Fri. April 23 New York City.........Bump into Kevin Lynch on Broadway. He's telling me I got to see some guy playing down at CBGB's with Hank Williams' III backing band. But I can't make it, 'cos my son Jack is having the opening night of his play at Downtown Art, a Theatre on 4th Street, Manhattan. So me and Åsa get seats second row from the front. It's a great play, really funny. I'm proud of my boy. Earlier in the day I bought him a Stratocaster copy, a good one made by Yamaha, and an amp to go with it. He's going through a big Nirvana phase, but is open-minded enough to listen to all sorts of stuff. After the show, Jack wants to hang out with his thespian friends, so it's down to the Sidewalk Cafe for a few drinks.
Sat. April 24 It's a hot sunny day, and we take the subway out to Coney Island. Jack has brought along his buddy Christian and with Åsa they have a few goes on the huge roller-coaster. I'm no good at this shit. Freaks me out. I could get a heart-attack..! The bumper cars are great though. I can handle that. But then Åsa insists we try this other ride, and I know I've made a big mistake by allowing myself be talked into having a go. It spins around, and darts here and there. The best way to describe it is if you could imagine being in a tiny out of control space ship, hurtling through space at great speed dodging it's way through an asteroid belt......or something along those lines. Ten minutes of HELL is another apt description. Getting off this thing I feel as if my brain has swiveled around in my skull. Christian pukes and we all need to sit down.
At a little market I find some records. Rufus Thomas "Walking The Dog" and The Impressions "Aint Got Time" for $1 each. Sleep on the subway back to the lower east side. Up at Penn station I'm not sure if I've got the right phone number with me, as we need to be collected at the station in Red Bank, New Jersey. Miss the train, get a later one, and it takes about one and a half hours to get to Red Bank. Eat pasta, drink wine, and after a few minutes in a photographers studio we have drinks in the Smokers Club where everybody smokes big fat cigars.
Sun. April 25 Red Bank, New Jersey......Kevin Brown gets us up at 8.30 am !!! Breakfast..Kirsten not feeling too good. Drive to Asbury Park and on to Ocean Grove which was a big haven for Christians, but now is mostly gay. The train ride out of here is slow and the seats uncomfortable, but I do manage to get an hours sleep before the gig. I'm playing on Avenue B and 3rd street. The sound is great and I have a good time. Justine is in from N.J. and has brought all sorts of presents. Cosmetics for Åsa, and a few books for me...D.J. Conway, Laurie Cabot, and some others.
Mon. April 26 New York City.......I'm down at B3, a little basement venue in the east village and I'm watching the wonderful Jamie Lilly play again....she's like a cross between Keith Richards and Patti Smith. Great great songs. Jack has come down to see me play. His friend Temmy is there too, and of course - Åsa Kärrman. The gig is good. I feel confident, which probably has something to do with the sound being so good. Didn't catch the name of the band on before me, they disappeared real quick, but they were cool. Rain rain rain on the way back to my bed.
Tues. April 27 Get an email from Finland. An urgent request for a mail-order copy of "Long Time Gone". Luckily I can locate one here in N.Y. and I pop it in the post. Hope it gets there on time...and Happy Birthday !! Beki Bindle who played with The Mary Stokes Blues Band about 14 years ago emailed from Woodstock looking for a phone number for Vedic Astrologer Matt O' Dowd (no relation). Glad to oblige.
Find a shop on Essex and Lexington ( I think) where I buy 13 singles, or 45's as they call them here. Clarence Carter, Betty Lavette, The Trammps, Harold Melvin, Toussaint McCall, Johnny Taylor, Staple Singers etc..etc..Find another place where I buy LP's by Pablo Moses and Alton Ellis. I also get Born Bad Volume IV with tracks by The Embers, Gene Summers, Link Wray, Charlie Feathers and a host of other outsider stars. More of my hard earned dollars is spent on Las Vegas Grind Volume III. It's not such a bad life really. Get Chinese food delivered and watch a movie.
Sat. May 8 Dublin......Spent the last few day's following up contacts made in New York, playing records and generally feeling a bit perplexed. Arvid and Carolin from Sweden visited for the weekend and Arvid kindly brought me CD-R's of the recently released Johnny Cash Box Set. Last night we were in a few bars in town and locally too, meeting up with Al from Sonic Studios/Caliban. So it was a late one, as is tonight in The Gaiety. The new stage they've built is typically too small. But we enjoy the gig, but the bouncers are wankers. What is it with these fools??!
