Posts Tagged ‘Days off on tour’

Monday 18th July 2016
Today we took a trip out to Montrouge (a pretty little village in the southern suburbs of Paris) and then a relaxing afternoon at the Parc Montsouris. It was the warmest day of the tour so far, and at 35 degrees for most of the day we tried to find some shaded areas.

Montrouge is a growing commuter town with a number of lovely local shops and cafes.
Parc Montsouris is one of four large urban public parks in Paris. The others are Bois de Boulogne and two of our favourite places in the city, the Bois de Vincennes and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Parc Montsouris may be a new spot to add to our ‘favourite places’ list as it was beautiful and calm despite being popular and pretty busy.

That evening we ate at Samsara before taking in more of the local area (bars, parks and views).
Paris really is a beautiful city and even with a large section of the population struggling to survive amongst the rich and beautiful, the growing concerns about racial hatred and the recent attacks on their way of life, the atmosphere is open and friendly, warm and welcoming and I hope to spend more time living in this fantastically inspiring place.
Street Art 75011, Paris 2016

Tuesday 19th July 2016
Our last full day in Paris started with a trip to Au Pain et des Idees (another fantastic patisserie recommended in Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas).
IMG_7130 The choice was incredible; fresh breads and tarts adorned the display cases and baskets inside this old-fashioned looking bakery, but it was the original flavor combinations that excited me the most; Le croissant au thé Matcha & à l’eau de rose looked beautiful and the choices seemed endless. We were greeted with a big smile and made our decisions; Alexis opted for L’escargot chocolat pistache & I decided that the Pain au chocolat et almond was the one for me. We took our treats to a nearby bench overlooking Canal Saint Martin and savoured the moment. Flakey, buttery, rich and decadent – another excellent recommendation.

We couldn’t resist one final stop at Belushi’s Canal as this is where Sacre Noir first found our feet on the non-Scottish gig circuit. The view from the terrace is one of my favourites in Paris and the staff are always so lovely. All along the canal, workers were preparing for this year’s Paris Plage; installing zip-wires and sand-pits, showers and pop-up bars and cafes for the locals to enjoy, but right at that moment it was probably one of the most serene spots in Paris.

Wednesday 20th July 2016
Time to say goodbye to my favourite city, before heading back to the UK.

We met with a family friend for morning coffee and as always it’s great to spend time with friends who we don’t get to see very often.

The Eurostar back to London was running late due to the previous night’s vandalism and over-crowding at passport control (to be fair to the Eurostar staff, if people had completed their boarding / landing cards before getting to security, things might have moved along a little quicker). Regardless, we were only delayed by half an hour and arrived safely in London before the evening rush hour really kicked in.

We made our way to our hotel (Earls Court Garden Hotel; great location but a little noisy as our room seemed to back on to the Underground line), got changed and headed out for coffee and something to eat.

Our first stop was Café du Coin (it only seemed right to try to extend our Parisian experience for as long as possible) – a lovely café at the end of our street which serves salads and simple plates as well as coffee and pastry treats. We settled for coffee before making our way to GBK for some very fine veggie burgers, milkshake, fries, onion rings and elderflower presse. Both the food & service were really very lovely and despite being a chain restaurant the atmosphere was relaxed and not dis-similar to an independent diner (if such a thing still exsists).

We had a good walk around Earls Court & then it was time for bed.
Everything seemed a little strange, waking up in Paris & going to sleep in London, but we definitely felt excited knowing we had a great gig lined up the following night at The Troubadour.

Wednesday 6th July 2016
Yay! We’re going to Paris today!
Shower. Pack. Check out. Coffee. Underground to King’s Cross. Check in. And we’re off.
Thank you Barking – it’s been great!

Arriving in Paris at 5pm the sun was shining and everything seemed to be right with the world again.
J’adore Paris.
We arrived at the apartment and dropped off our bags before heading straight out for the night.
Coffee, walking then food.
We ate at the Lotus Flower (a lovely family run Vietnamese resto) and watched the world go by. The food was great; filling and healthy tofu & veg dishes and the service was, as always in Paris, fantastic.
After a little late night stop at a café we headed back to the apartment and watched a couple of episodes of a French drama called ‘Paris’. It’s good for me to watch French language TV as it helps with the language & accent and also it’s great for location spotting.
‘Paris’ tells a twisted tales of love, life and politics staring Éric Caravaca, Florence Pernel, Sarah-Jane Sauvegrain – I’m loving it.
“24 hours in Paris following the trail of different people whose fates will cross decisively”

Thursday 7th July 2016
After morning coffees Alexis headed over to GDN to pick up his large drum bag and I popped into Belushi’s to catch up on some emails. We didn’t think that there would be anyone left there that we knew however Liam (a guy we met and suggested he ask for a job at the bar a few years ago) is now the bar manager.

