Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Tallest Man on Earth at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance

February 10, 2011

I was ALMOST overtaken by lethargy in the last couple of days. Don’t know why, but after not having time to post yesterday I almost decided not to post today. In fact, I attended an open mic both days, and as I look through the videos I realize the strongest story of the two days of open mics has to do with The Tallest Man on Earth at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic on Tuesday, rather than anything that happened at the nevertheless excellent Highlander open mic last night.

So what is all this about the Tallest Man on Earth? Well, The Tallest Man on Earth is the name of a Swedish folk singer who is of normal height and born in 1983. His real name is Kristian Matsson.

Now why am I talking about this? Well, no, he did not come to Ollie’s open mic. But what was unusual was that two musicians who were, one of whom was from France but who has a Swedish parent as well as a French parent, and the other musician being from the United States and spending time in France, both did different songs by this same artist who is really not THAT well known.

So it was that Corey sang “King of Spain,” by The Tallest Man on Earth, and Fanny Batt sang another of this singer songwriter’s songs. Great stuff from both of them.

Almost forgot. I cannot leave out this unusual rendition also at Ollie’s open mic of Whole Lotta Love, by Led Zep… sung by a woman, Alice…. Very cool idea and performance.

P.S., in listening to the Tallest Man on Earth on his myspace I realize that I heard this guy a few months ago for the first time after someone recommended him, and of course I was struck by how he sounded like young Bob Dylan a little, or even like in the same vein as today’s Texas in Paris.

An Amazing Brunch, and Checkmate: Finally a Different Open Mic in Paris

February 7, 2011

First I have to talk about Saturday night, since Robert Kubica’s accident in rally racing yesterday meant I had no time for this blog before I sped off to the brunch at the Mecano bar. (I had to do a blog item and update on my F1 blog on the NYT site.)

But what a Saturday and Sunday! Saturday I attended a jam/open mic that I had discovered existed one day as my eye was attracted to a bar on Rue St. Maur – the street where I got my head kicked in on New Year’s Eve – with the name in French of L’Echiquier. That means chessboard in French. So that, as deep readers of this blog will know, would be of interest to me since I love chess. But then I saw a sign on the window about an open mic. And that, well…

It turns out that the bar has a theme of chess, with matches played there occasionally, with chessboard tiling in the toilets, and drinks named after chess themes, etc. And this is because Djamel Grine, who owns the place, likes chess too. But he told me his original idea was that he wanted the bar to be public place open to everyone: the King, the Queen, the bishop (which in French is called a “fou” and also means “crazy person.”)

He also loves music, so he started the jams and open mics. There is no set date for it, but they manage to do one at least once a month, on a Saturday. So best to call l’Echiquier beforehand to see if there is a session.

It was a very warm open mic, and I was pleased that although it started like a typical bluesy sort of jam session with full band, it was also possible and welcome for an individual musician to go up and sing and play guitar, cover songs or originals. I played with the band, since I like that challenge and it is more fun and “big.” We played “Crazy Love,” because it was easy, “Father and Son,” because it was more difficult but well known, and my song “Borderline,” just because. I finished off with “I Shall Be Released,” since it is three chords and really well known.

Having had that magnificent Saturday evening, I worried that my own brunch would never match it. I was wrong. It must have been the Sunday of all my brunches where I had the largest number of other performers who wanted to play – and who did play. There were seven of us in all. I played a lot less in order to allow for the others, and that was great, because it meant I could talk to the others and listen to them.

And Olivier Rodriguez, a friend and amazing photographer, showed up for the second week in a row to play his songs and this time he brought his camera and did some great shots of us and said I could put them up on this blog.

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