I’m on tour right now with not only a great group of musicians but some of my closest friends. It’s a veritable “super group” of Detroit based musicians including Johnnie Bassett , Thornetta Davis-Anderson and her husband James Anderson, Keith Kaminski, Mark Byerly, John Rutherford, Skeeto Valdez and James Simonson. I’ve been making music with these folks for many years and it’s a rare treat to be on the road with what I consider to be my musical family.
We left Detroit on Thursday September 22nd via US Airways and flew to North Carolina where we had a few hour layover. Our flight to Paris left around 4:50 pm. I passed the time by watching “Thor” and playing Bejeweled on the in-flight entertainment center. The six hour flight actually passed by pretty quickly. I’ve found that if I can keep myself distracted and not looking at the clock constantly I’m less anxious to get out of “the flying jail cell.” I also enjoyed a nice glass of Cognac after dinner which put me in a nice mellow mood.
The plane touched down in the darkness and I breathed a sigh of relief. We got through customs and picked up all of our luggage without incident. We had a brief moment of anxiety when we did not see anyone holding up a sign with our names on it after walking out of the baggage claim. It turns out our drivers had gone to the wrong terminal. After a quick phone call we were assured they were on there way and they found us shortly thereafter and loaded us and our luggage into two mini vans and station wagon. We drove about three hours to the town of Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk where we are to stay two nights and play at the Bay-Carr Blues Festival.
We arrived at our hotel tired and ready to get some rest. I checked into my very small but comfortable room and after spending a few minutes trying to figure out how to get the storm shutter to close to facilitate darkness I got some much needed sleep. I awoke around 6:30pm and got ready to go the venue where we to play the next night to get some dinner and hear some music.
We were served a delicious meal including a baked potato and chili con carne with some excellent French bread with some delicious beer and wine (in a box!) I sat with Johnnie, Thornetta and her husband James and our contact Didier and enjoyed Johnnie’s stories about playing in Detroit in the old days. After dinner we went to check out the venue. It’s a very large building with many rooms and it host many different events and activities. There was a belly-dancing class going on next door to the dining room area. The main room with the stage was very large and sounded surprisingly good, I’m sure in part due to the extremely large curtain that covered one of the sides of the room. It really cut down on the sound reflections. The first band we saw was the James Hunter band and they sound really good. I was glad to see they had a chopped Hammond C3 with Leslie and a Nord StageEX on stage. After they finished we watched Preston Shannon do his thing with the guitar backed by a group of French musicians. They opened up their show with the classic “Sissy Strut.” It’s good to know that some things never change….
We were considering going to a late night jam session but decided to head back to the hotel and get some rest. But you know the saying “There ain’t no party like a Detroit party…” and after we learned that the hotel bar was closed we decided to hang out in John Rutherford’s room (he got the suite) which had a window which opened out to a small terrace. We climbed out the window and enjoyed the cool night air while James Simonson played us groovy tunes from his iPhone through a small pair of speakers. Life is good.
Thanks for keeping us up to date as you represent the D over the pond. Have a great show and we look forward to hearing how the French love the Blues.
Wonderful! Looking forward to see The Brothers Groove before the year’s end. If you can, post a video clip would like to hear this super group!
Enjoyed reading about your trip to France it’s as if I’m traveling with you. I haven’t any doubt that you will show the french people how we do it in detroit, Good Luck
Typical Simo on tour acting as the iPhone DJ! I’m pretty sure I would’ve wandered the streets. But dinner in France being whatever it is, who knows? Terrace party might have been the shit!
Hopefully you guys get to catch up with bassist Sebastian Levanneur in Paris. He hit so many Detroit sessions that he would have go be a good guide to music venue parallels that would be worthwhile.
Keep up the good work – LOVE the updates. And so great to hear about the D playing the blues globally! – Sherri