Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Menwar at Toronto's Afrofest

What a treat to see Mauritius on stage at Queen's Park. Menwar and his band were performing at Afrofest last Sunday.

The crowd cheered and danced, among them many Mauritian fans waving the national flag. When Percy Yiptong with his booming, theatrical DJ voice, introduced Menwar and his musicians with drums beating in the background, it sent shivers down my spine, as if the island were claiming my heart back ...

I've left Mauritius over 30 years ago and haven't kept in touch with its music scene. It was such a thrill to hear Menwar's innovative version of the sega. The numerous musical instruments he uses, from the waterdrum to a percussion device made from a sardine can ... infused an exotic melody to his songs. Menwar is an original percussionist and a passionate singer who can reach into one's soul. He deserves to be applauded for making his country proud. He was named Artist of the Year by Radio France Internationale.

Way to go Mauritius!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Paris, dear Paris ...

Paris has a way of holding on to me, to my clothes, my hair, my heart. It's a pleasantly cloying feeling. I was there a few months ago to take a break, get some inspiration for my work, and of course spend time with some wonderful friends.

Strolling through Paris is always a feast to the senses, making everything a bit surreal. It's not just the fabulous architecture of old buildings, the calm presence of La Seine with its rippling water and bateaux mouches, the large, open, green areas along the Tuileries, Champs Elysées, Luxembourg, it's also the people. A busker's smile as he reaches out to passers by during his performance en plein air. A woman, sitting alone, reflective, watching people across the pond.

Yes, all the people-watching in cafés, on the streets, all the eye-contact are like thin, invisible wires that emit some kind of charge and make me feel connected to the city.

Had some great laughs watching the play Les homos aiment les blondes. It was also a wonderful experience to discover Caveau de la Huchette, a neat jazz club that has seen some of the greatest, like Count Basie. Surprisingly, it's also a club where you can dance the night away.

Paris felt so comfortable, like elegant, well-worn gloves that never lose their cachet.