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Elli et Jacno... et Lio. Les electro-ye-yes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 6, 2009 09:13pm | Post a Comment
Denis Quillard (born in 1957) came from an eccentric but distinguished family in Champagne. A chainsmoking fan of Gauloises, he was known to some as "Jacno," after Marcel Jacno, the illustrator who designed the cigarette manufacturer's logo. Jacno had learned to play flute at a religious school in Margency, Notre-Dame-de-Bury. As a child his musical heroes had been Chopin, Mozart and Satie, but as a young teenager, he gravitated toward The Who and The Rolling Stones. At fourteen, he took a job as a messenger boy, enabling him to buy a guitar. He also grew increasingly rebellious, experimenting with drugs, engaging in petty theft, and being expelled from a succession of schools. In 1973, he formed a short-lived band called Bloodsuckers.

Elli Medeiros was born January 18, 1956 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Her mother, Mirtha Medeiros, was an actress, and as a child, Elli also appeared in Uruguayan film, stage and TV productions. In the early '70s, along with her mother and her stepfather, she moved to Paris. The following year, at a protest, Elli and Jacno crossed paths. Soon, the two began dating and plotted a musical career.

   

In 1976, Elli and Jacno (joined by Bruno Carone, Albin Dériat and Hervé Zénouda) formed Les Stinky Toys in Rennes, Brittany. They played their first gig as Les Stinky Toys on the fourth of July, 1976. Les Stinky Toys quickly garnered a reputation as a willing and fairly able band who played several notable performances, including at London's 100 Club alongside The Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Damned, The Sex Pistols and Siouxsie & the Banshees. That came about after Malcolm McLaren discovered the band at a boutique in Les Halles. The notoriously hype-loving Melody Maker featured them on their cover. Conversely, the notoriously bitchy Trouser Press described them as "uninspired sub-Rolling Stones rock'n'boogie with terrible vocals by Elli Medeiros." In March of 1977, they played with Generation X, The Jam and The Police at Le Palais des Glaces. Soon after, they signed with Polydor and released their debut single, "Boozy Creed," followed by an album, Plastic Faces.

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Jules Lion

Posted by Whitmore, February 28, 2009 03:07pm | Post a Comment
The daguerreotype was the precursor to the modern photography process; an image is exposed directly onto a highly polished silver metal plate, its surface coated with silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapor-- a later advancement was the use of bromine and chlorine vapors to shorten the exposure time. The daguerreotype produced a negative image, but the mirrored surface of the plate reflects the captured image, making it appear positive once light is exposed to the photograph. Early experimenters had tinkered with the idea of photography for over a hundred years, but it was Louis Daguerre who finally perfected the technique in about 1839. Less then a year later the rich history of American photography began in New Orleans at #3 St Charles Street, in the private studio/residence of Jules Lion, "a freeman of color," who opened the first daguerreotype studio in New Orleans and one of the very first in the entire United States.
 
Born in 1810 in Paris, France, Jules Lion was the first of about fifty documented black daguerreotypists who operated galleries/studios in the first half of the 19th century in the U.S. He originally moved to New Orleans from France in 1837 where he was a lithographer and portrait painter -- at the Exposition of Paris of 1833 he was the youngest lithographer to be awarded an honorable mention. It’s believed that Lion returned briefly to Paris in 1839 and 1840 to study photography with Louis Daguerre. Upon his return Lion exhibited his first daguerreotypes in New Orleans in 1840; unfortunately only a couple of them have survived. By 1841 in New Orleans, he was lecturing on photography, co-founded an art school and was running a successful studio. Not much more is known of Jules Lion, except the occasional newspaper announcement and city records listing him as a professor of drawing at the College of Louisiana from 1852 to 1865. In his later years he returned to painting portraitures. Among his most famous commissions were portraits of President Andrew Jackson and naturalist John J. Audubon. Throughout his career he continued teaching and occasionally returning to Paris to exhibit his lithographs and daguerreotypes until his death in New Orleans in 1866.

a year in music

Posted by Whitmore, January 16, 2009 04:59pm | Post a Comment
Since the first of the New Year I’ve been trying to decide on what music releases might have been my favorites of 2008. But as I rifled through my addled opinions, I suddenly realized I was shockingly unaware of anything going on in music in ‘08. This goes to show you how much attention I pay to the goings on around me at Amoeba. I think I need to get out of the used 45 room a bit more, though it’s hard to do … it’s like a record geek Shangri-la in there!
 
Between my obsession with the Presidential election, the Dodgers pennant hopes, a Top Chef / Project Runway fixation, and just being wrapped up in my own primitive world, most of my information came by way of an occasional obituary, never ending music-celeb scandal sheet fodder or random music pouring from some car pulling up alongside me at a red light. I guess I can list my favorite old 45’s I discovered this past year, but they have little to do with ’08, let alone this century. I only bought a handful of CD’s last year. A few that come to mind are the Antony and the Johnson’s CD, a Mighty Hannibal collection, and Baden Powell’s Canto on Guitar but none of them were released in 2008. I didn’t download any new music either and though I probably bought some 30 DVD’s and maybe as many as 40 books last year; once again, I’m not sure if any of those titles were actually released or published in 2008.
 
So then I started thinking about all the gigs and concerts I went to … and once again I drew a blank. There are years that fly by, and then there was 2008 which seemed to last only about 37 and a half hours … and I must have slept through most of it.
 
