Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Last Parisians in Paris – Another Limerick in Paris

December 9, 2012

Last night was an embarrassment of riches for me in terms of concerts by friends or acquaintances. I had four choices of places to go. It turned out to be easy to make the choice: I had to attend the last concert ever of the group The Parisians at the International, and from there I had to go to see my friend Paddy Mulcahy and his musicians in French Rumba at the Scoop Café, rue des Dames.

I could also have gone to see All the Roads at the Backstage O’Sullivan’s or Ollie Joe at the Bus Palladium. But once I had gone to the Parisians, and knew that Paddy lives in Limerick and so does not spend THAT much time in Paris, I had to go to his show. Not to mention that he said it would end in a jam, which made me think I could play a bit.

Although the Scoop had to turn down the music fairly early, Paddy led me down to a lower room after the show where I got to sing a couple of songs – making my night. Oh, no, sorry. Making my night! Paddy’s band was great. Accordion, fiddle, vocals, guitars, it was a wild eclectic mix of sounds from around the world and not just from Ireland. Lots of South American influence too. I enjoyed it immensely, it was warm and cosy and friendly.

Which, unfortunately, was NOT the case at the last concert of Parisians. The Parisians are a French band that have existed with one line up of musicians or another since around 2004. They were at the center of the whole baby rocker scene that sprouted up out of Earle Holmes’s open mic at the Shebeen. Interestingly, although the Parisians have been in an on that scene since then, they actually have never had any kind of hit song, or even anything vaguely recognizable by the general French public.

But they are very definitely a very cool underground kind of rock ‘n roll band. They surprised me last night by doing a cover song I do all the time, “Wicked Game,” in a very punk manner. And they had Miggles, one of the original members, join them as well.

But all in all the evening at the International with the Parisians’ last concert was way too successful to be any fun or entice me to stick around very long. I could not get close to the stage there were so many people. I managed to video some stuff from the stairway through the plexiglass window, so I did catch a bit of vibe for this blog. But mostly I got nothing – including a minimal personal interaction with people I know, as there were so many people and it was impossible to sort the friends from the masses. All in all, a big let down and I was glad that I had Paddy’s place to go to for something much more in the tradition of the original Shebeen….

Burnin’ Jacks, BSMS and Yann Destal – a Musical Night in Paris

January 23, 2011

Not many open mics on Saturday in Paris, but even if there were, I’d have decided to sacrifice my own music to go and listen to that of some friends and acquaintances. Because at the International was a double-header of the Burnin’ Jacks and BSMS, two excellent rising groups of talented young musicians in Paris. And then at the Bus Palladium, conveniently happening after the other two concerts, was Yann Destal in the third kind of formation in which I have seen him play – I’ll explain in a minute.

At the International I HAD to go and see the Burnin’ Jacks, whom I have watched grow over the last two years from Earle’s open mic at the Lizard Lounge, the Truskel and then the Mecano bar, to what they’re doing today, playing bigger clubs and stages all over the city. Not to mention that Félix, the Burnin’ Jacks’ phenomenally talented lead guitar player, is also the guy who recorded with me in my Ephemere Recordings in July (on Except Her Heart and Memories), and who will play with me in concert at the Disquaires on 27 February.

So it was off to the International to hear them play, and neither I nor the couple of hundred people present were let down by the music or their charismatic performance, led by Félix on the lead guitar and Syd on the lead vocals, and Antoine, jumping around on rhythm guitar like there was no tomorrow. Also, one of my favorite songs of theirs is that composed and sung by Antoine.

After these guys came BSMS, whom I wrote about recently at their concert at the Bus Palladium. So I’m not going to add many words here, just to say it was more of the same rhythmic, slightly spaced out and slightly acid sound last night at the International. Very together, very tight, and very cool bluesy rock.

And speaking of the Bus Palladium, I ended up going over there to hear Yann Destal in band formation. Aside from hearing his voice on the radio for a decade with that 2000 hit song, “Lady (Hear Me Tonight),” I first started listening to Destal at the Tuesday evening after work club in the restaurant above the main concert room of the Bus. There he plays solo and with one or two other musicians doing cover songs acoustically. Then I saw him with one other musician doing some of his latest music at Le China, near the Bastille. So yesterday was the first time I saw him in a full-fledged group situation, with a keyboard player, a drummer, bass guitar, his acoustic guitar and a lead guitar player. There was another singer too, a woman – sorry, don’t know who it was.

In any case, last night’s show really made it clear how interesting a performer and composer Yann is. He’s the kind of performer who has his own musical world, and he inhabits it like others might get involved in reading or writing a fantasy novel. If that sounds like it is pushing things, just check out some of the videos below. His singing voice is as good as ever, but the tunes and lyrics and presentation are very personal, and remind me in some ways of progressive rock from the early 70s. Maybe that’s stretching it too – but that is what came to mind last night.

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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