Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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A Wombat Plays Brad’s Brunch

April 4, 2011

a Wombat

The Australian marsupial known as a Wombat.

After a couple of quiet Brad’s Brunches at the Mecano bar in Paris, I returned home from Australia to host a great musical brunch, with the return of several musicians and friends like Tory Roucaud, Olivier Rodriguez, Rym Faraday de la Casa Blanca de la Chuca Chuca Mañana del Sol Rojo and Calvin McEnron. But the surprise visit of a star came in the form of a Wombat. No, and I do not mean that I brought back from Australia with me one of those not one of those weird, fury marsupials with the strange eyes. I mean Dan Haggis, the drummer of the British band, The Wombats.

Dan once attended the brunch as a spectator, but yesterday he returned and decided to drop the drums and get behind the mic and sing some songs of both The Wombats and others, and even one of the Wombats. It was the high point of the brunch, and I was not simply delightfully surprised by the mixture of his singing voice and guitar playing – ie, minus the drumming and full group effect – I was also very pleased that I had done my own musical intervention before Dan went up. He was so good. So musical, so coolly relaxed and hip in his playing in this casual open mic environment. By the way, he also spoke warmly about his days playing with The Wombats at Earle’s open mic at the Shebeen – which is why, by the way, he showed up for mine, what with Earle present….

Later in the day he also gave me a chance to interview him for my open mic documentary, and that was a very wonderful interview, too. Dan pointed out how for a musician it can be just as nerve-wracking to play in front of a few people in an open mic as in front of thousands in a big concert – in fact, he said, sometimes it is easier playing in front of thousands because it is less personal in some ways. But he had friends present yesterday too, and he was in great shape and it was clear he was having as much fun as were the spectators.

If you don’t know the Wombats, check them out, because this is a very cool British Indy band – oh, and the fact that Dan gave this four or five song concert for us was quite extraordinary, given that he is alreay back in the UK today doing a show with the Wombats somewhere in London. Musicians just never stop. Speaking of which, The Wombats head off to Australia in May for a nice little tour, including a gig in Melbourne at the Palais Theatre on 11 May. Maybe I can send them off to an open mic while they are there….

Mick Jagger and Me on the Grid in Monaco – and a Wombat at the Mecano

October 11, 2010

Freeze-frame after 15 seconds this video below of Mick Jagger visiting the Monaco Grand Prix and you will see me just behind him preparing my camera for a photograph of Mick that I eventually put on this blog. I did not realize at the time that the line I would start my Formula One race report story with and that Jagger said at precisely this moment – “What a madhouse!”, had been caught on video with me in it. Talk about multimedia! Here am I and my New York Times story lede quote being put up on the Rolling Stones web site. I had actually thought I was the only one who heard him say “what a madhouse.” So I suppose that is my 15 seconds of fame…. (you get the video directly in the link above, if you click on it below you get an advertisement first….)

Anyway, it would have been a much better story if Mick showed up for my second gig in a row at the Sunday brunch at the Mecano yesterday. I had to settle for Dan Haggis, the drummer and singer of the band the Wombats, who was there talking to Earle, eating brunch, and eventually listening to my first set. A very cool, down-to-earth guy, was Dan of the Wombats. A contrast to Mick? I wouldn’t know. I was so dumbstruck facing Mick that I could not think of a thing to say to him. It was only after I returned to the media center and saw my guitar sitting there ready for playing at McCarthy’s that night that I said, damn, I could have asked Mick to jam with me….

Anyway, the afternoon yesterday was another great success, and this time not only did I play three sets, but Rafa Ellan played a long set, Les DeShane played a short set and the daughter of a friend of Earle’s played a few songs too. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new tradition.

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