December 17, 2007

Guest Blogger...Tim Sparks!

Dear Podium,

Thanks for your support for Roots, Rags and Blues.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, starting with an unexpected angioplasty at the end of October and then a trip to Paris for a couple of concerts. (Just thought I would celebrate my heart operation with a week of Fois Gras and Creme Brulee!) I met, heard and jammed with some nice guitarists, including some Manouche cats. I learned that there are three terms for Gypsy in France. Gitans is for Gypsies from Egypt by way of Spain. Tzigane is for Gypsies from Eastern Europe. Manouche is the term for Gypsies from Belgium, like Django Reinhardt.

I found a rare video of Django:

(Sorry Tim - it looks like the copyright holder pulled the video down.)

You can see how he could only use two fingers because of a childhood injury. Amazing!

The first Friday of every month there is a Rendevous de Gitarre at a little theater on Rue Sebastapol called l'Archipel. A cooperative group of 5 guitarists organize this concert and invite a different artist to be featured. This month it was your's truly and in December it will be Pierre Bensusan. There is a mix of solo and ensemble work followed by an intermission, then the featured guest plays a solo set with some more jams for a finale.

The concert I played included Romi Stan, Gilles Finzi and Michel Haumont. At the end of the evening, a nice old guy poured me a whiskey and introduced himself as "the boss". He turned out to be Roland Dyens' uncle. Roland Dyens is the classical guitarist who does very cool arrangments of Jazz standards, Edith Piaf classics, Baiao, etc.

On the following Sunday, I played at a Gypsy-Klezmer festival in Menilmontant at a large club in a converted warehouse called La Bellevilliose. I did a solo set and jammed with Tsim-Tsoum and Le Freyekh Trio. A horn ensemble from Lyon, Untchack Attak, finished the evening. The promoter was a guy named Sasha from Belgrade.

Earlier on that Sunday afternoon, I went to an afternoon jam session in Montmartre at a little restaurant on Rue d'Orcel called L'Anvers Au Decor. From the corner one could see the little park with a carousel featured in the movie Amelie and the steps beyond rising up to Sacre Coeur cathedral.

 A group called Beouf Manouche was hosting the session, led by a fiddler named Aurelian Trigo, who also doubled on bass and snare drum. Aurelian is the new hot fiddler in Paris these days. Needless to say, there were a number of killer guitarists, all kids from my perspective. There was also a crazy scat singer who engaged in a scat singing argument with the bass player. The jam session was fun, but I had quite a time finding a taxi afterwards.

Here are some of the Parisian musicians MySpace pages in case you want to give a listen:

Michel Haumont is especially great! Fingerpicker who uses a thumbpick to play solos.

Silvain Luc plays Jazz and works a lot in duet with Birelli Lagrene.

Roland Dyens is an amazing classical arranger.

Dominique Cravic is the co-founder of Les Primitifs du Futur with R. Crumb and the Ukulele Club de Paris.

Aurelien Trigo - hot fiddle!

Tomas Feterman - Tzigane and Klezmer music

Gilles Finzi - Klezmer Guitar and Oud. There's a tune on his MySpace player - Petite Fleur- a Sephardic song from Istanbul, very nice.

Untchack Attak - Avante Klezmer ensemble

Marc Ducret - Outside, free improv genius

Thanks Tim, our very first guest blogger!

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