Lunch was vegan burgers at Hank’s in the Marie, and it was great.

We wandered up to the 19th arr. & popped into our ‘home from home’ Belushi’s Canal.
This place and the old staff are the reason we first started playing shows in Paris – being invited in 2011 by the manager at the time to play shows in the bar and at their Plage stage. We met so many great people over the years thanks to the Belushi’s team and even though only one member of our Belushi’s family still works at Canal it still fills us with great memories and lots of love for those times.

Tonight is the France vs Germany Euro16 semi-final so we left before chaos ensued and walked back to the apartment via shops before finding a less ‘crazy’ bar to watch the game. Well, that was the plan anyway.
We ate at a lovely Indian resto close to the apartment and finished our meal about 9:45pm; just in time to pick a bar and get settled in for the second half of the game. The atmosphere was electric and we decided that the bar at the end of the street was looking like the one most likely to provide us with a seat. Outside all the tables and chairs were filled with wine drinking, face-painted fans and as their team were winning there seemed to be no chance of them leaving to provide us with a space in the late evening warmth. We headed inside and there were a few chairs left which had a view of the TV. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so impressed with a bunch of drunk football fans (being Scottish means we have the best fans in the world however our team sucks, so we never really get to see fans celebrating such a big win). The locals shouted and cheered at the TV, applauding every decision and kick of the ball. Even when Boateng was taken off injured, the French fans were gracious and applauded the player’s effort. The full time whistle blew and the cheering and singing, clapping & dancing began. It continued into the small hours of the morning.
I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again- I LOVE PARIS!

Friday 8th July 2016
Waking up for our second full day in Paris seemed strange; almost like we’ve been here for ages already. Everything seems so familiar and easy.
Today’s plan involved making some soup for lunch and testing out the facilities in the apartment and by lunch time we were sitting down to a healthy bowl of lentil soup and bread straight from La Flute Gana (one of the amazing boulangeries on the street).

We’d arranged to meet up with Antonia prior to the show at Au Chat Noir next week. Antonia is the poet in residence at Paris Spoken Word & I’m such a big fan of her work. We’ve been emailing back & forth for a few weeks and she has sent me some examples of material she may use for our collaboration & I am beyond excited to have her involved in our tour this year.

We met at 2pm outside the station Saint Germain des Pres and took a small walk before stopping off at a cute side-street café for some drinks.

After leaving Antonia we made our way to Au Chat Noir to deliver some promotional material for the gig, then carried on to Le Gambetta (again to deliver the flyers and posters for the show) before heading to Cinecitta (Italian resto) and then home for the evening. Determined to get to sleep earlier tonight, we watched the final 2 episodes of ‘Paris’ and went to bed.

Saturday 9th July 2016
We headed out to the beautiful and peaceful Bois des Vincennes in the morning armed with a picnic of bread, hummus and potato salad for lunch. The area is popular with locals as a spot for dog walking, horse riding and running, but still it retains a sense of calm. The sun was high in the sky, reaching temperatures of 35 degrees as we strolled through the wooded areas along the stream.
As we were close to Nation we decided to pop in to café Arnold Netter for coffees, reminiscing about our stay in this arrondissement whilst on tour 2 years ago. Each morning we would start the day with a café creme pour moi avec un espresso pour Alexi. We have very fond memories of the area and were pleased to see not much had changed (if anything) since our last visit.

Feeling refreshed we decided it would be a good idea to walk all the way home to our apartment on Rue des Pyrénées. It’s quite a long way so rewarded ourselves with cake from one of the many Patisseries on the street.
That evening we started watching the 1984 film flop that is David Lynch’s Dune. . . as big fans of Mr Lynch we were still keen to soak up his greatness (also Alexis had read the book and figured I’d enjoy the story if not the special fx that were bound to be out-dated).I was not surprised to see that the cast was filled with Twin Peaks actors (Kyle MacLachlan & Everett McGill) alongside classic British greats like Patrick Stewart & Sting.
The special effects do indeed look pretty awful now, but I can imagine that if I’d seen it back in the 80s I’d have been more than impressed.

Sunday 10th July 2016
This was our 6-year wedding anniversary.
We had coffee in the retro-styled café ‘Cream’ before making our way to the Buttes Chaumont for a tasty picnic.
Then we wandered along the Canal Saint Martin to the Parc Villette to enjoy more of the sunshine and weekend atmosphere.

In the evening we found ourselves a lovely Indian retso close to our apartment before we went and joined the locals surrounding the nearby cafés and bars to watch the 2nd half of the Euro2016 final. It was a nervous time but in the end France lost to Portugal.
All was not lost in the world of sporting achievements as Andy Murray won the Wimbledon men’s singles final.

