Leslie Lewis et Gérard Hagen "Joyeux Noël de Paris". 18 Décembre 2014

Joyeux Noël de Paris ...

Chers Amis,

We hope you are all doing very well and carving out some time to enjoy the holiday season. We have happily received some Christmas/Holiday/year-end catch up letters from some of you and we thank you for sending them. We always enjoy learning what is going on in your lives. It is always good to stay as connected as possible. Often when we see friends here in Paris, it’s as if no time has passed at all and things pick up right where we left them. Leslie and I hope you know how grateful we are for your interest in our adventures here in Europe. These updates have served as a sort of touchstone for us to track our progress and assess our state of mind as we build new lives here.  The fact that we can share them with you, and most importantly receive your responses, is a real blessing for us. Our wish for you is to have a very Merry Christmas, a joyful Hannukah and a Happy New Year filled with laughter, friendship and much love.

Although we worked on Thanksgiving day, we did have a traditional Thanksgiving meal with friends on the following Sunday. It was the first Thanksgiving meal we’ve had in three years. We were a group of expats with a few Parisians who wanted the experience.

Leslie decorated our little home here in Paris for Christmas.  Still no tree, but it at least feels like Christmas. We have tried to do more things to celebrate Christmas this year including going to a duo-piano classical music concert and getting out to different parts of the city to see the decorations. Paris is a beautiful city during the Christmas season.

 Leslie's Christmas decorations.


The Champs-Elysées, Christmas Dec. 2014. 

Since last summer Leslie has been working at “The Lido” in Paris.  It is sort of a Las Vegas version of the Moulin Rouge. Leslie sang dance music with a seven piece band for a pre-show dinner set. The Lido has closed in order to remodel the set and to revamped the show. It will reopen in the late spring. We were invited to attend the closing night party. We knew the party had started when the bartenders (about eight of them) shook bottles of very expensive champagne and blasted the crowd with a champagne shower.  This was repeated at least three times in the first half hour. I had two thoughts. 1.) “Please don’t let me get soaked”  and 2.) “What a waste of very good champagne”.  Although it was kind of fun to watch the showers when they happened, I wasn’t surprised when they ran out of champagne very early into the party. A very unfortunate side effect of the bartender’s zeal. 

 The Lido closing night party.

Leslie and fellow vocalists at The Lido closing night party.

In November we did a concert at “Le Piano Solo”.  I have written about this venue before.  It is a piano repair shop that hosts monthly concerts.  The piano was situated so that I could see the audience much more clearly than usual. I was shocked to see the looks on many of their faces.  Many had the look of “I could be here or I could be having a root canal”.  I was sure that we would only have half the house left when we returned from our break. But everyone stayed and kept the anguished looks on their faces as we started the second set.  I formed a new-found admiration for what it must be like for Leslie as she tries to make eye contact with her audiences.  Now here is the kicker, at the end of the set we received standing ovations and we were brought back for three encores. The longer we are here, the less I know about my work.

Our schedules have continued to be very busy. Since October we are doing on average twenty performances a month. We usually travel outside of Paris once if not twice a month.  Last week Leslie was in Lausanne, Switzerland and two weeks before that we were in Bordeaux. Tonight we begin a string of nine jobs in the next ten days including gigs on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Leslie is working two nights (Dec. 26-27) at the Jazz Club Etoile with Rhoda Scott. Rhoda is an incredible jazz organist. She plays bass pedals with her feet which very few of the new generation organists do. She has had a very successful career here in Europe so this is a great opportunity for Leslie. I am working at Le Caveau de la Huchette with Jeff Hoffman’s band on Dec. 25 -26 so I will catch her second night at the Jazz Club Etoile. “The Caveau” is the longest running active jazz club in Paris dating back the the end of the second world war.

 The dancers at Leslie's Lausanne, Switzerland concert.

Setting up for our concert in Arpajon, France. 

We have joined an association called “Arts Embassy International”. This is a little bit like incorporating yourself in the U.S. It will allow us to produce concerts and masterclasses and is the vehicle we use to pay the taxes and social charges due on the income we earn. It is another step toward getting our residency renewed this summer. Nothing is easy here. It has taken us over two years just to learn the basics of the system. Arts Embassy International was founded by Keri Chryst, another expat who has sustained a career as a jazz singer/teacher here in France for over a decade.  We are in the process of preparing the dossier to present to the local Prefecture in order to get residency for a few more years.  We have to document everything we have done in our professional lives since we arrived in France including income. Doesn’t that sound like fun! I prepared a mini dossier for our December meeting with our immigration attorney and upon her review, it seems our situation is not as dire as we previously believed.  Still there is no guarantee that we will be able to stay after next summer. So we try to live as fully as possible just in case our days here are numbered.

We have a mini-tour booked in February with opening and closing concerts in Paris and in-between we travel to do the Sancy Snow Jazz Festival in Le Mont-Dore. http://www.sancy-snowjazz.com/fr,1,1700.html  The exciting news here is that our very good friend Jerry Kalaf, longtime drummer with my L.A. trio, is going to do the tour with us. We are doing six concerts in four days but there should be a day or two of downtime in Paris so we can hang.  

For those of you who live in France, this week we are at Chez Papa in Paris on Thursday 8:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 9:00 pm. https://plus.google.com/+ChezPapaJazzClub/about   On Sunday and Monday we are at Le Speakeasy also in Paris at 8:00 pm.  http://www.lespeakeasy.com

Please check www.surfcovejazz.com for details.

Merry Christmas,

Leslie and Gerard  

 Please if you have any comments feel free to contact me at <gerard@surfcovejazz.com>.  I enjoy hearing your thoughts. This email also appears on our website where you may comment as well.  http://www.surfcovejazz.com/blog/






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