Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gospel avec Meester Blaiz

Ne le dites à personne, je n ai jamais pris un seul cours de piano !

Soreze entertainment on a wet and cold Sunday that shoulda’ been warm in late April, is a Gospel show at Notre Dame de la Paix, the parish church.  A musical style “couleur blues jazz” has been promised and G and I take my friend N, in town from California out to see the show and meet M and D there with their visitors over from Wales.

The local dentist, who wears a Captain Ahab beard, but in a friendly way, greets us as we rush up the steps to the open church door saying “Bienvenue, beaucoup de chaises.”  (Welcome, plenty of chairs.) We pay and take the third pew on the right.  By 8:45 pm, we figure that they have waited past the 8:30 pm start time for a better crowd, but kindly Ahab announces that Meester Blaiz is en route from Ville Franche and will arrive dans quelque minutes.

Mister Blaiz arrives before we are too cold in the unheated church, sits at the electric organ in front of the altar steps and begins singing his way through le repetoire of gospel traditionals with his partner Naoële.  His singing and playing are a little hard to hear in the space but Naoële’s voice is great, once she cuts loose on “Jericho”. 

Mister Blaiz à la guitare en concert et accompagné par Naoële

 Notre Dame is getting quite chilly. We snuggle together on the pew under N’s serape and one woman in the front row wraps her scarf up over her nose.  We begin to get a bit concerned, there are 36 songs listed on the back of the program and they have started by singing 1-7 in order… broken only by Meester Blaiz asking us to “Eemageen” that Gospel is the answer to the problems of the world and to imagine several other things that I don't quite catch.

I hear N and G in whispered discourse:

I’m counting the people.

I already have.


That includes him.

I am transfixed by the uncanny resemblance of what I have decided are mother and transvestite son ahead of me to the right – both have short brown hair, identical brown skirts and tops and one small gold hoop earring, but I am sure the younger once had a beard on that strong jaw.

 Nobody Knows"

By the time I am making note that the main altar Christ has been nailed behind the wrist, not through the palms like the Christ on the side altar crucifix, it is clear that we outlanders, at least, are suffering from expectations not aligned with those of Mister Blaiz. 

I’ve taken the opportunity to read the program -- “Mister Blaiz chante l’espoir” – Good, he has hope in common with President Obama. “He is traveling France and the rest of the world to galvanize those who doubt, who have fear and who suffer…”  I translate just in time.  I was feeling the urge to stand and shout out “Shut up and sing!”

G and N conspire:

I could faint.

Oh, no, don’t do that.

Then you two would have to help me out…

I am down to analyzing the relative breast sizes in the paintings and statues of Mary during “Rock My Soul” even while joining my voice to Naoële’s when she croons soaring notes.  The unrepentants in the last pews refuse to be drawn in.  Downcast eyes are checking watches.  D's eyes, rolled heavenward in the pew across the aisle, are not seeking the lord above but looking for corroboration of “Good lord when will he be done?!”

We rise with the others at the terminus of the third version of “When the Saints” and it is not to rhythmically signal approval or a desire for more, but to use the cover to duck and run for the exit.  “Let My People Go”, indeed.




swallowtail said...

Heee! This reminds me of a Lyle Lovette song, though I must admit, I have never, never, never ducked out of his concerts...unless of course, to meet him in the back alley.


Anonymous said...

I was there I think but luckily the memory has faded somewhat! An excellent account of how to waste a perfectly good Saturday evening. There are times when the world must be glad that I do not have a command of the French language and this event was one of them. Like so many things reality never matches up to expectation and a 'Gospel evening' for me suggested singing and an enjoyable and participatory event NOT a poorly articulated (even in French I got that) message from a 'happy clapper' this, I do not need.

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