Monday 11th July 2016
Lots of places are closed on a Monday (including the laundrettes) so we had a pretty quiet day; walking along the Seine from Gare De Austerlitz to the Louvre then the side-streets around the Champs Elysees. The street that our apartment is on is a food-lovers paradise and so we popped in to the deli downstairs and got some fantastic fresh ravioli for tea.

Later that evening we sauntered along to Au Chat Noir for coffee and a bit of Spoken Word Paris – the guest was Chris Bernstorf (from the USA) whose style and delivery was good but the content was overloaded with ‘Jesus loves us’ and ‘God is King’ chat…. A bit too much for my personal taste.

Tuesday 12th July 2016
We listened to the mastered tracks for the new LP all sounding fab and we’re so pleased with the final results.
Coffee & a visit to the laundrette were first on the cards for today, but after that we enjoyed another fine day of weather and wandering in this city that we love so much.

We visited the Jardin du Luxembourg and ate fresh falafel at a great little café near the Insitiut du monde Arabe (one of our favourite buildings in Paris).

Alexis treated me to a home cooked meal of puy lentils and goat’s cheese which was just what the doctor ordered. It’s strange being away from home for so long and not being able to indulge in life’s little pleasures (cooking and having a reliable wifi connection), so was lovely to be able to have such a fantastic tea made in our ‘own’ space.

Wednesday 13th July 2016
Headed out early to have coffee in the Marais before heading to the Pompidou centre. The queues were massive (even though we turned up 20 minutes before the place even opened), but we waited in line with everyone else eager to see inside. Doors open at 11am and once inside we found a bunch of other queues for tickets and who knows what else.

We saw a fantastic photography exhibition by Louis Stettner (American photographer) which put us in mind of our good friend Stephen Young; he also has a love of NYC and real life photography – not staged shots.

Afterwards we went to our favourite resto in Paris Les Pates Vivantes for lunch. Watching the noodles being hand-rolled whist we waited only served to make our tummies even more hungry. The food & service were as always fantastic – it never disappoints.

The afternoon was finished off by a trip to A L’etoile Dor – the renowned chocolate shop run by the equally renowned Denise Acabo. Recommended by everyone from my favourite ‘sweet freak’ Amy Thomas to the world’s favourite food blogger David Lebovitz, this place is like stepping back in time. Denise welcomes you like you are a long lost friend, providing a tour of her beautiful shop and the exquisite bon bons and bars that it houses. She speaks so quickly that I’m not sure I understood much of what she said but her enthusiasm is clear and the ingredients are world class. Denise selected a bag of 20 or so chocolates from her hand-picked range stored in wooden cabinets for us to take home and try before closing up for her summer holidays (she’s off to the south of France for 1 month to get some sun and much needed rest).
If you ever find yourself in SoPi (south Pigale) with a few euros to spare, I strongly recommend paying this marvellous woman a visit.

The shop was closed due to a gas explosion in 2014 and reopened in November 2015 almost exactly as it always was.
You can read about the recent adventures (or reconstruction & reopening of the shop) on many a blog but here’s a link to David’s updates… he is clearly a big fan.

On the same street as this fantastic candy store there are a number of musical instrument shops alongside cafes and bars which lead away from the seedy side of the area and back into old school Paris.
Feeling pleased with ourselves we stopped off at Belushi’s GDN for coffee and wifi before heading back to the apartment to finish off the press release for the new LP.

Next up we have our Paris shows: 14th @ Le Gambetta Club, 16th @ Au Chat Noir and 17th @ PopIn


Saturday 2nd August – Day Off, London
For our final day in London we went out early to make the most of our time; Celeb spotting in Soho without even trying over a coffee… Peter Capaldi (Thick of It / Dr Who), a picnic in Soho Square, an hour in Bar Italia for apple juice and a catch up with KMT (The Penny Black Remedy), free chocolate at Choccy Woccy Doo Dah (mmmm) and a chat with Ann in My Art Invest (an art share idea from Paris – investments coming soon) before heading over to Whitechapel for dinner.

