Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Musicians in the Metro – Part II

Sunday, July 1st, 2012
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Don LaRue

Tim Puckett (left) with his group Don LaRue
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Antoine Barret

Antoine Barret
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

In last month’s Paris Insights we looked at the selection procedure that musicians must go through if they want a permit to perform in the corridors of the Paris metro. This month we take a look at two of the musicians, one French, the other American, who went through this process.

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Celebrating the Memory of Carole Fredericks

Thursday, June 28th, 2012
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Photo of Carole Fredericks

Photo of Carole Fredericks

Carole Fredericks was an American woman who moved to Paris in 1979 and achieved considerable success there as a singer. After her death in 2001, she was buried in the Montmartre cemetery. Yesterday, friends and acquaintances met in front of the apartment building where she lived, at 91bis, rue du Mont-Cenis in the 18th arrondissement, to celebrate her memory.

Daniel Vaillant - Mayor of 18e Arrondissement

Daniel Vaillant - Mayor of 18th Arrondissement
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The Plaque

The Plaque
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The mayor of the 18th arrondissement, Carole’s sister Connie Fredericks-Malone, Carole’s brother Taj Mahal, and the master of ceremonies Timothy Ramier, Esq., gave speeches about Carole’s life and how she has been an inspiration for so many. Following the speeches, a memorial plaque affixed to the wall of the apartment building was unveiled.

Taj Mahal and Connie Fredericks

Taj Mahal and Connie Fredericks-Malone
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

After the ceremony, a concert in Carole’s honor was given at the Centre Musical Fleury Goutte d’Or – Barbara. Among the performers were her brother Taj Mahal and her sister Connie. It was both a stirring and an inspiring event!

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Celebrating Darkness in the City of Light

Friday, June 22nd, 2012
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François Parisi and Cybèle Castoriadis

François Parisi and Cybèle Castoriadis
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The annual Fête de la Musique was held in Paris yesterday, with musicians and singers appearing on street corners and in bars, pubs, and restaurants throughout the city to celebrate the beginning of summer.

For my part, I chose to attend a unique concert at the Bibliothèque des Litteratures Policières, where I heard Cybèle Castoriadis sing not happy, joyous songs that the official arrival of summer would occasion, but brooding, sinister songs about the darker side of life in Paris. Indeed, apart from the Paris Police Museum that stands only a few blocks away, there would be no better place to perform these songs but at the Bibliothèque des Litteratures Policières, a city library dedicated to the crime-thriller literary genre.

For over an hour, Cybèle, accompanied by accordionist François Parisi, regaled the audience with such French chansons as “Le Boucher de la Rue de Flandres,” about a butcher who turned to murder and deboned his victims; “La Vipère du Trottoir,” about a woman who willingly submitted to prostitution and betrayed her pimp, who, in turn, murdered her; “Le Chat Qui Miaule,” about a burglar whose victim is awakened by the meow of a cat and, consequently, gets strangled by the intruder. There were eighteen songs in all, and the topics seemed to get more shocking as the concert progressed. It was enough to send chills down one’s spine! Which is the point, of course, and is exactly what people seek when they pick up a crime thriller…or attend a cabaret to hear these songs performed.

I had a chance to speak briefly with the accordionist. He told me that he recorded two melodies for the soundtrack of the movie Midnight in Paris. Later, I searched his name on the Internet and found their names: “Ballad du Paris” and “Le Parc de Plaisir.” To hear a sample of his music, go to the landing page of his Web site. The melody “Annie-Zette” that plays immediately is a wonderful example of Paris musette at its best!

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Battle of the Bands in the Metro

Saturday, June 9th, 2012
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Whiskybaba

Whiskybaba
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

On Friday, May 4, I attended a concert in metro station Miromesnil where six bands competed for the opportunity to appear at the annual Solidays three-day mega-concert to be held in late June. One of the bands was Whiskybaba, whose on-stage antics made me smile!

I wrote about the concert in this month’s Paris Insights, a monthly newsletter that brings you insider information about culture, history, and contemporary life in the City of Light.

To view a preview of the newsletter, click here.

Paris Insights is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

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Musicians in the Metro – Part I

Friday, June 1st, 2012
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La Réprise

La Réprise
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Travelers to Paris who use the metro to get around the city will, sooner or later, come upon any of the 300 musicians who perform in its passageways. In April, we had the opportunity to attend an audition held by Espace Métro Accords, where we participated on a jury to help determine which of the competing musicians should be granted a license to play there. Read about how the selection process is made in this month’s Paris Insights.