Wed. May 12 Chris Teusner has been ordered by doctors to rest so we rehearse with Martin Murphy who will play drums on Friday night. Earlier in the day I had a trip to the post office, and along the way picked up a book on Viking Mythology, which reminds me of the night we camped in a field right next to an ancient Viking burial ground in Sweden, someplace around Vastra Gotland if memory serves me correctly. It was a very spooky night and there was a very heavy 'presence'. This huge field was full of huge standing stones, many inscribed with runes and other Nordic symbols. However, there was nothing malevolent about the presence. In the morning I got the stove on, made coffee and grilled a few veggie sausages for breakfast...packed up the tent and hit the road. But I'll never forget that night.
Thurs. May 13 Dublin......A flyer for next weeks gig in the Winzerkeller, Staufen (Germany) arrives in the post. I believe the poster is the same. Justine Scott from North Arlington N.J. (USA) sent me a postcard too, with news of her progress with spreading the racketeering vibe stateside. She also tells me she went to see Jack's play and laughed til she cried. The postcard is from Puffy's Tavern on Hudson St. in Lower Manhattan. Apparently the last time (the only time) I was there with Justine I fell asleep at the bar ! Well. it had been a long day.
Don, who is booking dates in Holland needs to be contacted, but that, my friend is easier said than done. The Be Good Tanya's "Chinatown" album is on the CD player. Roger Eno's "Flatlands" gets played when I need to chill. A new electric piano/keyboard...whatever you want to call it, lies untouched in my room. Specifically bought for writing/recording, it hasn't been made use of yet. When I finish the German/Swiss tour I'll get around to making use of it recording some new ideas I have. But I've been playing guitar along to Waylon Jenning's version of "T For Texas" in between phone calls and those never-ending text messages. I'm sick of texting. Are people afraid to talk these days ?
Fri. May 14 Dublin......Lots of running around getting the stuff one needs for survival on the road, guitar strings, batteries, socks (!) basically stuff you don't want to have to deal with in some town you've never been in before. And you always have to have a good book. I made the mistake of going on a five week tour a few years back with ONE book. By the second week I'd read it. We got into Estonia and were having so much fun there was no time for reading, but the final two weeks of the tour comprised of 14 gigs all over Finland. We even played way up north over the Arctic Circle. I don't know if you know much about Finland, but most of the smaller cities/towns don't stock any books in English. Most days we had five or six hour drives, and with nothing to read I nearly lost what was left of my mind !
Get the dates from Don Coyote for June. Two in Holland, one in Germany and one in Belgium. Never played Belgium before. Got to check out prices of plane tickets. Eat some food, the phone doesn't stop ringing, and I gotta play The Mezz at midnight.
Sat. May 15 Didn't get around to packing after I got home last night, so I have to do it this morning. And it always takes for ages, as I hate arriving someplace and realizing I forgot to bring batteries, or enough shirts or a walkman. These days, no matter where you go it seems to take all day, so at 10.30pm I finally find myself in Berlin. A bus ride and an attempt at navigating my way around the U-Bahn gets me real confused. I end up asking advice from a talking machine at one point. (At least I think it's a machine). Eventually I hop in a taxi, spend a fiver and arrive at Oranienstrasse. Meet my friend Cormac outside a club called SO 36. He's there with Catherine, a buddy of his and it so happens I know her too from Dublin.
Across the road in Franken we get bottles of Becks for 2 Euro ! Catherine tells me her boyfriend Mick is living in Berlin at the moment editing a TV documentary. When he arrives, I realize I know him too. In fact I've known Mick for about 15 years. Small world etc. ..and I recognize his buddy. Eat across the road in a Thai place and end up drinking until 8.30am. The bars never close here.
Sun.May 16 Berlin....When I awake (at around 3pm) I realize I've slept in my suit again. I'm a fucking disgrace. Our hosts, Emma and Isobel (?) have gone. I get Cormac up and we take a cab across town to a flea market. It's brilliant, loads of mad stuff, and it's even better after I have a falafel. Cormac buys a few records and a shirt. I pick up a Fats Domino LP (vinyl) and would have liked to buy more but I hate the responsibility of carrying vinyl around when I'm on the road. So easy to break and I'm not in a baby-sitting mood. A few afternoon drinks seems like a good idea.. Pick up my gear and down to The Butterclub in Friedrichann . Sound check is followed by a few more drinks. Catherine, Mick etc...the gang from last night...Anto who used to work here...they're all down for the gig.
