Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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

Tennessee Looking Great From Singapore – Monday Night Memories

September 17, 2014
bradspurgeon

tennessee bar facade

tennessee bar facade

SINGAPORE – I’m kind of wiped out, having attended the Tennessee Bar open mic on Monday night in Paris, having it turn out to be an epic night, and then getting up early Tuesday to take two flights to Singapore, where I now write these words on what is the evening in Singapore and mid-day in Paris. But I just had to put up a post about that evening at the Tennessee, after I checked out my videos….

I had left my Zoom Q3 recording device at home and so I ended up having to use my iPhone 5S to record the open mic stuff. That’s great visually, but the sound would have been better on the Q3. No matter, though, a the sound at the Tennessee was so good, and the quality of the performances exceptional, that the videos are worth seeing AND hearing.

First, let me note that the Tennessee open mic had a different feeling to it this week thanks to the replacement of the regular guy (a one off?) by Brislee Adams, who hosts the now very successful Café Oz open mic. It was Brislee’s usual deft touch. But what really made the night stand out was the number of exceptional acts.

Oh, by the way, my own slot was a total disaster! For some reason my guitar – my Seagull S6 – ceased to work through the amp now and then particularly when I began moving in time with the music. So I was interrupted throughout by the bad connection, or, what I hope is the case, the need for a new battery. I’ll find out now in Singapore…. But the result of the cutting guitar was that I started to sing my first song, the French, “Et dans 150 ans,” which I had perfectly performed in three open mics recently, only to go blank on the lyrics after just one verse. I had to bail out, and just made a complete mess of it, and quit. Then I did my new song, “Chanson d’amour,” and the guitar apparently did not like that one either, and kept cutting out, and I forgot one or two lines. And the same thing happened with “Borderline,” in terms of the guitar, although I did not forget the lines. But I was totally, totally outside the song. Worst set I’ve done in ages.

While I was ordering a beer at one point during the evening I noticed a familiar face in the bar on the ground level. He had showed up with a friend, Louise, and was just having a drink in a bar he’d never been in before. As Theo is the fabulous lead singer of the band Velvet Veins, which played at the Rock en Seine festival a few weeks ago, and for which my regular lead guitarist, Félix Beguin, also plays, I said to Theo, “There’s an open mic downstairs. Come and play!”

So Theo and Louise came down and did three songs, including the Elvis Presley one that I’ve put up on the blog. It was part of a finale to the evening that was extremely powerful, thanks also to the man who had just preceded Theo and Louise, that is Desmond Myers. Desmond, with a great little Martin parlour guitar that someone lent him, and with his amazing mix of rap and roll….

Well, anyway, just check out the videos.



“Crazy Lady” – Second Song and Video of the Melodium Sessions in Montreuil & Mysterious Elsewheres

April 10, 2014
bradspurgeon

Crazy Lady

Crazy Lady

PARIS – A couple of weeks ago, while in Kuala Lumpur, I posted my first video and recording of the songs I recorded in the studio in February, in the post for “When You’re Gone Away.” Since then I have been working on the second video while I was in KL, in Bahrain and now in Paris (where I’m back again for a few days before taking off for Shanghai). I’ve now finished that second video of the five-part series of the five songs I recorded at the Melodium Studio in Montreuil outside Paris in February, I’m talking about the video for my song “Crazy Lady.” As with “When You’re Gone Away,” I recorded “Crazy Lady” along with my favorite lead player, Félix Beguin and drummer, Jeremy Norris – both of whom are in two excellent Paris bands, The Burnin’ Jacks and the Velvet Veins – and also with Scott Bricklin – a Paris expat musician originally from Philadelphia – on bass. Together, as I mentioned, we recorded five songs.

In the coming weeks I plan to continue making videos of these songs and releasing them, and then I plan to put out a CD of the whole, as well as others of my songs (and a wicked cover song). The videos will all be quite different; the first one I did while walking around Paris and being filmed by Raphaëlle, and adding two bits of “mystery footage” from the past and from elsewhere in the world that I took – see if you can spot it! This time, with “Crazy Lady,” I decided to have a completely different kind of fun doing a completely different kind of video to illustrate my song, drawing on black and white films from the public domain to try to illustrate this song with a story to tell that is a little tricky to illustrate otherwise!

