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From a Downer at the Tennessee to an Upper at the Escargot, and an Explosive Jam at the Zelda: A Quiet Night in Paris Comes Alive, Mostly Thanks to Wayne Standley and Jimmy

August 9, 2013

ZeldaPARIS – Paris in August is great in the day and crap at night. Everything closes down, the musical venues decide that the business the tourists and vacationers might give them is not worth losing their own vacations for, and generally, it’s a place to avoid. Last night, with these negative thoughts in my mind, I set out for the open mic at the Tennessee bar, deciding that in order to get there early for once I would sacrifice my normal dinner mode and grab a falafel near the Place St. Michel and eat it on the Rue St. André des Arts before arriving at the Tennessee. Once I got there, I found the bar open, but the open mic cancelled – as it has been for weeks, apparently. The bartender could not tell me when it would start a again – a week or two, or maybe three.

With this in mind, I thought my night was a catastrophe and I should return home and continue working on my books and film. I’ve been on a good run with them, and nightlife and adventure and music were obviously dead in Paris. But then I decided I had better burn off the falafel and I decided to walk to the Escargot Underground open mic that I attended last week, to see how things were going this week. It’s not like I did not have a great time last week. It was just I wanted variety, and I feared there’d be practically no one there.

At the Escargot, Suddenly, Wayne Standley Sings Jimmy

By I did not drop my arms and lose my hope and I continued on my march across Paris, stopping only for a Magnum ice cream from a supermarket near the Rex cinema. Once I got to the Escargot, I found some old friends, including Trelys, and Wayne Standley, who was one of the mainstay musician – along with me – at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance bar, now since ended…. It was great to see them both again, and great to sing my songs in this wonderful open mic, and great to listen to more Russian music and other things…. And then… BANG! Suddenly, without announcing the name of his next song, Wayne lays into “Jimmy,” by the band Moriarty. Readers of this blog may have seen in the past that I have referred to Wayne as the father of Rosemary Standley, the singer in that same band. But this was the first time I had ever seen Wayne sing the band’s biggest hit.

It turned out that it was, indeed, actually, the first time Wayne had ever sung the song in public. So I was fast on him with my Zoom Q3 HD, not wanting to miss my opportunity to slap that up here on the blog in a world first. It was a beautiful rendition, and I only regret that I did not start going for the closeups until much later in the song, so the first part is a little distant, but it gets better. Wayne’s singing of it is beautifully emotional, and when you know the backstory, wow!

So after the Escargot Wayne and I decided to walk over to the metro together and then Wayne suggested we go somewhere for a drink. We were within walking distance of a bar called the Zelda – after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife – that is owned by a friend of mine, Matthias Cadéac d’Arbaud. The Zelda opened up a couple of years ago, and it has had quite a bit of good press and is considered something of an “in” place in Paris now. It is small and comfortable and hip, and I had seen David Broad play there in the past, and thought that it would be a cool place to show Wayne, and thought it would be cool to speak to Matthias again.

I have very fond memories of jamming with Matthias at the Truskel in the days of Earle’s open mic there in 2009. Matthias was the guitarist (and also played drums, keyboards, some vocals and bass) in a very cool band called Rock&Roll, that had the cover of one of its albums done with a photograph of the band taken by Karl Lagerfeld. For a couple of years they were looking set to be the next big thing from France musically, and they had top management in the U.S., as well. And very hot, rhythmic and colorful music. Their producer had worked with New Order, Pet Shop Boys and Blur. The French rock magazine, Les Inrockuptibles selected them from 7000 bands as the top new band of 2006.

Then Matthias of Rock&Roll and Zelda Owner, Comes Out of Retirement and Plays Jimmy With Wayne

But Matthias ended up packing up his musical instruments and opened the bar and he has not played guitar for a long while, he said, although he said he sometimes goes to a nearby bar after he closes his Zelda and he plays piano for fun, late into the night. Well, I mentioned to Matthias that my friend Wayne here was the father of Rosemary of Moriarty, and Matthias just lit up and said that Jimmy was one of his favorite songs. He put it on the sound system, as it was in his iPod. That’s when Wayne pointed out that he himself actually provides backing vocals on the original recording of the song (the recording we hear on the radio, etc.). We heard him doing them, and that was news to me.

