Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Peripatetic Night in Paris

May 1, 2011

Just a lot of walking last night, from one venue to another, making a stop off here and a stop off there. I started at the Disquaires to listen to the band of a friend, The Grass Windows, but I arrived about five minutes too late. I visited a number of the bars around that Bastille neighborhood and then headed on to the Bizart, near the Place de la Nation, to hear the Romantic Black Shirts – another band of a friend, those who had played with me when I played at the Disquaires.

Then I visited a number of venues and bars in the Oberkampf area, and as I was heading to another one up in Menilmontant I heard some musicians outside the Menilmontant metro and I looked up to see Haylen and her band – or at least some of her band (joined by someone I don’t know). Haylen, whom I have written about for her playing at the Monday and Wednesday night open mics, said she plays there a lot on Saturday night, sometimes through much of the night. But I caught her at a moment when there were hardly any spectators. Still, it was a nice and fun moment to once again run into someone from the open mics in the street (after doing the same on Thursday).

So all in all I walked many kilometers and returned home to conk out completely and soundly, ready for today’s brunch.

Three Sunday Adventures, one common thread

December 13, 2010

I’ll start immediately by saying the common thread between the three musical venues I want to talk about here was Stephen “Danger” Prescott, the Aussie musician of Paris. There may be others, but Stephen is the inimitable one.

My Sunday brunch was a surprise, massive, incredible, jubilant success…there was a salsa lesson and dance going on in the back end of the Mecano at the same time. So that meant that those who REALLY wanted to hear the laid back music of the brunch, got to bunch up in the front of the Mecano bar to listen to me and this week’s guest.

This week’s guest, if you have not guessed (sorry, that’s almost a pun), was Stephen Prescott, of Melbourne and Paris. Who would have thought that one of the audience members would be another Aussie in off the street – but that was good timing, since she knew several of the songs that Stephen sang, and requested more. In fact, Stephen has a vast and varied repertoire, from Aussie songs to the Pogues to Stan Rogers. Because of the salsa dancing and its accompanying music, at Stephen’s suggestion, after he and I did a couple of sets, he suggested we bring the guitar into the room at the front of the Mecano and sit down and just sing a few songs like that, at the table.

That’s when the brunch turned very cosy and informal, and Stephen and I shared the guitar and hammered out songs that are perhaps not always on our repertoires. We even had the visiting Austrian, Wolf, play and sing the Hank Williams song I do, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” And I thank Wolf for doing a vide of me when I sang my song, “Borderline.”

From the Mecano we all went over to the Disquaires, where Ollie Fury was set to play. But his set did not play until near 10 PM, so in the end we stayed only for Yaco and his band’s set.

Then we headed off to the Galway, where Stephen plays MC every Monday night at the open mic. There we listened to the amazing German phenomenon named Yann, who looks, dresses, speaks, acts and sings like an Irishman. Please don’t ask me to explain. But I think I liked best his Richard Thompson song, and the song he did with Stephen – the Stan Rogers one.

A long brunch, in the end, that went on from 2:30 to 12:30. Fun for a Sunday afternoon and night.

Happy World, Sad World, Mad World, at the Disquaires and Baroc

November 26, 2010

I started playing music in public again two years ago this month after decades away because of two main reasons: One is simply the pleasure and catharsis I feel in performing, in singing and playing, and in communicating with an audience through that. The other is in the compliments and applause I receive from an audience, when I have done a good job. Both took me by surprise two years ago when I started playing again, and both failed me last night!

Nothing too serious here, but I really let myself down last night at Les Disquaires by not feeling deeply enough into my own music – for several reasons – and just simply not being prepared. But that is ultimately the beauty of live musical performance. When you are not a performer you don’t often realize how much the same performer’s quality of performing can go up or down depending on the day. In other words, there are some good days and some bad days. That IS the reality and beauty of live.

Yesterday I had been looking forward to playing in Thanksgiving concert night at the Disquaires that was organized by my friend Baptiste, of Texas in Paris. It was planned well in advance, and I had already played at two or three of his evenings in the past couple of years at the Disquaires and it had gone very well each time. But for many reasons last night I ended up feeling like absolute crap and did what I thought was a lousy job. One of the main reasons – and this is no real excuse – is that I suddenly found myself having to play immediately after David Broad, and just after I videoed his wonderful performance that got the whole house going quite mad. I had not realized I was going to play after him, and I was not ready. In fact, I had not even selected my songs.

I will say nothing more about that, just check out the David Broad videos below that I did of him last night, and you will see how I could feel like my back was against the wall. I played my song Borderline, and I played Mad Word. In fact, with Broad, it was a happy world, with me it was a sad world, and then I decided to get out of the Disquaires as quickly as possible to go to another venue where I had been invited to play, and it truly became a mad world….

The other venue was Le Baroc, in Belleville. My friend Les DeShane was playing there doing a full gig and he invited me to show up to play two or three songs. I was so pissed off with myself about the Disquaires that I thought the best remedy would be to play again immediately. But when I got to the Baroc, I learned from Les that he had been double booked. He had invited a bunch of friends, other musicians, brought his equipment and he found as he arrived that another band was setting up to play for the night.

He managed to get the management to realize that it had made an error, and so he managed to get up there and play his gig while the other band sat in the back waiting all night for its turn. The result, however, was that the special invited guests – like me – did not get a chance to play. And unfortunately, I arrived so late that I even missed Les’s set. My evening was saved, however, by an intriguing young blond woman who was there intently watching all the musicians play and who told me in French that I was “tres beau,” and that I reminded her of someone who should be in the FBI, that I looked like an FBI agent…. On the other hand, she made it clear that she would be on the other side of the fence, the one the agents would be hunting, the bad girl. Oops, did I not say it was a mad world?

A P.S. update: I just heard back after posting this that after my performance at the Disquaires there were a number of people who said, “Who is that guy?” And they had, it turned out, enjoyed my performance. So that is also another phenomenon about performance that is very curious: The performer’s own perception of what he does and how he comes across is NOT always the most accurate, and sometimes when you think you totally blew it, you didn’t. Suffice it to say that I felt I could have done a lot better!

Powered by