The idea of a music festival to mark the summer solstice began in France, and although it has now spread throughout the world, France still takes it pretty seriously. Which is to say, with a complete lack of seriousness as every generation comes out to eat a special menu de la fête (usually moules frites), drink even more than normal, and enjoy a variety of music, good and bad. Uzès, famous for its Nuits Musicales featuring Bach, Vivaldi, Purcel, Gabrieli et al, throws itself wholeheartedly into this slightly different musical activity.
Last night, we were in town to take part in the festivities, meeting up with Nick and Anthea in the Bistro d’Uzès – a gastronomic rather than musical choice, because the band playing between the Bistro and the Suisse were Catalonian. Nick, an occasional jazz musician, pointed out that the rhythms were those of Latin jazz, but I’m afraid a little of this faux flamenco goes a long way as far as I’m concerned.
So, having enjoyed a good meal, and a very good demi or two of Chateau Mas Neuf, a Costières de Nîmes wine which used to be on the list at Wilde’s and probably should be still, we set off to make the circuit of world music.
In the Place aux Herbes, the real deal flamenco was playing, complete with dancers. At the Logis des Arts, a jazz combo. Outside Vin sur Vin was Dom Ryder, a multi-lingual jack-of-all trades who resembles a Grateful dead roadie. By Bar Fontaine was a band of elderly musicians performing Rat Pack classics, complete with Nelson Riddle orchestration and enticing even more elderly couples onto the street to dance cheek to cheek. At the Esplanade, it was down with the kids, with a cool dude working hard on the decks. We ended up at the Café Mouscade, more because a table suddenly became available than for the music, but were entertained by a very competent and professional rock-pop band with an excellent vocalist and impressive lead guitarist.
By 11.30-ish, we were ready for our beds. Jill and I strolled back down the boulevard Gambetta towards the car park, pausing for a while to watch an impromptu display of break-dancing outside the Lycée.
The kids were brilliant, giving us the perfect end to the evening. After all, "All we need is music, sweet music/There'll be music everywhere/There'll be swingin', swayin',and records playin,/Dancin' in the street.
There was music everywhere. There was swingin' and swayin' (not all in time to the music and not all because of the music) and records playin'. And a great night was had by all.
Today’s listening: The Grateful Dead, Dancin in the Street. Plus, from Little Feat, some “country with a boogie beat”.