Last Day Triptich 1

Last Day Triptich 1

We had made a reservation at Café Spice Namastae which is the restaurant run by Cyrus Todiwala (The Spice Boys / Celebrity Masterchef) and was possibly the best Indian food I’ve ever eaten. We started with the homemade chutneys and popadoms (all excellent, but the crab apple was the most unusual) before our ‘real’ starters arrived, then the Thalis for main, all washed down with mocktails and lassi – it was a perfect 2 hours of chatting, eating and being looked after by the fantastic staff. We left feeling very luck to have experienced such original, freshly prepared food in a fantastic atmosphere on our last night in such an exciting city.
Last Day Triptich 2

Last Day Triptich 2

Sunday 3rd August – Travel Day (London – Edinburgh)
We had a lazy Sunday morning with coffees on Pitshanger Lane before the ritual of packing, un-packing and re-packing on a travel day. Then it was off to Euston Station for our traditional meal at Ed’s diner before leaving London once more. We’ve had a great time in London staying with the super-cool Joe McG (one time flatmate of Robert Plant / designer of Black Sabbath LP covers / daughter who works at Vogue etc etc). We’ve had so much freedom whilst being looked after at the same time; BBQs in the garden and limitless tea and wee-fee… we love staying at Ealing Towers and hope we can show Joe a good time in Edinburgh if he makes it up for a show or two during the Fringe.
The train journey home was painless – no delays or problems with luggage and we arrived as expected into the madness that is The Fringe Festival.
Home Sweet Home

We still have a few shows to play & a video to launch this month, but it feels like the bulk of this tour is done and dusted.

Paris was amazing!
Thanks to; TT – for the great apartment / Pierre, Juliette, Laetitia and all the staff at La Dame De Canton / Teresa, Chakal & all the staff at AbracadaBar / Vincent and all the staff at Au Chat Noir / Dave, Lea, Ben, Leatitia & Tom for being cool / Victor at Midnight Special Records / Popper Must (Be) for a great set at Au Chat Noir / Aubry at Madoro Music Management for being the nicest person we didn’t meet (you really helped loads and we’ll be forever grateful to you for being so cool and professional) and most of all our new best friends Chloé, Ben, Ablass, Dan, Charly, Damien and Robert from AsOne – by far the best band in Paris!
Extra thanks to Chaval for the fantastic pics and to Sithara Ieng for the amazing video of our show at AbracadaBar from his “j’ai filmé pour vous” series.

London was fantastic!
Thanks to; Joe for the run of Ealing Towers / Martin / Andy Docherty and all the staff at The Village Inn for letting us hijack your acoustic show / all the “open mic’ers” we met in Putney & Ealing / Barry & Ray / Lisa & Bob / Phil M / Muir V / Tinderdust / Grand Bassam / all the staff at Power Lunches (especially their amazing sound engineer) / Andunemir for filming the show at Power Lunches and to Tom, Charles, David & Ben (dressmaker) for all their support.

Summer Tour 2014: Gig 9 Wednesday 6th August @ The Central Bar (Gateshead)

Friday 1st August @ Power Lunches, London
After catching up with some work and emails we had a pretty quiet morning; we went out for coffee / lunch and decided to just stay in Ealing and not go too far. We had coffee at Farm W5 and had a wander in the area before lunch at Cote on Ealing Green. One of the local parks is named after a harvest festival which was traditionally held on August 1st so it seemed quite fitting to spend some time there.

Lammas Park, Ealing

Lammas Park, Ealing

In the afternoon we went to St Pancras to collect Alexis’s large drum bag and then made our way over to Hackney for the gig. There had been a terrible accident at Ealing Broadway station (someone was hit by a train & killed) so there were some delays and even more people than usual. We made it to sound checks by 6pm and the night ran so smoothly that I think there may be more ‘dressmaker presents…’ shows in the future. Most musicians have a general dis-like for promoters, but if more bands put on nights like this, we’d be doing okay.
First up was Grand Bassam – a solo act for the evening as one half of the band is on holiday in Greece (popular this year as a destination it seems).
With a machine and a mic and a pedal of sorts this one man show was brutal on the eyes (due to the strobe being on for the full 25 minute set) and brilliant on the ears. Original and poetic, unusual and intriguing all at the same time, it was quite an intense performance from within the crowd.
Grand Bassam live at Power Lunches, London

Grand Bassam live at Power Lunches, London

Next up was the band I’d been most excited about play with in London; Tinderdust. From their online content I’d genuinely fallen for the concept of this act and their execution on the night was blinding. Vocalist / front-woman ‘Lovebeads’ seemed mysteriously cool and musically interesting in interviews etc and live the 3-piece band brought the music to life. They are not a copy-cat of anything, so trying to put labels on this band and draw comparisons would be silly, but for me they are one of the most original and creative musical acts I’ve discovered this year.
It’s noise music but not as I know it.
It’s electronica but not as we (Sacre Noir) do it.
Tinderdust live at Power Lunches, London

Tinderdust live at Power Lunches, London

Then it was time for us to take to the stage… with friends & family in the crowd this evening we hoped for a smooth run, but as always there were one or two technical difficulties. Nothing major and the crowd were great at putting up with my chat while we sorted things out.
The sound on stage was great (very loud and bass heavy), the audience were amazing (great reception to songs old & new) and the sweat was running off the walls by the time we’d finished.
Sacre Noir live at Power Lunches, London

Sacre Noir live at Power Lunches, London

It was great to catch up with old friends and band mates (The Duncans) as well as possible new collaborators (Mr Phil M) in London. We have made some great new friends and fans during this tour but it is always great when people you know and trust come to shows and enjoy themselves. So to have family (cousin Muir and Uncle Barry & Ray) coming along to this show was very special indeed.
This has to be one of the best nights we’ve played in London; great acts on the bill and hosted by the coolest band in town – we went home feeling very lucky indeed.

