Of all the things I didn’t expect to experience in Paris, this clocks in at number one: joining a rock band.
I mean really, when we talked about moving to Paris, what did we dream of? Picking up the daily baguette from the bakery. Enjoying coffee on the terrace of a café. Strolling the streets, taking lots of pictures, finding hidden corners that don’t make the guidebooks. Visiting the Louvre without the pressure to see everything in one trip. Meeting locals. Learning some French.
But rocking “You Shook Me All Night Long” at the Australian Embassy, complete with a guest didgeridoo player? Yeah, I didn’t see that coming.
It just goes to show what idle conversation can lead to. It was last fall. I was picking up Evelyn from a school trip at the Montparnasse Station and got to talking with one of the other parents. Turned out he was in a cover band–The Doodads–with some other parents, a few teachers, and other assorted expats. I mentioned that I played bass and keyboards. Just making conversation, you know. A few weeks later we met for coffee at one of those café terraces–just what I’d come to Paris for. We swapped stories, told musician jokes, and talked about life in France. Next thing you know, the regular bass player can’t make a gig and they ask me to fill in for the night at the Australian Embassy.
I think that was six gigs ago.
If I had any artistic dreams for my move to Paris, it was to make a lot of progress on writing a novel (what American writer doesn’t want to live in Paris and write? Right?). Even though I love music and still enjoy playing, I gave up the rock star dreams a long time ago. The bands I played in when I was in high school never seemed to manage more than one gig before falling apart–if we even managed one gig. And that summer in college when I travelled around playing with a group? I think I netted maybe a hundred bucks for my trouble (it was actually a lot of fun). Good thing I had a scholarship.
Well, soon enough we were back at that same café where we’d had coffee, but this time packed together in corner playing “Take It Easy” and “Superstitious” till almost two in the morning. Since then, we’ve been back to the Australian Embassy, played at a club on a boat moored on the Seine, been back to the café a few times and even played at the Paris Polo Club.
Honestly, I wavered on whether to say yes to the Paris Polo Club gig. We already were going to be back at the Australian Embassy for their Australia Day celebration the night before. And the last time we played there, it meant not getting to bed till about three. Did I really need another gig on the same weekend?
But what am I doing here anyway? Answer: I’m here to experience Paris. To see and do what this city has to offer. Meet people. See things I can’t see back in Seattle. When am I ever going to get another chance to go to the Paris Polo Club? Answer: Never. So, yes. Let’s do this.
The Polo Club couldn’t have been more different from the Australian Embassy. The embassy gig? Completely casual. Aussies in shorts and sunglasses dancing and drinking Aussie beer. The Polo Club? Parisians dressed to the nines, the Taittinger flowing, people making speeches and giving huge silver trophies to each other. Not to mention the best pre-gig dinner I’ve ever had at a venue (charcuterie, veal, and profiteroles? Bien sûr!).
There’s a season for everything, it’s been said. And sometimes the season that comes is unexpected, something you didn’t foresee. I didn’t move to Paris to join a band. But I’m glad I said yes.