Then again I did have two great adventures last year. A three week tour in Italy where we played some great gigs, but more notably I ate some incredibly delicious food. And a two week vacation in Paris, which I wrote laboriously about over the holidays, where once again it was all about the food. However, during both trips there were two unusually great musical moments that came out of nowhere. Unfortunately both events are probably knee deep in that “you had to be there” category, but what the hell …
 
In Florence after playing a show, we were all invited to stay at a friend of a friend’s 15th century farmhouse in the hills of Tuscany, about a half an hour away. But first we had to meet our host at a club not far down the road, located in an old, abandoned Catholic church. From the outside it looked like most any other 600 year old building, inside some of the original religious elements were still intact, not many, but enough to realize that this used to be a place of worship. What really surprised me was the music; tangos and only tangos. It was a tango club. On the dance floor were the most perfectly attired, gorgeous collection of people I think I’ve ever seen gathered in one room in my life; and I looked like hell. Most of dancers moved in the traditional Argentinean or Uruguayan steps of “the forbidden dance,” and a few other couples who hadn’t yet perfected the tango just playfully toyed with the chest to chest embrace, spinning hip to hip, tearing it up in their own way. The music selection was perfect; the volume was nice and low so the conversations around us were lively and intimate. The room was pretty brightly lit so you could see the pick-ups and make-out romances at the tables along the walls. Dozens, and I mean dozens, of wine bottles were strewn around the perimeter of the dance floor. There was one helluva sensual vibe in the room. And I don’t mean that last-call-desperate-to-get-laid kind of vibe either. Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by Tango music, from the early songs of Carlos Gardel, to the orchestras of Juan D'Arienzo, to the Nuevo Tango of Ástor Piazzolla. That night with a bottle of wine in my hand, I just sat in the corner --but not too far from the heat of the dancers -- listening to the rhythms and I was at home!
 
If you’ve ever taken the Metro in Paris, chances are you’ve been accosted by a musician performing on the subway train. More often than not, what the captive audience gets is a mediocre accordion or bandoneón player or some guy with a guitar singing some song you’ve heard way too many times and never need hear again, let alone a sorry ass rendition. Rarely does the music stir anything except irritation. But on this last visit to Paris we were riding on the number 8 Metro, towards Alfortville, to see some friends. An accordion player stepped on board, and instantly a slight frown appeared on practically every face but the musician’s. He stood in the center of our train, started playing, and something came alive. People perked up, turned around and actually looked him in the eyes. He was masterful. Playing a couple of jazz standards which I should know the titles of but I can never remember, his tone was insanely beautiful, simply faultless. He improvised fluidly and soulfully, without that annoying bravado street musicians might shove down your throat in order to be noticed. In a matter of moments he made something happen, an intangible skill few musicians possess no matter how trained and studied they might be. This portly, unattractive accordion player with a bad haircut had the musical equivalent of “it!" After a couple of minutes he gathered a few coins from his audience and moved forward to the next train car.
 


Serge in Paris

Posted by Whitmore, January 11, 2009 08:59pm | Post a Comment

There are four major cemeteries in Paris, and each has their big name resident bringing tens of thousand of visitors each year. The largest cemetery is in the eastern part of Paris, Pere-Lachaise, and the biggest draw there is probably Jim Morrison, Isadora Duncan, Oscar Wilde and Chopin. In the north, the 18th arrondissement section of the city is Montmartre Cemetery where the great dancer Vaslav Nijinsky is buried and the "Beethoven of the Guitar" Fernando Sor. Passy Cemetery in the 16th arrondissement is where Claude Debussy is interred and, for you silent movie buffs, Pearl White, the star of The Perils of Pauline serial. And finally there is the Montparnasse Cemetery in the south. There you can find the graves of playwrights Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco, Dadaists Man Ray and Tristan Tzara and probably the most visited and garlanded grave in all of Paris: Serge Gainsbourg. His grave site is forever covered in flowers, cigarettes, metro tickets, personal notes and odd little objects that derive their significance from his lyrics. Earlier this week we spent two nights in our favorite fleabag-Henry Miller-down and out kind of hotel around the corner from Montparnasse. I stopped by one morning in the snow, said hello to Serge, took a couple of pictures and had a very respectful snowball fight with my son. This may sound more macabre then intended, but there’s nothing like a cemetery blanketed in snow.


Snowman in Paris

Posted by Whitmore, January 11, 2009 08:19am | Post a Comment

I’m back in Los Angeles and it’s sunny and warm. I’m overjoyed -- and somewhat warped, yes -- knowing that those are my dirty dishes in the sink and that’s my cat box that needs cleaning. I understand most of what I hear on television. And except for a dream that was apparently about the 1919 Flu pandemic (who knows where that came from?), the rediscovery of sleep in my own bed is just short of a mystical experience.
 
There were two things which surprised the holy hell out of me during my two weeks in Paris. First of all, how cheap it was for a doctor to make a house call on my behalf under the French healthcare system … yeah I think I’m dying, but who isn’t … Secondly, and truly the most unusual event, was that it actually snowed in the city of Paris for the first time in years. Its not everyday your six year old son can make a snowman in Luxembourg Gardens, or throw snowballs next to Serge Gainsbourg's grave, or make snow angels alongside Boulevard du Montparnasse. The morning after I flew out of Charles de Gaulle Airport it was 16 degrees Fahrenheit in Paris. I’m not sure what the temperature was here in LA but I walked down to Albertsons in my T-shirt.
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