Lieve and I met some of her old friends in Brussels last night. She has known Samy and Truly for about thirty years, they are wonderfully warm and friendly people and accepted me into their circle a few years ago. We always have a great time when we see them.
We arrived in Brussels early to do some shopping for Truly’s birthday present, and stopped by a little cafe that Lieve used to visit when she lived in Brussels. Even though the city has become very “touristy”, some places are hidden away enough to remain quiet.
At the end of a hallway with a hardly noticeable doorway is La Bécasse, a pub dating back over one hundred thirty years. Despite the crowds on the street the place was almost empty and very quiet, with an open terrace and a dark pub. It’s past its glory days, but is still very cute. There is a great deal to see in Brussels if you look around, on our way to dinner we looked up above the second floor of a rather trashy casino to see beautiful art deco decorations in the facade.
After dinner, we went to a tiny little club, L’Archiduc, to hear some old friends play. Blaine Reininger, a founding member of Tuxedomoon, knew Lieve, Samy and Truly from the days they were involved with Crammed Discs and Crepuscule. Lieve always thinks that no one will remember her because she was involved behind the scenes. I remind her that it’s not just me that is impressed by her, she stands out in a crowd. Several people approached our table to say hello to her, she is well remembered.
Tonight, Blaine was playing with Georgio “The Dove” Valentino, a young artist. Georgio has a beautiful voice, and since he usually sings in Italian, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t understand the lyrics when he performed his own work. His wife played bass, and another Tuxedomoon alumnus, Luc Van Lieshout, played trumpet. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any video of his playing due to a guy who kept walking in front of us. Luc’s playing was beautifully subtle, and his ego is non existent. When I complimented his technique he said “Well, I’ve been doing it for forty years”.
As nights out with Samy usually go, there were many old friends and fans there. Samy was not only the lead singer of Minimal Compact, but has a radio program on 92.1 Radio Campus Bruxelles and DJs today. Samy’s musical knowledge is encyclopedic, and he can speak extemporaneously for hours about not only the old days, but everything that has happened since.
Samy and Truly have been married longer than some of Samy’s fans have been alive, a testament to love and understanding. Their joy of life is infectious, and they seem like newlyweds at times. We were celebrating Truly’s birthday, and true to character she brought a gift for us.
I can’t identify what is about music that keeps us young. The effects of aging cannot be stopped, many of us have greying or missing hair, but music has a rejuvenating effect. Watching Blaine’s fingers flying on the neck of his violin was amazing. We have seen friends lose their battles with excess, but age gives another dimension to our experience. There is little to no generational discrimination in music, musicians of all styles and backgrounds join together in a river of creativity.
Truly had invited us to spend the night, although Lieve had warned me that Samy’s record collection inhabits every inch of their apartment and we might be sleeping atop record crates. We had to catch the midnight train to Leuven in order to catch the last bus home. Well, it would have been the last bus on a weekend, but the route ends earlier on weeknights, so we ended up walking home. It was only a few kilometers, and the streets were quiet and peaceful.
No tears at all.