"Singing from the Rooftops!"

That's right! Or at least, a rooftop; the rooftop terrace of "Communion": a hip left bank club on Quai d'Austerlitz! You think "club" you think "night", right? Or maybe you think "night" and then "club". Or maybe you just cut to the chase and think "nightclub". Anyway, whatever you were thinking, you'd be wrong! At least on this occasion anyway... Although 6am might usually be more a 'closing time' than an 'opening time' for this sort of establishment, this morning, Communion hosted "daybreaker"- a worldwide moment of earlybirds, who catch an early morning yoga session and meditation, followed by a couple of hours of all out endorphin releasing dance! At the end of all of this, they sit down and enjoy a quiet moment together, listening to a performance by local musicians...cue Gerard and Leo McFadden (although there were a few more "music miles" involved in listening to us: something along the lines of "Packed in France from local and imported ingredients")! We were delighted to play for such a genuinely appreciative audience and although we had to rally ourselves a bit to wake up on time, whatever we lost in sleep, we gained in positive energy- something #dybrkrparis has in abundance! 

It's been a busy day for Gerard as he had to race off at the conclusion of our performance to an audition for the Baroque Bass program at one of the conservatories here. He was practising right up to before we had to go on at daybreaker! I love the juxtaposition shown in the video below: While the music blares and people on the terrace dance in the day, Gerard is busy backstage putting the finishing touches on the 3rd Ricercar of Domenico Gabrielli- a guy who would have danced his last dance around 1690!

At the conclusion of our performance, Gerard ran (literally!) to the metro (our final notes still fresh in the air!). He made it to his audition with no time to warm-up (and no, running there doesn't count!), and before he knew it, he was on! Shortly afterwards, Gerard received the great news that he'd been accepted into the course! Gerard's busy day didn't end there though- as I write, he's currently off playing at a private function- Life is nothing if not interesting! 

Paris!

This little gem certainly knows she is special! She’s been the muse for countless artists, the scene for great triumphs and tribulations in the annals of history, and, while we all know Paris to be ‘the city of love,' she could also be described as ‘the backdrop to the theatre of life’. For in all its forms, life is played out here. 

I’ve never quite known what gives special cities like Paris their energy, but if you could bottle it, you’d be rich! You only have to open the window of your apartment here, and the pulsing metropolis is immediately present… she hasn’t yet engulfed you, but her siren song of the sounds of life, tempts you out onto the street, where you will no longer be your own, but hers alone. I’ve only ever felt this in one other place- New York city. I was lucky enough to live there for a year and it was a feeling that was always present in some way, regardless of the season or time of day, or the way I was feeling. Indeed, Paris at present is relatively quiet and yet this feeling prevails. It is the first week of the holidays for many Parisians and they have left their city in large numbers. Driving into Paris from Saint Malo, I noted that just about every other vehicle on the westbound lanes was a camper van or car towing a caravan. Tourists also seem to be a little scarce at the moment, which is perhaps due to general unrest about safety. 

For those remaining here, and those visiting, Paris, as always, has so much to offer. Yesterday, we brought brought lunch from a great bakery close to Gerard’s apartment. From there it was a short walk to the truly wonderful Buttes-Chaumont park, where we enjoyed our late lunch under the branches of a lovely old tree, before walking into the city centre to watch a friend take her tango dancing class by the Seine. It doesn’t get too much better than that, if you ask me! 

We’re yet to ‘test the water’ with regards to busking, but we hope to go out tomorrow evening and play a few sets on one of the main pedestrian bridges to see how we go. It’s always a hustle here- you have to contend with other buskers (some of them scary!!) who all vie for the good spots, and if that’s not enough, the Gendarme are a little capricious when it comes to buskers… sometimes they’re cool, other times… ! 

 

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Did we mention that we LOVE Saint Malo?...!

A great deal has happened since my last post. Teresa stayed for a week, and has since returned to Marseilles… It was a fantastic time with the three of us together again… hopefully one day in the not too distant future, we’ll be able to have all the family join us for a holiday together in France… with Gerard and Teresa both living here, France has become a very special place for us all, I think (even Mum and Dad, who haven’t as yet visited).

