Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Another Wednesday Double-header, this Time with Joe on Violin

January 6, 2011

I was sitting in the Highlander last night when I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see Joe Cady and his violin case. It was the first time I’d seen Joe at the Highlander. Joe and I have had a funny criss-crossing life in Paris. Joe works in computers by day and on the violin, guitar and voice by night. He’s from somewhere in the U.S. where the accent is noticeable. He plays a mean violin, but his main instrument is the guitar.

We met at Norman Spinrad’s 60th birthday party in 2000 in Paris near Notre Dame. We then ran into each other a couple of years ago at the Biz’Art jam session near the place de la Nation, where we saw each other a couple more times. We then met up again at Norman Spinrad’s 70th birthday party in Paris in September. Then Joe came and played along with me at my brunch at the Mecano, where he also joined up with David Broad, and went on to do a gig with him.

Joe was at the Highlander with Rony Boy on guitar and vocals in order to warm up for a gig they are doing at the Baroc this Saturday in their band, The Romantic Black Shirts.

As a warm up for his warm up for his gig, Joe offered to play violin along with me at the Highlander. I was to perform just before them. I agreed to this whole-heartedly, as it is always a pleasure to play with Joe, and it is always nice to have the weapon of a bigger wall of sound at an open mic aside from just the voice and guitar. But I had to change song choices to suit this, and I decided to go with “Crazy Love,” which Joe suggested, with “Not Much in the Mood,” the song I wrote at 16 about losing a lover and being in the mood for nuthin’ (and which I have now given a name after X decades), and “Just Like a Woman.”

It went over very well, I felt good, felt into the music, wore no sun glasses, made no explanations about my black eye, and the three songs were filmed by some guy with a pretty professional video camera, and he may be sending me the results eventually. It felt right on.

Joe and Rony Boy then played and they were really together, and they got the whole room moving and shaking and tapping the tables with the Johnny Cash song I recorded…..

There was the interesting 73-year-old British “chap” who played before me, and for a while I was worried that I might be overshadowed by him – but in the end, the contrast proved helpful. I’d heard of this man doing the open mics – and apparently he uses my list of open mics to find places – but this was the first time I had seen him.

After Joe’s performance I suggested to him that we go to the Cavern, which had its open vocal jam just around the corner. I had a hunch I could get Joe up there playing with the band and with his violin, and I was right. And it proved to be the longest jam I’d seen at the Cavern’s open mic, and it was very cool – “Sympathy for the Devil,” with Joe singing and playing violin…. (oh, and reading the lyrics too….)

Off Track, on Track With the Between the Seasons Waltz

November 22, 2010

That is a very convoluted “headline” just to say that after a full week or more of silence I have returned back on track with my blog. I don’t think I have had too many such silences, but basically it comes down to the Formula One season having ended, and me having a short little illness without consequences to coincide with that end.

Readers of this blog will have noted that I spent the previous nine months traveling the world and playing in open mics and jams and busking all over the place in some 15 or so countries and most of the continents. It was my second year doing that, and with a little luck, I will continue again next year. For the moment, I have entered into what is known as the winter season, or the off-season, in Formula One, where journalists like me tend to tend to other projects and to take holidays and prepare for the coming season.

I will mostly be sticking around Paris, playing gigs (don’t miss the Texas in Paris organized Thanksgiving evening I’m playing at, at the Disquaires on Thursday), open mics and jams. And at the moment I plan a weekly brunch musical afternoon show at the Mecano Bar in Paris, every Sunday. For the past couple of months I’ve been hosting this every Sunday that I have been in town and not writing about the Formula One races. I play two or three sets of my music and cover songs, and I invite guests to play a set too. The guests are my friends and acquaintances in the musical world that I have met, mostly in Paris. The brunch starts at 3 PM and usually ends at 6 PM, although on one particularly lively Sunday with David Broad on guitar and vocals and Joe Cady on fiddle, we stayed until 7 PM.

Yesterday I started up the brunch again and had Calvin McEnron and Rym playing a set each. It was a cold, rainy day in Paris, and I can’t think of any better place to be if you like brunch (it’s good food), music and relaxation. So check it out!!

Extraordinary Atmosphere and Music at the Mecano Brunch #3

October 18, 2010

I just had to write this down, as I prepare to fly off to Korea tomorrow for the Formula One race (if the Paris strikes do not prevent me from going). Yesterday was the third week in a row that I hosted my own brunch afternoon on Earle’s invitation at Le Mecano bar and restaurant in the Oberkampf area of Paris. And it was another wild and fun time. In fact, this time the music got really exotic and crazy, and the whole thing went on until after 7 PM, after starting at 3PM.

In addition to my sets – using my SE Electronics microphone, so really getting nice, pure sound on the vocals – we had Les DeShane doing a short set, and then my invited guest, David Broad, whom I introduced on this blog a couple of weeks ago after discovering him at The Highlander. This British guy from Leeds, England, out-does many an American singer/guitar player, on their own songs.

And what a great delight it then turned out to be when long after David had finished his set and I had finished my last set, suddenly Joe Cady showed up. I mentioned Joe on an earlier blog item too, as he plays frequently at the Bizart jam session on Tuesdays. So I didn’t give Joe a chance to even sit down before I asked if he brought his violin with him.

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “It’s out in the car.”

I told him to go get it, and I immediately asked David if he had some songs that would go well with a violin, and he said he thought he might. Indeed. We ended up being treated to another hour of fabulous music by David, Joe and a friend of David’s who came in and provided harmonies on a number of the songs as well.

It was pure bliss for an hour, and promises great things for the future. In the middle of my second second set we also had a nice moment with me doing “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Ring of Fire” with my friend Rym, and a solo number with our friend Elise, who played guitar and sang in what she said was her first ever appearance behind a mic. It will not be her last, I’m sure of that.

Calvin at the International, and a Visit to the Bizart

October 6, 2010

I dropped off at l’International last night to see one of my friend Calvin McEnron’s latest in a string of concerts, and no doubt it is his biggest. I met Calvin at Earle’s open mic last year, or even the year before, and he has been making songwriting, guitar playing and singing progress ever since. In leaps and bounds, in fact, as this half hour or so set at l’International attests. He writes in English, and has a hip thing about him. Check him out.

I then went on to the open mic jam session at the Bizart Bar near the Place de la Nation, and only four stops away from the International. I had last attended this Tuesday-night jam at the end of last year or early this year. The accent here is on blues, but they accept just about anything. The bar is small, cosy, and the people are there mostly to listen to the music, but it doesn’t bother them to talk, and it doesn’t bother the musicians much either, as it never gets excessive.

I enjoy it because you get people like the fiddler player Joe Cady joining you while you play. In fact, Joe seemed to play on just about every song last night – including on the four I played – and he is often there, so he gets his weekly workout. Last night my friend who calls himself LadiesDi was also there, with his Finnish girlfriend and another Finnish woman, Tatiana, who played some nice tunes.

Altogether a very relaxed and enjoyable evening from start to finish. Only problem was the unicycle that I noticed sitting up above the tables on the wall of the Bizart. I asked if it was usable, but the barman told me there was no air in the tires. A terrible temptation to go unanswered, that one.

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