George Orwell one wrote of London “it was queer after Paris; everything was so much cleaner and quieter and drearier.”
Well George if you could see her now – after Paris we found London more dirty & noisy, and I can only imagine London being dreary if you don’t know the right people… we have had a fantastic time in London this year and it has been great to catch up with dressmaker too; can’t wait to have them play in Scotland again.

Summer Tour 2014: Gig 9 Wednesday 6th August @ The Central Bar (Gateshead)
With Jen Stevens & The Hiccups

Sunday 27th July – Day Off, Paris
After the success of the Paris leg of this year’s summer tour and some much needed sleep, we went into the 10th Arr. & had brunch in a lovely bar called ‘Swinging Londress’. It was great value (quiche, salad, eggs, rice & olives, bread, juice, coffee & dessert for €12), with great service and in a really nice location too.

Sunday Brunch in Paris

Sunday Brunch in Paris

Later in the day we went back to Au Chat Noir as I left my hat & mask the previous night after our show, before heading out into the suburbs for a BBQ with friends and in the evening we ate at an American style café.
Paris street art & AlexisSs

Paris street art & AlexisSs

Having had a pretty lazy day, we went back to the apartment to discover that a local music fan had filmed our show from Friday night at AbracadaBar and uploaded the full set to YouTube. Although we always record our rehearsals and live shows to watch back and evaluate, the angle is usually from the side of the stage and it’s often more like watching again from your own viewpoint rather than that of the audience. As this was all from the audience’s view it provided us with a little insight into the delivery and performance aspect of a Sacre Noir show, which was really nice.

We were really pleased with our set after the show and having watched it back we were pleased to see that everything did indeed sound & look just as great out front. The Tour de France finished today & apart from all the fans in polka dot tops, we managed to miss the whole thing. We were in Paris at the same time 4 years ago (honeymoon) and saw the final sprint down the Champs Elyssee, which was really cool, but I do remember having to walk the long way round the city as many of the streets and roads were closed off, so we were keen to avoid that this time.

Monday 28th July – Day Off, Paris (Alexis’s birthday)
As with all birthdays, I was more excited than Alexis today, but after a quick call from his mum & dad, we went out for the day.

Paris Metro

Paris Metro

Starting with a trip to the Albert Khan gardens and photography exhibition, which involved 3 changes on the Metro. When we got there we discovered that it was closed on Mondays, but as we found ourselves in an unfamiliar and a nice part of town, we decided to stay for a coffee, and after a trip to the supermarket we ate our picnic there too. Keen to spend some time in a ‘green space’ today, we went over to the park Andre Citroen (on the site of his old car factory).
Paris park

Paris park

It was really lovely & peaceful in the park, so we stayed there for a while then went back into town for a spot of shopping near Montmartre.
"I love you"

“I love you”

In the evening we ate at a local Indian restaurant, which was really lovely. It can be very difficult going out for food in Paris as a vegetarian, but thankfully some national cuisines can always be relied upon to provide lots of options.
Back in the apartment for our last night in Paris before midnight (this has been rare on this trip), we caught up with some emails and watched TV and had some birthday cake.
Birthday cake

Birthday cake

It really has been a great trip and we’ll have to make a special post for all the “thank-yous” at the end of the tour.

Tuesday 29th July – Travel Day (Paris – London)
Got up early and headed out for coffee before packing the bags and heading into for lunch near GDN. We also managed to find time for some cake before leaving Paris.
Our train back to London was just after 3pm, getting into St Pancras before 5pm. It was raining when we left Paris, but the sun was shining when we arrived in London. We made it back to Ealing in time for a quick cuppa and a change of clothes before going out to The Village for a small acoustic show with Andy Docherty and friends. We met Andy last year when we played at Power’s Bar in Kilburn (sadly gone now).
Andy (a fellow Scot) is running the open mic at this nice pub on Pitshanger Lane, bringing some of his very talented friends into the leafy suburbs of Ealing. Tonight, as well as Andy and ourselves, one of the other acts who performed was a fantastically talented young lady called Jai Blue – she has a stunning voice and managed to bring the crowd to silence with her beautiful voice and lovely lyrics. Her first song was about her relationship with her mum (who “didn’t raise no quitter”) and told a story of strength and trust – just beautiful. There were a few first timers to the open mic scene but everyone had a great night and the crowd was very supportive.

