• Hi Guest: Welcome to TRIBE, the online home of TRIBE MAGAZINE. If you'd like to post here, or reply to existing posts on TRIBE, you first have to register. Join us!

Paris shares all types of music in the streets


TRIBE Member
This was sent to me via my dad who figured this would be a cool way to spend a weekend in Paris regardless of musical preference and might be fun to play at someday. I thought I would share the article with fellow music and travel lovers for those who may not know about this.


Headline: For a day, Paris is City of Sounds
Byline: Peter Ford
Date: 06/23/2005

Once a year, at the summer solstice, the City of Lights is transformed
into the City of Sounds.

For the space of 12 hours or so, as Paris celebrates its annual Fete de
la Musique, musicians playing every style of music, from rap to
Rimsky-Korsakov, take over squares, street corners, parks, and public
buildings, turning the French capital into a polyphonic kaleidoscope of
enthusiastic noise.

There was no escaping it on Tuesday, nor did the hundreds of thousands
of Parisians strolling the streets on a balmy summer's evening want to
escape it. Instead, they reveled in the variety, allowing themselves to
be transported from continent to continent as they walked from block to
block and discovered music from the four corners of the earth.

My fete started in the middle of the afternoon, when I came across a
Brazilian combo playing samba by the river Seine under a suitably
sweltering sun. Then I headed a few hundred yards to the giant Les
Halles shopping mall, where a music- and bookstore was hosting a piano
and saxophone duo playing cool jazz.

Half the fun of the Fete de la Musique, though, is coming across bands
unexpectedly - ones not on the official program but who plant
themselves wherever they can find a space. En route to the jazz I was
distracted by four South American Indians, dressed in North American
Indian feathers and leather fringes, playing Andean flute music over a
techno background. They drew a curious crowd.

This was all a far cry from the first Fete, held in 1982, the inaugural
year of President Francois Mitterrand's socialist government, when the
Ministry of Culture handed out instructions on how to construct
homemade instruments and encouraged people to play them in the street
between 8:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on June 21. Now most towns and cities
around France, and even capitals around Europe, hold their own fetes.

I had hoped to catch a band advertised as playing "convivial
electrorock" just off the rue de Rivoli, but by early evening they were
still at the "un, deux, trois, test" stage of setting up. So instead,
around the corner I found a klezmer orchestra blocking the street as
they played Eastern European Jewish dance music on clarinet, fiddle,
and accordion.

Five hundred yards away I ran slap bang into the middle of a crowd clad
almost exclusively in black, leaping up and down energetically to a
deafening group playing music defined in the program as either
"grindcore" or "powertrash." I did not stay to find out which.

I would have been welcome, though, however badly I stood out. The
fete's magic lies in the way it breaks down barriers: musicians playing
everything from Mozart to heavy metal appropriate a public space, and
invite anyone who shows up to share it. The result is a refreshing
cross-pollination of people who normally would not mix.

The most surreal example of barrier-breaking was a gospel choir,
comprised almost exclusively of white people dressed in African robes,
singing Congolese songs in the Lingala language. To cap it all, they
were singing in the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, where gladiators
once fought lions.

After an hour packed into a crowd enraptured by the infectiously
danceable "rai" music of Algeria, it was time to go home. (I had
imposed a midnight curfew on my two teenage sons, who had gone off to
listen to hip-hop and techno at the Bastille.) But midnight is no time
to go to bed at the Fete de la Musique.

Directly beneath my bedroom window, a collection of aging, potbellied
rockers had set themselves up outside an Irish pub and surrendered
themselves to their Eric Clapton fantasies. Sleep was out of the
question, and I have a few Eric Clapton fantasies of my own, so I went
back downstairs to join them.

At 1:00 a.m., the city noise ordinances came back into force. At ten
past one, the lead guitarist played his final riff. At a quarter past
one I was asleep. And dreaming of next year's fete.