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21 janvier 2011 5 21 /01 /janvier /2011 22:48


Leaving Miami



The Norwegian Dawn


Departing from Miami, Florida, the Norwegian Dawn set sails to the Carribean for what would become an unforgettable week of music and sun. I went on this cruise mainly to see Brandi Carlile and Tift Merritt. In addition to them, I would discover many other great artists like Katie Herzig, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Emerson Hart... I knew that this week would be very intense but not as much as it turned out to be. With the cayamo cruise, I had the chance to hear musicians that I would never have heard about because they just don’t get the airplay that they deserve. During the first two days I was trying to figure out the boat and everything inside and not get too seasick too. After some time you get used to it.


Emerson Hart at the Spinnaker lounge



Aslyn duetting with Zac Brown


On the first day, I enjoyed seeing Beth Wood, Emerson Hart (from Tonic), Aslyn, Kathleen Edwards. They all gave convincing performances and they were definitely on my list of artists that I wanted to see again during the cruise. I’d like to give a special mention to Katie Herzig, an American singer born in Fort Collins, CO and now living in Nashville. Her sweet voice and shy demeanor totally won me over and it’s no surprise that I would get to see Katie 3 times overall. I’d say that the first days were a bit shaky, in a literal way (with the ship steadily advancing to the Dominican Republic) and also because there was some chemistry issues with roommates and everything else. In fact, I think I was one of the few people who were « on duty » while everyone else was enjoying their vacation but I stuck with what I wanted to do and never looked back. I think i started turning things around when I could talk for an hour with Brandi Carlile’s guitarist Tim Hanseroth at the buffet where it was quite easy to find the artists late at night. We talked about everything from music to food to travelling and I felt that the cruise really took off from there but there was still something missing…



with the lovely Katie Herzig


On Sunday, March 1st, I attended the strangest show of my life. we were sitting on the edge of the pool with waves of water splashing into our cameras and the wind blowing in very hard. These were the weather conditions of the show of the Indigo Girls with brandi Carlile. that was a pretty good show, although many people got sunburned (the show started at 1pm).



The Indigo Girls and Brandi Carlile at the pool deck



Brandi Carlile



The beautiful waterfall in Samana, Dominican Republic


On Monday March 2nd, the ship stopped at Samana in the Dominican Republic where we took a little trek to a beautiful waterfall. I really appreciated the Dominicans with their simplicity, I liked that things were kept natural compared to what I saw on the Virgin Islands or the Bahamas. Back to the ship, I was ready for the day I was looking forward to the most before the cruise.










I admit that I was a bit nervous before Tift Merritt took the stage at the Spinnaker Lounge because I brought some friends to her show and hoped that Tift would make a good impression. There was no need to worry at all ! During a one-hour show, Tift illuminated the boat with a performance for the ages.  I haven’t got enough words to express how I felt with our dear Tift pouring her beautiful songs on our helpless but happy minds. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt goosebumps like that. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one having tears in the eyes.  Tift was very excited to play for us, she was beautifully dressed too and with the impeccable lightings, she seemed to shine even more. She sang  Hopes too high, Broken, Stray paper, I know what I’m looking for now, good hearted man, keep me happy, bar with a tv on, another country, tender branch, supposed to make you happy (no mic), virginia, still pretending, something to me. I don’t have much to say about the songs because well, she just sang them so perfectly, with such grace that it doesn’t require any comment, just listen to the audio that will be uploaded later and you’ll understand why whe got blown away by this amazing little woman. There was one particular funny moment during Stray paper, the engines started off making a strange noise that forced Tift to stop singing. She said she stopped because the noise creeped her out. Apparently, there was Titanic on the tv the day before the cruise and many artists actually watched it, prompting many jokes during the shows. Finally, after Something to me, Tift received a well deserved standing ovation. This show will stay as one of the most emotionally loaded concerts I‘ve ever attended. I forgot to tell that people were lining up before the doors one hour the show began and I felt something special but little did I know that it would go so far, so high. After the show, my friends and I went to meet her. I went first and we just kept hugging each other because we were so happy to meet again and secondly I was still shocked by the show she just put on. I was very happy to tell her that she made new fans (my friends who came with me). We finally said goodbye and headed towards the Stardust theatre where the Headliners performed on this cruise (like Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, the Indigo girls). Guess who took the stage : Brandi Carlile. As usual, she put on some kind of a show and her many fans would loudly cheer for her. She made everyone laugh when she said she wasn't wearing any shoes as she wanted to be as close to the floor as possible to keep stable. It was one of my first time seeing the band without a drummer and the songs sounded a bit differently but just as amazing.





