A Ride South To La Rochelle

I love to encourage bikers (motorized or otherwise) to take the time to explore France; it’s so varied and much of it is incredibly beautiful. The food is (of course) wonderful, and the country is generally extremely friendly for two-wheeled types. Here’s a round trip idea from Calais to La Rochelle, passing through some amazing spots. The quickest route is just under 700km, but venturing off the main roads will both save money in tolls and allow you to see some stupendous sights.

Why La Rochelle?

The ancient port of La Rochelle is a great destination, with brilliant nightlife including a variety of seafood restaurants, buzzing bars and a decent casino. If you’re new to the pleasures of the roulette and blackjack tables, it’s not a bad idea to practice first; French folks tend to be pretty good at it! Playing for free online is a good way to get your head round the rules. Choose a trusted site – http://www.jackpotcity.org for example – and you’re good to go.

Rouen

If you’re arriving in Calais late, it’s not a bad idea to book a hotel before you arrive, especially in high season. For those unused to driving on the right, learning the ropes in the dark is not such a great idea! Otherwise, our first port of call (OK, so it’s not actually a port) is going to be Rouen, 215km to the south via the A28. Most people’s highlight is the cathedral, at which it’s possible to stare in awe for hours, despite the fact that quite a lot of it has been restored since the last war.

Rouen is a great spot for a leisurely lunch; take a wander around the old town and see the half-timbered buildings that survive on most streets, then try the fixed-price lunch menu at Pascaline on the rue de la Poterne. Delicious, typically French bistro grub at reasonable prices.

Le Mans

Next we head towards Le Mans, where race fans can visit the Bugatti Circuit which has played host to the French Moto GP, as well as actually riding on the public-road parts of the Circuit De La Sarthe (the more famous track). That’s not all there is to see in Le Mans though; there’s plenty of history in the town, including Roman baths and a beautiful old town known as the Cité Plantagenêt. Le Mans is 210-odd kilometres from Rouen; the E402 passes through the Forêt d’Écouves, an important site for cycling events including the Trans Écouves, held in September.

La Rochelle

The final stretch to La Rochelle is around 275km, so you may want to stay in or near Le Mans overnight; there are plenty of stopping points along the A11 southwards though, including Angers with its amazing, striped city walls, and the 850-year-old Tour St Aubin.

If you’ve had a typical Northern France shower (or downpour) to contend with earlier in the trip, the glowing sunlight of La Rochelle will raise your spirits. Accommodation-wise, it’s possible to camp in the summer, or there’s a selection of decent 2-star hotels from under €50, depending on when you go. Wander around the historic arcades and pick somewhere for dinner; Bistrot Remi Masse is just one of many great seafood spots, on rue St Jean du Perot. After a few liveners you may well start to feel like a trip to Casino Barriere – it’s at 15 allée du Mail. Good luck!

Somewhere……

Somewhere, from a long time ago….a half remembered tune.

The other day, I’m just walking along, hardly a single thought passing, and a half remembered tune comes into my head, and stays there. Half remembered from a long time ago. Somewhere in the 70s! I’m not even sure I remember it correctly. When I got home, I worked out the melody and the chords, and put this recording together. The picture carefully chosen for this tune. I hope you like it.

Recorder with a Japanese Fender Stratocaster, through a Fender clean amp channel, with compression, delay, and reverb.

Bennetti’s Jazz Blues Club Special…REVIEW

Our Jazz n Blues special took place on Sunday 9th November at La Ferme St Michel in Confolens.

All on stage at the end - Bennetti's Jazz n Blues!

Are you wondering how it went? Was the three months of work worth it? Did it all come together on the night?
Well yes it did! It was fantastic! Better than I could have hoped. In fact it was just perfect! The place was packed, and a great afternoon was had by all. So many people thanked us, and yet we have so many people to thank. Right from the ‘load in’ and set up at 12 noon through to climbing into bed at gone 1am the next day….perfect!

We even got a review in the local press….thanks Annie Grandjean at Charentelibre.

Confolens : le public au rendez-vous du Bennetti’s Jazz & Blues club.
Lynn Garner and Brad Lang

Ce sont près de 160 personnes qui ont fait le déplacement dimanche après-midi à la Ferme Saint-Michel pour assister à l’animation organisée par l’association Bennett Productions en partenariat avec l’Amac. Bennetti’s Jazz & Blues Club a offert au public un concert de deux heures d’une grande qualité. Ce concept réunit des musiciens de tous horizons, le but étant de jouer ensemble, apprendre les uns des autres, échanger autour d’une même passion. Quinze musiciens amateurs et professionnels se sont succédés sur scène pour jouer divers morceaux. De longs applaudissements et de longues discussions avec les artistes ont conclu cette soirée qui fut une grande réussite aux dires du public présent.

Le “Bennetti’s Jazz & Blues” sera jeudi 27 novembre á partir de 20h30 au Golf de Saint-Junien. Entrée gratuite.

Read more on the Charente Libre website here.

We have pro’ photographer Ian Wilson to thank for a superb album of photos. Here’s a selection to give you the idea…..

Blues Shouter Norrie Snakebite Burnett…
Norrie Snakebite Burnett

Andy Roxburgh on Saxes…
Andy Roxburgh on Saxes

Birthrite‘s drummer Ron Draper – who flew out from the UK just for the weekend to take part…
Ron Draper - Drummer with Black Country Steampunk bnad Birthrite

Here’s me, in the background, hanging on every note from fab French bluesman Bobby Dirninger
Bobby Dirninger

You’ll find the full album of pictures here.

Thanks to all the musicians who took part. You were all fabulous, and to see you enjoying what you do best made my day.
Thanks to all the team at La Ferme St Michel for having us. Especially Seb’ of Asscociation AMAC.
Thanks to all the supporters and fans of Jazz n Blues that came along on the day. It’s as much about you as it is us. It’s ‘our’ show!
Thanks to all the team at La Ferme for a great sound and a making us all feel welcome. We had a great sound – thanks Yan!
Thanks to all the wives and partners who ‘mucked in’ and helped. Lin on the merch’ table, Jaci on seating, Dave and Bill on the door.
Oh and needless to say…Thanks to Carla (Madame Blanc) her all her help and support, and for presenting the show in French! I could not have done it without her.

Madame Blanc… :-) <3

Madame Blanc

Bennetti’s Jazz Blues Club Special…

Yeah! The Jazz n Blues club I started continues to go from strength to strength. So…we are organising a Jazz n Blues Special on Sunday the 9th November at La Ferme St Michel in Confolens. We have a some fabulous musicians coming to take part including Norrie ‘Snakebite’ Burnett (Blues Shouter), and Bobbie Dirninger (fresh from the Montreux jazz festival). We also have seasoned pro’s Lynn Garner and Brad Lang, as well as Birthrite’s drummer Ron Draper who’s flying in from the UK just to take part. It is gonna be a special day!

JnB_poster_NOV_web

T-Sirts available for 10 euros! They look like this….

Jazz n Blues T-Shirt

If you are anywhere near Confolens 16500 on the 9th November and you are a Jazz and Blues fan. Don’t miss this! This will be a truly hip hang, dig?

Entrée libre (restauration sur place toute la soirée – pas de reservation necessaire)

Dimanche 9 Nov à 17:00 heures, nous accueillons le fameux Bennetti’s Jazz Blues Club (organisé par Steve Bennett) au La Ferme St Michel, Confolens 16500.

Le jazz club est ouvert à tous, ce concept réunit des musiciens de tous horizons ; le but est de jouer ensemble, apprendre les uns des autres, échanger autour d’une même passion. Les morceaux joués pendant la séance sont improvisés.

Il faut le voir pour le croire ! Chaque performance du jazz club est étonnante, leur public les suit où qu’ils se produisent, c’est une expérience à ne pas manquer ! Si vous voulez vous joindre à eux, tenter votre chance et amener votre instrument ou simplement les regarder en sirotant un apéritif au bar, n’hésitez pas ! Ambiance garantie !

Rock n Flore 2014 Festival, Mornac

Rock n Flore Festival 2014

We had a great time at the Rock n Flore festival!!! The what, the who, the where, I hear you say! The Rock’n’Flore music festival held at the botanical gardens in Mornac near Anguoleme. We were thrilled to be invited to play, and shared the bill with Joane Calice, who has my local guitar hero Thomas Ottogali in her band. Also the fab’ Cognac Saints. We were in good company eh? :-)

The Sugaree Band at the Rock'n flore festival 2014

Our good friend, and ace photographer Ian Wilson was on hand to capture the experience.

The Sugaree Band in action at the Rock n Flore music Festival 2014

You find Ian’s photos from the night here.

It really was a great night, and one we’ll remember for a long time. So many people to thank, Francis the sound engineer who was a pleasure to work with, all the Rock’n’Flore team who made us feel so welcome, and of course head honcho Igor Burtin for giving us the chance to play. Thanks Igor!

Rock'n'Flore'n'Beer

I didn’t know it was on!!!!…..

Music ICI logo

Why “musicici.com”?

There is a thriving flourishing live music scene in France. In the summer especially there is so much to see and do it’s hard to keep track of it all. We got fed up of hearing, “we didn’t know it was on”, and, “where do you find out about these things”. We found that people living in the Haute Vienne had no idea what was happening in the Charente or the Dordogne even though they might be just a few kilometers over the border. We decided to do something about it. This is it – ‘music ici‘!

To start off with we are just going to focus on our little corner of France. Using Confolens in the Charente as our hub, we’ll report on what’s happening within a two-hour drive. We’ll tell you about gigs, concerts, festivals, we’ll report on artists, bands, and venues. We want to share with you some of the vibe that’s happening here.

We want you to get involved. If you went to a great gig, tell us about it. If you are a band, send us your dates, we’ll publish them. If you are a venue, let us share your calendar.

From time to time we’ll invite guest writers, and reporters. We’ll arrange interviews and photoshoots. If your mother comes from Russia or has a black handled knife, we want to know!

Contact Music Ici here

Jazz n Blues Club – April = wow!

Bennetti’s Jazz n Blues Club (so named to honour my famous Italian jazz violinist grandad Stephano Bennetti) goes from strength to strength!!! The April session at Le Soleil Couchant was packed with musos and supporters alike. It was a real club atmosphere and all due reverence was given to the music – Not! When was the last time you were at a Jazz club and people banged on the tables shouting for more?

As usual, we were lucky to have ace pro’ photographer Ian Wilson on hand to capture the ‘ambiance’. Here’s Francis, our main man on the Trumpet. Click the picture to see the full set…..
Francis our main trumpet dude!

There were 15 guest musos who got up to join the house band at some point or other. It really was a night to remember, and I spent the most part of the following day writing to everyone to took part to say THANK YOU!

I’ve already started working on the ‘hit list’ for next month….after the last minute stress of April!!! So, if you are looking for some Jazz and Blues action in the Haute Vienne, then we’re at the Golf de Saint Junien on the 29th May. All musicians welcome, but if you want to be sure that you’ll get to play contact me so I can pencil you in.

Here’s the skinny, in French!

Bennetti’s Jazz Blues Club – Jeudi 29 mai à 20 heures
Entrée libre (dîner possible dans le restaurant)

jazz blues club MayJeudi 29 mai à 20 heures, nous accueillons le fameux Bennetti’s Jazz Blues Club (organisé par Steve Bennett) au club house du golf.

Le jazz club est ouvert à tous, ce concept réunit des musiciens de tous horizons ; le but est de jouer ensemble, apprendre les uns des autres, échanger autour d’une même passion. Les morceaux joués pendant la séance sont improvisés.

Il faut le voir pour le croire ! Chaque performance du jazz club est étonnante, leur public les suit où qu’ils se produisent, c’est une expérience à ne pas manquer ! Si vous voulez vous joindre à eux, tenter votre chance et amener votre instrument ou simplement les regarder en sirotant un apéritif au bar, n’hésitez pas ! Ambiance garantie !

Réservez une table « VIP » et dîner tout en profitant du spectacle. Réservez-vous aujourd’hui :

Tél.: 05.55.02.96.96 / Email : emma@golfdesaintjunien.com

The Sugaree Band – CD WhooOOoooO!!!

At last, after months of hard work, sweat, blood, tears, nudity….I present to you, the very limited edition Sugaree Band CD….

The Sugaree Band CD

Containing 10 of the songs that we love to play the most. Covering a fairly wide range of styles to demonstrate our versatility, each one lovingly crafted for maximum eargasmic effect. Actually it’s a CD we’ve put together to try and get work, but we have a few copies left over. If you’d like one, you can have one! for 5 euros! Just contact us, and tell us.

Keep on Rocking in the Free World!!! :-)