PARIS – It was time on Sunday night and Monday to visit the spoken word places in Paris again with Ornella Bonventre and our TAC Théâtre monologue routine. The only problem was that we could not find a spoken word event on Sunday night…until we realized that Paddy Sherlock’s fabulous new Paris Songwriters Club evening is also open to poetry and spoken word, as long as it is – like the music – original material. So we performed there with great pleasure, before trying out the Spoken Word Paris event at the Chat Noir for the first time….
At Paddy Sherlock’s event, we found a perfect stage and audience for spoken word, but I was a little disappointed that there were not more musicians, poets, spoken word artists or spectators present. Oh, it was a wonderful evening, and at maximum there might have been a dozen or more people. But Paddy himself put out a word on Facebook afterwards, trying to encourage more people to come for the next edition, or he risks losing the evening. First at Paris Songwriters Club
My feeling at both of the evenings I have attended at the Tennessee Bar with Paddy was that this has the potential to be one of the best open mics in Paris, so I hope people discover it fast!
Ornella and Brad woman question
From the Tennessee to the Chat Noir and Spoken Word Paris
Although a few years ago I did try to sing a song at the Chat Noir bar’s Spoken Word Paris event on Monday night, there’s nothing like trying to do actual Spoken Word at this event, which is no doubt Paris’s most popular English-language spoken word event. So it was a natural place to try out Ornella’s monologue, with me providing the soundtrack on my guitar (and occasional vocals, and a few spoken asides). Wayne at Paris Songwriters Club
It also proved to be as much fun as a spectator as it was as a performer. And in honor of this being a Spoken Word event, I decided (thanks also to forgetting to bring my phone or other camera) to paste together several excerpts from the evening in a 5-minute podcast. So listen to the patched together medley here and above of a few moments from Monday evening’s Spoken Word Paris event at the Chat Noir for a taste of the far out kind of thing you can expect to hear….
This new bit of activity in the spoken word open mics has given me a real feeling of refreshing the blog with something slightly new, but right in line with what it is all about. I hope you agree….
PARIS – What’s that old story about a guy who was resurrected from the dead three days after he was buried? And they called it Easter, or something along those lines? Well, guess what? There will be readers who think my post of last week about a woman dancing on my guitar and destroying it was an exaggeration, and that, hey, just repair the guitar. But I never, ever thought my guitar could be repaired, and I feel it’s almost a miracle that three days after it died, I had a little help from a friend, and the guitar has been brought back to life over a series of critical operations on Friday and Saturday.
destroyed Seagull 2
I was going to wait a while to see if my Seagull guitar is really fully back to life and does not break down, burst out of its own seams or melt in the heat of Bahrain, where it will be heading very soon. But now, I’m playing with it, and have been doing so since an open mic on Saturday night, and then another open mic last night, and I can say that I cannot truly hear a vast, brutal difference between the guitar as it was before it was used as a dance floor and how it is now, after having a few of its ribs and teeth and other inner structures permanently removed, and having the cracks and breaks and remaining ribs all glued up back together!
destroyed Seagull 1
This Seagull, in fact, seems to have just been truly and miraculously brought back from the dead on Easter weekend!!!!
neck area breaks
repaired guitar first shot
I went and saw two different professional luthiers in Paris, and while one warned that the sound of the past could not return and the other said it could, they both agreed that the work to be done would be massive, very massive, and that the cost would be so much that it would cost more than the guitar had cost me to buy, 10 years ago. Then, out of the blue, I received an offer from a friend, who said that they would be happy to give a try fixing it, for a symbolic sum, really just to pay for the glue, in my opinion.
destroyed Seagull 2
repaired guitar one closeup
I must confess that I believed they were full of crap, that nothing could be done. But out of kindness on my part for the kindness they offered, I decided to go and see what could be done. There I witnessed the whole process over two days of the guitar undergoing a chiropractic operation of pushing, pulling, tearing, gluing and clamping, that brought the thing back to life!!!! I am not persuaded that it sounds exactly as it did, but I do know that I feel really happy to have this guitar back in my hands, that I don’t have to buy a new one, and that the long and storied history of my Seagull S6 will continue for another chapter or two.
I want to thank everyone who was so outpouring in their sympathy to me on Facebook for what was one of the biggest musical nightmares I’ve had to face. I really, truly thought the guitar was dead. And I’m putting some “before” the fix and “after” the fix photos on this page so you can see why.
