Paris annual--fête de la musique--is often a question of "to do or not to do" for many Parisians & ex-pat types, too. You have to like crowds, milling about randomly, really really bad music (so bad it is almost good!) and a sort of feeling of knowing this last, longest day of the year is another turning point, now back towards winter though the summer has only just begun or will soon begin for many. And it can be a time of au revoirs--such as saying farewell to DJ Whistlepunk aka Rob Keefe (pictured at left doing his thing at the Bistrot des Artistes) who has now moved to Sweden.
For me, Fête de la Musique is one of my favorite days of the year. I adore the odd random mix of music and "musicians".
This said, the "best" groups I saw this year were a pack of teens with some talent along rue de roi de sicile, a guy holding court in his own 'Rodrique' French cabaret moment on the corner of St Martin and duc de lombards, and a version of a shrunken band: 4 boys, about 10 years old, sometimes managing to hold all the notes and drumbeats together, other times looking a bit startled when a stray sound would escape and betray them. Who knows where they will be in 10? 20 years?
Anyway, outside the superpunkt moment at Bastille where my brother Kevin and I started our wander, we came across this fun Fanfare (in picture above left) on the corner of rue de Tournelles & Pas de la Mule. After, we headed into Place des Vosgues where every 20 feet or so was another group: African drumming at one corner, the French version of the Rainbow Chorus (all guys singing too quietly) at another. We did a little singalong moment to Yves Montand in a corner, where sheets of lyrics were handed round then gathered up again after each song. A French woman told me, teary-eyed as we finished our rendition of Le temps des Cerisiers, that you know it is a good song when it moves you like that.
The evening, and my brother's visit to Paris, ended as we wove back up the streets of Paris into the darker, quieter quartier I am now residing in: through St Denis, Fbg St Denis, up and over the tracks of Gare de l'Est to Louis Blanc (thus these last pics, below, from that).
It was a beautiful, rainless night for once, and a fabulous varied fête de la musique, or the attempts at making a bit of song amidst all that sound!