To end this already magnificent day, I chose to go to a show without taking pictures or filming, i just wanted to rest a bit so we went to see Ed Robertson from the barenaked ladies. Well, I thought I would just relax and enjoy the show but this guy just played so good that he made me work, so I took my camera again and enjoyed his freaking good songs. Turned out he is Canadian and he can speak some French words so that was nice. Then we wanted to see Zac Brown Band but we only lasted 4 songs and we were too tired…..well Zac played 4 (!) hours until 5am ! Oh my !
It was still hard to find any sleep as I was still blushed by what Tift gave us that night.



Katie Herzig (center) and her band





Tift Merritt


After a short night, we arrived in the American Virgin Islands. Well, this is the US on islands ! Same cars, shopping malls… well, I was back into action to see this amazing band Girlyman and my now dear Katie Herzig. I’m pretty sure I got a crush for her right now. So before the cruise, I saw that Brandi and Tift would play a show at the same time slot, which was quite a dilemma for me. My mind had settled right before the cruise on seeing Brandi over Tift but somehow, with the way things went on the boat, I was leaning towards seeing Tift but it wasn’t until the very last minute that I’d say to my roommate that I chose to see Tift. I made up my mind and it would pay off in such a big way that it still hard for me to realize. So, Tift was playing this little venue (the dazzles) on the ship and it was obviously much too small. People were very excited and there was just no room left. Tift recognized me and waved at me. The show was very intimate, very dark too because there wasn’t enough lights. It was also weird because there was more people sitting on her right side than in front of her. At some point, I left my place, which was pretty good, but I just hadn’t got any lights for my photographs so I ended up right at her feet ("yes, yes, don’t be shy, come and sit here"  or something like that). She notably sang Mille Tendresses in front of the confused audience to finish the show haha. As a Frenchman, I felt very proud to say the truth. She also sang Good-hearted man and My heart is free, full of rawness. And oh my, an acoustic version of Crossover. The show was really great, not as much as the first one because well, you simply can’t top that one but after the show, I thanked her for playing Laid a highway and she said she was sure that I would love this one. The most significant point is that Tift was wondering if I was going to go to Brandi’s show or hers. Really ? Anyway, she was very flaterred and I knew I made the right decision. I candidly asked Tift : « Where’s is my drink ? (the drink she promised me in London in July ‘08)……well, she said with a big smile « okay, let’s go to a bar ! » oh my, I couldn’t believe that I would actually get that drink. We went at Gatsby’s, the bar down below and we started talking and talking. It was so surreal to talk to her and Zeke, just like we were old friends. My roommate lost her way after the Brandi show and ended up at the same bar we were at ! And we all kept talking together until 1:30am. I have to say, Tift is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. We could talk about everything we wanted to, about of course music, influences, but also food, Paris, medics, best concert memories, Brandi… I don’t really know what I did to deserve this but I just want to say I’m so grateful to know and admire such a remarkable person and artist. One funny moment was that Tift wanted to pay me the drink and we all took a glass of red wine but then as tricky as I am, I swapped the accreditation cards (that we used to pay everything on board) and I was the person paying for everyone else and Tift asked the bartender if she could pay but to no avail and she got mad at me and miming to hit me hahahahahha, good times. Aww, I love Tift, she’s so talented, so honest and kind. We finally decided that it was time for bed and I said I wasn’t done yet and told her to be ready for her last show. Before leaving, I was wondering how I was going to survive 2 days without a Tift Merritt show, which made everyone laugh. If I had to choose one moment during the cruise, it would be that one because she gave us her big heart and spent an hour with us.


