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East End-Based Musician Paying Homage To Jacques Brel

Nicole Barylski

Alfredo Merat, a regular on the East End music scene since the '90s, wants to introduce the Hamptons to one of his musical influences - Jacques Brel.

On Saturday, October 15th, Merat will present Brel by Alfredo at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. Starting at 8 p.m., Merat will familiarize attendees with the iconic Belgian singer, songwriter, actor who was known for both composing and showcasing his literate and theatrical songs, gaining him a loyal following worldwide.

"I was raised in France and when I picked up the guitar, there's a couple of songs I learned by Brel, and then he died so young that basically I kept on with my music career in other ways and came to this country and not forgot about him, but left it to the side," Merat told Hamptons.com. "I was there when the bombing happened - that's why I decided I should do a revival of him and bring him back to life."

During the Hamptons performance, the musician will share Brel's songs in French with an English Narrative. "I think the audience is going to be surprised because nobody really knows who Brel truly was as a performer. They know about his work, some of his songs were translated, and sung by Frank Sinatra. I think people are really familiar with Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris - which was a Broadway show where his music and some of his songs were translated and sang - but I want people to discover him and get to know him better with his French songs, who he was on stage, how he performed his songs," he noted. "What they can expect is a little more of a theater, play - it's body language. A lot of his songs were incredible, as far as the words, and since obviously not everybody speaks French, I've decided to bring in a narrator with me and help me a little bit to tell the story of who he was, about what the songs were about and how it touched me when I was young and how it touched France and many people."

He wants the show to spark a curiosity about the talented performer. "I'm hopeful that people want to know more about him and take a look at really, truly who the man was, as far as a performer because he was unbelievable - scary, in terms of his abilities. In the 1960s he was very ahead of his time," Merat said. "Many people, when they look at how he was writing and what he was writing, began to incorporate that in their own works - David Bowie and many others."

Like Brel, Merat's own musical career started young. "I was in Spain visiting one of my uncles who had a guitar on the wall and I said, "Can I touch it?" That's how it happened," he explained. "I've been performing for 40 years, since I was 15-years-old, at times more than others. There's been breaks, you know? Life, children, business, work, but ultimately, I've always been performing."

If you seek out live music on the East End, chances are you've seen Merat. "In the Hamptons, I've been performing since the Wild Rose years, 1997 I think - that's when I began to work a lot more - the music scene, the restaurants, the cafes, the parties, the private events," he noted.

Merat thinks this is the perfect venue to pay homage to Brel at. "Bay Street is amazing because the sound is so incredible," he shared. "To do something which is audience not ambiance, as much as I love to play at restaurants and other venues, when you have an audience I think it's terrific. You can do a lot more with the music and performance. So, I'm very excited about Bay Street. It's always one of my favorite places."

Tickets to Brel by Alfredo are $25.

Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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