To view a preview of the newsletter, click here.

Paris Insights is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne lecture!

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An Evening in the Company of Moussa Kanouté

Saturday, February 18th, 2012
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Moussa Kanouté

Moussa Kanouté
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Moussa Kanouté is a singer and musician who hails from Senegal. We recently heard him play the kora (a 21-string bridge harp) at Sunugal, a restaurant in Paris that features Senegalese cuisine. As is often the case in African restaurants, one or more musicians will appear mid-meal and begin singing and playing traditional instruments. As we are dining more and more frequently at these establishments, we always look forward to this part of the evening.

We enjoyed listening to Moussa’s music so much that we asked the proprietor of the restaurant, Alpha Diallo, to put us in touch with him. We arranged to meet him at the restaurant on a Tuesday evening, so that we could have the opportunity to talk with him.

Before we met him, we didn’t know that Moussa was a griot—a singer and narrator in African culture—who was born into a family of griots. We learned that both men and women can be griots and that they perform a number of important functions in villages. The most important, perhaps, is the conveyance of oral history—they tell stories and communicate information about important events that occurred in the past. The role as a storyteller is an important one. It provides cohesion between the distant past and the present and helps carry forward traditions and customs.

Another role that griots perform is that of a counselor or facilitator in family and community disputes. They use their communication skills to explore ways to resolve conflicts among couples, family members, and neighbors.

Moussa has been playing the kora professionally since the age of ten. He told us that many members of his family play the instrument as well. I found information on a Web site indicating that Moussa was apprenticed to his grandfather, who taught him to play the instrument.

Moussa has traveled all over the world to perform, including West Africa, the United States, Japan, and Morocco. In San Francisco, a recording company engaged him to play for a CD that it wanted to produce. Called Dance of the Kora, it features not only his singing and music on the African harp, but also singers and musicians who accompany him on the soprano sax, the guitar, the flute, and other instruments. We find the lilting music of the kora compelling and uplifting, and Moussa’s singing reassuring. Samples of the recording can be found here.

Moussa has been living in France since 1983. He performs regularly in the evenings at Sunugal.

Moussa Kanouté
Tel.: 06.51.58.51.39

Sunugal
3, rue Crespin du Gast
75011 Paris
Tel.: 01.48.06.86.30
Open Mon to Sun 7:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.

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Music on the Metro

Thursday, February 16th, 2012
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Music on the Metro

Music on the Metro
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

This young man was playing what appears to be a hammered dulcimer on the metro a few nights ago.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here to Stay

Sunday, January 29th, 2012
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Matthew Lee at the Piano

Matthew Lee at the Piano
Photo from the Matthew Lee press kit

Rock ‘n’ roll was alive and well in Paris last Friday evening, as Italian singer and pianist Matthew Lee belted out old standards to a wildly appreciative audience at the Jazz Club of the Hotel Méridien Etoile.

Backed by five superb musicians, Lee sang such classics as Johnny B Goode, Good Golly Miss Molly, Blue Suede Shoes, What’d I Say, I Got a Woman… the beat just kept on rocking!

Lee surely must have been cut from the same cloth as early rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, because, like Lewis, his hands flew over the piano keyboard at blinding speed. He even played the upper notes with his right foot, just like Lewis!

A popular singer in Italy, Lee speaks and sings in flawless English and has an easy-going, personable style. For the moment, all of his performances are in Italy and France; if he makes it to the United States, I am sure that he will win over large audiences there.

Matthew Lee, thank you for bringing the music forward. You have admirably claimed your place in the rock ‘n’ roll firmament.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here to Stay!

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Bazar et Bémols – A Joyous Group of Musicians

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
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Bazar et Bémols

Bazar et Bémols
Photo courtesy of Bazar et Bémols

Last week while riding the metro, I was delighted to see a joyous trio of musicians get on the car and begin singing in…French. Their performance was particularly entertaining because I do not usually hear singers perform French songs in the subway. Called Bazar et Bémols, they maintained exhilarating enthusiasm throughout their merry music-making. They will be performing in Paris at Stand’Art café on December 20, Caminito on January 13, and Hideout La Station on January 19.

Listen to their music on Facebook!

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The Princeton Roaring 20 at Dorothy’s Gallery – American Center for the Arts

Sunday, November 20th, 2011
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The Princeton Roaring 20

The Princeton Roaring 20
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The Princeton Roaring 20, an a capella group from Princeton University, performed recently at Dorothy’s Gallery – American Center for the Arts. Click on the image below to watch them sing!

Video produced by www.DiscoverParis.net

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