The next day, we arrived in tortola in the british virgin islands. I got to touch for the first time a dolphin, which was an absolutely unique experience. Back on the boat, it was time to see Brandi at the main theatre, she was of course amazing. At the end of the show, Vienna Teng and her guitarist came on stage to sing a very nice version of Let It Be. 





For the last show of the day, I went to see.... Vienna teng. She is very very talented and many people came to see her. At the end, Brandi and her band joined Vienna to sing a Simon & Garfunkel song and Brandi called out Tift to come sing along too. I was really surprised and Tift sang her heart out in her typical fashion. This was kind of surreal but this is something you secretly hoped for with everyone on the same boat. Yet again, Vienna and Brandi sang Let It Be again to conclude this amazing show.




The next day was a day at sea and we were a bit tired so I didn’t get out of the cabin until 1pm. I was really looking to see for the first time ever Patty Griffin and she didn’t dissapoint. Her song « love is a dud » particurarly was hilarious. Great songs, legendary artist. Before Patty, I saw Kathleen Edwards from Canada and Beth Wood. They’re both very very good. I talked a bit in French with Kathleen and she wrote some suggestions for my visit of Toronto.





On the final day of the cruise, because of bad weather conditions, we were redirected to Nassau, to the Bahamas ! Not bad … we saw paradise island that we can see in many movies so that was nice to see it with my own eyes. The long awaited show of Tift was finally here. We made sure to arrive one hour and a half before the time of the show to get our front row seats. At the same time, we were informed that there was a gathering of Brandi and her fans but i gave my word to Tift that I would be there. So we greeted Tift and she gave us a big hug. She rehearsed I live for you, which gave me the chills. Then Kathleen and Tift rehearsed Supposed to make you happy, then Darrell Scott came to sing also and then……Brandi Carlile. I was so shocked to see them on the same stage. My two favorite artists in front of me ! They rehearsed Still pretending. All of this was announcing quite a show ! Right before the show, I went to see katie Herzig who was about to start her own show.  I gave her some pictures I took from her previous concerts on the boat and she was very happy. But I was also sad to tell her that I couldn’t attend her last show because I wanted to see Tift but Katie is definitively someone I would like to see again in the future. Well, 6:30pm, time for the show ! Tift delivered once again. The duets were beautiful. It was interesting to see during the rehearsals the adjustements they made and translating into pieces of beauty for the actual show. She ended up her last show as a single woman with a no-mic version of Something to me, right in front of us. My friend and I met Tift after the show. She asked me right away if she liked the duet with Brandi. Of course I loved it, I was wondering if she did that for me but she just got on very well with Brandi so now I’m quite waiting for a double headliner tour of Brandi and Tift ! Let’s dream for a second….. I made a request for the London show in May, I told her that I wanted to hear Plainiest thing and she said she wanted to sing it that night but there was just too many people on stage during soundcheck that it was forgotten at the end. And finally, I gav her a bottle of Maker’s Mark, we then hugged and said goodbye.

After that, we saw Beth Wood, Darrell Scott and Aslyn. They all performed masterfully, particularly Darrell who is a guitar magician. It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen anyone play like that.








The cruise was at its end and it was such a blast to be part of that. It was every bit of what I expected it to be but honestly Tift stole the show and she made this cayamo cruise so special for me. Add to that that Tift and Brandi are good friends makes me really happy. It was also nice to hear and meet new artists like katie Herzig, Girlyman, David ryan Harris, Aslyn, Kathleen edwards, Ed Robertson, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin. If you have the opportunity to go on a cruise like this one, do it and you'll be forever changed.

