Music to Our Parisian Ears: Shame, Gong, Time
It was really a shame. Susheela Raman sang at The 104 (Le CentQuatre-Paris) last Thursday evening. We were so looking forward to hearing her “energetic, vibrant, syncretic, and uplifting live performance.” What a shame that we had to leave not long after she began to sing.
She was not on my radar until recently. A British Indian musician, she has released five albums and won numerous awards for her music “built on the sacred Bhakti and Sufi traditions of India and Pakistan.” Much of my last train ride from Nice to Paris was spent listening to her mesmerizing sound and falling in love with it.
The CentQuartre-Paris is a relatively new public cultural centre in Paris, (opened October 11th, 2008) where once was a municipal undertaker’s structure at (you guessed it) 104, rue d’Aubervilliers in the 19th arrondissement (with a second entrance at 5, rue Curial). It was under renovation in January of 2009 when last visited. Now, it’s a vibrant cultural center with much going on and a lot of reasons to head to the 19th — a normally unvisited part of Paris with a mix of contemporary and vintage buildings and multi-ethnic residents.
Niki de Saint Phalle’s “La Cabeza” monumental sculpture — one of the few in which one can enter, climb, play and hide inside — sits assumingly on one level. This alone is worth a visit — it’s a stunning work of art and sculpture.
Susheela was playing in “Salle 400,” a theater that can house more than 400 spectators and is promoted as being particularly soundproof. It’s a good thing, because the reason we had to leave soon after the concert began is because the sound was turned so loud and the reverberation so intense, it was impossible to withstand without the ear plugs so fortunate to have been in my bag. (I must have been a ‘Girl Scout’ because I am prepared for just about anything…thank goodness…including ear plugs for just such an occasion.)
My friend stood and screamed out “trop fort!” And a few others chimed in. That was bold, but nothing was done to improve it and there were others who left for the same reason. What a shame for Susheela and for us. Let’s hope she returns, but to another venue or with another sound technician!
Going, Gong, Gone
On the way home Saturday night from a smashing surprise birthday party in a penthouse apartment on the Champs-Elysées (not bad, huh?), after too many glasses of champagne and a fabulous smörgåsbord of home-made goodies, we stopped to visit at least one or two of La Nuit Blanche‘s special artistic endeavors before calling it a ‘night.’ The line to enter the Hôtel de Ville was literally around the block and too long to even consider to see the exhibitions there, so we headed into Le Marais and naturally into the courtyard at the Archives Nationales where something very strange was taking place.
In the center was a large metal objet — something that resembled a church bell, but it wasn’t. A man stood beside the bell stiff as a mannequin, until he would, at certain intervals, simply strike the quasi bell once and make it sound.
The work is by Pierre Charpin and is part of a series of works commissioned by the Cultural Center F93 for the project “Mirages,” a project that has received the support of the General Council of Seine-Saint-Denis and the Regional Delegation for Research and Technology.
Of all the wonderful displays that took place over the course of La Nuit Blanche, this surely wasn’t one of them. We shrugged our shoulders in that “doesn’t pass the so-what test” mode and was very quickly going, gong, gone.
Once upon a time a long time ago there was a restaurant in Paris named “Bojangles.” It was a loving place for the African American community in the City of Light, for those who felt connected to that community and for the American musicians and singers who had a song in their hearts. One of those singers was a robust woman we knew only as Tori (Tori Robinson). On Sunday afternoons, Tori would belt out gospel songs like you have never heard before. Even Aretha Franklin had met her match. We all loved her and her powerful voice that enthralled us…I was among her greatest admirers.
Just a few days ago, proprietor of Bojangles posted this message: Is everyone aware that our dear Tori is experiencing some VERY SERIOUS health issues? “Some of the hottest musicians and singers will come together to raise funds for Miss Tori Robinson in her battle to defeat cancer. A Tori Robinson fundraising concert will be held soon at one of the well known venues, Aux Trois Mailletz, in Paris where, in the past, she gave of her time and her wonderful talent. All proceeds from the concert will go directly to aid Tori in her costly financial fight against this disease.” You can help here.
Don’t just believe me. Have a listen: myspace.com/torirobinson/
I made a donation and if you feel so inclined, do so, too. Then watch for an announcement as to when the fundraising concert will take place…and be there like I will.
A la prochaine,
(with Niki de Saint Phalle’s La Cabeza)
P.S. Tomorrow’s a special date for Parler Paris Après Midi — normally the second Tuesday of the month, this month it’s taking place on the FIRST TUESDAY — October 7, 2014 and Doni Belau, Founder Girls’ Guide to Paris, will be speaking about “La Belle France – Beyond Paris.” Don’t miss it. Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information. See you there!
P.P.S. Fall has arrived in Paris, but the weather is still warm and sunny in Nice! Plan your getaway for a few days of warmth and sunshine in the south of France and you can now rent any of our Parler Nice Apartments for a minimum of just 3 nights. Plus, when you rent Le Matisse and Le Cote du Paradis together, receive a reduced rate. For more information visit Parler Nice Apartments or email [email protected]