Bring along some friends. Without Emmanuel and Michel on equipment and crowd control, we could not have done 4 shows in 4 towns in the space of 6 hours. If there had actually ever been a crowd, they surely would have played the heavies with charm.
Nico (patron of le Lawrence d'Arabie), Michel, Emmanuel, Amy & Eric
Make sure you're louder than the generator. Ours sounded like a small plane taking off. Thankfully we had a long, long extension cord, so we could play twenty feet away from it.
If you set up across from a church on Saturday afternoon in June, there is an excellent chance of being drowned out by the sound of wedding bells. The newlyweds surely got their money's worth that day - the off-key clanging went on for a good ten minutes while we waited in the baking sun.
When stopped by the police, be honest. As the gendarmes pulled us over for a "routine check" we considered telling them we were daytrippers enjoying the scenery. Then we remembered the posters we'd stuck on the sides of the car. They demanded all our details - so that they can come see us play next week.
Pick some slightly bigger towns/villages. Notice there's pretty much no one in the photos but us. This part of France is, shall we say, tranquil. It was best when we had listeners, gawkers, and the occasional dancer.
Face your enemy. We saw a poster proclaiming that our arch-rivals were playing outside a bar in the village. We showed up to play (thankfully, they had already finished, so we didn't have to listen to it) and taught them a lesson. Don't. Mess. With. Wreckless Eric. &. Amy. Rigby.
La Cabane (enemy territory)
It's hard to keep looking groomed after hours of sweating and playing. And it's wonderful to stop caring.
Michel, Amy, Eric, Emmanuel, Nico
It's worth taking a risk. From the time Eric and I talked about doing a commando raid for Fete de la Musique, I kept wanting to back out. I wished we'd gotten a spot on one of the many organized stages or at a bar in the region. When we went to pick up the generator and it turned out to be super loud and impractical, I really hoped that meant we could put the silly idea to rest and stay home.
But Saturday was one of the best days I've spent in France. With all the traditions and prescribed ways of doing things that exist here, it was such a relief to go right in the face of all that and just do what we do. I felt like myself in a way I don't often get to, what with trying to speak the language and fit in somehow.
In the end, the day really was about freedom. And we got three other gigs out of it. No sitdowns required.