Flaming Hot Flamenco and Musical Merchandise

Into the Spirit at Place des Vosges, Fête de la Musique 2009

Flaming Hot Flamenco and Musical Merchandise

Parler Paris Nouvellettre®
Your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, June 22, 2009
Paris, France

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

Fête de la Musique started a day early with a group of friends who enjoy Flamenco perhaps as much as I do. In North America, Flamenco is not available just any-old-where, but “Flamenco en France” here in Paris has been teaching and supporting the art since 1979. The theater and school is located in a converted “atelier” (studio and workshop) in the 20th arrondissement, at 33, rue des Vignoles — a part of Paris you might not venture to ordinarily. This is worth the trip.

It was the first time experiencing this particular setting, but have followed the dancer Sara Baras for several years when she and her troupe perform here in Paris, usually around Christmas and the New Year. Thanks to her mesmerizing performances, I fell in love with the dance, the Spanish guitar and the throaty expressive singing of Flamenco.

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It was standing room only for Bastian de Jerez accompanied by his wife, Maria de Bastian, his teenage son, Bastianito and even his youngest son, a three-year old child prodigy who stole the show by naturally clapping and dancing along with the Flamenco rhythm, whether on the stage or his mother’s lap. Bastianito, which I imagine means “little Bastian,” has a voice already mature and accomplished while mother Maria’s voice had a show-stopping range and soulful quality. The accompanying Spanish guitar, played masterfully by Javier Cerezo, was spellbinding, so much so that I found myself uttering to my friends — “this is better than sex!”

For a couple of video clips of the evening, click here:

ed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/zkQ_nS_qQzo&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="300" height="242"/>

If you can’t see the video below, click here: Javier Cerezo on guitar

Bastian de Jerez accompanied by his family and Javier Cerezo:

If you can’t see the video below, click here: Bastian de Jerez accompanied by his family and Javier Cerezo

It was the perfect beginning to a music-filled weekend thanks to the annual festival on the longest day of the year, Fête de la Musique. Sunday early evening, we took to the streets to find music in all the usual corners and then the not-so-usual corners of Le Marais.

Place des Vosges is always a perfect place to start as under the vaulted arcade is an acoustical heaven for musicians. Here, there were classical performers, choral groups, singers and audience-participation groups singing songs read from flyers with the printed lyrics. The cafés filled their seats with festival-goers and the streets were already tough to maneuver for the crowds.

One of the things particularly noticeable about any public event in Paris is that despite the presence of riot police in their shoulder and shin guards, carrying helmets and sometimes shields, there is rarely any kind of commotion. In fact the French are amazingly civil and well-behaved. Drunkenness is more the habit of the non-French and aggressive behavior is never more than yelling or one time I saw a ‘dueling’ of noses (I swear this is true). Otherwise, events such as this move along merrily without much disturbance and lack of safety.

Some people didn’t move far from their favorite musical genre and others, like us, wandered from venue to venue. Along the route, we ventured into the Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine where a band performed “Gefilte Swing,” Yiddish music from the 1920s to 1940s. It seemed to be the ‘hopping-est’ spot where the cafés on the place were filled to the brim. The performance was just one from the “5ème Festival des Cultures Juives” on until June 30th. (Learn more about it at http://culture.fsju.org/)

Here’s a video clip of the music and crowd at the Place:

If you can’t see the video below, click here: The 5th Annual Jewish Cultural Festival at Place Marché Sainte Catherine

Crossing rue Saint-Antoine into the lower part of the 4th district, there was music throughout the meandering and charming Village Saint-Paul. In a back corner near a soft-playing band, a tiny vintage clothing and erotica shop named “Vénus sur Cour” was open that caught our eyes. How perfect to combine music with merchandise, it drawing us in to peruse its collection of erotic figurines and hand-picked vintage women’s attire.

On the floor of the shop was a copy of a book of Steven Arnold’s photographs. I was bowled over by the coincidence — Arnold having been not only a very close friend from Los Angeles, but as a devotee of his photographic works having acquired one of the largest collections, currently filling my bedroom walls. It was as if his creative spirit were there to guide me through choosing from the beautiful clothing…and naturally, a bag full of fabulous antique lingerie and dresses came away with me, happily.

It was a small diversion from music, but a memorable one, and then we continued on our trek to discover jazz on the corner of rue François Miron, a brass band blowing notes from tubas further down the street, and performances of all kinds around Place Stravinsky and the Centre Georges Pompidou. It was there, sitting at the Café Beaubourg where we took refuge to rest our feet, when the sun finally went downish at 10:00 p.m.

Before heading home, rock music and the sounds of a dancing crowd drew us into the courtyard of the Musée de la Chasse, beautifully lit and casting a glow on the revelers.

For a video clip of the rock at the Musée de la Chasse, click here:

If you can’t see the video below, click here:

f="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4yMo1BoArE" target="_blank">Rock at the Musée de la Chasse

Just a few blocks further, in front of the Mairie of the 3rd Arrondissement, a large stage was set for the band playing to kick-off of their annual “Festival Soirs d’Eté” in its 12th edition, running through July 14th of public concerts. Hundreds of people were there ready to get a glimpse of the ‘surprise’ of the evening — and the audience seemed to know who they were, but I was clueless.

It was on that ‘note,’ that we headed for home, the music still ringing in our ears and wafting into our windows. For me, it was still the sound of the Spanish guitar that lingers on.

Adrian LeedsA la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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