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….

From Earle’s Ultimate Open Mic to the Studio and Some Music Less Than Ephemere – I Hope

July 17, 2010

I have been away from the blog since Sunday in Oxford – probably my longest hiatus so far – but that is not because I’ve been away from music. On the contrary, I’ve had a phenomenal week I will never forget, and I wanted to get a few words and videos down before it was too late.

First, briefly, the last night in Oxford I did go and play at the Old Bookbinder’s pub. Played four songs in two sets. There were some interesting muscians there as well, including one I had met last year, and one I had heard at the Catweazle Club three nights earlier. ‘Nuff said.

Monday back to Paris and a quiet evening listening to a new stock of LPs that Vanessa bought – some cool 80s stuff and some 70s stuff too.

Tuesday was the beginning of the musical adventure of the week. It was announced as the last of Earle’s open mics, and it was being held at The Panic Room, on rue Amelot, near the Pop ‘In. It was meant to be a celebration of the end of Earle’s open mics, which had ceased to happen for the last couple of months or so. The list of potential guests on Facebook had grow to more than 170 people by the day of the event, and that was a lot more than ever signed up for the regular open mics. So I had great expectations.

I had never been to the Panic Room before and found it to be a fabulous venue. It had a spacious upper bar on two levels with clean painted walls and a nice shiny bar. The basement room was a cave with a vaulted ceiling – typical Paris thing – and a big fumoir. The stage was small by most standards but big for an open mic, and the sound was good for the listeners and for the musicians.

Upstairs, part of the evening was not just that it be an open mic, but it was also a photo exhibition of photos done by Olivier Rodriguez and Céline LiLi Faye, two friends who took photos at Earle’s open mic for years. They decided to organize this last open mic and do put up a photo exhibit of the ones in the previous years, and they did a great job both of the photos and the organization of this open mic. I’m putting in a video below that takes a brief tour of the photo display and includes a moment where we see Olivier looking at me with a face that said, “Camera shy.” Sure thing, Olivier! In the video there is a moment at which you will see the oldest of the musicians looking a little like Jacques Brel, c. 1966 at the Olympia, in a white shirt, face in a grimace behind glasses, and that’s me. Just below that you will see a photo of a young man with long hair and a similar face to mine – that’s my son Paul. Yep, Father and Son.

And it was in reference to those two photos that I sang Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” when I went up on stage. I was the second person up. First was my friend – and my son’s friend – Calvin, whom I have mentioned here before. I also played “Just Like A Woman” and “Since You Left Me” and “Except Her Heart.” I know that I did a good job for two reasons: One was that I felt good, in the groove, and really delighted to be up there and singing for the audience. The second reason was that a few of the women who listened told me afterwards that they had been brough almost to tears by my songs. Sheesh!

The evening progressed at a nice cool pace, and Earle was at his best, promoting the singers, singing along, enthusiastic as ever. In fact, he said to me that he thought he might like to continue doing open mics, but perhaps only once a month. He just loves it. Despite this being the so-called last one.

A few of the big names of the many years the open mic has existed showed up to play and honor Earle and the audience. They included François, who is the singer from The Agency, and Stevan, the singer from The Parisians, as well as Xavier, the guitar player from the Parisians who backed Earle on “Teenage Kicks,” and Syd from The Burnin’ Jacks was there, as were other members of that rising band in the Paris music scene.

Among the aforesaid was the brilliant lead guitarist from the Burnin’ Jacks, Félix Beguin. I have played with Félix on and off at Earle’s since November or December 2008, when I first started playing at his open mics. And we were supposed to play my set together, not only as a tribute to the Earle scene, but also as a warm up for the following two days in which we were going to live out the next step of my week’s adventure, my time recording four songs in the studio at the Point Ephemere. This post has become so long that I have decided to do a separate post for the studio days. Coming right up… up there, up above this one…. î

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