Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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When it Reigns it Pours, At the Tennessee

October 5, 2010
bradspurgeon

A wild, absolutely mad evening at the Tennessee. When it rains the puddles collect water and grow, right? That’s how it seems to be happening at the Tennessee bar these days as Reign Morton has a growing contingent of fans, groupies, and above all fellow musician friends following him to the open mic and turning the place into a happening of unforgettable dimensions.

I first wrote about Reign Morton two weeks ago today, so you can get the biographical details there. Last night, in tow – it seemed – Reign had another couple of great singers. But let me take a brief break to say that the evening at the Tennessee was, in fact, not ONLY about Reign and the gang.

I showed up there in a toss up between there and the Galway. I arrived too late and thought I’d have to wait for hours to play, so I cut out and went to the Galway. Fortunately, I got to play immediately at the Galway, and fortunately, because Stephen, the MC, had to change a string on his guitar and there was no other singer around, I got to do five songs in a row. Unfortunately, the small group of people at the bar was not in the least bit interested in listening (either to me or to Stephen). So I just sang for myself, and then decided to leave without finishing my Kilkenney.

I returned to the Tennessee, thinking I probably would not get up on stage, but that the level of the performers I had seen so far was high. And indeed, it went on and on. Among the interesting acts were a French duo consisting of two young guys, one on guitar – a beautiful Taylor guitar, no less – and the other on the piano. The one on the piano I suddenly realized looked almost exactly like Fernando Alonso, the Formula One driver. They did a fine song called, “So Let Me Go.” Another act was the trio with a guy on vocals, another on piano and the third on cello. I liked this a lot, but it was just a little too much “Star Academy” for me. Then there was Sood, from South Korea, who played his Yamaha guitar like a metronome, and did some pretty fierce vocals too. He also accompanied another singer, and that is the one I did a video of, but I should have done Sood on his own.

Another trio went up second to last, and that was some kind of French trio with a woman on vocals, a man on guitar and vocals and a man on bongos. Unfortunately they were a very “world music” together act and I was elected as the last act, the man to follow them. Just me and my guitar after this trio. I took to the mic and said the cards were loaded so my only choice was to try to do something, real, something true. Somehow penetrate the truth. Otherwise, musically, I’d be roasted. I did not know my first choice was going to be dead on the right one. I chose “Crazy Love,” and it turned out that not only was I in better shape than at the Galway – having had another beer or two – but Reign and his gang all knew the song and so they provided the choral backup, especially between the “Love, love, love”s… It turned out Reign told me he knew the Brian McKnight version of “Crazy Love,” not Van Morrison’s.

So just when I thought the show was over, the stage was opened up to Reign and his friends. And we never looked back. Mostly a question of improvisation, they came up with some fabulous stuff. In fact, Reign had previously done one Ray Charles song, sounding just like Ray Charles and throwing in the movements to boot. Now, he went on to a Marvin Gaye sound, a bluesman sound, and then a Reign-rap-and-I-don’t-know-what-sound with a funny improvisation about making up a song. A couple of groupies stripped down to bras and neck-scarf-over-the-chest-only attire, and the night went mad with dance, drink and music.

Reign gave over the stage to a guy from Senegal who calls himself Mr No Name, and who is damned good too, and I thought he was from Brooklyn or somewhere else in the U.S. Very cool. And then another great addition was the fabulous Sue Giles, who IS from Brooklyn, and who joined Reign and did some great back up and lead vocals. James Iansiti played rhythm guitar and Karim played his splendid lead again.

In all, it was a mad delight. Man, who’d have thunk it at the Tennessee?

Reign Morton Reins ’em in and Tears ’em up at the Tennessee Bar in Paris (as does Karim)

September 21, 2010
bradspurgeon

Okay, real fast now, because I HAVE to get this down. (But I had a very busy day playing, lunching and preparing for Singapore.) Normally when I write about the Monday evenings at the Tennessee Bar and the Galway Pub, I start of with some little thing about the Tennessee and then go into some long thing about the Galway. This time is different. I stopped off at the Tennessee, found too many people there and did not play, went on to the Galway, found few people there and played soon after my arrival; did three songs, and then decided to show a friend the Tennessee Bar.

So we returned to the Tennessee and there, that’s where all the action was last night, and it was a night I won’t forget soon. I got to play immediately upon arrival – as it was close to midnight – and I did three songs: “Just Like a Woman,” my own “Since You Left Me,” and Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.” I sounded out the audience first to make sure there were not that many people who had already heard me sing the songs. The Galway had worked as a warm-up stage for me, so I was in full swing at the Tennessee. And good thing for that. When I got off the stage I was warmly greeted and applauded by an American who, it turned out, would go up right after me. And thank goodness for that.

For when I saw and heard this guy go up, I said, “What is this? Joe Williams has come to Paris? Or maybe little Muddy Waters or something? Or is it Stevie Wonder?” In any case, it was clear that the man I would learn was named Reign Morton, has a great talent, and he feasted us on it last night. It was only tonight that I learned that he is an actor, singer and a man on a world tour mission of some kind, and that I suddenly remembered probably passing Reign Morton in the street once in the Latin Quarter playing to enraptured audiences.

We exchanged names and emails, and that’s how I managed to look up this Reign Morton actor from General Hospital and musician sans paire…. (is that French? don’t think so, but as I said, I’m on the run to go out and play again somewhere tonight).

Anyway, the jam with Reign and a very cool guitar player named Karim was also superb. And it was Karim who closed off the night with a performance of the Satriani kind that you find occasionally on the Internet, one of those absolute technical wonders who just marches up and down the guitar neck like a three star chef chopping onions and bringing tears to our eyes.

Afterwards I said to Karim, “You play in a group?”

“No.”

“Oh. What’s your name,”

“Karim.”

“Where do you play?”

“In my room.”

Okay, if you’re reading this and you’re a guitar player, just like go quit guitar after you’ve watched the video below of Karim dancing up and down the guitar neck.

In fact, I had a video made of me playing “Jealous Guy” at the Galway, but I’ve decided not to put it….

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