Mu­sic on ev­ery cor­ner

Cel­e­bra­tion of the sol­stice brings out the best and worst

Central and North Burnett Times - - TRAVEL - with Ann Rickard

ON JUNE 21 ev­ery year all over France, mu­sic fills the air. It is the Fete de la Musique cel­e­bra­tion, which takes place on the longest day of the year ev­ery sum­mer. In the decade or more we have been vis­it­ing France we have en­joyed this colour­ful cel­e­bra­tion of mu­sic in the streets.

To our knowl­edge Fete de la Musique is cel­e­brated in large cities, small towns and tiny vil­lages, some in grand style, oth­ers in their own unique way.

From pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians to those who like to jam with their mates in the back room or garage, from school chil­dren learn­ing the gui­tar or pi­ano, from emerg­ing artists to ev­er­green en­ter­tain­ers … ev­ery­one is wel­come to come out into the streets and sing, play, en­ter­tain. No money is in­volved.

Street cor­ners be­come pop-up night­clubs as croon­ers stand on makeshift stages and sing. Foot­paths be­come con­cert venues as bands do their own thing. Mick Jag­ger im­per­son­at­ing is pop­u­lar.

One year we watched rap­pers, an­other year opera recitals, yet an­other a pi­ano con­cert.

It is the mix that makes it so fas­ci­nat­ing. All against the back­drop of grace­ful old build­ings, charm­ing restau­rants and dis­tinc­tive lanes, streets and al­leys.

While we have not at­tended the cel­e­bra­tion in a big city, we cer­tainly have been priv­i­leged to be part of the cel­e­bra­tion in small towns – once in prob­a­bly one of the small­est vil­lages in France, Vers, in the south near the Pont du Gard.

The lo­cal pizza maker in his tiny shop in this tiny vil­lage de­cided his con­tri­bu­tion to cel­e­brat­ing La Fete de la Musique would be to hire a karaoke ma­chine for the night.

As we were stay­ing in the vil­lage and loathe to drive any­where we de­cided pizza and karaoke it would be.

“When will he start?” I kept nag­ging to the small group I had be­friended in the shop. “He’s tak­ing for­ever. No­body or­der an­other pizza or he will never get started.” Fi­nally, with the last pizza out of the oven and onto the small ta­bles, he looked about to start. But no, he was not yet ready to turn on the karaoke ma­chine. Clean­ing up had to be at­tended to first.

Af­ter what seemed like a life­time he fi­nally made his way out from be­hind the counter. “At last,” I said, pre­pared to be first in line with my off-key ver­sion of I Will Sur­vive. But what did our pizza man do? He com­man­deered the mi­cro­phone him­self.

So this year we cel­e­brated Fete de la Musique in the Place aux Herbes in the large town of Uzes, where we stayed for many weeks. We watched as the crowds started to fil­ter into the leafy square, sit by the foun­tain or in one of the sur­round­ing cafes, and then we watched as a scruffy old bloke took to the makeshift stage and be­gan a roar­ing im­per­son­ation of Joe Cocker. As I said, it is all about the va­ri­ety.

PHOTO: JAC­QUES BRINON

◗ Mu­si­cians per­form dur­ing the Fete de la Musique Mu­sic event in Paris.

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