The beauty of doing these recording sessions was the incredible cohesion and talent I was surrounded with in Félix, Jeremy and Scott and their wonderful arrangements and Félix’s mixing. All three have worked together extensively, and often at the incredible Melodium Studios, and of course, I have gigged with Félix regularly in the last five years. So it was all just so together.

“When You’re Gone Away” – First Song and Video of the Melodium Sessions in Montreuil, Paris and a Mysterious Elsewhere

March 26, 2014
bradspurgeon

When You're Gone Away

When You’re Gone Away

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – This post has nothing to do with my location of sitting in a hotel room high above hot and humid Kuala Lumpur, where I will be working and playing music for the next week…except perhaps that high in the air (although not high in the head) is also where I was when I edited this music video of the first of my songs from the Melodium recording sessions last month in Montreuil.

In fact, yes, this post is all about a chain of events that started at the Melodium Studio in Montreuil outside Paris last month, that continued in the streets of Paris’s Latin Quarter over the weekend and that I finalized on my flight to Kuala Lumpur from Paris last night. I’m talking about the video that I put together for my song “When You’re Gone Away,” the music of which I recorded in Montreuil last month, and that I filmed in Paris over the weekend and that I edited on the flight and uploaded in my hotel room in Kuala Lumpur.

That actually seems a fitting chain of events for my song called, “When You’re Gone Away,” that I recorded along with my favorite lead player, Félix Beguin and drummer, Jeremy Norris – both of whom are in two excellent Paris bands, The Burnin’ Jacks and the Velvet Veins – and also with Scott Bricklin – a Paris expat musician originally from Philadelphia – on bass. Together, as I mentioned in a blog item about my session at Melodium Studios, we recorded five songs, of which “When You’re Gone Away,” is one.

In the coming weeks I plan to continue making videos of these songs and releasing them, and then I plan to put out a CD of the whole, as well as others of my songs (and a wicked cover song). The videos will all be quite different; this one was fun, as I did it walking around Paris and being filmed by Raphaëlle, and adding two bits of “mystery footage” from the past and from elsewhere in the world that I took – see if you can spot it!

The beauty of doing these recording sessions was the incredible cohesion and talent I was surrounded with in Félix, Jeremy and Scott and their wonderful arrangements and Félix’s mixing. All three have worked together extensively, and often at the incredible Melodium Studios, and of course, I have gigged with Félix regularly in the last five years. So it was all just so together.

In the Recording Studio at Melodium with Félix and Gang….

February 14, 2014
bradspurgeon

Melodium Studios

Melodium Studios

MONTREUIL – There has been a big blank hole on this blog for the past several days as I have just spent four of the best and most important days of my life, rehearsing for a day, and then spending three days in a studio recording five songs, four of mine and a cover. That may sound like hyperbole or exaggeration, but really, I mean it. It was certainly four of the most enriching days I’ve had, and I am hugely impatient to show the results, but I won’t do that until the five tracks are all properly mixed. So in the meantime, just a quick post to say what I was up to.

It was Part II of a project I started nearly four years ago when I went into the studio to record four songs as part of my worldwide open mic and musical adventure, another media aspect to my open mic film, open mic book and this blog – i.e., the music I have written and been singing during this period. My goal is to do a full CD, and I now have nine songs recorded in full band mode, and I will add one or two in solo acoustic and maybe one live from an open mic somewhere…. I will put up links below to the first four recordings, from 2010, which I recorded live in the Point Ephemere in Paris. As soon as I have the mixes to the stuff I did this week, I’ll make that available somehow too!
Melodium Studios
But for the moment, a bit more on this week: Aside from my own guitar playing, singing and songwriting, another one thing that ties together the recording sessions from 2010 and this week is the presence on the tracks of the lead guitar player, Félix Beguin. I have spoken about Félix frequently on this blog, as he is also the lead guitarist of the bands The Burnin’ Jacks and Velvet Veins. These are two fabulous up-and-coming young French bands, the former of which had one of its songs featured on the Rock&Folk compilation CD last month. Raphaëlle – whose video “Mississippi” I put up last week – also contributed chorus and a fabulous vocal part on one of the songs.
setting up the leslie
And anyway, this time, Félix did much, much more than just play lead guitar on my songs as he did three and a half years ago – by the way, we first played together at the Lizard Lounge open mic in November 2008! – as he played lead and keyboards and did some backup vocals, and he engineered, recorded and even basically produced the five songs we did this week, along with Scott Bricklin and Jeremy Norris. Norris is the drummer for both of the aforementioned groups, and Bricklin is an American musician from Philadelphia who has lived in France for a decade now, and who has an illustrious history of making music – he is a multi-instrumentalist, and a singer-songwriter (I have one of his albums on which he plays basically all instruments).
Melodium with 2 Rockers
Working with these three guys was superb in many ways, but not the least interesting aspect to it – which helps in the music – is that they are all used to working not only with each other, but also at the studio where we recorded: Melodium Studios in Montreuil, which is a funky neighborhood located just outside of Paris. Félix and Scott are both regular engineers at the studio, so everyone knew each other and the working environment, and it paid off in the music. In fact, it was three days of bliss in this amazing, spacious cellar studio that has several rooms, some really nice equipment and a warm and highly competent staff.