After Matthias closed the bar I suggested that Wayne show him his 1962 Guild guitar, and that’s when Mattias proposed that Wayne sing Jimmy, and I proposed that Matthias play along. So started a jam that lasted around 45 minutes, with all of us playing together or separately. The high moment was the Jimmy moment – even though it was around 2:30 and we were all pretty tired at that point – and the first take of one of Wayne’s songs, with Matthias playing a bit of lead and rhythm along with Wayne. It was full of energy, and a great song and a great moment.

All in all, I was totally astounded by the richness of the evening. And for fans of Moriarty, if there is any single one of the covers of Jimmy that you have to choose from, then Wayne’s is it! Check this stuff out, and keep in mind that these are the first and second times only that Wayne has sung this song in public. Of course, now he joins the thousands of other – mostly young women – who sing this amazing song at open mics. A quiet night in August breaking out in all directions….

Much More than Just an Open Mic-Linked Moriarty Moment – in Melbourne

March 15, 2013


Sydney Morning Herald photo of the band Moriarty

That very wordy and massively “m-“oriented headline above has as its link to my open mic adventure a post that I put up a little over two years ago in relation to a fun and interesting moment at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic in Paris regarding the “French” band Moriarty. I wrote at the time about one of the regular musicians at that open mic whose name is Wayne Standley, and whose daughter is the lead singer of the band Moriarty. And I wrote about how a friend of mine at the time sang Moriarty’s biggest hit, “Jimmy,” in front of Rosemary Standley’s father without knowing that was who he was. Well the story has come around again, in another interesting, fun and evening amazing way.

I see Wayne just about every week now, as we both continue to attend the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic. And when he learned I was going to be in Australia this week, he told me that his daughter was performing with Moriarty in a few dates in Australia, and as it turned out, the band was playing in Melbourne last night at The Famous Spiegeltent, at the Melbourne Arts Centre. Wayne also told Rosemary, and she put me on a list to get in to watch the show.

That was really cool, and it turned out that the Spiegeltent was a few stops on the tram from the racetrack where I do my day job, so how could I not go?! Of course, the only thing that might stop me was the open mic at the Acoustic Café scheduled for last night, in another nearby part of Melbourne. And this is, after all, my open mic adventure.

But I really enjoy the songs of Moriarty that I have heard on the radio in France – frequently – and the videos I have seen, and I thought this would be a fabulous opportunity to see – and potentially meet – the band, and continue the Moriarty moments on the open mic adventure. The adventure, after all, is all about adventure and not getting stuck in too much of a pattern in life. Moriarty, you might say, is a little about the same – given that the name of the band comes from the character, Dean Moriarty, in Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road”….

The band started out doing traditional blues and rock ‘n’ roll, but with the departure of some members, specifically a drummer, they went more acoustic and more vocal oriented. (Last night after the show when I mentioned to the bass player, Zim, about how fabulous it was that I did not need to use my earplugs during the concert, he said that was something they always insist on, that the decibels be lower than what most bands pump them up to in order that people may actually listen to the music, hear the music without destroying their future capacity to hear anything….)

Founded in 1995 amongst a bunch of friends from Paris who mostly came from a multicultural mix – three of them now have one or two American parents – their music naturally gravitated to American music. That’s who they are. But they were actually in Australia first of all to play in the Womad festival in Adelaide, and although the band cannot really be described as “World Music,” it is definitely eclectic, and the influences range from just about everything to just about everything else. With a strong dose of country, blues, pop, but even, as the radio personality – no name, sorry – who introduced them last night said, “Depeche Mode.”

So I showed up last night to find a GIANT line up of people waiting for the doors to the Spiegeltent to open, as the few chairs and the rest of the standing room only areas of the venue are served up on a first come first served basis. I was surprised there were so many people, as I was unaware of Moriarty being well known in Australia. In fact, they are not that well-known, but they have toured here before, and one spectator I spoke to said she had seen them three times – ie, each time they came.

There were also a number of people from France. But there was a very healthy number of Australians. Another couple of spectators, also from Austraila, who stood behind me in the line told me that they had never heard of Moriarty, but they gladly paid the $45 for the tickets because they knew that in general the shows at the Spiegeltent were very good.

Indeed! The Spiegeltent is this kind of theatre-in-the-round building that travels from city to city, and originally came from Belgium in the 1920s. It reminds me most of a kind of circus tent, or even carrousel, but it is filled with mirrors and brocaded columns, wood, canvass and glass. The stage was small, but all spectators had a pretty close up view, despite that the room was packed. How many? 500 people? 700? I can only guess.

