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Here's a little glimpse of old acoustic blues from the Mississippi Delta and the Piedmont area. You will reckognize the music of Tommy Johnson, Charley Patton, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Blind Boy Fuller, Bukka White and other greats of the Blues! This was recorded at the Cahors Folk Club in the South of France.
October 2013 was the time for a visit to my friend Washboard Chaz in the legendary town of New Orleans. With its typical streets, houses, colors, jazz sounds and spicy food, New Orleans is a home for musicians. After a show on Frenchmen street, we went back to the courtyard late at night and shot a few videos before my plane the next morning. A glass of Gaillac wine and a few songs later, we decided we should think of planning a tour in France. On these videos you can see us playing "Step It Up And Go" and "You Got To Move" together, and Chaz revealing some tricks of his spicy washboard playing!
A few more pictures from New Orleans — Playing together with Washboard Chaz and Andy J. Forest at The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street — At the Balcony Music Club: Chaz, Andy and Tony D. from Monkey Junk — The front of Preservation Hall, where people are queueing every night to enjoy traditional jazz by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band — At the corner of Toulouse Street and Royal Street, where you can find (Playing For Change) Grandpa Elliott singing and sometimes eating the Louisiana famous Alligator Sausage — Halloween days in New Orleans.
Hello friends! Here are some videos of past shows. Enjoy some blues, jazz, bluegrass, good ol' country music!
Watch the videos! — Playing some Delta and Piedmont Blues in a little cabin in the summer — Dream A Little Dream Of Me, a sweet Jazz evening for the dancers in Toulouse — Some banjo and flatpicking guitar from the Appalachian Mountains, in Doc Watson style — An acoustic blues song by Keb' Mo' on the resonator guitar — Some more blues and bluegrass at the Cahors Folk Club.
Port Townsend Acoustic Blues 2011. A unique gathering of blues masters in every possible instrument. That's the place where I met Washboard Chaz for the first time. Washboard Chaz is the only professional washboard player in the world and he is a key figure of New Orleans. Blind Boy Paxton is a young virtuoso musician, who kind of plays anything that falls into his hands, may it be guitar, banjo, fiddle or piano. We had a lot of fun playing together! The second video is with Chaz again, Lauren Sheehan on mandolin and Jay Summerour on harmonica. The song we play, Going Down Slow, is inspired from Eric Bibb's duet with Taj Mahal on his "Friends" album.
Port Townsend was also a good opportunity to see Corey Harris and Phil Wiggins again after Merlefest 2010 (a duo that teams up beautifully), to share time with Guy Davis and Pura Fe, and also sing "Going Down Slow" backstage with Taj Mahal!
Fortunately blues musicians also tour across Europe and every once in a while I get a chance to be in touch with them here in France when they pay a visit. Here at the Jazz In Marciac Festival in 2013, backstage with Eric Bibb and Taj Mahal after the show was cancelled due to the storm — With Eric Bibb and Habib Koite in 2012 — With Eric and Guy Davis at a recording session in 2014.
Of the many musicians that left their footprint on American traditional music, one of the most beloved is Doc Watson. Blind in his very early years, Doc was as much a gentle soul as a remarkably gifted guitar picker and singer. He influenced thousands of musicians all around the world, and delighted audiences all along his long career. Merlefest is a festival in honor of Doc and his son Merle. Every year it gathers fantastic talents in old time music, bluegrass, and acoustic Blues. The year I attended, in 2010, I had the chance to see such legends as Doc Watson, with his partner David Holt on the banjo, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Corey Harris and Phil Wiggins, John Hammond, Happy Traum, Taj Mahal, Sam Bush and others. Seeing so many talents in the same place at the same time was worth crossing the Atlantic... Of course I had my chance to talk with Doc. I told him I had been a long time follower of his, and that I came all the way from France. He said to me "Bless you heart"... That sounds very much like him.
Madagascar music is another side of my musical roots. I first met Erick Manana at the New Morning in 2002
when he was celebrating his 20 years of career.
The show was such a blast that I stayed stuck to his music ever since. I learnt to play and sing his songs in Malagasy, all by ear,
which led me to friendship with world famous artists from Madagascar.
Mahaleo, the legendary band invited me on stage
for their 30 anniversary tour in Paris in 2005, in front of a 3000 people audience. I also played on stage once with Lolo Rakotomanga,
the leader of the band Lolo Sy Ny Tariny. Erick Manana, Mahaleo and Lolo Sy Ny Tariny are national treasures and
regularly fill stadiums in Madagascar,
such as the Palais des Sports de Tananarive, or international venues like the New Morning and the Olympia in Paris.
I have fun stories to tell with the Madagascan musicians. At some time they found me so much in love with the music that they repeatedly advised me not to go to Madagascar before the end of my studies, fearing that I would leave everything and not take the plane back. Looking back, they were probably not so wrong... but hopefully I was wise enough to follow their advice. Another time I was playing "Mila Rano" in front of Erick Manana and Dama, a song about the lack of water and the river Betsiboka. All of a sudden, they started a big laugh. Erick said: "if the river Betsiboka hears him, it is going to run away and deviate from its river bed"...
Below are some of those songs from Madagascar, with their ternary rhythm, dancing swing and haunting melodies. "Barikavily" (Erick Manana) is the name of a tiny train station, that turns into a market full of life and sound. "Zakelina Mama" is the song of a delighted man seeing the woman of his heart coming. "Vakoka" is about tradition and ancesters. "Vaonala", which means "Fruit Of The Forest" is a song about a woman whose pride and beauty are so deep and wide that it makes the men feel... nervous.
Elliott Murphy is the first professional musician I ever met. A romantic poet as well as a generous showman and authentic rock'n'roll star... Over 15 years ago when I was living in Le Havre, France, I discovered his "Beauregard" album in a music store, and I immediately bought this elegant and soulful piece of music. That very same week I was looking for a guitar teacher, as I was only starting the instrument, and by a somehow lucky and extraordinary coincidence, the teacher happened to be... Elliott's guitarist Olivier Durand. Well, "You Never Know What You're In For"... The first show I saw of the duo was at the McDaid's pub in Le Havre, and I remember this very inspiring and enthusiastic performance. Elliott is also a great story teller, and used to always invite someone from the audience to tell us about the O' Henry Story, before he started playing his song "Small Room". The show would follow with his masterpiece "On Elvis Presley's Birthday", and the concert would end with several encores including some "Diamonds By The Yard", "Party Girls and Broken Poets", and "Route 66", playing like a devil on the harmonica. All this had a lot of charm and magic. It also had quite an impact on the young musician I was. Later, he let me in the studio while he was recording his next albums. I finally had the privilege and honor to be invited on stage, as it is immortalized on the pictures above. Rockin' on stage with, as they say, "The Last Of The Rock Stars"... A long time later, when Elliott heard me play again, he said: "You sound just like a young old bluesman". I found this a very witty quote and I still have it written on my business cards. Some favorite albums: Beauregard (1998), April A Live Album (1999), Live Hot Point (1989).