I enjoy it and soundman Mark gets me a good sound. Proprietor Bruno says I fit in with the mad bunch who seem to hang out here and we have a few Jagemeisters together. Later, there's some sort of open-mike session on. In the early hours of the morning I'm back up on stage accompanying Bruno as he does a few songs. One of them was Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down," can't remember the others, but it was good fun. A memorable night.
Mon. May 17 Berlin...Feel rough. Not looking forward to the 9 hour train ride down south. Get a taxi to Zoo Station, buy painkillers, miss the train, make a phone call, get the next train and feel like death. Andrea (who I never met before) picks me up at Frieburg and drives me out to Dattingen where she lives with Mick Morrissey and their two kids. Mick has booked the next five gigs for me. He's gonna be playing a set on each night, so we stay up and I have some much needed food, a beer or two and crash for twelve hours.
Tues. May 18 Dattingen.....After breakfast I go for a stroll. We are out in a little picturesque village, not even a shop, just a bunch of houses and lots of bikes. Its also really hot, must be about 25 degrees Celsius. Listened to some Gene Clarke album and me and Mick talk about all sorts of stuff. Later, we take a bus to Mullheim (Baden), and then the train to Freiburg. The gig is in a place called Brauereischrank where the food is shit, but the beer is fine and the gig is fine too. I think they liked us....and why wouldn't they !
Wed. May 19 Lorrach.......Andrea drives us all into the magnificent countryside. Here, on the edge of the Black Forest it's very beautiful at this time of year. Mountains, sunshine, little villages where you'd expect to bump into Hansel and Gretel. We find a tree for shelter on the edge of the forest and have a picnic. Nearby stands a great old mansion with a little cafe out on the veranda. Cake, ice-cream and coffee. Talk of the Jesus cult (or scam), Mithrais, the similar Persian god and all sorts of stuff.
A few hours later in Lorrach , where tonight's gig is, I buy new shades for a fiver. The gig is outdoors so the sound is a bit odd, still it goes down well and even though all my drinks are on the house, some people keep sending more over to my table after I've finished. We are then joined by the Serbian owner of Brauhaus (whose name I can't remember) and he has a tray of tequila's for us. More and more shots of tequila arrive and it's one of those nights. On the drive back to Mick's place the exhaust on the van is fucked and we have to put up with the fumes. Roll down the windows and try not to breath...easier said than done.
Thurs. May 20 Dattingen.....I've been thinking of changing my name by deed poll. For a week or so I had thought I'd like to be a Count, and decided to keep the Eamonn bit, but to spell it as the Ancient Egyptians - Amun. The Mansion we visited after yesterday's picnic seemed to have it's catering supplied from Kaffeerosterei : Oltmansstr. I had read this wrong from the napkin when I decided yesterday my new surname should be Von Oltmann. So I must inform my booking agent in Holland from now on I want Count Amun Von Oltmann on the posters.
Apart from this train of mad thought, I spend some hours lying in bed reading a book Mick lent me. Zen koans gone mad. I got a four hour journey for my solo acoustic gig in Heidelburg. Mick isn't playing tonight either.
A few drunk dumb Americans are up front and I can't wait to get out of there. I'm staying across the bridge in the Neckar Hotel. Turn on the TV and catch the news on CNN. Change my strings (saves the hassle tomorrow) and try and read some Thomas Pynchon. Great use of the English language, but I find it hard going trying to follow exactly what he's on about.
Fri. May 21 Heidelberg.......Up just in time for breakfast. Very hot outside as I try and find my way back to the train station, and nearly get knocked down by a tram in the process. Buy a copy of The Guardian newspaper to follow up on the information I got from CNN last night. Thomas Pynchon is too much like hard work anyway, so the paper is light relief, even though it's full of bad news, as are all newspapers.
Five hours later I'm back in Dattingen, so we quickly grab some food, which should sort us out before our three hour drive to yet another gig. Just as we load the P.A and all the gear into Nicoli's wagon, the rain starts lashing down. We get wet, but what can you do. It's not all glamour, this itinerant lifestyle. In fact, very little of it is glamorous. On a good day it's a never-ending adventure, on a bad day it's a job. Drive through all sorts of towns and villages, past those Sex Roadhouses, motorway madness. I nod off to sleep and wake up as we roll intoWaldhut-Tiengen. Still raining.
We're playing in Schlosskeller, a sort of community hall. A very big stage, nice dressing-rooms, but not many people. Mick's set is great. He plays some songs that are new to me, with Nicoli joining him on trumpet and piano for selected songs. We've got a few crates of left over beer with us for the drive back, stopping off for pisses on the roadside.