Jai Blue at The Village Inn (Ealing)

Jai Blue at The Village Inn (Ealing)

The Village Inn is a lovely bar with really great staff (super friendly and full of fun) and I’m sure their ‘acoustic night’ will go from strength to strength. Andy finished the evening with a cover of ‘Hey Laura’ by Gregory Porter, which was a very classy way to end the evening.

Wednesday 30th July – Day off in London
“So I went and sat in Crystal Palace, by the plastic dinosaurs”… and all because of some lyrics in a Brett Anderson song. The park was beautiful & the dinosaurs (which aren’t plastic) were really cool. They pre-date Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ and are really quite different from the more contemporary versions. The song “To The Winter” makes the park sound bleak and dark and lonely, but on a beautiful sunny day, with kids running and playing everywhere and families in small boats in the pond, it was anything but bleak.

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park

In the afternoon we went to Camden and had coffee by the lock. I love Camden! It really is one of the most vibrant areas of London with a great mix of bars and cafés and strange sights like the DJ Granddad (who entertained the crowds by playing dance track while his friends did a strange dance routine (if you can call it a routine)… it was very funny.
"People are strange, when you're a stranger"

“People are strange, when you’re a stranger”

We also discovered the ‘Edinburgh’ area of Camden (near Parkway) which is home to a pub called the ‘Edinboro Castle’ and streets called Holyrood Court and Northbridge schools…. Very funny for us natives.
The Edinboro Castle, Camden

The Edinboro Castle, Camden

In the evening we went back to Ealing for a BBQ in the garden to make the most of the beautiful weather.

Thursday 31st July – Day off in London
We went out early in the morning to Holland Park which is really stunning.
Just before you get to the park there is a statue of St Volodymyr of Ukraine with a tribute to those who have recently lost their lives in the recent conflict. It was very emotional reading the stories of how these young men were found or killed, and some are still missing (since March this year).

St Volodymyr of Ukraine

St Volodymyr of Ukraine

Inside Holland Park there are a few peacocks that live there and they were really cool to see up close – very calm and quite friendly with the public and squirrels. The park has a beautiful Japanese garden and loads of natural play areas for kids. It is a really relaxing space in the city, I think because there is no cycling, skating allowed and dogs have to stay on a lead, and as a consequence everything seems very controlled.
AlexisSs in Holland Park

AlexisSs in Holland Park

After a picnic in the park we headed over to Hackney to catch up with friends, Barry & Ray. We started off in their local pub, The Cock Tavern then heading out for food at the Hackney Bureau. Both the craft beer and cider at the pub were lovely and in the bistro the food was simple and fresh. It was great to get together and have a good chat before they gig tomorrow evening when I’m sure Alexis & I will be in ‘show mode’ and not really able to spend as much time with them as we’d like to.
at Barry & Ray's in Hackney

at Barry & Ray’s in Hackney

Summer Tour 2014: Gig 8 Friday 1st August @ Power Lunches (London)
dressmaker presents: Sacre Noir (Dark Female Lo-Fi from Scotland), Introverts,
Tinderdust, Grand Bassam

Saturday 26th July @ Au Chat Noir, Paris
Feeling very tired after yesterday’s excitement, we got up late and after a coffee at the bar downstairs went into town for lunch at a curry house near Gare Du Nord, which was just what the doctor ordered. Well fed and feeling a little more human it was time to head back to the apartment and get our selves together for tonight’s show.

graffiti at GDN

graffiti at GDN

We arrived at Au Chat Noir and set up our equipment early as we are doing everything ourselves this evening (door, sound, promotion etc) and we were very pleased when the guys from AsOne arrived to help with the balance. It’s always difficult to be the musician and sound engineer at the same time but because we’d played together last night both bands could help each other (and the bass player from AsOne is a sound engineer for TV & Film so this was a great advantage). Our support act for this evening is a local musician who goes by the moniker of Popper Must (Be). A friend of a friend, he has kindly agreed to join us for this show after we had to cancel our original choice a few weeks ago. His music is new to me but having listened online, Alexis & I were both very impressed with his alt.folk style. He played a set of original material with a cover of “Nights in White Satin” which was amazing! His performance was rich in dynamic range and his lyrics are full of emotion and honesty. He is the kind of artist that makes you pay attention and he really draws you in to his performance.
Popper Must (Be)

Popper Must (Be)

Next up was AsOne, and after our show together last night we were really looking forward to seeing them again. We were not disappointed. Just like the previous night they played a full on set of trip-hop sounds and once again we were blown away! Unlike last night (when I was a little nervous) I was able to really enjoy their set and from the back of the room, beside the cash desk, I danced away to the whole set and tried to pick up some vocal jazz tips from their fantastic vocalist, Chloe.
The crowds gather from AsOne

