Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Famous All Over Town and Other Old Bits of News

May 7, 2010

Arriving in Barcelona yesterday for the Spanish Grand Prix, I discovered a few weeks after the fact that the French sports daily, L’Equipe, had published a story about me after the Malaysian Grand Prix. The journalist at the Equipe had been talking about doing a story on my musical adventures since last summer, but she never found quite the right occasion. In Malaysia, however, she learned about my experience with Eddie Jordan and the Hard Rock Cafe appearance that never happened, and she had her pretext.

The story is very short, but very well written, and she manages to get in my run-in with Eddie and a little description of my musical adventure that runs parallel with the Formula One season. Very cool! Check out Brad in L’Equipe for Eddie Jordan musical tale.

That’s one piece of old news. The other bit of old news was that I did get back to Earle’s open mic last Monday, but because of preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix, I did not have time to put up any of the video footage I took. Now I do not have an Internet connection quick enough to put up the footage, and the parts with me in it were just too long and need cutting. But the report is that I played and sang several songs with Vanessa, including our “Mad World,” and a new one we are working on, “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” which is based on the Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave version. This was chosen by Vanessa, and it is very cool. We also played “Jealous Guy” and “Just Like a Woman,” and Vanessa provided very nice background vocals and wonderful interjections – like on how I am a jealous guy.

It was a busy and good night at Earle’s, with a return of Felix Beguin and Syd Alexander of the Burnin’ Jacks, and they were hot as ever. Also, I was pleased to play “Except Her Heart,” with Felix, that song of mine that he arranged and that I have put up on the site. It was the first time we played it together since he learned it, and it went very well.

Vanessa jumped up on stage at one point during a Burnin’ Jacks song and shared the mic with Syd, but they are not at all the same height, so that required some handy mic manipulation on Vanessa’s part. I will put up whatever videos I can as soon as I can.

Now on to Barcelona. Last night I went to the George Payne pub which is near my hotel in Barcelona and which has an open mic on the first Thursday and last Thursday on the month. (I played there last year.) And I discovered that this was the first Thursday that they decided to drop the open mic from the first Thursday and turn it into every second week. So no luck. It’s not the first time I have showed up at an open mic only to find it has just ceased to occur on the night I show up.

I spent the rest of the evening exploring one of the most bar-filled areas of Barcelona, only to see that there was not a single live music venue among them. Dozens of bars with no music – thanks, no doubt, to the noise laws that are killing this city as they are Paris.

For the moment I only have the Jazz-Si club lined up for Sunday, but I will continue to try to find other venues, and will keep posting about the adventure.

A Brief Visit To Earle’s – and to Ferrari

April 27, 2010

I did not want to miss Earle’s open mic and so I showed up for an hour, played for 15 or 20 minutes, and then listened to Camille Feist, and then left. I had to get to bed early in order to get up at 5:40 AM in order to go to Ferrari in Maranello, Italy. I have now done that, have returned after an amazing day at Maranello, and I’m just putting up this little video of a song by Camille at Earle’s. I heard her sing this one previously at another open mic at Polly Magoo’s bar in the Latin Quarter a few months ago. Now after a 15 hour day for the Ferrari visit, I’m committing the sin of not going out to another one of my favorite open mics tonight. Will probably report back tomorrow with something from Ferrari…like maybe the drive I did in a Ferrari road car around the Fiorano test track a few meters from the Ferrari factory…. At the moment, I think I’ll have the best sleep I’ve had in…a half a week.

Okay, I have come back to post the short video I have of me driving the 458 Italia Ferrari, which is also sometimes known as a “Little Enzo,” since it resembles the bigger Ferrari Enzo. This car was actually developed with the help of Michael Schumacher, and I can tell you that it felt like one great big go-kart! (I say in the video it wasn’t the kind Schumacher used, but I meant the F1.) I did three laps of the circuit, although I only got the courage up to pass my monitor my Zoom Q3 video camera for the final lap. That’s why it is so short as a video. I have a much bigger video of him driving the track first to show me how. I’ll see about putting that and other bits up on my F1 Blog at the site in the next day or two. But for the moment you get a snippet of me doing this thing today that blew my (tired) mind…. By the way, it was totally unexpected. I went to Ferrari to interview a bunch of top people – including Fernando Alonso – and see the factory, all for my next preview for the Spanish Grand Prix. And they scheduled in this thing on the Fiorano track. I could not say no. Here is the video of me driving around the Fiorano test track (can’t imagine how they do this thing in an F1 car!):

That is the same track where the F1 team used to do so much testing – but no longer does thanks to the F1 budget cuts that outlawed testing during the season – although they still use it for straightline testing.

“Except Her Heart” Comes Alive Thanks to Félix

April 13, 2010

Wow, just as I was preparing to fly off to China today for the Chinese Grand Prix, just as I was packing my bags, finishing my preview race stories, thinking about blog items and trying to remember things not to forget, I receive a message on Facebook from my friend Félix Beguin.

Félix is a guitar player who is studying sound engineering and who wants to make a career out of music. Since around November 2008 Félix has accompanied me on and off at Earle’s open mic in Paris, giving a lot more depth to my songs with his electric guitar support. A month or two ago I sent Félix a rough recording of me playing a new song called “Except Her Heart,” that I wrote about a failed relationship, in order for him to hear the structure so that the next time we played together at Earle’s he’d have an idea of where the song was going.

In fact, I don’t think we played the song after that. But this morning Félix sent me a WAV file of the song with a complete magnificent arrangement that he worked out for it, with drums, electric piano, his lead guitar, bass, etc. Man, this is the first time I’ve had a piece of my music completely arranged and orchestrated, and the result is inspiring to me. I hope it is also inspiring to other listeners.

    Here is the low quality MP3 version of “Except Her Heart,” that will be quicker to listen to:

    Except Her Heart

    Here is the high quality WAV version of the “Except Her Heart” song that will take a while to download:

    Except Her Heart

When you play music in your living room for years and you go out with your guitar and play in open mics, you have to do it first and foremost because you love it. It is often hard to believe in yourself and see beyond the horizon of the microphone that night, or your back garden and your own ears. But with what Félix sent me here today, I have a lot more belief in the possibilities of my songs. A million thanks to Félix, who plays his own music on his myspace, and also plays with a band called The Wasters and also a band called The Burnin’ Jacks, which is a very cool band, I last saw them perform at the Gibus in Paris last month, and they KILLED the audience.

Thanks again Félix! Now I can head off to China and wear out my batteries listening to your arrangement on my long, long flight to Shanghai. I’ll be singing the song there, too, in an open mic, I hope. Stay tuned….

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