Saturday, July 23, 2005

[slightly revised from orig. posting -- more typos than usual.]

Besides Bree's parents, there are three Americans who have houses here, but only one is around currently; V., along w/her daughter and two friends (who all go to some sort of international school at home in SF, and seem shockingly torpid to me, even for 13-year-olds, brightening only at being allowed to run loose in Jennyfair -- the French equiv. of Wet Seal/Hot Topic -- and receiving the new Harry Potter by Fed Ex). In any case, the woman visiting V. and with whom we went out to dinner a few nights ago turned out to be one Joy Askew, an English singer and session keyboardist whose credits include tours with Rodney Crowell, Joe Jackson (right after Night and Day, which is impressive b/c you figure JJ would be persnickety about the parts he plays on the rec), and Laurie Anderson. More specifically, she's the woman that Anderson calls on the phone, cross-stage and mid-set, in the Home of the Brave concert film. Which is to say: I just dined/chatted with someone who played at the second concert I ever saw in my life: Shrine Auditorium, '85 or '86?, earlier on the tour that developed into that movie. She's about 50, a little silly, willing to talk about music but not the kind of "muso" we're all supposed to dislike so much. First concert: The Who, in Newcastle (her mom taught miner's kids). Talked a bit about Steve Nieve's playing, her teenage love of Chicken Shack, how she learned digitial studio techniques (she hired a teacher), and her difficulties getting much in the way of a deal for her solo work. (She seems to know V. partly through yoga and partly through working w/ her husband, whose main gig is as Bonnie Raitt's touring drummer -- also a v. personable guy who unfortunately only spends a little bit of time down here. One summer that I didn't come here, Neil Innes passed through -- Bree found him charming.) But she also spent a good deal of time explaining the composition of various kinds of sweet/savory puddings (Yorkshire, bread-and-butter, etc.) under Bree's questioning. Anyhow, I don't think I'm gonna top that this trip unless Bernie Worrell drops by for tea.


Field report: During the same dinner, Bree and I quizzed the 13 year-olds on what music they like. "Hip-hop" was the immediate response; didn't get much on particular artists beyond Eminem. Asked if they liked any rock bands at all: "Maroon 5." And (the drummer's daughter), "The Beatles." Another of the girls agreed, and added, everyone likes the Beatles...except Natalie." (Another of their friends, I assume.) "Natalie was like, The Beatles suck, and I was like, no, you don't like The Beatles, and she was like, no, they suck." (Perhaps Natalie should take up blogging.) I asked if they or their friends still liked Britney; mostly, no, though the drummer's daughter still says she does. (She'd also heard of MIA, I think through an older sister.) They also said they weren't sure they'd ever heard Nirvana; when I mentioned that they were huge around 1992, one reminded me, "that's the year I was born."


At another dinner party, two small children, 8 or 9, didn't have much luck getting Bree and I to respond to some request or order, so they went and asked their mother why we'd been invited since we didn't speak French. The mother, whose English was excellent, relayed this -- since the host was standing around, I tried to turn it to advantage by saying that we weren't sure either, but that we were glad they did. (Actually, Bree's French is, I think, getting there, though she's not to the level of understanding rapid or highly colloquial speech; her mom's fluent, and largely accepted by the locals.) Then the mother tried, with little success, to get one of her kids to admit that he'd been learning English in school. "Ce n'est pas vrai! Ce n'est pas vrai!"

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