Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Jamiversaire – Plucking Away at the 49 Bar in Pigalle

December 18, 2011

Just a very brief note to mention that it was a nice and calm and quiet Saturday night celebrating Calvin McEnron’s birthday at the 49 Bar in Pigalle. A nice cool, small bar with tasteful photos, including one of the famous Edward Hopper painting of a diner. I played two sets of maybe four songs each, including by popular demand my “A Change is Gonna Come,” which I am working at more these days to try to get right.

Calvin, whom I met at Earle’s open mic at the Truskel bar in Paris nearly three years ago, played some of his songs, and there was a short jam with one of the members of the Likely Lads of Paris and a jam of the band The Last Waltz, also of Paris, in which my son plays guitar and does back up vocals and writes songs.

Check it all out! Just a party, really! But Calvin McEnron is more than worth the celebration….

Oh yes, almost forgot that I saw this cool violinist on the metro the previous day as I went to the Abbey Bookshop to celebration a Christmas party.

Family Day at the Galway and Elsewhere; or Jamming With a Last Waltz Band Member – my Son

May 31, 2011

Going to the Brasserie Lipp to celebrate my daughter Emily’s 18th birthday, I decided nevertheless to take along my guitar, since that legendary brasserie is located in the same Latin Quarter neighborhood as the Tennessee Bar and the Galway Pub and it was Monday night and that meant the two open mics;

So we had a great meal at Lipp – with my son Paul and daughter eating the same dish of pig’s foot, not for me, and I had the famous choucroute – and of course we all had a nice Beaujolais to go along with it, since the legal drinking age in France is 18 and we had to celebrate that. We finished eating and got out of their at around 10:30 and headed over to the Tennessee Bar where the action was hot, the room was full, and some hard hitting and hard singing guy was on the stage. I took one look around the room and knew that I’d probably not get on – too many performers – and anyway, I had known that from the beginning but just wanted to show my son and daughter the Tennessee joint where I hang out so often.

So we stayed for a bit of this guy and then went to the Galway. My timing was perfect, as Stephen Prescott put me up as soon as we arrived and I did four or five songs. Then Stephen spent much of the rest of the night trying to get my son up on the stage, as I had told him before that Paul has a group, called The Last Waltz, and that he plays guitar and sings. In his band, in fact, he only does the occasional backup vocal, so he is not really used to singing in public – having only done it once or twice before. (To my knowledge.) Eventually, at the end of the evening, with Stephen, me and my daughter pushing Paul, we decided that he and I would go up together and jam a bit. Or rather, I’d sing some songs and he would do lead, some rhythm guitar, whatever.

He and I never play together at home. His music is his music, mine is mine. We did jam a little in the early days, but never seriously. And we never learned the same song. So this was not just our debut performance in public at an open mic, it was our first time playing what ended up being four songs together without break or practice, from beginning to end. We started with Marc Bolan’s “Cat Black, the Wizard’s Hat.” Then we did “Unchained Melody,” then we did, “I Shall Be Released.” By that last song we were starting to get the feel for things, and afterwards we would be complimented on that one. But none of it really showed off Paul’s best talents – he writes his own songs and learns the classics note by note -, and just before we left the stage he started playing “Little Wing,” and I said, “Crap, you should have played that and I’d do and improvise the singing.”

But there it was, a birthday and a birth – of a father and son duo. Well, probably not. But he might go again with The Last Waltz.

Too bad we didn’t get any of it on video, but there were some other high moments in the night – like Stephen’s “Common People,” and Sven Cosnuau singing with Pierre Doucet playing backup guitar.

The Last Waltz at the Disquaires, and Being There at Be There

May 16, 2011

I get to hear this band all the time at my home, since it is the band of my son Paul. Formerly called, The Euks, it is now called, The Last Waltz. The band played its first concert while I was in Istanbul, so I missed it. Last night, it played its second concert, at the Disquaires in Paris. I was there and filmed it.

It is quite a different thing to be sitting around at home and hearing the sound of a budding band coming through closed doors and actually being at the venue and watching the band perform for its public for the first – or second – time. And I can say that I was favorably impressed. I was also happy when it ended that I still had all senses and had not been whacked in the head by a guitar or a foot as I tried to get in fairly close towards the end on the last song and found myself in the middle of an onstage riot – or at least chaos of dance and flailing limbs.

I stayed a little longer to see for the first time for me also a band consisting of a couple of friends of my son’s from years ago, which was on the same bill by accident. This was The Likely Lads, and at least two of them used to go to school with my son when they were kids.

Then I moved on to do a little bit of my own music at the Be There bar’s open mic on the Ile St. Louis. I always enjoy this one, and despite arriving and finding very few people present, it turned out to have some interesting performers. I am not sure who was who, but the band names I got were goodbye paname and super vener. I enjoyed my own moment – thoroughly screwing up a new cover song I thought I had memorized, “What’s Up.”

By the way, my son Paul is the guitarist on the right in the images in general, or stage left, usually playing in front of or below the saxophone player painted on the wall.

The Euks…Sorry, The Last Waltz, did Their First Concert

April 22, 2011

The Last Waltz (when they were The Euks)

The Last Waltz (when they were The Euks)

Keep your eyes open for this band, now called The Last Waltz, and previously called, “The Euks.” I wrote about them playing in my son Paul’s room nearly a year ago. Now, a week ago, they played their first concert, having renamed themselves a level higher to show their ambition. I was in Shanghai playing at the Melting Pot when they were doing their first concert at the Cantine de Belleville, so I could not make it. But from what I see in the video and hear from the reports, it went more than just well.

In fact, they may have another concert coming up very soon. I will keep you posted. But in the meantime, check out The Last Waltz’s facebook page and see the two videos on it and the photos….

The Last Waltz playing their gig at the Cantine de Belleville in Paris

The Last Waltz playing their gig at the Cantine de Belleville in Paris

By the way, this concert was booked and arranged by Clavin McEnron, the same guy who booked my first concert at the Disquaires. Calvin performed the same night at each concert. (And no, this is not a case of Dad’s contacts getting son a gig – quite the opposite is pretty much the case….

The Euks at the Spurgeon’s

May 1, 2010

When I am not out playing in open mics or jams and I’m at home practicing or reading or writing or pursuing some other occupation, the sound of music is never very far off. My son Paul is a musician too. In fact, my whole open mic foray of the last year and a half began thanks to my son, Paul, who pushed me into going to Earle’s open mic the first time I went, in November 2008. I had found the place and chickened out at the last moment, saying why would I do something like that at my age and with a completely different career underway. What’s the point? Paul got angry and said, “What’s the point of sitting in the living room playing your music all by yourself all the time for no one but yourself?” Anyway, he said a LOT more than that and persuaded me to go. So commenced at period of more than a year of playing in public three to five times a week.

Since then Paul himself has been working very hard on his music in between classes at the university. And he has been writing a lot of songs – many more than me. I found him and his new band, The Euks, rehearsing a couple of the latest of his compositions in his room two days ago, and asked if I could do a video, and they accepted, even though they had just begun putting the songs together.

So here are the stars of tomorrow, and perhaps soon I’ll have to start saying, “Paul, why don’t you guys get out and play in public!!!” In the first video Paul is the blond one sitting on the bed with the Stratocaster, in the second video Paul is using his Goding electric and sitting in front of the drummer.

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