Be sure to visit Saint Remy de Provence on Wednesdays. That’s when they have a huge outdoor market until about 1pm. The streets are lined with vendors selling food, arts and crafts, linens, jewelry, leather goods, candy, junk, etc., and there are lots of street musicians. I loved this excellent duo, although I couldn’t understand what the guy was singing.
The master of romanticism and rugged grandeur, Charles Aznavour has returned to the Gotham stage for an all-too-brief four-night stand with his unique catalog of French chanson. At the ripe age of 85, the singer-songwriter has lost none of his quicksilver energy, impish humor or trademark sense of musical storytelling. In a nearly two-hour show, he turned the pages of a familiar songbook that brought frequent cheers from a capacity audience clearly packed with adoring fans.
With the added glitter of a sparkling ballroom orb, Aznavour sang “The Old Fashioned Way (Les Plaisirs Demodes)” and danced across the stage with an imaginary woman in his arms. But perhaps the most tender memory was the plaintive scrapbook, “Yesterday When I Was Young.”
Aznavour is a master of gesture, nuance and timing. He accents his songs with a subtle reflection of young love and heartbreak. “La Boheme” is a bittersweet reflection of the passing of spring and lost life, while “It Will Be My Day” is a rhythmic celebration of showbiz savvy, youth and expectation. His performance of “Ave Maria” remains an intensely vivid hymn. “She,” the only song performed in English, is his biggest Stateside hit, featured here as an encore that allowed the singer to toast all women.
For the poignant duet “Je Voyage,” Aznavour was joined by his daughter, Katia; the narrative follows a young girl journeying into her future as her older companion travels through memories.
His daughter is one of two backup singers accompanying Aznavour, along with a nine-piece band with four violins and an accordion that projects a much bigger sound than one would expect. A smartly structured lighting design frames the crooner distinctively.
The New York leg is billed as an extension of Aznavour’s North American farewell tour that began in 2006. The performer is undoubtedly one of the last of a breed of living legends, a cunning crooner who has lost none of his seductive charm.
“Turns out there’s still hope of getting paychecks in indie rock, just be cool with getting low-balled by French heads of state. The Wesleyan boys are seeking damages for President Sarkozy using “Kids” as his campaign soundtrack and in two web videos without just compensation. The administration did pay 53 euros to license the track, but MGMT’s lawyer claims that isn’t enough to cover the additional internet usage. Sarkozy’s counter offer: a sizable 1 (i.e. one) euro. Le you-got-served, MGMT. Actually, Sarkozy got served. With a lawsuit. Because that is statutory rape of his artist-fee obligations. (I’m a civil law expert, don’t worry about it.) Worth noting: The French government is in the midst of pushing through extensive anti-piracy and file-sharing legislation (i.e. vague irony). Sorry Sarkozy, MGMT are a very sexy duo who have international counsel for real. And all this after MGMT taught Paris the meaning of Thanksgiving. More at BBC.”
Whenever I ask French people to name some French Christmas songs, the response is always, “Petit Papa Noël.”
“What else!???” I ask.
There MUST be more than that, right?! Until I find out and let you know about them, here’s a silly version of Petit Papa Noël with ukeleles performed by the French group, The Unlimited Ukelele Orchestra. Fun.
Many of you already know that I love the French duo, Daft Punk, so I thought today was as good as any to post some of their music. This video is simply brilliant. No special effects, no varying shots, just fun, perfectly coordinated choreography and Daft Punk love.
“France’s second largest mobile operator SFR has announced the launch of a DRM-free all-you-can-eat download service from Nov. 19.
The catalog is limited to a few thousands hits exclusively from the Universal Music Group catalog. Subscribers will have unlimited access to only one of three genres (Rap/R&B, Pop/Rock, Clubbing/Electro) in AAC format on their mobile and in MP3 on their computer, without any restriction on transferring music to devices, according to SFR.
There are no plans to enable users to access the whole Universal catalog on the service. “[This offer] is a way for us to see how consumers react to DRM-free offers,” explains a spokeswoman at SFR. “We are not giving away Universal’s catalog.”
The offer is part of three SFR mobile subscription plans, which range from €22.90 ($29.16) to €56.90 ($72.47) per month. It is limited offer to 60,000 users overall.
SFR and Universal are launching this service in the context of the “Creation and Internet” law debates, which started on Oct. 29 at the French Senate.