We’ve now taken a ride on the “Petit Train”, which was a great experience. Teresa was the inspiration for this. She says that in Marseilles, she always does all the touristy things, as it gives you a new appreciation for your home city- not that Saint Malo is our home city, but it certainly feels it: The other day, we were playing a busking slot with our Italian friend Roberto, when our landlord appeared from one of the bars with a beer for each of us! When I thanked him, he said “no! Thank YOU!”… I know not everyone here is as nice as this, but certainly, there is a sense of ease among the locals, which is contagious. For example, there is a bar a few doors up from our rental, where they have a formidable ability to party into the wee hours of the morning on most days of the week. Coming home one night, we noticed that an ambulance was parked next to the the bar; flashing lights on. With apprehension, we approached, only to find the barman in a great old chat with the two paramedics… They were not, at this stage, ‘staying for a drink’ (and to be fair, the barman’s hand was bandaged, so perhaps that was the reason for their visit), but you got the sense that it would not be inconceivable that they might take a little ‘refreshment’ before continuing with their night shift! ‘Refreshment’ in Saint Malo, is after all a serious sport… well, almost: heading to a spot on our busking plan yesterday, we found that the streets of Intra Muros were at a complete standstill (as opposed to the partial standstill, which is their state at all other times!) for a local tradition: The waiters’ race! I think just about every bar/ restaurant must have been represented. We even recognised a couple of the waiters from a few of our favourite bars. The idea is to run around the Intra Muros course carrying a large silver serving tray on one hand, upon which ‘rests’ a poured glass of Perrier sparkling water, and the bottle, containing the remainder of the Perrier. Some of the competitors were truly impressive, however the spirit of the event was what made it so great. Close to where we were watching from, a competitor smashed his glass of Perrier on the cobblestoned street… quick as a flash, someone watching in one of the bars along the street handed him a full glass ofbeer for his tray… I wondered if he ended up placing if the judges would’ve questioned how his glass of sparkling water was turned into beer, but then again, Saint Malo is a special place, and I get the sense that little miracles such as these are not uncommon here. 

We’ve met so many wonderful people here who’ve been so supportive and enthusiastic about our music. It’s hard to believe that our time in Saint Malo is coming to an end. We’ve sold our special “street edition” EP of “Light Shade Light” to Americans, New Zealanders, Germans, people from Great Britain, and of course, France… and they’re just the people we got talking to and so know where they’re from! Who knows where the rest of the first batch of discs are residing now?

It’s lovely to have shared our music with so many holiday makers here in Saint Malo, but it’s always a special moment when a local comes up to us to thank us for playing in their town. They could so easily be annoyed by the huge amount of live music that takes over their city each summer, but we’ve seldom received anything but praise from these lovely people. It’s always a magic moment, when, during an evening set at Place du Pilori the windows of the appartments above open and we see the people, singing along from their lounge rooms. Gerard and I will be sad to leave this precious little piece of Brittany, but we’ll take away such wonderful memories and a real desire to return sometime soon! 

 

Saint Malo!

Saint Malo!

Well, now over a week in Saint Malo, we’ve finally managed to find a place with wi-fi! In Saint Malo, fast, reliable internet is certainly not as abundant as in Australia, or Paris, but this lovely little place more than makes up for it in so many other ways. Gerard thought it was ‘kind of nice’ to be cut off from technology, and I can see what he means… there’s a lot of unnecessary ‘mental clutter’ in life these days, due to technology. This said, there are so many great things technology enables, including being able to write this little blog about our adventure in France this summer! 

Saint Malo is a wonderful town in Brittany, in the north west of France. There are really two distinct areas to Saint Malo: the general town, and La Ville Intra-Muros, which is the historic city. Intra-Muros is quite amazing as it’s surrounded by huge walls on all sides, no doubt to protect it against would be invaders… thankfully for us, today Saint Malo is a very welcoming to all outsiders, including Australians! We’ve felt so at home in this lovely little sea-side gem in Brittany. 

There is clearly a rich, interesting and proud history here, that I hope to learn more about. Gerard informs me that much of the historic Intra-Muros, was destroyed in the second World War. However, visitors today can enjoy the old city much as it originally was, thanks to a concerted effort by the Bretton people to rebuild their beautiful city exactly as it was. I’m so glad that the place we found on Airbnb was in Intra-Muros. It’s just so wonderful each day to wake up here. It did take us a while to become accustomed to walking along the cobblestone streets… especially considering we both gave little thought to walking shoes and instead opted for what we thought looked good! However, I’d never wish that Saint Malo was any other way- even the sore feet you get from walking around with instruments and an amp: it’s a ‘good’ pain! 

There are plenty of opportunities for tourists to learn more about this great place: little historic tours, museums associated with various societies, and a train called “Le Petit Train” which drives about Saint Malo giving riders the ‘inside word’ in three different languages. We’ve been too busy busking to ‘get onboard’, but I get a bit of a soundbite every time it passes, in the various spots where we’ve been busking! 

It’s great that the people here are enjoying our music. There’s been a really positive response to our own music and many requests for the special “Street Edition” EP version of “Light Shade Light”. It’s great to be able to share this music with the very first listeners, in this lovely little part of the world. Today was a beautiful day… we decided not to busk (we’re taking a couple of days off from busking in solidarity with the French people for the official days of mourning after the tragic Nice attacks), so instead took a walk around the beaches and out to a nearby outpost, which is sits on top of a tall rocky island, which is accessible at low tide, but is completely surrounded by water at high tide. On the first day we arrived the owner of the Airbnb where we’re staying, informed us that there’s an emergency phone there, and if anyone manages to get ‘stranded’, there’s a call out fee for the rescue boat to bring you back to the mainland. I can’t remember the cost, but it was nominal… by far the greater price to pay was the shame! The airbnb owner informed us that when someone gets stranded, it’s the biggest show in town: all the locals come out to watch you being brought in! 

It’s been great to have our sister, Teresa, visiting us at the moment. She’s given some good advice on tweaking out live sets for the street audience too! I’m pleased to be able to attach some photos that she took of us playing to this post.