scenes from the recording studio (rock ‘n’ roll baby)

April 30, 2012

From the DEPARTMENT OF ROCK AND ROLL…

A rock and roll band invaded our house this weekend…

Loved this gorgeous photo by Tracie P

It’s always so amazing to work with Céline in the studio… incredible voice, incredible chops…

Rock ‘n’ roll is a very serious business or so says Jean-Luc

And the best part of having the band record its new album at our house? There’s always someone around to entertain little Georgia P. I wish yall could hear her laugh… it’s the SWEETEST thing…


Vagina Panic (post tenebras lux)

April 12, 2012

From the department of “from darkness comes light”…

Above: Girls is a new show on HBO.

As the title reveals, “Les Damnés” was a track that I wrote for my band Nous Non Plus during a dark time in my life when I was living in New York and working in the restaurant industry by day and the music industry by night. It was an extremely productive time for me but a very unhappy one…

When I brought it to my dear friend and writing partner Verena (aka Céline Dijon), she brought her own darkness to the song, writing about traitorous lovers “damned” to an unhappy existence.

Her performance on the recording, superbly produced by Dan (aka Jean-Luc Retard) who forms the troika of our writing équipe, is as stirring to me now as it was that day, many moons ago, in an Eagle Rock recording studio.

For its pathos, it’s one of the songs that I’m the most proud of and it also features an amazing drum solo by our friend Joachim Cooder (who played on the entire album, Ménagerie, Aeronaut, 2009).

To listen to it now still brings chills to my marrow but it also reminds me that from darkness can come light… post tenebras lux

“Les Damnés” will be featured on the new HBO show Girls on Sunday, April 22, episode 2, “Vagina Panic.”

*****

“Les Damnés” from the Nous Non Plus 2009 release Ménagerie (Aeronaut) will be featured on the new HBO series Girls on April 22 (“Vagina Panic,” episode 2).

“HBO’s ‘Girls’ Is the Best New TV Show of 2012.”
—Daily Beast


1971 Monsecco (Gattinara) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby G

February 6, 2012

A couple of my favorite rock stars were over on Friday night, to meet Georgia P and to share a special bottle of a wine.

The 1971 Gattinara Monsecco by Conte Ravizza was vinified the same year that David Garza was born: David (above, center) is one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever had the fortune to work with and he played on our last album “Freudian Slip.” And he’s also just a super cool dude to hang with.

Céline Dijon (right, holding Georgia) currently calls New York (not Paris anymore) her home and she was in town because we’re working on material for our new album. (BTW, our band Nous Non Plus playing in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles this week, Thurs.-Sat.; click here for the show details.)

I had saved the 1971 Monsecco for David. It had been given to me by Brooklyn Guy’s good friend Dan when we visited in Brooklyn in January 2011 (when we tasted a bottle of it together; here are my complete notes together with the research I did on the bottling).

After a Texas summer in my home cellar (the hottest on record), I wasn’t sure how the wine was going to stand up but we were all impressed with how bright the wine was, with healthy acidity and gorgeous fruit — thoroughly delicious paired with Tracie P’s risotto al radicchio veronese served all’onda. It just goes to show that even in tough vintages, great producers can make great wine (I reported Wasserman’s notes on the harvest here).

David was so sweet: he taught me how to play a new lullaby he wrote and he sang it for Georgia… too cute for words…

If you’re in California this week, come see me and Céline at one of the shows!

Here’s another shot from Georgia P’s recent photo shoot (by the amazing Nichols family):


Sam’s bbq, Champagne, and band practice (video taste)

March 27, 2011

Texas is home to some of the greatest (some would say the greatest) barbecue in the country (world). Unfortunately, as with any great world cuisine, commercialization to often rears its scurfy head and colonizes what was once honest and pure.

That’s one of the reasons that you need to move outside the major urban centers to find the truly great expressions of barbecue in the Lone Star State.

On a tight schedule with writing, rehearsing, and recording, I didn’t have time to take the band to Llano or Lockhart, Texas, and so I took the “lads and lass” to the only bbq joint where I spend my money in the town of Austin, Sam’s. That’s simpatico owner Willie Mays and his son in the photo with Morris, Céline, and Jean-Luc (from left).

What to pair with smoked brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and Sam’s specialty, smoked mutton?

Champagne, the breakfast of champions and the ideal food-friendly wine. In this case, some NV 100% Chardonnay by Henriot.

It’s so exciting to be writing and recording again with my band and it’s such a joy to hear music played in our home.

Here’s a little taste of a song that won’t appear on the album but is part of a special and dear-to-my-heart project that you’ll hear about later this year. Video by Tracie P, who wins the award for the greatest, most patient, most loving, and most beautiful wife that any man could wish for (and the girl can cook!). Thank you, Picci Wicci, I love you so much and you make me the best man I could ever be…


Cooking for the band: Tracie P’ulled pork with chocolate and chiles

March 23, 2011

Yes, hell has frozen over and the band is getting back together.

Céline Dijon and Jean-Luc Retard and I (Cal d’Hommage) have begun recording our new album in the Groovers Paradise (otherwise known as Austin).

And Tracie P has been cooking up a storm.

Yesterday, she cooked a pork shoulder for seven hours in our Crock-Pot with chiles and chocolate. They were served topped with homemade slaw, avocados, and fresh salsa and wrapped in corn tortillas from a local tortilleria. The 06 Montbourgeau made for a fantastic pairing.

Chip and dip, anyone? Please pass the grooves…


No trip to Austin, Texas is complete without…

March 21, 2011

A visit to Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon to see Dale Watson

Dale is such a sweet guy and when he heard that Céline Dijon was in town from Paris, he kindly posed for photo op with her.

The joint was packed but some how, some way, we still managed to find a seat at the bar (we always do).

Here’s a little taste of the groovy stuff…

They’re with the band! ;-)


Scenes from our SXSW

March 19, 2011

It’s not easy to understand what SXSW is until you’ve actually experienced it. That’s the scene last night on Sixth Street, which is literally lined (all year round) with music clubs. During the festival hundreds and hundreds of bands come here and there is music non-stop from the morning until the dawn — and then it starts all over again.

Our high light last night was Chateau Marmount, an awesome electronica band out of Paris.

They’ve been killing it on their first American tour.

German band Torpedo Boyz rocked the Kraftwerk.

Tracie P took this pic of me with our A&R man Humphrey Bogart and Céline. I’ve known Humphrey since I was a freshman at UCLA in 1985 and he’s been with our band Nous Non Plus since the early years (1998).


Les Macarons Ladurée

March 19, 2011

Céline Dijon came in yesterday to Austin from Paris for SXSW. And she brought with her the famous Macarons Ladurée as a housegift.

They had been purchased 36 hours before she arrived and were in excellent condition. Can you see why I like playing in a French band?


Must love wine (music and video games) in San Jose

May 9, 2009

Above: They crowd last night was like putty in our jazz hands.

It’s still not clear to me why our manager booked us at an all-ages show at a video arcade in San Jose but he did. The other one of life’s little ironies last night was the fact that technically we were in “wine country” California (a stone’s throw from Santa Clara and Santa Cruz) and despite the abundance of wine bars revealed in a google maps search, there was very little wine I could find to drink. The venues closest to the video arcade where we played (who knew video arcades still existed?) were Barra di Vino (a would-be Italianate temple of Cabernet Sauvignon) and UnWined, a cleverly if perhaps inaptly named but clean and smart operation nonetheless.

Above: The domestic charcuterie plate at UnWined wasn’t bad and the very reasonably priced Vocoret 2006 Forêt really hit the spot.

Somehow we ended up at UnWined (don’t trust Google maps to get you there, btw) where I found an impressive list of big, bold barriqued California wines and two bottlings I could actually drink: the Vocoret 2006 Forêt Premier Cru and the Venica 2006 Collio. We opted for the former because it was already chilled since they are also currently serving it by the glass. (Check out Eric’s article on Chablis. I wish Raul at UnWined would take Eric’s advice: “Because good Chablis is subtle, it is crucial not to serve it too cold, which will mask the flavors. Barely cool is just about right.”)

Feeling compelled to drink something local, I also asked for the “least barriqued” Pinot Noir by the glass on the list and was served a Candela 2006. The staff at UnWined was very friendly and knowledgeable about the list (they told me they decant nearly every red wine served by the bottle, the “Cabs” and “Zins” needing extra time to open up, said our server).

Above: Céline Dijon (aka Verena Wiesendanger) did the dance of the Momie last night. For a change, I played Jean-Luc Retard’s (aka Dan Crane’s aka Björn Türoque’s) killer 70s-era SG instead of my John Carruthers custom Sunburst Tele with mint-green pickguard.

It was just one of those nights: the gig was strange but fun and we ended up back at the hotel drinking beers and laughing too loudly. I’m lucky to be in a band with folks whose company I really enjoy sharing. Ryan (aka Morris “Mars” Chevrolet) reminded me that — on stage and off — the music is ALWAYS fun.

You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd
We ain’t too pretty we ain’t too proud
We might be laughing a bit too loud
But that never hurt no one

Tonight at Spaceland in LA is sure to be a fun one, too. I can’t wait to see all my old friends and be reunited with that gorgeous lady of mine.


NPA and NN+ in SF CA

May 8, 2009

Above: A view from the stage. My bandmate Céline Dijon (Verena Wiesendanger, right) was in a super good mood last night at our show at Rickshaw Stop (hint: a fan was buying her Jameson). The show was a blast and we did three encores. Thanks again to Waldo of Rickshaw for letting us rehearse at the club: enjoy the Clos Roche Blanche Cot we gave you!

It was something of a blogger summit and a meeting of virtual friends last night between Terroir Natural Wine Bar and Merchant and Rickshaw Stop in SF.

Among them were my virtual and now real friends Cory Cartwright (author of Saignée) and his delightful wife Emily. We shared a bottle of the enigmatic 2002 Ribolla Gialla by Gravner. One blogger, who prefers to remain anonymous, noted (and I concur) that the Gravner is an “abstract” wine, a wine (in a certain sense) that you cannot drink. There’s no question that Gravner’s wines are fascinating, thought-provoking, and intriguing: as the wine aerated it revealed a remarkable array of fruit aromas — think dried and moldy apricot (but in the mouth, it still felt to me like the wood dominated). Owners Dagan Ministero and Luc Ertoran were on hand as well, and a lively discussion of “orange wine” ensued and they generously tasted us on a number of bottlings (including Ca’ de Noci and Damijan). Virtual friends Slaton Lipscomb and Simona (author of Briciole) were there, too, and Clark Terry of Kermit Lynch blog fame also joined up at the show.

The most interesting and unique wine of the evening was the Natural Process Alliance skin-fermented Chardonnay (above), sold only in reusable stainless-steel containers. (Spume has written about this wine as has Alice.) This wine is as stinky and cloudy as it gets and it is 100% delicious (maybe not for everyone but just right for yours truly). Slaton noted that it tastes slightly different every time because its malolactic fermentation has not completed when it ships. You can only get locally and I highly recommend it.

The crowd was fantastic last night and we did three encores, closing with a rocking version of “Ca Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand. Tonight we play at an all-ages club in San Jose and I’m just passing time until tomorrow when I get to be reunited with my Tracie B, who’s flying in to visit with her girlfriends and see our show at Spaceland.

Highway run
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go ’round and ’round
You’re on my mind
Restless hearts
Sleep alone tonight
Sendin’ all my love
Along the wire


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