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21 janvier 2011 5 21 /01 /janvier /2011 10:25

3420174379 4e7bbae016 bJ'avais assisté à de nombreux concerts de Brandi Carlile auparavant. Puis par le biais de son forum de fans (againtoday.com), j'ai tissé aussi des liens d'amitié avec d'autres personnes passionnées par la musique de Brandi. Cette communauté a la particularité d'être très liée et solidaire et de disposer d'un excellent esprit, contrairement à ce qui peut se passer sur d'autres forums. Ces multiples échanges allaient culminer durant l'été 2008 quand Brandi se produisit deux soirs d'affilée au Minnesota State Fair juste en bordure des Twin Cities (qui désignent Minneapolis et Saint Paul).

Ayant déjà voyagé quelques fois aux Etats-Unis, je connaissais déjà bien ce pays et j'avais vu Brandi Carlile au cours de deux voyages précédents, l'un à New York City en avril 2007 puis quelques mois plus tard en Californie. Je n'étais cependant jamais encore allé dans le Middle West et plus précisément Up North comme on dit quand on évoque le Minnesota. Deux amies lointaines en distance mais très proches musicalement étaient très excitées par la perspective de voir Brandi débarquer en ville. De mon côté, à moins d'un petit coup de pouce du destin, je devais me résoudre à attendre que Brandi et son groupe reviennent en Europe. Ce coup de pouce, il est venu par le biais d'une semaine de vacances car quelqu'un d'autre s'est désisté. De là est partie une idée absolument folle, celle d'aller au Minnesota sans prévenir personne pour créer une surprise qui serait sans précédent.

Il fallait dès lors s'atteler à préparer le voyage, à commencer par les trajets en avion. A ma grande surprise, cet été là, il y avait des vols directs Paris-Minneapolis que la plupart des voyageurs utilisaient pour ensuite aller vers les grandes destinations touristiques comme Los Angeles, Las Vegas...sauf moi ! Cela réglé, il a été facile de choisir l'hôtel et de voir comment accéder au site assez gigantesque du Minnesota State Fair par ailleurs très bien desservi sur le papier.

Ensuite débutait une opération d'intoxication consistant à faire croire à mes amies que ma venue était décidément impossible et que ma déception était très grande de ne pouvoir participer à cette fête. Tout était en place. Il fallait désormais exécuter le plan.

Avec le recul, tout parait facile mais sur le coup il est clair que je prenais des risques : comment retrouver deux personnes au milieu d'au moins un bon millier d'autres selon mes prévisions ? mais l'excitation et une détermination inhabituelle me donnaient résolument confiance dans la suite des évènements.

Lundi 25 août 2008, Jour J. Le vol vers Minneapolis s'est paisiblement passé, il a même été plus court que prévu ce qui me permettait de gagner un peu de temps. En passant par la douane, l'inspecteur me demandait où j'allais et il était assez surpris d'entendre que je descendais à Minneapolis pour voir Brandi Carlile alors que tous les autres touristes attendaient leur vol de correspondance. J'ai ensuite rejoint l'hôtel en prenant le Light Train, le tramway local. Après avoir rapidement jeté mes valises dans la chambre, je me mettais en route vers le State Fair Grounds, La tension montait quelque peu en moi et je sentais que le but était proche. Le MN State fair est très bien desservi avec de multiples lignes de bus fonctionnant toute la journée. Je trouvais facilement le site du concert et je cherchais du regard mes amis que je soupçonnais d'être déjà là. J'étais d'abord estomaqué de voir le nombre de personnes venues voir Brandi Carlile, c'est-à-dire beaucoup plus que prévu (j'appris par la suite qu'il y avait 7000 personnes dans l'assistance, ce qui constituait un record pour le festival).