I ended up finding a nook right beside the stage that allowed me the freedom to do some videos without obstructing anyone else’s view, but it was not the best vantage point to see the band straight on and get the full feel for the stage antics. Still, it felt like a privileged position as I could grab lots of images from the side and behind and get a backstage kind of feel to it.

I have now written almost a 1000 words building up to this and saying nothing. But what can I say, really? Watch the videos and listen. The band was simply fantastic. The show was complete with lively stage presence and patter and antics and a very talented multi-instrumental group of musicians.

They are also very international, as I said, and a funny moment came during the show when a an Australian woman standing next to me turned to me and said, “Why do they all have American accents?” She was no doubt surprised and feeling somewhat invaded when I responded in my “American” accent and told her because they had American parents….

Anyway, Rosemary’s voice, I would just like to add, which I had heard only on the radio or Internet in the past, is absolutely superb, rich, and strong, and she and the other band members all have great stage presence. I can see why they have gone so far, but they deserve further recognition and success – let’s hope the hits keep coming. They are in no way a “traditional” music band, with some very avant garde touches and a newness and nowness to the band.

I also saw just how professional every one of the band members is, when they all went out from the “tent” after the show to meet with their fans and stand around and talk and sign autographs and copies of their latest CD. I spoke to just about all the band members, and Rosemary and I talked for quite a while – much of it about her father, Wayne. Wayne it turns out, has also played and recorded with the band – and that’s the next thing on my list I’ll want to see. But when I see and hear Rosemary, I cannot help but hear and see the Wayne influence in the background, and I imagine the upbringing….

So, now that I’m well above a thousand words, you can see that I have no regrets about missing an open mic myself last night…. I learned a lot, and had a great time. And, by the way, I also went along to this concert with my friend and fellow Paris-based F1 journalist, Adam Hay-Nicholls, who has joined me in Paris to see Wayne Standley and me play at the open mic – and Adam has also done a nice – but more sensibly short – item on the concert, in his new cool blog, the F1 Social Diary.

A Moriarty-linked Open Mic Moment

January 26, 2011

One of the beauties of attending open mics is that it is really live music and that means it is really unpredictable as to what will happen, who will be in great playing shape, how you will react and play and how the audience will be in listening. It’s a real-life, live music situation – totally unpredictable. But another thing that sometimes happens at open mics that is even more unpredictable is the various synchronicities that can happen in meeting people.

It was by happenstance during a conversation a few months ago at Ollie’s open mic at the Ptit Bonheur La Chance bar that Ollie himself would be playing in Singapore when I was there last September. I learned this through a family member of his, and not through him. So we decided to link up and play at a bar while in Singapore, and it was very cool.

Last night at Ollie’s among the musicians was a friend whom I first met and discovered singing at the Galway last June. One of the main songs on her repertoire is “Jimmy,” by the band Moriarty. “Jimmy” was the band’s first single, and it was a hit.

“Jimmy” also happens to be the song that my friend sang in the first video I put up on this blog of her (deleted many years later, at her request), where I mention sung by “a Dutch woman.” Last night my friend decided at the last minute to go to Ollie’s open mic, and one of the songs she sang was “Jimmy.”

Let’s rewind a little. One of the regular musicians at Ollie’s open mic in recent months is an American who has lived in Paris most of his adult life – like me – named Wayne Standley. He sings a pretty classic American repertoire that runs from country to Bob Dylan, as well as some other 60s rock classics. I’ve put up videos of Wayne since as early as June (Wayne Standley is in the first video on the page under this link, for instance.)

In recent weeks I learned the Wayne was, in fact, the father of Rosemary Standley who is the singer at Moriarty who sings the song “Jimmy.” So last night, without her knowing it, my friend sang one of the main songs in her repertoire in front of the father of the woman whose song it is. Rosemary, like the other members of the band, grew up in Paris, but has a very strong American country, rock and folk background, and when you meet and hear Wayne, you know why.

After, up in the bar, Wayne presented himself to my friend. Needless to say, she was blown away by the news that he was Rosemary’s father. She also realized that she had heard the father of Rosemary singing too, without knowing who it was. (As it turns out, Rosemary and Wayne sometimes performer together too.)

And I thought, yes, this is the open mic. This is the rear nerve center of one of the great reasons we do these things – we meet people, connect with people, and we see and feel and hear our music different because of the context as well.

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