Sat. May 22 Staufen......... The home of Goethe, and a beautiful town too. Mick takes a picture with this great gothic hilltop ruin behind me. During sound-check I remember "Let's Stay Out Late Tonight", so it gets added to the set list and goes down great. (Recorded it recently at home). The Winzerkeller is a great venue. Wonderful acoustics, and a very appreciative audience. Best gig all week, and I'm on the ball. Two encores. Meet up with people afterwards who had got "Exit Hellsville" and off we go to a party across town.
Nicoli is in a great mood, he's got a camcorder and is happily running around filming everything. Mick is up dancing and I'm getting stuck into the carrot cake and cream pies. I got a sweet tooth. In fact, I've lost a few teeth over the years and if I loose any more I'll be pissed off ! Then I tackle a crate of Becks. Chat to Wolfgang about music, records, gigs he's been to. We swap email addresses. Low are being played by the DJ and I crash out around 7.
Sun. May 23 Staufen.............Wake up cold...a damp place to sleep. It's a sort of commune. The place here has a hippy vibe, without the people looking like hippies. Mick has disappeared, but I locate the kitchen, get some coffee, and chat to a few folks who have just woken up too. They seem amused by my confused state of mind. I don't know how to get out of this town, my guitar and gear is in Nicloi's car, which is gone, and I have to go to Switzerland this afternoon !!
After a while Nicoli arrives. He's as perplexed as I am as to Mick's whereabouts. He seems to be in a hurry, so we drive to Dattingen. Mick eventually phones and all is well. We have lunch out in the garden, and Andrea kindly drives us across the border to Basel. After getting a bit lost we locate the train station. Andrea has a present for me, but I mustn't open it until I'm on the train. Run inside, change Euro's into Swiss Franks, buy a ticket and get on the train. No time to thank Mick properly for booking the gigs, giving me a bed, food, and being an all-round great guy...I hop on the train, the doors slide closed and we pull out of the station straight away.
A few hours later I'm in Biberist. Have a shower and a lie down after getting the sound sorted out. It's a quiet gig. What could you expect in a little town in Switzerland on a sunny Sunday night.
Mon. May 24 Biberist, Switzerland....Up at 7am. Downstairs Kris has arrived and he kindly drives to Solothurn, where I hop on the train bound for Zurich Airport. (The shades I bought a few days ago in Lorrach have already broken). Have a beer and charge up my mobile phone in Schipol, Amsterdam. I'm home sweet home by 6.30pm.
Fri. June 24 Venlo, Holland.....Having been back in the Emerald Isle to play a few gigs, I'm here in The Netherlands in the summer sunshine. Last nights gig in Belgium was cancelled because of the football. The European Championship is on and Holland keep winning matches, to everyone's surprise. I know nothing about football, but all this shit is fucking up the gigs. Everybody is worked up into some group-mind patriotic phony frenzy. Not as bad as the Irish though. With Don (booking agent) we hang out a bit at Stanley's wonderful bar , and meet some friendly folks out at the camping place who offer beer, vodka and other goodies. Tonight's gig at The Reflex Rock Cafe is ok, if a bit low key.
Sat. June 25 Tegelen....Go for a ramble around Venlo. Don't buy anything. Antoinette runs the bar here at De Ondeste Molen where I'm playing tonight. She's ordered in Guinness for the occasion so I have to sample a few. The gig is going to be 12 midnight, instead of 9, so that everybody can watch the fucking football ! Going on to a bunch of pissed football fans isn't much fun, but at least they won. Would have been worse if the lost. Afterwards we're invited down to somebody's place where there's a BBQ and a bar, a few late tunes, and a long chat until dawn.
Mon. 28 June Holland.....Don Coyote (Quixote !) has done a disappearing act, but he's a freemason, so I know I'll get the money owed to me. Train to Venlo, and wait over an hour for the connection to Dusseldorf, but it never comes. Confusion at the train station. We are told to wait for a bus as the train is broke down. The bus never materializes. I contemplate a taxi but that could be 50 or 60 Euro. Eventually another train comes and I'm soon out of Holland and into Germany again. Get to the airport in Dusseldorf and meet a couple of guys I know from home. A drink or two and back to Dublin.
Tues. 29 June Dublin.....Beautiful Music in Canada want to come on board with radio promo etc..so that's good news. Write some emails, answer some emails and make countless phone-calls. A couple of CD's arrived in the post the day before I flew over to Dusseldorf, and I didn't have the chance to give them enough attention, so they're on the stereo today. A compilation of Johnny Thunders stuff and the Best of Lefty Frizzell. I have a few new songs on the go, but I'm really stuck for lyrics. Record a vibraphone part onto "Let's Stay Out Late Tonight". That's enough work for one day. Now, where's the cork-screw?