The draft law is largely inspired by the conclusions of a commission led at the end of 2007, which proposed a three-strikes system that would cut off copyright infringers. There were also obligations for the industry, as the commission recommended that the industry remove DRM and interoperability barriers.
In Nov. 2007, SFR had launched an all-you-can-eat permanent music download service featuring DRM.” [source]
The 25 year old oldie but goodie, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, doesn’t seem to age much in la belle France, much like the art of “playback” (lip syncing or lip dubbing). Remember the happy fired AOL employees from last year? (I loved that one.)
This year, and just in time for Halloween, 140 university tech students (near Rouen) created their version of Thriller, which in itself is very difficult if not impossible for many French people to pronounce. Luckily, it’s dubbed! Like the AOL employee vid, it’s done in one long shot throughout the whole song. Fun Halloween stuff, I say.
Though she’s been around a while now, her career got a serious kickstart because Apple decided to use her song, “New Soul” for the advertising campaign of the MacBook Air. I didn’t know much about her before that.
I’d heard in an interview with the French-Israeli artist, Yael Naim, that she didn’t even realize Apple used her song for the spot. Aren’t they supposed to ask for permission first? Anyway.
Her second album, Yael Naim, which includes the MacBook Air song and other songs in English, French and Hebrew, is really wonderful and worth a listen. I particularly liked her cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and a song called, “Lonely,” which is beautiful if not impetus to start up drinking.
Listening to my fave radio station, kcrw, I’d heard she and the awesome David Donatien were touring in the U.S. this month and in November they’ll be back in France, so I thought I’d post her concert information:
10/14 Seattle (WA) | Triple Door
10/15 Portland (OR) | Aladdin Th.
10/17 Los Angeles (CA) | Troubadour
10/19 Aspen (CO) | Belly Up
10/20 Boulder (CO) | Boulder Th.
10/22 Minneapolis (MN) | Cedar Cultural Center
10/23 Chicago (IL) | House of Blues
10/25 Madison (WI) | Wisconsin Union Th.
10/27 New York (NY) | Webster Hall
10/29 Washington DC | 6th & I Historic Synagogue
11/06 Voiron | Le Grand Angle
11/07 Clermont Ferrand | Coopérative de Mai
11/08 Le Mans | Festival Be Bop
11/09 Boulogne sur Mer | Tendance Festival
11/06 Voiron | Le Grand Angle
11/07 Clermont Ferrand | Coopérative de Mai
11/08 Le Mans | Festival Be Bop
11/09 Boulogne sur Mer | Tendance Festival
11/10 Nancy | l’Autre Canal
11/13 Paris | LES FOLIES BERGÈRES
11/14 Paris | LES FOLIES BERGÈRES
11/15 Paris | LES FOLIES BERGÈRES
11/19 Zurich | Kaufleuten
11/20 Fribourg | Fri-Son
11/21 Milan | Rolling Stone
11/24 Rome | Auditorium
I like this cover of Moldy Peaches’ “Anyone Else But You” being sung by Ms. Sarko herself, Carla Bruni and Nouvelle Star winner, Julien Doré. I’m particularly relieved to not have to listen to Julien Doré singing his last hit that had been playing everywhere, all the time. At least, seemingly.
Today is French singer, France Gall‘s birthday, born on October 9, 1947. Happy Birthday, France! In celebration, here’s a fun video of her first single, which was also her first hit called, Ne sois pas si bête (Don’t be so stupid). It was recorded in 1963, when Ms. Gall was 16 years old. The old video is fun and cute.
Depending on your outlook on this reality TV show that mixes Big Brother with a huge chunk of Schoolhouse Karaoke, you may or may not be thrilled that the popular program is moving from Le château de Dammarie-Les-Lys, outside of Paris – to l’hôtel de Brossier, rue Charlot in Le Marais. Oui, en centreville!
Known for his raspy voice and chart topping pop songs, Florent Pagny (left) sung his tax woes in the song, “Ma Liberté de Penser” (My freedom to think), and even though this happened long ago, France is rather merciless and never lets neither him nor anyone else forget about any of their past predicaments particularly if they involve stepping over legal lines.
Note: Xavier Darcos is France’s Education Minister (though it would’ve been more ironic if he’d been the Finance Minister…)
Will this be some sort of historic World Record for “First Lady’s CD Sales”? I think so.
