook for years so Tim sent him a message with a link to his music and see if he could play with him. It worked 🙂 They practiced together and were happy with the result!

    Thought you might want to see those 2 videos :

    Grace – Gary Lucas and Tim Watt : http://youtu.be/mS8lgfA_06U

    Mojo Pin – Gary Lucas and Tim Watt http://youtu.be/vrczku9HRZk

  3. Pingback: Brad’s Morning Exercise Music Rundown, 6th Installment: Foster the People, The Vaccines, Die Krupps, Manic Street Preachers, Jeff Buckley/Gary Lucas | Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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