Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

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….

Holiday Week Musical Round-Up – and a Billy White Acre Video

January 3, 2011

I did not intend to, but it turned out I took more than a week’s break from the blog – and actually from most musical adventures. But it was the period covering Christmas to New Year’s and so that makes sense, at least once in a while.

That did not mean I was without music. I carried my guitar with me just about everywhere I went, and played in people’s houses, in down moments, in moments of post-Christmas and New Year’s blues etc. The only things that really stand out for me in this whole blur as I enter the new year were a dinner at the home of Antoine, one of the members of the Euks rock band. The Euks is made up of four musicians, of whom one is my son Paul. So we went over and had dinner at Antoine’s place and the two members of the Euks played music and sang songs, and so did I. In fact, for two or three hours it seemed, we passed the guitar back and forth and exchanged music. It was great. The one thing I like about doing that kind of thing as opposed to performing on a stage is that I can read lyrics and chords and do all sorts of songs that I have not memorized for performance, and no one cares about the reading.

The rest of the week is something of a blur – or something of a secret, even perhaps from myself! – and it was on the first day of the year that I received a link from an old friend of mine showing off a new video he had just put online playing his wild and original guitar music. This was Billy White Acre, and I am putting the video below as any guitar loving music lover has to see and hear this cool video.

Billy and I met in the late 70s at an open mic – or a bar where he was already hired to play and sing – and eventually ended up living in the same rooming house, or co-op house, in Toronto in the Annex area. Billy was just starting out with his music, and I was just coming to the conclusion that I would quit mine…. For one thing, just looking at how Billy already played the guitar at that point after only a couple of years made me ill. He had picked up the guitar at 18 and was something of a maestro with his own sound by 20. He also had a great singing voice, as he had been a choirboy in a school in England – where he was sent on a choirboy scholarship, if I remember correctly – and he was writing some cool music and introducing me to the music of people like Egberto Gismonti!

Later, I went off to live in France, but Billy and I remained in contact over the years, and I visited him in 1997 on a trip to Los Angeles, where he has lived for a couple of decades or so and where he made some albums and music for films and television. His 1997 album, “Billy’s Not Bitter,” actually won a prize in the LA Music Awards as the best album on an independent label, if I remember accurately. Earlier, he had won in 1994 the singer songwriter of the year award at Billboard Magazine, when Frank Zappa was one of the judges, if I remember that one correctly (it would have been just before Zappa died). I love the Billy’s Not Bitter album, by the way, which he sent to me at the time. A fabulous mixture of every feeling from the Beatles to Hendrix to the grunge of the time – and his inimitable guitar playing and singing and haunting lyrics.

This new video is fabulous, and I see that Billy has lost nothing of his innovative guitar playing technique. Oh, and before I sign off on Billy – an inspiration for the new year – I must mention that his daughter Asia Whiteacre, is also a rising talent.

Also, check out the other video of Billy, “The Apple,” in which he sings a song from the Billy’s Not Bitter album and he plays a tiny guitar. Very coool….. Billy was also the subject of a front page story in Guitar Player magazine in 1994 as well, for his innovative guitar playing. “Bill White Acre’s solo acoustic playing invites comparisons to Hedges–highly percussive pieces based around moving chord shapes, open tunings, and careful counterpoint,” said the writer.

Oh dear, I almost forgot another high point of the Christmas and New Year’s week, and one that has a musical connection. I had for years been intending to go to one of Jim Haynes’s New Year’s dinners, and this year I finally did. I could write a book about Jim Haynes – who knew and helped the early career of David Bowie, by the way – but as it turnst out, Jim has himself written a book about his life, called “Thanks For Coming,” and published by… T.S. Eliot’s old company, Faber & Faber. So look him up!!! Suffice it to say that the evening was fabulous. I left to go to another party, and then a bar.

Happy New Year’s to all readers of this blog and thank you for your lecture over the last nearly one year that I have run it. I plan to continue the musical adventure around the world this year.

The Euks go to the Highlander and the Cavern

June 17, 2010

I wrote a while ago about the Wednesday night neighboring open mics in Paris, The Highlander and The Cavern. The Cavern is not exactly an open mic in the sense of most I write about here, because the venue provides a live band and the guest just goes up to sing a song with the band.

That last time I wrote about how I chickened out singing at the Cavern, although I’d sung there once before. This time, I did not chicken out, and that was thanks to my sense of pride. You see, I went to both of these open mics with my son, Paul, and his band The Euks, which I also wrote about here in the past. The Euks consists of my son and three of his friends, Antoine, Vincent and Sébastien, and they were looking for a place to play in public with the band for the first time. They knew about the Highlander and I said I’d join them if they didn’t mind. They also brought their friend Calvin, who writes some good songs too and sings solo. So we all went to the Highlander, and The Euks made its debut, and Calvin sung some songs, and I sang some songs, and then we all went off to celebrate at The Cavern.

Now the Cavern usually has some very, very hot singers who get up behind the microphone. In fact, that is the norm, and it’s one thing that bothers me about the place, because although it is called an open vocale jam, and it really is open to anyone, most people are scared shitless to get up and sing because the quality is professional, and very high. Well last night, Calvin and Antoine went up as the first volunteers of the night and sang a French rock song that Calvin said he had never heard before! They both had great fun, and I think the audience did too.

But then up went a fabulous singer who sang a George Benson song with the band, and this guy was your typical pro at The Cavern. Scared the life out of everyone. We had to catch the last Métro anyway, so all got up to leave. But I could not accept that my son’s friends went up on stage and sang at the Cavern and that I would not do the same out of fear and the knowledge that I’m lost at sea when I sing with a band without my guitar in my hands. So I decided to get up and sing “Stand By Me,” which is the only song on the band’s set list that I sing with my own set list.

I did it, and I made a fairly big mess out of it. But at least I did it. And the genial guitarist, Rémi de Coudenhove, agreed with me in advance that it was indeed difficult to sing alone with a band if you’re used to doing it with a guitar in your hands.

But the most important part of the night was that Calvin played some of his songs, including a nice new one, and The Euks had their public debut. It went very well, even considering that they are an electric band and they had to play acoustic and didn’t even have the drum set. They all agreed that it was a good workout.

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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