During the night of November 13th, 2015, a series of terrorist attacks claimed by ISIL killed 130 people and injured 368 in Paris, France. It was one of the deadliest attacks on France since World War II.
Kansas City jazz artist, Hermon Mehari, was in Paris that night on a trip to perform a series of shows and film a music video for his band, The Buhs.
Mehari remembers being disoriented by an unordinary amount of sirens as he and some friends walked to a bar. He says when they arrived, everyone’s eyes were glued to the television, and he tried to figure what was happening with what little French he could speak.
“At that time, the information was just coming out, and it couldn’t come out fast enough,” says Mehari.
After things had settled down, Mehari walked back to his apartment in a daze. He says he was overcome the next morning with a feeling of pride for Paris, a city that he’s fallen in love with over the years.
“This is a great city, and no-one can take that away from it,” says Mehari.
For days after the attacks, Mehari says he experienced deserted streets, and an intense sense of melancholy. The performances he had planned had all been canceled, but he felt as though some people in the city needed a moment of musical mirth.
“We wanted to kind of lift spirits,” says Mehari.
Mehari was close with a neighborhood club owner, and they agreed to let him and a few other musicians organize a jam session. They got the word out, and people showed up.
“Some people needed something, you know what I mean. And also there’s this idea of like, don’t let them defeat us,” says Mehari. “It was soft of in defiance, but also out of necessity.”
After the show, Mehari remembers a polish couple thanking him for performing. He thinks that everyone responds to tragedy differently, and some people were thankful for the moment of positivity that Mehari provided.
“Music can do a lot of things, it can even just make things feel normal,” says Mehari.
Above is a video of the impromptu performance and below you can watch The Buhs music video filmed Paris during the days following the attacks. Both videos were shot by Alison Claire Peck.