Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Cap'n's Cabaret #67: l'Bal Musette, mon Ami?

Bonsoir e bienvenue a'Cabaret, mon Amis!  Today we visit romantic Paris, France, for a sample of the new Parisian sound of Bal Musette.


It's the Record Cabaret's first visit abroad [1] and away from our US home, and while the long, rocking journey in the belly of a steamer was not the best of experiences for our new band, it was well worth it from the second we saw the French countriside.

Paris is a sensual city, and what could be better to go with it than a sensual sound?  Paired with an equally sensual, rique dance whose skirt-lifting steps may shock the more prudish, it is at once old and new, traditional and modern, scandalous and familiar [scandalous image from michka.blog50.com].  Haunting, melancholy, romantic, and, yes, sensual, it manages to capture the joy and pain, pleasures and heartbreaks of human love in a way that is uniquely French.

Bal Musette is exploding among the cafes and cabarets of the city, putting a modern new twist on traditional French music (primarily that of the Auvergne countriside, thanks to a large influx of Auvergnats into the city).  It is not a small bit ironic that music from the provinces would capture the heart of the world's most cosmopolitain city, but capture it it has.

Bal Musette arrived a couple decades back along with the shocking new art of the Impressionists and now seems set to define Parisian music into this new century.  The Auvergnat cabrette squeezebox has been replaced by the more versitile Accordian and the sentiments have grown more Parisian, but otherwise it retains its "bohemian" roots.  Though it remains the music of the common people, the upper classes are starting to take notice and are "going bohemian" at the various Bal Musette clubs of the city, even the seedy guinche ou bal de barrière where upper-class patrons get a bit of excitement thanks to the occasional police raid! (Between you and me, most of these raids are staged!)

To hear this sound we have called upon a growing Bal Musette legend Émile Vacher, who will perform his famous "Mado" for us on this recording:


Magnifique, no?

Bal Musette has also captured the Gypsy spirit and is being incorporated into the already fabulous musical traditions of the Manouche, as witnessed by our next performer Gus Viseur:


Wasn't that an incredible example of a beneficient blending of cultural traditions? There's a budding new sound forming right here in front of us, I can feel it!  And let me tell you the Manouche were quite impressed with the new Jazz sound this humble Cabaret brought along.  One kid in particular, a talented young guitarist whom they call by the interesting name of Django (meaning "I Awake"), was doubly enthralled.  I feel he may have quite a unique future ahead...

Until then, however, enjoy another truly unique blending possible only in Paris, a Rose and Absinthe: 


Fleurs du Mal Cocktail: (a modern recreation of the Parisian classic of Rose & Absinthe)


[image from foodforthink.com]

  • 2 oz Rose Vodka
  • 1 tsp Absinthe
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • White of 1 Egg

Add liquids to a cocktail shaker (no ice) & shake briefly to muddle and break up egg white. Add ice to shaker and shake vigorously to foam egg white. Strain into an absinthe goblet. Garnish with an orange twist.


1 - Back once again to Basics!

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