Tag Archives: Bergerac

La Fête de la Musique – aka “Battle of the Bands”

It would appear that this, the 3rd weekend of June, has been La Fête de la Musique in Sainte-Foy-La-Grande and hereabouts.  In fact, I now know that it is a world-wide endeavour, and very laudable it is too (more on this further down the page).  We were in Bergerac on Wednesday and there we saw fliers for a musical weekend, and an excellent clarinettist/saxophonist playing in the place adjacent to the old covered market (yes, I DO know the difference between a clarinet and a sax – this talented chap played both very well).

On Friday night there was an abundance of live music to be savoured/experienced/endured, depending upon your personal perspective.  Friends were playing at Le Globetrotter, so we went there for supper.  Dennis (American guitarist/vocalist), Xavier (French radio show host/DJ wicked harmonica player/vocalist) and Ian (English plumber/drummer) served up an excellent mix of rock favourites at one end of the arcade, while the owners of the Brasserie de l’Europe had speakers belting out tango/flamenco music to compliment their tapas menu at the other end of the arcade.  Needless to say, the speakers were strategically placed so that they faced each other and the clientele were caught in a musical cacophony in the middle! Less than 100 yards away the Bar des Arcades hosted a band playing “variété française”, followed by what seemed to be a jam session/open mic night sort of thing.  Hang on, let’s make this easy, shall we?  Here’s the program:

a busy program of music for the night!
a busy program of music for the night!

It was, in a word, a mad evening.  But it was fun too.  Town was full and the restaurants were busy.  It was a great springboard to the rest of the summer’s fun of Marchés des Producteurs, les Festivités républicaines (best known to outsiders as Bastille Day).  I don’t know what it is about the French, but they certainly know how to truly enjoy the marvellous seasonal weather that prevails.  Speaking as a long-term expat, I have to say that I don’t recall the average small town in the UK having such a busy schedule of events.  I’m sure that some of that can be ascribed to the difference in climate (OK, a lot), but community and culture must play equally pivotal roles don’t you think?

So, I’ve had a thought about how to make this annual event better still.  How cool would it be if the musicians who participate in this celebration of music could somehow be persuaded to encourage their audience to participate beyond the traditional role of clapping, tapping and nodding to the beat?  Would you relish the chance to try playing an instrument, or sing in a choir?  I know that I would.  Perhaps I’ve just talked myself into a voluntary job!  Hmmm.  Maybe not.