Monday, March 28, 2011

Flanerie, Bordeaux-style . . .

Friday evening, we strolled down Rue de Sainte Catherine, apparently the longest pedestrian street in Europe.
A lively, happy buzz of voices warmed by the street's lively acoustics, smiles everywhere thanks to the warm weather . . .
Interesting cross streets to peer down . . .
Certain charming Canadian men to watch -- oops! that's Pater, he's mine. . .
More peering -- and of course we ended up wandering the side streets later, and found a wonderful spot for dinner (I'll collect my recommended spots into a small post later)
A few blocks into Rue de Sainte Catherine, the buzz of voices began to be accompanied by something more insistent, something that became louder as we walked along, and finally drew us in to listen in front of these three musicians
In the very brief research I've done, the closest I've come to what that stringed instrument might be is a rabab, but I'm not at all sure I'm right.  The music itself is powerfully lively, toe-tappingly compelling. Middle Eastern or North African would be my guess, although the accordion/squeeze-box surprised me. But then, these traditions are often much more overlapping and adaptable than they are fixed, and my ignorance is capacious.
What I loved watching here, once the music reeled me in, was the dynamic between the players, as in the best Classical chamber music or jazz ensembles. This young fellow, already a fine musician-- what rhythms he could assert with his flying fingers, improvising wildly as he watched his stringed colleague intently. His face was a delight to watch, so openly did it express his love, not only of the music, and of performing with his musical peers, but also of the audience, especially those of us who stopped to watch appreciatively.  I don't know that the money we left in the instrument case had much to do with his joy at all -- he quite happily nodded his permission for me to take the photos . . .


I know some people who get impatient with street musicians, and I know they can occasionally be somewhat pesky (and loud!), but I generally appreciate the randomness of the cheap (free theoretically, but I can rarely pass without stopping and dropping a coin, at least) concert. What about you? Any favourite memories of wonderful busking?

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