Carla Bruni, France’s 1st Lady, will officially launch Comme si de rien n’etait / As if Nothing Happened, her third CD tomorrow here in France. I think you’ll find it to be pretty good if you like hearing about revealing, personal memoirs. There isn’t much about life after being married to Sarkozy (tant mieux / all the better.) Everything is original except a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Belong to Me“ and an Italian song. I actually liked her first CD (Quelqu’un m’a dit /Someone Told Me) so I think this one might have some promise. All royalities will go the Foundation of France, which funds charities.
Check out the anuual Jazz Festival taking place at the La Défense Esplanade this weekend. La Défense can be a bit of a schlep from the center of Paris (unless you take a taxi) but if I think it will be worth it, especially to see Herbie Hancock (6pm on Sunday) who is a LEGEND. I Love him.
Bring along some friends, wine, glasses, a picnic and blanket or camping chairs to spend a perfect Parisian summer evening surrounded by music.
La Défense Jazz Festival – June 27 – 29, 2008
Esplanade – Place de La Défense Friday, June 27 – Noon: Caravan Palace; 6pm National Jazz Competition Saturday, June 28 – 1pm 6pm National Jazz Competition; 8:30pm Don Cavalli; 9:30pm Solomon Burke Sunday, June 29 – 1pm National Jazz Competition; 6pm Herbie Hancock and Pura Fe Website or Myspace
For more information: Call +33 (0)1 47 29 30 48 or Email: LADEFENSEJAZZ@CG92.FR
Metro: Station Grande Arche de La Défense Line 1 RER A, T2 and Bus
By Car: Boulevard Circulaire, Exit: La Défense 4, Follow signs for “Parking Centre”
“… Radiohead were left with a row of empty seats at a recent French concert after a ticket giveaway backfired. The eco-friendly group announced 50 passes were available for their show at Paris’ Bercy Arena but fans could only get by cycling to their record label’s offices in the French city.
However, Parisians were not prepared to get on their bikes so 35 tickets went unclaimed. A source said: “Radiohead are using their current world tour to highlight their commitment to green issues. They advise all concertgoers to use public transport and are doing all they can to make their carbon footprint as small as possible. Unfortunately the French didn’t appear to share their noble intentions and roundly ignored the free ticket tactic.”
French company Louis Vuitton is up to its old misguided antics getting all litigious on guitarist, Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Panic Channel). They’ve got their knickers in a twist over the fact that Navarro has been using a LV strap for his guitar. Um. I’d call that free advertising for LV! But nooooo. Louis Vuitton legal cronies sent the guitarist an ugly threatening letter expressing, “We have no doubt that this copying has been willful and is intended to trade upon the fame and cachet of the LV Trademarks to elevate the status of the infringing Guitar Strap, and of Jane’s Addiction.” Basically, they’re going to sue his ass if he doesn’t cease and desist his LV guitar strap use. Pffff.
On Saturday, June 21, the day before the Patti Smith exhibition Land 250 closes, the Fondation Cartier is offering a final opportunity for the public to meet the artist, who will also be signing the exhibition catalogues.
This event will take place in the exhibition area, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Land 250, Patti Smith at the Fondation Cartier
261, Boulevard Raspail
75014 Paris, France
tel (+33) 1 42 18 56 50
March 28 to June 22, 2008
For more information visit the museum’s website: Fondation Cartier
This fun and kooky scopitone is from the 60s and is called, “Comic Strip” featuring Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot. From what I can tell, Serge is beckoning Brigitte to come into his comic strip for some serious SHEBAM! POW! BLOP! and WHIZZZZ!
There’s an old comic strip by Gary Larson in “The Far Side” with two pictures. One shows a person receiving a harp with the caption, “Welcome to Heaven. Here’s your harp.” The other has a guy receiving an accordion with the text bubble saying, “Welcome to Hell. Here’s your accordion.” That is EXACTLY how I’ve felt about the merits of the accordion. However, there is a little tiny exception to my loathing of the accordion – accordions playing musette, which is a genre of French music from the 20s, 30s and 40s (being most popular in the 40s) – though it is a type of music I can only take in small doses. VERY small doses. It does have its own charm. Here’s a sample from youtube.
Sure, you can listen to musette walking along the fake cobble stones in the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, if you can stand it over the cacophony of slot machines (don’t forget to buy a croissant for $10) – but I GUESS it’s probably better to be sipping coffee and people watching at an outdoor cafe somewhere in France with musette in the background. Luckily Today, I hardly ever hear musette in France…until just about a week ago in Sarlat (Southwest France in Dordogne).