Wed. 30 June Lerum, Sweden.......Grab a pizza and take the train into Gothenburg. Drinks with Arvid and Caroline in a few places. It's warm and sunny and I'm happy to be able to avail of the beer packages on offer. Basically a beer package is the Swedish way of getting punters into the bars. Buy a pint and get a bottle free. 2 beers for the price of one, all night long. Not a bad deal. Sweden is cheaper than Ireland now, but it wasn't always like this. First time I toured the Land of the Blondes was in 1997, and I was afraid to buy can of coke the place was so expensive. But now the tables have turned and Ireland must be the biggest rip-off in Europe...and with shit weather too, plus crap Health Care, crap telephone companies (eircom) crap public transport, corrupt politicians...the list is endless.
Thurs. 1 July Goteburg.....Call to visit Henrik in Off The Record who are helping us out here. He's in the middle of writing a book for Independent musicians which has advance sales of 1,000 copies...and it's only half written!! Wish I could sell records like that. The gig at Kom Musik Bar is cool. A nice reception and it's good to see Karin again. She is insisting I come back before the year is over, but I think it may be January before I'm back in Sweden. Time will tell. Tomorrow we gotta go to Stockholm as some friends are getting married.
Thurs. 15 July Dublin.....Recording again. A long slow process, but progress is being made. A photo shoot is organized for next week. Exit Hellsville is going to be repackaged and given another push in the Autumn to coincide with the release of Come On Little Baby as a promo single, so we need some new photos. An email tells me we are on the radio again in Holland and Belgium.
Fri. 16 July Sligo.....A solo acoustic gig in Bar Eile, beside The Garavogue. Great hospitality. My pasta dinner is top class, washed down with Corona. The talented Leon Mooney opens up the evening's entertainment, and then I'm on. Enjoyed playing, sound was fine and the crowd appreciated the whole shebang. Even sold a few CD's. The drinks kept on coming...and endless supply of Corona and Vodka. Later we adjourned to the flat Leon shares with his brother where I was educated into an appreciation of Dean Martin. By 6am I'm in a taxi on the way to the B+B.
Sat. 17 July The lady who owns the B+B gives me a lift to the bus station, but not before showing Lough Gill outside the town. It's here that Fionn MacCoole met with the wizard/shaman who had caught the salmon of knowledge.
Back in Dublin, on the short walk from the bus stop to my pad I bump into Stef Hanvey who is all ready for the release of his album. He needs a pint, so I can't refuse. Later, I get the chance to crash out for an hour before I get my gear together and into The Gaiety for a gig, which turns out to be great. I was getting really sick of the place, but tonight, all was good.
Wed. 21 July The afternoon is spent putting the finishing touches to 4 or 5 songs that have been half finished for too long. Come up with a few good sets of lyrics...I surprise myself!
We rehearse in the Temple Bar Music Center and get a few old songs resurrected...'Woke up Monday Morning', and 'Four o'clock in the Morning' which haven't been played live for years.
New songs that are beaten into shape include 'Real Good Time' and 'One Way Ticket' plus our version of 'T for Texas'....in honour of Waylon Jennings, although it was written by Jimmy Rodgers! We'll be playing all these songs in The Mezz on Saturday night. After rehearsal we do the photo-shoot with Cormac as planned, swiftly followed by a few drinks in The Ha'penny Bridge Inn.
Sat. 24 July Dublin......Just when I thought I had collected all of the truly great records from Jamaica I come across a bunch of mind-blowing rocksteady gems. Alton Ellis I was aware of. I had different cuts of 'Breaking Up Is Hard To Do' but to listen to 'All My Tears Come Rolling' or 'If I Could Rule The World' brightens up my day...big time. Other records on the turntable every day are The Viceroy's 'Give It To Him' and Eric and the Loveletts 'I've Been Searching So Long' which is a Rocksteady classic!!
I came back from Sweden last week with about 15 LP's which are on a lot these days too...Marianne Faithfull, The Stones, T Rex, Fats Domino, Ian Hunter, Imperiet, The Trammps, Elvis...a few others...can't remember now.
Tonight's gig in The Mezz, Temple Bar is one of the best yet in this hot smelly bar. The new songs work out great and we all play well...especially Chris. Really enjoyable. Tomorrow I'm off to Mayo.