Play it Again Sam … at French Train Stations

French railways aims to make your wait for a mainline train as pleasurable as possible judging from its recent roll-out of “a vous de jouer” pianos for talented and not so talented buskers at 15 stations around the country.

Vive la Gare invites waiting passengers to tinkle the ivories at train stations around France

Vive la Gare invites waiting passengers to tinkle the ivories at train stations around France

“Before there was Rock and Roll, there was Boogie Woogie. Before there was Boogie Woogie, there was Blind Tom. Before there was Blind Tom, there was representation of steam locomotive sounds in published piano sheet music” writes John Tennison on his blog  relating the impact of the steam train on piano music.

At that was the way it seemed at Toulouse’s Matabiau mainline station recently when a France 3 Midi-Pyrénées team turned up to capture the mood and passenger reaction to the variety of  Boogie Woogie and other music-making going on.

See the clip here:

The clip shows the piano sitting in the concourse under the inviting banner “Pianos en gare / A vous de jouer” and it didn’t take long for local musicians and passengers to grab the opportunity for some melodious if noisy jamming.

Indeed the day this writer passed through the concourse a scruffily-dressed homeless man accompanied by dog, was tinkling away with talent and gusto at some jazzy Gershwin melodies — with no piano score — and to the evident pleasure of a crowd of commuters that gathered to listen and applaud.

SNCF even has a YouTube page offering examples of the best videos of musicians at the stations.

Yet you can’t please all the people all of the time and according to France 3 , some of the retailers, café owners and car hire operators at stations involved, are less than happy.

Complaining about constant noise and too many discordant notes, shopkeepers at Montparnasse station in Paris even got up a petition demanding the music stop.

The solution? SNCF now wheel the piano around the station regularly so no one group of retailers suffers an overdose from budding concert pianists!

But judge for yourself here are a range of highlights from the 15 Boogie Woogie stations:

Jean-Philippe COLLARD – Valse minute, Chopin – Gare Saint Lazare

Medley Jazzy Live Piano Cover By SedZik 78 Gare Paris Saint Lazare

SNCF – A vous de Jouer : Avec ZakariAn, Warai Otoko & Rohan Houssein

Gare Montparnasse, Gabriel virtuose du piano

Story: Ken Pottinger

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