Brady's Bloggin' Bits

PARIS REWIND: Beers, Brasseries, Bikers and Doping  

For years my usual crash pad in Paris was on Avenue de Saxe in the tony, if sleepy, 7th arrondissement. My good friend Anthony had an apartment there and was generous enough to let me crash on his couch and use his mini-PA system for gigs. Avenue de Saxe touts a direct view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s quite stunning and Parisien.

One of the metro stops I used most frequently was the Pasteur station, which is nearby in the more working class 15th arrondissement. (Pasteur is one of the metro stops that still has those cool, historic, art-nouveau “Metropolitain” signs over the stairways.)

Directly across the Pasteur metro sits a tiny brasserie called “Au Metro”. It looked very much like a locals bar - old and very French. Au Metro hadn’t fallen victim to re-gentrification and the modernization that was assailing any cool bar that kept its ambience from say, the 60s or 70s. I knew at some point I had to go in.

I asked my friends in the area if they had ever gone, but no one had. Some said they thought it was a sports bar. Early one evening I finally darkened the doors of Au Metro - a sports bar, indeed. Everyone, I mean everyone, was wearing a jersey. The walls were filled with Rugby memorabilia. It was crowded. I wasn’t wearing a jersey and stuck out like a sore thumb. That was okay, I just wanted to have a beer and take in the atmosphere. I was nursing a 1664 lager ("une seize") at the bar when two patrons, who seemed to know the bartender, ordered a round. One said hello to me and I said hello back. They asked if I’d ever been to this bar before. I laughed and said no. They spoke a little English and I spoke a little French. A broken conversation ensued and Jean-Luis and Jean-Paul refused to let me buy a single round the rest of the evening. The beers kept flowing and the broken conversation inevitably led to Lance Armstrong since I was an American and had told them I was raised in Texas and Armstrong had won yet another Tour de France (this was Feb 2006). Jean-Luis and Jean-Paul told me that Lance was doping, without question. I told them I didn’t think so, he’d been tested so many times. We agreed to disagree. They were very cool guys. All these years later, I still wish I could tell them I stand corrected. And buy them a round.

XMAS BLOG - XMAS SONGS, Love em or Hate em?  

Christmas songs aren’t for everyone.  For those that don’t like them luckily they only have to hear them once a year.  I wonder what other music can you say that about?    
Here’s a few of my faves.  Let me know what yours are, or more importantly, what they aren’t. 

Louis Armstrong:  Zat You Santa Claus:

Fear, paranoia, suspicion?  This Christmas gem has them all.  But the real star may be Satchmo’s infectious vocal delivery, which puts this one over the top for me.  Plus it really swings. 
I don’t know of another Christmas song that manages to effortlessly combine dark elements of the unknown in an inviting, swinging package.   
Musically, the reeds blowing whole notes on the bridge (“Are you bringing a present for me”) sound like a cold Winter’s wind with the quarter-note downbeats of the snare drum and bass affecting footsteps walking hurriedly through the night. 

I love the air of mistrust in the line “Would you mind slipping it under my door”. 
By song’s end, Satchmo is pleading ““Say it’s you, Santa Claus” 
Then a signature Louis Armstrong ad-lib to wrap it: 
“Ah, that’s him alright!” 

From one American classic to another: 

Beach Boys: Little St Nick

First off, a Christmas song from a Southern Californian band drenched in surf and sand.  Everyone does Christmas songs now, all shapes and genres, but back in ’63 this must’ve bee rather unique.  But it shines with all the brilliance of any great Beach Boys song.   

A song not about Santa the man himself but rather an ode to Santa’s mode of transportation, how true to form for the Beach Boys.  It’s a strong showing that they melded the genre to fit their style, instead of the other way around, even that early on. 

Musically, it somehow manages to feel like Christmas and the beach.  And the half step climb at the end always gets me. 

Lyrically, it’s notable that Santa doesn’t get called out by name til the second verse.  Though he’s aptly described in verse one: “ A real famous cat all dressed up in red”.  And the 60s turn of phrases like “He’s cruisin’ every pad with a little surprise” just add to the atmosphere.  And there's some nice detail in lines like: “She’s candy-apple red with a ski for a wheel”. 

Let me know your faves or hates below.
Thanks and Merry Krimble.

UKULELE DAYS Invades Europe via Swank Hotels, Sweet Messages..  

Ever heard of the Adriatic Sea?  Ever been to Croatia??  Well, I've never been there, but my record Ukulele Days has. 

I woke up to this sweet note from an old friend across the pond, and when she tuned into the hotel radio on her TV, I was there. Well, two songs from Ukulele Days, anyway.

So I've made them as free downloads just now as a little celebration of their reaching Europe, in a swank 5-star hotel, no less. 

Feel free to grab them, if you'd like. Or just stream them. 

They're both here: 

Just click on "I'll Miss These Days" or "Lauren, Lauren" and play or download.  Only takes a few seconds.

Do you have a favorite ukulele song?  Any ukulele songs/artists I should know about?  Lemme know in the comments below..  Thanks!