The Amazing Leslie Speaker at the Melodium Studios in Montreuil

One of the high moments in terms of the equipment was when they pulled out the absolutely wonderful antique Leslie speaker and ran the keyboards through that, and then later ran some vocal chorus stuff through it like the Beatles first did in the mid-60s. The Leslie, devised in the 1930s, uses a rotating fan-like device to distort the sound waves and give it a sound like an organ.

Together, we recorded my songs “Borderline,” “Crazy Lady,” “When You’re Gone Away,” and “If I Only Had You.” For the cover song, we recorded “Mad World,” which I have been playing for a few years, and notably, with Félix for about four years on occasion. But this time, this is a monster of a cover song, unlike any version I know of “Mad World,” and I can’t wait to show it here!
my J-200 and the singing space at the Melodium studios
In the meantime, here are the songs I recorded live at the Point Ephemere nearly four years ago. Believe me, the quality of the new ones is incomparable. (I feel like I’m boasting without showing the result – which is an empty boast – but I’m sooooo excited!)


Lighter, shrimpy, easy to download but less good quality file versions of my 2010 live recordings at the Point Ephemere in Paris. These are NOT the studio recordings of five different songs that I just did at the Melodium, and on these recordings Félix played lead on “Memories” and “Except Her Heart,” while Laurent Zarby played lead on “Let Me Know,” and “Since You Left Me”:

Memories

Except Her Heart

Let Me Know

Since You Left Me

Big, fat, heavy, high bandwidth better quality file versions:

Memories

Except Her Heart

Let Me Know

Since You Left Me

Velvet Veins and Tactics at the Bus Palladium Karaocké

May 6, 2013
bradspurgeon

In France we are in the middle of the first set of weeks in which public holidays divide the week in half. The 1 May and 8 May are public holidays – a kind of labor day on the 1st and the Victory of WWII on the 8th – and in France that means that a large percentage of the population will created what they call a “bridge,” or a “pony,” of days off between the weekend and the middle of the week. The and what THAT means is that for these two weeks there are hardly any people in Paris. And what THAT means is that the Kararocké organizers may well have been worried that there would not be many people there on Saturday for the once-a-month giant karaoke with the live band. So was that the reason that Nicolas Ullmann, the MC, decided to announce that Pete Doherty would sing a song or two before the kararocké?

Many of the regular clients of the Bus Palladium will by now know that the artistic director of the venue is acting as manager for Peter Doherty, the British rock star of the former Libertines and Babyshambles, who lives in Paris. So maybe, just maybe, Ullmann thought that would attract people during a potential down period. On the other hand, as many of the clients to his great Kararocké know, Ullmann is the master of disguise, and he dress up as a different character for each show. This time, guess what? The character, it seems, was Pete Doherty!

And it was Ullmann doing the impersonation…. Doherty has recently played at the Bus Palladium, and even in small cafés in the neighborhood, so it would not have been unreasonable to expect him to show. But the game was Ullmann’s this time, and I don’t have any idea at all if it actually worked, but what I can say is that the crowd was its usual size and enthusiasm on Saturday night, and Ullmann put on another great show.

I was surprised at how many people were there. But I also know that a lot of the people who showed up came to see the basically unknown band that opened for the Kararocké, the band called, Velvet Veins. I went specifically to see them – although my interest was piqued by the idea of a Doherty intervention – as the Velvet Veins is the new band of my sometime lead guitarist Félix Beguin, with whom I have played many times, and recorded a couple songs too. He met his new band in the studio where he works, just outside Paris. The Velvet Veins, for their part, did NOT let down.







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