Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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From the Bellers to the Puppini Sisters, by Way of Shakespeare and Co.

June 20, 2010

Just wanted to lay down a post about the last couple of days in Paris where the accent, for me, was more on listening to live music than in playing it myself. (No, I played as much as usual, but at home, not in public.)

Thursday night, spent quite while looking for an open mic but found nothing. Used to be one called Open House Thursday at a club called Belushi’s. That was a good one because the room was in a hostel, in the basement, so it meant a good crowd. The sound system was good, and it started late, so there was no rush to get there. But it ended last summer. For a while there was a jam session at the Caméleon bar on rue St. André des Arts, just a few meters away from the Tennessee and also run by James of the Tennessee. But it looks as if that stopped too. So I resigned myself to not playing anywhere and stayed at home and organized my life – for once.

Friday night I took my guitar with me and went to the Point Ephemere to see two bands I know, Holstenwall and The Bellers. I was mostly interested in The Bellers, as two of its members are very good and supportive guys I know from my days at Earle’s open mic. These are Romain on vocals and guitar and Marc Zeller on bass. Marc briefly ran an open mic in the Marais, at a bar called the Baroc. There he invited me regularly and there I met the TalkiWalki DJ Emeric Degui who suggested I try his radio show’s music contest.

The Bellers were very cool, and I love the room they play in at the Point Ephemere. But unfortuately I found the sound too loud and lacking focus. Normally, however, my Zoom Q3 filters out all the noise and gives an idea what the music really sounds like – so I did some videos of them not only for the blog, but also to hear better what the music sounded like! And it works, you will see if you listen to the video the sound sounds fine.

After that I went to the only open mic I know of on Fridays, which is located near the Belleville metro and is called the Culture Rapide barman’s open stage night, or something similar if you translate it from French. This is an open mic where there is no mic. But the bar is small and the crowd is usually friendly. Unfortunately, on Friday there was no crowd. In fact, the weather was so nice that people sat outside and around the corner to drink and in the bar there was only the bartender and two clients and the guy who runs the open mic. In other words, no performers and no audience. So I bought a beer and then left.

Last night, it was a visit to the former venue called the Locomotive, but which is now called La Machine du Moulin Rouge, and which is located beside the world famous burlesque house of the Moulin Rouge. Now this was a night to remember and one that solved all the problems encountered at the Point Ephemere: Every sound of every instrument and every voice in the band was crystal clear and no need for ear plugs. The evening was a theme evening of “pinup” girls fashion and the music was provided by the British band called the Puppini Sisters. These three women singers dressed in a kind of 1940s style and sang similar music, like the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, etc., with a touch of rockabilly. It was a fabulous show and the sound was great, and this girl band reminded me a little of the 70s band Sha Na Na, but here with a throwback to an even earlier era.

Unfortunately, I did not have my Zoom Q3 and had to use my iPhone for a video, and the sound quality is very bad compared to the Q3.

Yesterday afternoon I also visited the Shakespeare and Company literary festival and heard Philip Pullman speak, and spoke to him myself, giving him a copy of my Colin Wilson book. He said, “Oh, he wrote me what amounted to a fan letter,” said Pullman of Wilson. I said, “I know, he mentions that in the book….”

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