Après quelques secondes de repérage, je distinguais tout devant à quelques mètres de la scène Ellie et Jessica, mes deux amies du Minnesota. Elles discutaient avec d'autres membres du forum. Sans plus tarder, je marchais d'un pas rapide vers le groupe, je passais derrière elles et, prenant une dernière inspiration, je m'approchais d'Ellie et lui tapota l'épaule : "Hello !". tout le groupe se tourna vers moi et après une demi-seconde d'hésitation, Ellie et Jessica poussaient des cris de joie, totalement ahuries de me voir pour de vrai. Il y eut de longues embrassades et le moins que l'on puisse dire, c'est que le plan avait marché comme dans un rêve.

Remis de notre surprise, nous avons pu tranquillement discuter pour de vrai en personne. La mère d'Ellie qui était présente m'a confié qu'elle avait failli faire une crise cardiaque lorsque je me suis présenté ! C'était vraiment un moment très heureux par une très bel après-midi d'été dans le Minnesota. La journée était cependant loin d'être terminée car celle par qui tout finalement était arrivé allait entrer sur scène.


3420972268 abb65c407b b


Après un soundcheck très sympa à écouter effectué par les jumeaux Hanseroth qui accompagnent Brandi sur scène, Toutes les lumières se sont éteintes et l'excitation des gens était palpable, c'était en quelque sorte l'évènement de l'été dans le Minnesota. Brandi Carlile est entrée sous les acclamations d'un public déjà bien chauffé. Brandi a joué tous ses classiques, Have you ever, My song... Elle a fait rire le public comme elle sait si bien le faire avec de nombreuses anecdotes, son plaisir de jouer était évident et d'ailleurs le Minnesota est l'un des états où elle a le plus joué. Le concert a atteint son paroxysme avec la chanson étendard du groupe, The Story avec notamment son cri déchirant juste avant le refrain final. Après un atomique Pride and Joy, Brandi a conclu sa prestation avec le traditionnel Hallelujah, émouvant et extraordinaire de beauté. Chaque concert de Brandi est une occasion de voir une artiste qui se donne à fond chaque soir, une voix qui ne laisse jamais indifférent tant elle resplendit de clarté et de puissance. C'est pour cela que tant de gens voyagent pour l'entendre.

Après le concert, Brandi est venue rencontrer ses fans comme elle le fait depuis ses débuts et voir l'émerveillement dans le yeux d'Ellie et Jessica était particulièrement touchant. Parfois, on se demande si ce que l'on fait sur cette terre a un sens, ce soir-là, je savais que tout ce qui c'était passé auparavant, de la naissance de ce plan inouï à ce jour extraordinaire, en valait la peine. Comme je le dis souvent, la musique dépasse largement le cadre des frontières et lie les gens d'une manière tout à fait unique et ce concert de Brandi Carlile dans le Minnesota en est la plus éclatante démonstration. Le deuxième concert fut aussi de grandes qualités avec une Brandi Carlile qui n'hésitait pas à jouer plus longtemps que d'habitude mais rien ne pouvait égaler les phénoménales évènements de la veille. Inoubliable.





                                                          (photo de Turpentine)

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20 janvier 2011 4 20 /01 /janvier /2011 00:17

(à l'époque, je postais régulièrement et uniquement sur des forums anglais ou américains donc les compte-rendus sont le plus souvent en anglais, les choses s'équilibrant par la suite pour virer complètement en français ces derniers mois)



Here's a few words about my first ever meeting with Brandi Carlile. An unforgettable moment.




IMG 0835

New York City, April 26th 2007

That night, a magical night, the first ever Brandi show I attended. I remembered saying to one of my coworkers in February '07, "that's it, I'm going to do it, I'm going to go to nyc and see Brandi". I've read before that numerous reviews that she was always staying late after the shows to meet people so I went there with pretty high expectations. Basically I wanted to see and meet the person who could make me fly across the ocean just by the strength of her amazing songs.

The show was a blast, total heaven. Very nice venue (the Bowery ballroom). Show over. And then, that was the time for me to hit or miss. I had never faced someone famous before, and even less my hero. Well, even though I kind of thought before hand what to say to Brandi, I didn't really know how I would fare, I was only assuming that she was really nice to people from the reports I could read here and there. So, here came the moment to meet her, the moment that would define the next 40 years or so...

"Form a line over here !" so we all queued up, there was I think like 30 people before me, long enough to make the excitement and anxiety reach the near-not-acceptable level but finally that was my turn, the so-much-anticipated moment.

It started a bit awkwardly, there was some kind of hesitation, I remembered that we stared at each other for what seemed to be 2 very long seconds and fortunately Brandi broke the silence and said "hi !" with a big smile. I answered with a line that would soon become my typical entry phrase : "hi, my name is Haruo and I come from France" which usually does its effect on Americans. She looked really pleased that I made all this distance to see her. "If it wasn't for you, I would be here in New York". I told her how much I loved her music, I made her sign CDs from some friends back in France and also one for me. It was funny because when I spelled my name, she said : "H..A..R...U...O... oh it sounds like HERO." My hero called me Hero, can you believe it ? It's strange to think that Hero would become my nickname later. I was already so happy but I had to keep this going so I continued with "I love you so much that I recorded a CD for you". She looked very surprised and touched. She asked " do you want me to sign it for you ?" and again I answered like so many times after that to a question she would ask me a lot of times at future shows : "no, that's a gift." She held the CD tightly against her chest and she said "aww, thank you so much" and then something I never expected to happen happened, Brandi began hugging me for what seemed an eternity. For whatever reason, for whatever feeling that went through me, I couldn't help but whisper to her ear "I love you", she was the only one that could hear it, I was totally overwhelmed by her kindness. She was very very nice from the beginning and she won a fan for life at that very moment, a moment of eternity and happiness. It was really hard to believe what just happened but I wasn't done yet, I needed to have my picture with brandi so I asked her right away. I remembered to get rid of my sweatshirt to uncover my cowboy shirt, which prompted Brandi to exclaim : "sexy !!" We took 2 pictures just in case. I remember that on the second picture she came really close to me. That was awesome, I felt so much connection to her. Finally, I thanked her and said goodbye to a wonderful artist and person. I walked upstairs to go out of the venue. I was still shocked when I sat on a bench at the subway station (Delancey street)... and I was happy, happier than I had ever been before.

Once back at the hotel, I turned on the tv and oddly enough, while I couldn't get a good reception all week of NBC, it appears clearly that very night and I could watch Brandi's performance of the The Story on Conan O' Brien's tonight show. I don't know how you can explain that but there is no coincidence, I'm pretty sure of that.


I still remember that meeeting and that night as it was yesterday, I'm very bad at remembering some distant events but somehow this one seemed to stay printed in my head and after almost 2 years, memories are still vivid. At the time, even though I never travelled on my own, I was already making plans of places to visit, things to say to the artists, what kind of material i needed to bring at the shows like pens, Cds, cameras etc. The foundations were already there and I knew the way I wanted to conduct my trip. What I couldn't see foresee is that Brandi would give me so much confidence to do that over and over again. Until now, I've been to 18 (!!!) Brandi shows and i've seen many many other people's shows too but everything started with Brandi and it all snowballed from that raining yet amazing day in New York. I really hope that everyone could live that night I lived and enjoy Brandi's unique personality.

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  • : La musique de nos vies
  • La musique de nos vies
  • : Je m'appelle Haruo Kakinoki. Je suis un passionné de musique folk et rock, de voyages et de photographie, tellement que j'ai l'habitude de faire les trois en même temps. "La musique de nos vies", c'est tout cela, raconter les expériences musicales vécues à Paris, à Londres ou n'importe où la musique me conduira. http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-musique-de-nos-vies/162553580463879
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