MONTREAL – I had long heard about the Crobar open mic on Crescent Street in Montreal, but I had never had a chance to play there. Until last night. It turned out that despite it saying “open mic” out front, as well as jam, it is much more geared toward a jam session than an open mic. But it became clear instantly, with the warm greeting by the host, Louis, that the Crobar has the open mic spirit, and that means all are welcome, and anything goes.
So I got to play my acoustic set in a night that was – and always is – dominated by bands and jams with various high-energy rock musicians. There’s a drum set, electric guitar and bass, and the volume is super high. The stage is low and cool, and the television is overhead in case you get bored and want to watch the Stanley Cup finals….
The standout moment of the evening was a really interesting trio band that performed in public for the first time. It is so new that they have no name for the band yet! It sounded really promising, and by the time they played my iPhone had recharged, so I filmed it. I had come all this way, and left my Zoom Q3HD in my hotel room, so the sound is not great.
Leaving the Crobar I headed back to the hotel and on the way there, just around the corner, I heard sounds from the first floor of a corner building that made me think there might be an open mic there too – it was audience laughter, a person talking, something that sounded open mic for some reason. So I went up and found that the bar was called l’Escalier, and that it is an open mic, mostly spoken word stuff, but also music.
I was told by the organizer that it was about to end – at midnight – and so I was too late to make the list, but I should come back next week. I told him I could only come back next year if I was lucky, but that did not change anything!
As I began to leave, I heard a call from across the room and turned to find Danny Fonfeder. I had met Danny at an open mic in Paris in 2011!!! He is a businessman who lives in Montreal and does a lot of travelling for his business, and he takes his guitar and plays in open mics around the world. Sound familiar??? My own adventure may have led to all sorts of – unprofitable – side projects, but Danny the businessman came up with an interesting idea for himself, which is the creation of his company “Blueberry Guitars.” These are beautifully crafted guitars with carvings on them – take a look at the Blueberry Guitars page.
So we spoke a little, and Danny told me he had played in the open mic just 15 minutes earlier. I was not happy I missed this one!!!
CHATEAU-THIERRY, France – Last weekend Pierre Bensusan held a fabulous two-day event outside his adopted home town of Chateau-Thierry, located about an hour’s drive east of Paris, where he has lived for the last 21 years. They called it the 1st Salon International de Lutherie, and it consisted of an exhibition of guitars, mandolins and violins built by luthiers from around Europe, all of whom are friends of Pierre. For his part, in addition to speaking to and meeting the public in the exhibition, Pierre put on a concert on Saturday night in the wonderful concert hall in the same building where the salon took place.
In addition to luthiers from around France and Germany (see my list of those present below), there was, of course, the presence of the Lowden Guitar company of Northern Ireland, showing off the latest prototype for the second Pierre Bensusan signature model guitar. Aaron Lowden, the son of George Lowden, who is the company founder, was there to talk about the guitar, which is a modern copy of the original 1978 Lowden that Pierre used for 25 years. It was made to honor the 40th anniversary of Bensusan’s career as a professional musician, which also happens to be the 40th anniversary for Lowden Guitars, by the way.
If you have a problem hearing the podcast on Mixcloud, here is a connection to the same podcast but on the WordPress server:
I’m hoping to write more about this craft of lutherie in some future article somewhere, but my main goal for this post was to put up on my blog the wonderful interview that I had with Pierre during the salon, which I have recorded and dressed up a little – with sounds I recorded of Pierre playing from the concert the night before, and other surprises – in the form of a podcast.
The interview was a broad, wide-ranging talk about his life and music to mark that 40th anniversary of his career as a professional musician. He started out at age 16 at the American Center hootenanny in Paris, and today, at 56, he is roaming the world and earning honours and fans everywhere. He will be performing a monthlong, 50-date series of concerts in the United States starting next week, and is just finishing up a 21-date tour of France, his first here in 25 years.
I’m also hoping to make this podcast the first in a series that I intend to do throughout the year as I embark on my sixth worldwide musical adventure around the world, starting with Melbourne, Australia, next week. So I’m not going to write more about the concert or the festival of lutherie. Just listen to the podcast – Pierre was a fabulous interview subject!
Here, though, is a list of some of the luthiers who were present at the salon. I highly recommend you check out some of these instruments. It was a real dream to play some of them – and frustrating, too, if you happen to be a poor musician!: