Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A mini French Tour with Kristyna Myles

Had a great time in France recently on a mini tour with Kristyna Myles. We arrived in Paris on Wednesday evening and just had enough time for a spot of sight seeing. We had a quick look at Montmarte, one of the oldest churches in Paris, before getting some food and an early night ahead of a busy day.

The next morning we headed to the Eiffel Tower, where Kristyna was filming some footage for an upcoming project. It was great to explore this area. The streets are very wide and there's a lot of space so despite there being a lot of tourists it doesn't feel that busy.

Last time I went to Paris I only saw the Eiffel tower from a distance so it was great to get a bit closer this time. Next time I might even go up it. 

In the afternoon we headed out of Paris to play on LFM, a french radio station. I can't speak a word of french so I didn't really have a clue what was going on, but I think I just about managed to start playing the guitar at the right time. Kristyna is pretty good at french so she was able to understand a lot more. She's even written a song in french called 'Bonne Chance'.

Then it was back to Paris for soundcheck and gig. We played at a great venue called Miz Miz. The gig was loads of fun but for some reason I wasn't feeling nervous at all, and as a result made a few mistakes due to lack of concentration. It's much better to have a healthy dose of nerves to keep focused. The next morning we did a spot of busking by Montmarte before boarding a train to Lyon.

(Click the 'read more' link below to read on....)

The first thing to say about Lyon is that we had amazing hosts. We were staying with the grandparents of our friend Laura Esther, a great singer-songwriter who supported Kristyna at the gig in Lyon. I had only been in the door 5 minutes when I was offered a nice single malt whisky as an 'appetiser'. Every meal consisted of three, four or even five courses of amazing food and french wine. This is probably the reason I took up the guitar in the first place.
Photo by Raphael Escobar

Laura's grandparents didn't speak a word of English and I can't speak a word of french so communication was hard. Despite this I still managed to have a conversation with Laura's granddad about Manchester United, Alex Ferguson and chewing gum. It's a lot easier to speak foreign languages after a few glasses of wine. 

We had planned to do a spot of busking in Lyon but the rain put an end to that idea. Instead we decided to stay inside and keep eating. After another amazing meal on Saturday lunch time before the gig, I was offered various after dinner drinks to help with 'digestion'. These were basically shots which increased in strength each time... 17%, 35%, 45%...... It was a delicate balancing act between accepting our hosts hospitality and drinking everything that was offered and being sober enough to play the right notes. Luckily I specialised in this field whilst at uni and was able to draw on my previous experience. 
Photo by Raphael Escobar

I loved the gig in Lyon. I was much happier with my personal performance than on the Paris gig. The venue was called No Mans Land and they had a great stage, great equipment and a great sounding room. We played a few sold out shows in Lyon a few years ago and the crowd was extremely attentive, sitting in almost complete silence and absorbing every note. This time was no different. People were even ringing up the venue pre-show to ask whether it was 'the real Kristyna Myles' who was performing. I think Lyon is one of my favourite places to play.

All in all it ws a great trip. Thanks to Charlotte Gomes for organising it, to Laura and her family for such great hospitality, and to the audiences for giving us such great gigs. During the trip I managed to expand my french vocabulary. I can now say 'My name is Ben', 'I have the hiccups' , 'I don't understand' and 'rucksack'. Won't be too long before I'm fluent....

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