Monday, July 16, 2012


The month is only half gone but Marti and I rocked hard and heavy during the first couple of weeks of July. The fireworks kicked off with Bruce Springsteen & The (now-massive) E Street Band’s 4th of July extravaganza at Bercy.
Photograph by Riku Olkkonen.

En route to the concert. Marti wore her World Tour 1980-1981 shirt from the first Bruce show she ever attended, at the Capital Center outside Washington DC. This was a month after the release of The River and we saw the band there twice, at the beginning and end of that run.

Waiting for The Boss to arrive at the office.

Springsteen celebrated the occasion with “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” and “Darlington County” (Driving in to Darlington County/ Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July). He even gave props to France on our holiday, saying he was "glad to be here in Paris" and reminding the audience of Lafayette’s aid to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. "Before there was an America, France was America's friend. This is for France," Bruce remarked, as he and the band rocked into a killer version of "Born In The U.S.A." For me, though, the highlight was his solo piano version of a song -- originally written for Darkness On The Edge Of Town -- from The River. Here it is.

July 4, 2012
Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy
We Take Care of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
Death To My Hometown
My City Of Ruins
Spirit In The Night
The E Street Shuffle
4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Jack Of All Trades
Because The Night
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Johnny 99
Darlington County
Easy Money
Waitin' On A Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Apollo Medley
Independence Day
The River
The Rising
Out In The Street
Land Of Hope And Dreams
* * *
We Are Alive
Born In The U.S.A.
Born To Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing In The Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
American Land

After three-and-a-half hours of rockin’ my bride and I were powerful hungry. We hailed a cab outside the arena and rode to La Tour de Montlhéry - Chez Denise for late dinner.

Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller. Posing under the flashing lady at Chez Denise.

Two nights later we went to hear our pal Perry Argel Leopard and his band Los Caballeros Simpáticos at l'Empreinte.

Perry with Mathieu on bass and Automne on cello. I told Perry how much I dig this most recent “outside” sound the group is making. I think he’s been listening to a lot of Charlie Parker and Tom Waits.

Perry’s gig coincided with the association Pari Roller’s Friday Night Skate, so I edited my video footage from that night to include both.

Marti with Libbie, a friend of our pal Jill. Libbie is studying art at La Sorbonne this summer and joined us for the Caballeros date.

On Sunday July 8 Marti and I went to a jazz concert at the Parc Floral, opposite the Chateau de Vincennes, with our Greek friends Alexandra and George.

Marti with George and Alexandra.

It was a cold, rain-threatening afternoon but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see our singer-songwriter friend Lisa Doby with her trio.

Hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, Lisa arrived in France as a student more than 15 years ago. A marvelously talented soul-rocker, she lives in Strasbourg and tours throughout Europe. Our dear departed friend John Simms introduced us to Lisa many years ago at a show at New Morning here in Paris.

While not from the Parc Floral gig, the video below is a fine example of Lisa’s chops.

With Lisa after her performance. It was great to see her again.

It’s always a treat when Gov’t Mule comes to town. Exactly one year ago last Monday I was being treated for a gastric ailment in a hospital and had to miss Warren Haynes’ Paris debut with his then-new band at the Olympia. (I insisted that Marti go anyway and our sax-wielding pal Ron Holloway took good care of her that evening, hooked her up with backstage passes, asked after my health.)

I’m happy to report that I’m fully recovered and back to my old hale and hearty self. I’d been looking forward for months to seeing the Mule and all our pals who were at the show at the Trianon last Monday. George is a huge Gov’t Mule fan and timed his and Alexandra’s Paris vacation to coincide with the gig. The locals were in the house as well. This is Marti with our friend Marc.

And here we are with our longtime bud Daniel, who came up from Marseilles for the concert.

It was a go-hard, take-no-prisoners kinda show, with lots of special guests on the Encore set. Taped by Africolaman with permission from the band, you can download it in its entirety via bit torrent here.

"That’s What Love Will Make You Do," from the Encore set.

