Showing posts with label Crest Jazz Festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crest Jazz Festival. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Crest Jazz Festival and the amazing Charles Pasi

As the moon rose over the mountains, the sky turned from pink to mauve. Below us, stalls sold tartines and glasses of Clairette de Die (the local sparkling wine), while little children skipped hand in hand with their parents.

My daughter leaned over and whispered in my ear. ‘I’ve never seen such a well-behaved audience at a festival before,’ she said, astonished that everyone was clapping along in unison.

This was Crest Jazz Vocal, one of the highlights of my summer. We’d bought tickets to see Mountain Men, a zany Franco-Australian jazz duo, and Charles Pasi, a French blues singer and harmonica player who’s so talented I can’t believe he isn’t a superstar already. Actually, he was a finalist in the international Memphis Blues Festival in 2006 so he’s doing pretty well.

The Crest jazz festival has been going for 37 years and attracts audiences of all ages. The best moment of the night was when Charles Pasi beckoned the front few rows to join him and his band onstage. We were sitting near the back, I’m glad to say, but loads of people jumped up with alacrity. An elderly man in a dazzling white suit and jaunty hat danced wildly, a woman with a rucksack on her back jived fit to drop and even one of the Mountain Men couldn’t resist joining in. Charles Pasi and his band took it all in their good-natured stride.

At that moment something brushed the top of my head. I whirled round to see a tiny flying creature soar up, up and away. It was a bat! 

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Breakfast at a sunlit café in France

My lovely teenage daughter has arrived from London, laden with treats. From the depths of her suitcase she produces a mauve box of M&S Empress Grey tea bags (they’re simply the best), three mosquito nets, some Rococo fudge for her brother and a copy of last night’s Evening Standard. Even though I left my reporting job on the paper years ago, I’m an Evening Standard addict and the thought of reading it in deepest rural France is one of life’s little luxuries.

I take the paper to the Café de Globe to read in the sun over a coffee. After years of getting the etiquette of French coffee completely wrong I now know it’s essential to order a café crème. If you ask for a café au lait the waiter (with a very withering look) will present you with a bowl of coffee topped with an alarming mass of whipped cream. On the same note, never ask for a café crème after midday in France. It must be a petit café or an espresso. Nothing else will do.

My teenage son dashes across the street to buy croissants from the boulangerie and we sit and eat them with our coffee. I can’t imagine Starbucks being impressed by customers arriving with breakfast from another shop but it seems utterly normal in France.

The pavement outside the Café de Globe is so hot that the waiter hurries out to extend the awning and give us a little more shade. The café is packed with old men drinking Pastis and poring over Le Figaro and workers from the Crest Jazz Festival (see above) chatting about last night's storming performance by pianist Chucho Valdes. When I open my Evening Standard. I’m stunned by the terrible news from home. While we have been merrily painting, decorating and rearranging furniture at the House with No Name, stock markets across the world have plunged into turmoil, an Eton schoolboy has been killed by a polar bear in Norway and there's been a riot in Tottenham.

Suddenly our pretty sunlit café in the south of France seems the most peaceful place in the world to be.
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