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Alison Young and Horse Raddish and the Limonaire

August 11, 2014

Alison Young

Alison Young

PARIS – I don’t usually write about something that happened a week ago, but the concerts by Alison Young and Horse Raddish at the Limonaire bar/restaurant in Paris have stayed in my mind for a week, and in fact, I always intended to mention it on the blog. So no matter that I’ve written other things in between. Today, I just wanted to talk about these three subjects, because there ARE three: The singer, the band and the venue.

I’ve never been to the Limonaire before, but this bar-restaurant with a small stage and two wings of tables of to either side is a place I will definitely return to: The vibe is just too cool and laid back, and the stage too fabulous, the music too good not to! My only regret is having eaten a meal before I showed up, worrying partly that it would not be good food, or it would just feel weird or something, to eat during the show.

As it turned out, the show ended after most people had basically finished eating. That’s when the lights went out, and Alison Young, an American from New Orleans, took to the darkened stage under the spotlight and began singing with only the tiniest bits of ukelele thrown in here and there. I was immediately struck by the interesting melodies, lyrics and a feeling that little by little I would associated with all sorts of different kinds of sources, with, oddly, a big dose of British folk-rock from the late ’60s and early ’70s. In fact, afterwards, I spoke to Alison, and told her a lot of her stuff reminded me of Fairport Convention, whose music she said she loved.

But it was her song-writing, her melodies, her very clearly defined musical world that really signals out Alison Young – oh, and another thing….

Introducing Horse Raddish, Alison Young’s Backing Band, and a Tour de Force on Its Own Too

One of the overriding – or should I be saying “under-riding” – things that made her set so interesting, and the music so different, was that her back-up band consisted of the guitarist, drummer and accordion player from the band called Horse Raddish, that was later to play their own set. (There was also a pianist, but I didn’t see if he was from Horse Raddish also.) This backup band gave often some eastern Europe kind of sounds to the music, even klezmer.

horse raddish

horse raddish

That, as it turned out, was no surprise, because the second set of the evening was the fabulous rocking, electric klezmer music of Horse Raddish, adding a clarinet and/or soprano saxes, violin and other unrecognisable – to me – wind instruments. This was romping, exciting, sassy mad klezmer stuff, and its musicians were so adept and having apparently so much fun going crazy, that it was more than infectious. It was superb.

And in the environment of the Limonaire, sitting at a table in the dark and sipping a wine – the manager was happy for clients who came ONLY for the music, dinner was not necessary – it was a real serious challenger to my own usual desire to pass any musical night out on the stage myself rather than listening to others play. I’ll be back for more….

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