While 8 SAW acts played as part of the anchor Make Music DC event, board member John Trupp participated in this worldwide celebration where it all started...Paris. He shares his experience below...
I was very excited to learn that my family trip to Paris would coincide with Make Music Day, or as it is known in France, Fête de la Musique. It started in Paris in 1982 and has grown into a worldwide music celebration for amateurs and pros alike. A day before the event, I asked the concierge where the best places were to go to take in the music. She said that there would be music being played all over the place. Just walk and follow your ears. With visions of a music wonderland spinning in my head, I went to sleep dreaming of strolling accordion players and killer bands sending beautiful music throughout the cobblestone streets of Paris. Then reality set in.
The next evening, the weather was perfect and my wife Kathy and I eagerly set out to find some great music. I did not have an instrument with me and it was going to take a little convincing to join in with an act. My French is not good but I know the basic pleasantries. Luckily, if you ask, parlez-vous anglais, the answer among Parisiens is almost always “a leetle.” The first live act we found was a group of middle-aged Parisens hammering out American and British classic rock standards. As John Lennon famously quipped, “French rock is like British wine” - and these guys were cranking out some serious British wine. I figured I’ll have these guys on standby but was hoping to find something more euro and authentic. It took a while.
We strolled the streets and came across many DJs pounding out current euro dance hits. The DJs were actually quite accomplished and were doing some fancy mixing and crossfades. But we were looking for live musicians. I was astonished and a bit disappointed to find so little live music on the streets of Paris. Finally, we came across a fun punky female fronted French band playing at Au Taquet, a lively spot on rue bleue. They were squeezed into the back and the crowd was pushing into the band drawing them to drive harder into their upbeat repertoire. I would have liked to play with them but I didn’t ask as they had their crowd in the palm of their hands.
We then found an instrumental trio called Earth Vibes performing a unique style of euro jam on a lovely side street between two cafe bars. This is my kind of scene. We ordered a bouteille de vin rouge and settled in for some truly French music. They used unusual instruments to paint their musical landscape. After a little bit of liquid courage, I asked the guitar player if I could sit in on a tune. I defensively rattled off a list of credentials. The answer was oui and I had the honor of playing drums on a very enjoyable song. The jam wrapped up and I said merci. I was about to leave but then the guitarist held his guitar out to me with an outstretched arm. “One more?” Well, don’t mind if I do. Coming from a jam band background, throwing down a groove these French cats would lock onto was a piece of cake. These were accomplished musicians that worked right along with me and we had a blast. The vibrant crowd danced and cheered us on and made me feel right at home. It was a dream come true.
I feel very fortunate to have had this wonderful experience in Paris. If there’s one thing I can take away from this adventure, music is truly the universal language.
- by John Trupp