After the show we visited with the band backstage. I had a great chat with Tony Braunagel, Robert Cray’s drummer, who was in town and had received a text from Warren inviting him to come down and sit in on the encores. Marti and I met Tony here years ago at a Taj Mahal gig (he’s in Taj’s Phantom Band).

Keyboardist extraordinaire Danny Louis had been kind enough to provide All Asses passes for Marti and me. We know him from the Mule, and from our friend Jerry Joseph’s band Stockholm Syndrome. It was cool to see Danny again and Marti and I enjoyed a very thought-provoking conversation with him. You might think that all we do backstage is drink the band’s wine, schmooze and gossip about other musicians. And you would be right. Mostly. But with Danny our dialogue ran to politics and the environment and philosophy, including our mutual respect for architect-futurist Buckminster Fuller. Danny recommended "Intuition," a poem by Fuller, whom I had videotaped in an appearance at a Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) event at the University of Massachusetts way back in 1977.
Biological life
is syntropic
because it sorts and selects
unique chemical elements
from their randomly received
time and locality of receptioning
as celestial imports;
or from out of their random occurrence
as terrestrial resources-fresh or waste-
anywhere around our Earth’s biosphere,
and reassociates those elements
in orderly molecular structures
or as orderly organs
of ever increasing magnitude,
thus effectively reversing
the entropic behaviors
of purely physical phenomena
which give off energy
in ever more random
expansive and disorderly ways.
For human life contains the weightless
omnipowerful, omniknowing
metaphysical intellect
which alone can comprehend,
sort out, select,
integrate, co-ordinate and cohere.
-- Life/ Syntropy/ Entropy
from R. Buckminster Fuller’s prose poem Intuition

After our dressing room hang Marti and I found Daniel, went with him nearby for falafel sandwiches, then taxied to Le Piano Vache to catch amazing gypsy guitarist Rodolphe Raffalli’s last set. Daniel said afterward that it was the perfect coda to a hard blues night with the Mule. I only wish I could have brought Warren along to hear this guy. Maybe next time. Here’s a clip of a previous performance by Raffalli.

Another night, another guitar. The next evening George and I went to New Morning to catch Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos. I’ve been a fan of his ever since his 1980s collaborations with Tom Waits. The guy’s resumé reads like an anthology of every music I’ve ever loved. In addition to his own forays into avant-garde, no wave, free jazz and Cuban music, Ribot has worked with everyone from Wilson Pickett to Marianne Faithfull. Here’s a taste from last week’s show.

George and I had a great time at this one. I ran into Perry and my pal Yazid at the club. After the concert Perry, George and I repaired to my favorite tapas bar, right across the street, for an enjoyable hang. Music junkies on the town.

Four in a row. The following night Perry, George, Yazid and I all took in the Stanley Clarke-Stewart Copeland concert at the Bataclan. Note that by now Alexandra and Marti had long bowed out from this maniacal music marathon. In their case, sanity prevailed. But we stalwarts were determined to rock till we dropped. And we were generously rewarded, as this clip from the show will attest.
Photograph by Yazid Manou.

George and Perry and I hit our favorite anarchists’ bar for post-show dinner. A couple of blocks down from the Bataclan, the Maldoror is a mom-and-pop operation. Joel handles the bar and the front-of-house operations, while his wife Françoise whips up delicious bistro comfort food in the kitchen. Vive la Revolution!

This past Saturday, Bastille Day, Marti and I got together with Alexandra and George one last time on this trip, just a few hours before their return flight to Athens. I think that by then the two of them had had quite enough of our Parisian July Rain Festival. And of course Saturday was a brilliant sunny day. We had lunch at the Bistro du Peintre, a lovely old Art Nouveau gem with great food. It had been superb to be able to hang with Alexandra and George during the week they were here. They are so gracious when we go to Greece.

Now Marti and I are back into cocoon mode. Well, almost. We ventured out two blocks from the apartment on Saturday night for a distant view of the Bastille Day fireworks. This year’s theme was . . . Disco.

I Will Survive!

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