The crowds gather from AsOne

Then it was our turn to take to the stage for our final show in Paris for this tour. With a mixture of excitement and sadness we played a heavier set than in AbracadaBar and again everyone seemed to really enjoy our show.
Sacre Noir @ Au Chat Noir - photo by Chacal Fréville

Sacre Noir @ Au Chat Noir – photo by Chacal Fréville

We are really keen to work with AsOne again & outside the bar after the gig we talked about future collaborations, remixes and tours together. We have had a fantastic time in Paris, playing in some great venues and making great new friends as well as getting to catch up with old ones. Now it is time for a few days off in this beautiful city before our next show in London, which we are really excited about.
dressmaker presents: Sacre Noir (Dark Female Lo-Fi from Scotland), Introverts, Tinderdust, Grand Bassam

dressmaker presents: Sacre Noir (Dark Female Lo-Fi from Scotland), Introverts, Tinderdust, Grand Bassam

Thursday 24th July @ La Dame de Canton, Paris

In the morning we went to The Château de Vincennes, which is a massive 14th/17th century castle about 20 minutes walk from our apartment. Inside the Château de Vincennes are the relics of the Crown of Thorns, but the weather was too nice for us to go indoors, so instead we went to the Parc floral de Paris, which is on the outskirts of the bois de Vincennes (part of the ancient forest).

Alexis & Carrie - Parc floral de Paris

Alexis & Carrie – Parc floral de Paris

In the afternoon we had lunch in the apartment before going to GDN to collect Alexis’s large drum bag from Euro Despatch and then headed along to the venue for tonight’s show.

Arriving at the venue a little before 6pm, we met up with Pierre (our sound engineer) and set up our equipment on the boat. It was a little strange to begin with, the motion was unusual, but we’re not at sea so it’s not so bad.

AlexisSs - Sound Check @ La Dame de Canton

AlexisSs – Sound Check @ La Dame de Canton

For this concert we have been asked to perform two 45-minute sets, starting at 9pm, so after sound-check we had something to eat and then a nice walk along the seine before show time. We had a great night and the sound on stage was excellent. Afterwards we met a lovely couple, who were incredibly positive about our music and even got us to sign their CDs. La Dame de Canton is a very cool venue; we got to watch the sun set over the Seine as we played – that’s pretty special!

Homeward bound and our minds wander to the next two shows we have in Paris – playing with our new favourite band, AsOne. Tomorrow evening the show is at AbracadaBar (a concert venue in the 19th Arr. – an area of Paris we know very well) and then on Saturday evening we will be in one of Paris’s best know music areas, with a show at Au Chat Noir.

Summer Tour 2014: Gig 6 Friday 26th July @ Abracadabar (Paris)

Wednesday 23rd July – Day off in Paris

Today we mainly enjoyed the sunshine and parks of Paris & did a little promotion for our up-coming shows in the city. Everyone we spoke to commented on how “super cool” the model in the picture looked and seemed to think it was me (which is very flattering indeed). I think we may have created a fan-club for our dolls in Paris, so hopefully that will translate into views for the videos / likes on Facebook etc. I have recently been reading a lot about the importance of ‘online presence’ and how it relates to radio play in the UK, which has led to me feel a little down on the whole social media aspect of being an unsigned musician, but it really does help to keep in touch with fans across the world, so maybe I can just use and abuse the system to suit Sacre Noir’s progress.

After coffee in the morning, we wandered up to Paris Plage by Canal Saint-Denis (via Pere Lachaise) & popped into Belushi’s to catch up with friends who work there.

Pere Lachaise

Pere Lachaise

It’s always great to see familiar faces in unfamiliar places (not that Paris is so unfamiliar these days) & we arranged to have a BBQ on Sunday afternoon for a proper catch up.

Alexis showed me how to play petanque in the afternoon and we spent a good hour by the canal doing this until we decided it was time for lunch.

Alexis - Petanque action shot

Alexis – Petanque action shot

A trip to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is always on the cards when we’re in town, so after lunch that’s where we headed off to for a few hours before going back to Belushi’s for a drink with their marketing manager Ben (such a good guy).

Buttes Chaumont

Buttes Chaumont

Feeling very tired from all the walking and sunshine we headed back to the apartment (via a supermarket) and had a relaxing evening there. Not able to stay indoors for too long when in Paris, we decided to go out again and discover the area. Our apartment is near Nation, which is a very lively area with lots of bars and cafes which all seem to stay open til the wee small hours.