Surprisingly, the music seemed to all come together and make sense, and it was fun to listen to. Maybe it was the warm and welcoming atmosphere of a jazz club’s “cave” in a medieval village. Maybe it was the company of good friends and a happy public. Maybe it was because we were in France. I dunno. In any case, the evening was filled with “musetty-jazz” fusion. Not strictly musette, it was a small, mostly jazz combo with the centerpiece instrument being an accordion. Of course when we initially entered the club and I saw the accordion, my first thought was Welcome to Hell!!
I’m glad I was wrong.
Is musette making a comeback? Would it have worked outside a stone wall lined cavern in a medieval village in Dordgogne, France?
The Eurovision (the European annual talent show that has taken on a cult following)’s contestant from France is a guy named Sébastien Tellier. I like him; he’s fun and silly – though I’ve listened to the selected song and I have no idea what it’s about.
So, the big scandal in France is that he’s singing in English NOT in French. OMG!
Anyway, that is sort of old news and I am a bit behind. However, when I watched the youtube video of “Divine,” the song he’s supposed to perform at Eurovision, I noticed something. Is it my imagination or is he not even in that video? Maybe, just MAYBE he’s in a couple of shots at most, but I don’t think that’s him lip syncing him – just other people wearing a wig and fake facial hair. Take a look at “him” at the pool. C’mon, that is totally not Sébastien Tellier. See, I told you he’s fun and silly!
This is what Sébastien Tellier looks like:
It made me wonder if Thomas Bangalter & Guy Man de Homem-Christo from Daft Punk actually perform in their own vids. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose.
But! Will the REAL Sébastien Tellier show up for Eurovision Belgrade (May 20) 2008? On verra.
“SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — At first listen, the grainy high-pitched warble doesn’t sound like much, but scientists say the French recording from 1860 is the oldest known recorded human voice.
The 10-second clip of a woman singing “Au Clair de la Lune,” taken from a so-called phonautogram, was recently discovered by audio historian David Giovannoni. The recording predates Thomas Edison’s “Mary had a little lamb” — previously credited as the oldest recorded voice — by 17 years.
The tune was captured using a phonautograph, a device created by Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville that created visual recordings of sound waves.
Using a needle that moved in response to sound, the phonautograph etched sound waves into paper coated with soot from an oil lamp.
Paris-based musicians, Julien Garnier and Julien Gaulier began as a punk rock band called British Hawaii but moved on to find their own sound as Hey Hey My My. They created their own musical style while taking inspiration from Neil Young and some of their favorite indie bands. They sing in English. Tonight they’re playing at Soundfix in New York but will continue their tour in France at the end of the month (see full schedule below).
Their first album is set to be released on April 23, 2008.
More about them from their label Sober & Gentle:
“Hey Hey My My is a superbly instinctive blend of enthusiasm and melancholy. Above all, it’s an explosion of energy and the deceptive lightness of simple folk, as if to give more space to the words, which go right to the heart… In all cases, their love of catchy ballads always has the same devastating effect. We leave Julien Garnier and Julien Gaulier with a smile on our lips and a tune in our heads. With the hope of savouring this tantalizing, irresistible folk pop once more and heading back to Merryland, the intimate and enchanting world of Hey Hey My My…”
Their Upcoming Schedule
8 March 2008 20:00 Soundfix New York
21 March 2008 20:00 Tandem w/ Calc, Appletop TOULON (83)
22 March 2008 20:00 Akwaba AVIGNON (84)
25 March 2008 20:00 Le Bikini w/Capsula, Sweet Apple Pie, Meltintone TOULOUSE (31)
28 March 2008 20:30 L’Aire libre w/ Calc RENNES (35)
29 March 2008 20:00 File 7 w/ Syd Matters MAGNY LE HONGRE (77)
3 April 2008 12:00 Festival Chorus des Hauts de Seine La Défense (92)
20 April 2008 20:00 Festival Paradis Articifiels LILLE (59)
25 April 2008 20:00 Les Silos CHAUMONT (52)
11 May 2008 20:00 Festival Rue des Sens w/Stuck in the Sound, Uncommonmenfrommars NANTESS (44)
13 June 2008 20:00 Festival Mouen Fort la Zic MOUEN (14)
25 June 2008 20:00 Festival le Grand Souk RIBERAC (24)
23 August 2008 20:00 Les Nuits d’O. MONTPELLIER (34)