Sacre Noir

Sacre Noir

Friday 4th July
Started the day feeling very tired after not getting back from our Glasgow gig the previous night til it was actually this morning. After a little work, lunch at Lebowski’s on Morrison Street and an afternoon nap I started to feel a little human again. We watched through the previous nights gig footage and decided on a few tweaks to the track list for the ‘duo chilled sets’ and also a little mixing / balance work on a couple of the newer additions to the set, but overall it seemed to go fairly well.

Saturday 5th July
We spent the day re-ordering set lists, practicing the guitar vocal sets and packaging up the physical promo packs, sending out the digital promo packs made for my first Saturday off in over 3 months, a pretty busy day.

Sunday 6th July
Having finally decided on the set lists for all the remaining shows of the tour we pack up the gear and head off to have a practice at a little place we use on Jane Street.

AlexisSs - Sacre Noir rehearsal @ Jane Street

AlexisSs – Sacre Noir rehearsal @ Jane Street

Monday 7th July – Wednesday 9th July
Work stuff: trying to wrap up the loose ends before we hit the road
Tour stuff: finalised some extra dates for the summer including an in-store performance at Elvis Shakespeare during the Edinburgh Fringe (22/8/14) and the video launch party for “It’s Too Late Now” (28/8/14)… more information coming soon.

Phil - still shot from "It's Too Late Now" music video

Phil – still shot from “It’s Too Late Now” music video

Thursday 10th July
Wedding Anniversary: Alexis & Carrie got married 4 years ago and celebrated with lunch at our favourite Vegetarian restaurant in Edinburgh.

A&C: Anniversary kiss

A&C: Anniversary kiss

Friday 11th July
Duo rehearsal at Bainbridge Music (Iona Street) arranging sets for our shows in Paris & London. We spent a lot of time running through the live loop tracks & the older songs we’ve re-introduced to the sets for these shows. It’s nice to have a lot of original material to choose from so we can really prepare sets that show off the range of writing styles we cover.

AlexisSs – Sacre Noir rehearsal @ Iona Street

AlexisSs – Sacre Noir rehearsal @ Iona Street

This evening we packed up in preparation for tomorrows show at The Corbridge Festival; Gear, Stage Clothes, Tent & Sleeping Bags, Food, Drink and a bunch of other stuff – can’t wait! So many great bands on during the day and it’s our first gig in the North East of England, so hoping to make some new fans.
Corbridge Festival 2014

Corbridge Festival 2014

Corbridge info

Corbridge info

Saturday 17th August – Wednesday 28th August
Back home and back to work… there are exciting projects in the pipeline though. During this time we caught up with Barry Smith (artist) and agreed a new collaboration, had a meeting with a local film-maker to discuss a Sacre Noir short film project for this winter, attended a friend’s book launch and even managed to fit in a practice with Phil as he’d be joining us again for the final two shows of this year’s summer tour.

Phil and Alexis - Sacre Noir rehearsal at Bainbridge / Iona St, Edinburgh

Phil and Alexis – Sacre Noir rehearsal at Bainbridge / Iona St, Edinburgh

Gig 13 – Thursday 29th August 2013 @ Pivo Pivo, Glasgow
This show was booked & promoted by ‘It’s A XXXX Thing’ blog and everyone was pretty excited about the line-up. The Penny Black Remedy have never played a show in Glasgow but it’s a gig on home turf for the Mickey 9’s! There are some great pictures and a review on the New Hellfire Club website. This is the first time in ages we’ve seen the Mickey 9’s and they had a few new tracks in their set… ‘Berlin’ being my favourite. Energetic and a little crazy, they were as always very entertaining.

Thursday 29th August 2013 at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow

Thursday 29th August 2013 at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow

We always enjoy playing at Pivo Pivo in Glasgow – we finished our 2012 tour with a gig here and it feels good to be back and adding Phil’s guitar sounds to the set. After a few technical problems at the start of the show, we soon hit our stride and play a raucous crescendo of ‘She Can’t Take It’ to finish our set. One song that has been popular throughout the tour is ‘It’s Too Late Now’ and we’re able to really take advantage of the live guitar on this track in particular – leading to a dark, rockier performance.
Sacre Noir live at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow - photo by Gobo Photography

Sacre Noir live at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow – photo by Gobo Photography

The Penny Black Remedy then took to the stage like a whirlwind and blew through an hour’s worth of songs in what seemed like no time at all. Covering much of their very own blend of ska-rock, surf-punk, country-folk-pop stylings, including crowd favourite ‘Bring Back Brando’ (a song written with more honesty than you’d imagine for something so catchy). Keith fronts the band like a true professional and has the audience wrapped round his finger from the get-go, although vocalist Marijana also takes centre stage for a few tracks and wows the crowd. The other band members Wilco and Paul both show a similar enthusiasm and a good night was had by all.
The Penny Black Remedy live at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow

The Penny Black Remedy live at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow