Thur 7 April Dublin...........Meet up with Brian down at the Viper Rooms along the banks of the smelly ole River Liffey. Had spent a few hours at home having a few beers and grooving away to Clarence Carter records and Loretta Lynn too. It turns out that Gavin Glass runs a little acoustic gig here and he wants us to do a slot in a few weeks. Why not !
After a few liquid refreshments, we pile into the taxi for the East Wall Road, way down past the Point Theatre where Kylie had a gig tonight. We're doing an interview and playing two songs live on a show called Mishmash which broadcasts on Anna Livia 103.2FM. Daryl is the DJ and we have a good laugh, tell a few stories, play acoustic versions of 'Come On Little Baby' and 'Nowhere Fast'. Then it's back to the Viper Rooms for a drink or two, Gavin does a great version of the Stones 'Wild Horses' pounding it out on the piano, and eventually it's off into the night....southbound.
Fri 8 April Bray..........Been listening to a lot of deep soul, a title coined by some Brit enthusiast (whose name I can't recall) but fair play to him, he's dug out a lot of classics for this Kent compilation. The Knight Brothers, Larry Banks, an old fave of mine: Irma Thomas is in there, along with The Incredibles, Van and Titus, Bessie Banks, Raw Spitt and the amazing Jaibi. Trying to finish off reading DBC Pierre's novel 'Vernon God Little.' Started reading it in Sweden a few weeks ago, but somehow or other I've kept getting sidetracked into doing other things...gigs, writing, and I've started re-reading a lot of Peter J. Carrolls' books, as he's one of the best writers on sorcery these days, even though his best output was in the early 80's.The gig in Bray was a bazaar affair as Bray often is. However I got a kick out of it and a few of the lunatics in attendance seemed to enjoy it. Then I got the money real quick and was gone.....
Tues. 12 April Dublin.......The sound is good, as it usually is at this acoustic gig as part of the Ruby Sessions. The weekly show hosts 4 acts and all the money goes to the Simon Community, a very worthy cause as we have an unbelievable number of homeless people in Dublin and it seems to be getting worse. We play 'Evil' for the second time, the first being at Annesley House a week ago. It worked well and I used the wasabi delay pedal I acquired recently. It will also do a reverse delay, an effect I have never used live, but it might come in handy recording. Hung out with Brian and Darren for a while after and saw some of the gig. Chris taught me how to say ' I haven't a clue what you're on about' in German as preparation for the upcoming tour. Ate a falafel on Dame St before hopping into a taxi.
Wed. 13 April The new album from Swedish band Moneybrother arrives. They're really wearing their influences on their sleeve. I can hear the Clash influence and the Northern Soul vibe too. It's a very good album. 'You got Me' by Jaibi is getting a lot of spins here too, as is an Incredibles 'Best Of' called 'Heart and Soul'.Need to get the material that makes up the 'Hellsville' LP plus some acoustic tracks off Paul Thomas's Pro Tools set up and onto another hard drive. A Lacie Drive was delivered here yesterday so off I go down to Paul's place and the job is done.
We retire to the Harold House Pub, just down the road and we have more pints than I bargained for, but I always have a good time with Mr PT. Unfortunately this means that a few things didn't get taken care of. I needed to fax my lawyer ( I can do that from Germany) and I needed to pay the rent ( I can do that when I get back). A quiet night in might have been an idea, as I have to get up at 4am to make it to the airport in time for my early flight to Frankfurt. Doing this with a hang over is not much fun.
Thurs 14 April Frieburg..................Arrive in one piece. Couldn't get to sleep on the plane. Gotta hang around in the airport for an hour before my train and I get taking to an Irish guy from a band called The Prophets ( Ithink). He's doing a few solo gigs himself. We have a beer in the bar to kill time, and I DO need the cure. Mick Morrissey is at the station in Freiburg to meet me off the train. We drop in to the nearby Jos Fritz Cafe where tonights show is. Eat a bit of apple pie, two drinks and off for a lie down My head hardly hits the pillow when it's time to get up again and sound check, although it is an hour and a half later.
After sound check we eat some pasta in a place around the corner. Mick and Nikol are now called Summer Bride and are support on all the gigs (except Greiz). The sound is real good, great acoustics etc. My set goes down very well, one of the best solo acoustic gigs ever. Afterwards its nice to hang out and meet some folks I last met in Staufen last year...Wolfgang, Ralf, Norman...A great night...late drinks with Gunther who owns the place and tells me I must come back again.....yes...this is why I do it. Sometimes it's easy to forget.
Fri 15 April Greiz.....What a day. After three hours sleep, I'm up, quick brekki and off to catch the 9am train to East Germany. Summer Bride aren't playing tonight so I'm all on my own, hungover, and I have to change trains four or five times so grabbing a bit of kip is an impossibility. It's a hot sunny day as we roll across the German countryside. The first indication that we are in what used to be east Germany is the amount of graffiti. Its everywhere, and I mean everywhere. After seven hous I finally disembark in Gera. Norbert picks me up. He has hardly any English, and all I can say in German is "dangeshan" (thank you) and yes, of course I've spelt it wrong. So, with the language barrier we don't get around to discussing the Anglo Irish Agreement. I do however learn that Griez is actually 40 kilometers away, so it's another hour on the road. Eat, soundcheck, and Norbert's PA people drive me out into the countryside to this little pension type Hotel.
Relax for about half an hour and then back for the gig. The place is called Peanuts. It's real small, but full, and they seem to like what I do. A lady at the bar is taking photos with her little digital camera and then before I know it there's a guy in front of me lying on his back on the floor (to get a cool angel, I presume) with a huge lens, click click click...lots of photos. Afterwards I learn he's Karsten Schaarschmidt from a local paper and is both a photographer and a journalist. I need to eat something, and a cheese sandwich with some salad does the trick. Norbert wants me to have a Jameson Whiskey, but I decline explaining that whiskey drives me mental, so I wash down the sandwich with vodka instead.
Sat 16 April Griez.....I'm all alone for breakfast in the ghost hotel. Earlier I saw two old ladies on a balcony having a cigarette and I politely said 'gutten morgan' (however you spell it) but since then not a soul. The food is all laid out for me and I gulp it down, cos it's gonna be a long day. Another 8 hours on the train. Norbert turns up at 9.30 as planned and drives me in the morning sunshine to the station. I've got a Wordsworth Dictionary of Mythology with me so I'm reading about Gilgamesh, the Sumerian goddess Inanna, the Nordic goddess Frejya and various dragon myths. (This sort of stuff stimulates the brain...believe it or not).
Later in the afternoon I venture as far as the dining carriage and order a baked potato with salad and this is washed down with a solitary glass of beer. Then, back to my book.Mick is at the station in Frieburg to meet me. We take the short walk to his fave book shop which also has a little cafe where you can read the English newspapers. This he does, while I drink strawberry juice and check my emails. As it turns out our respective drinks are on the house, cos the girl working in the cafe heard my accent, reckoned I was Irish, and seeing as she lived in Cork for a while, she's given us our tea and juice for free. You can't argue with that !Find a bar for a drink, but the only other customers are two middle aged guys and a fight is brewing. One of the guys seems really pissed off with his buddy and they're bickering and after one beer we nip next door to Atlantik. This turns out to be a good move. It's a venue as well as a bar, posters for The Misfits upcoming show are on the wall, and one for Nashville Pussy. I like it here although the service is real slow, but the beer is cool and inexpensive and when it came to dinner, the meal was excellent. Later we hook up with Wolfgang in some terrible Paddy Pub. Get caught in the rain and in the final bar of the night some guy wants to know if I'm Spider Stacy. Get a pair of glasses son. Goodnight Frieburg.
Mon April 18 Sultzburg........I'm in Sultzburg as I write having taken the train through Dattingen, with a change at Mullheim and enough time to send a fax to my solicitor (don't ask) and to buy an envelope before catching the bus here to Sultzburg. Seems like a quiet laid back town. I had a ramble around, sat by the river for a while, made a phone call, walked back here and fell asleep on the sofa. Mick's gone off to some early evening party where parents and kids will attend. I hang at the flat, and start reading Ian Hunters excellent 'Diary Of A Rock 'n' Roll Star'. Later I get some work done, finally getting a much needed second verse to a song I started writing in Sweden a few weeks ago. It may be called 'Swedish Eyes, Russian Blood' but I may change the title later.
Earlier I had been saying to Mick how I've grown weary of the road and I might stop touring and have a re-think. Then I notice that the pen I'm writing this diary with came from Lafitte Guest House 1003 Bourbon St. New Orleans. Its a place I've never been but a place that has been talked about . I'd like to swing down there in the next year to check it out and if possible, do a few gigs so I could have some cash to play with. So perhaps this pen is telling me my rambling days are not over yet.
Tues April 19 Schallstadt.........After a few hours rambling the streets of Frieburg I head towards the station. I've just bought a much needed umbrella and a shirt for seven euro. Train stations are the same all over the world. Populated by the dissolute and the deranged. I have a beer in the midst of the low life's and read Ian Hunters great tales of touring the USA in 1972. Take the 6.46 train (on time as always) to Schallstadt and Wolfgang meets me at the station.
Tonight, I'm dinner guest to Wolfgang and his lovely wife Daniella. Of course the media are getting great mileage out of the fact that today the first German pope in 900 years or so, has been elected. Apparently this guy is even more conservative and fucked-up than the last guy. The TV is turned of and the records come on. Wolfgang is DJ for hours and he really takes his music seriously. He's really a huge fan of the whole Americana / alternative country stuff. Dinner is great, a few beers and lots of wine, good conversation...what more could you want.
Wed April 20 Kandern.........After breakfast, we feed the rabbits, take pain-killers, and watch a DVD of The White Stripes live from Blackpool, which is excellent. Listen to a bundle of stuff including Duane Jarvis. Wolfgang drives me to Sultzburg and Nikol has just arrived. Out of one car and into the other. We got two guitars, a PA, piano, box of CD's and various bit 'n' pieces crammed into this station wagon. Rain is coming down in bucketfulls. Takes about an hour or so to get to Kandern, tonight's stop on the This Road Is Rocky Tour. (it's good to have titles, in case you get too disorientated, as I did a few days ago and started rambling on about retiring).
A Wednesday night, pissing down rain, a small town in the Black Forest area of Germany.....given such conditions you don't expect much. But how wrong we were. A great crowd turns up, Summer Bride get an encore, so when I go on (after a shot of tequila) I've got them in the palm of my hand. They're clapping along, shouting up stuff, and staying (sort of) quiet on the slow quiet songs. Everything about the gig was great, dinner was Thai food at its best, the shape of the room was ideal, the PA, the lights and of course the crowd. We all played well and a few late drinks were in order. Hopefully, we'll be back again in Chanderer Bahnhofle.
Thurs April 21 Denzingen..........Visit the post office and drink ice tea in the afternoon sunshine. In Hetiersheim we have tea and cheesecake, before continuing on to Denzlingen . Mick gave me a present of a little clip on mic holder that I can attach to a regular stand so I can have my stomping foot miked up. My left foot becomes a human drum machine on these solo dates. The venue is Humpen, and it's tiny and owned by the Harrold, same guy who owne's the place we were last night. He seems like a nice fellow.
Nikol is complaining he's feeling real horny and has been for days. Over at the magazine rack I find a copy of Maxim and he's flicking through it, which is probably making him even more edgy. I glance at some photos of a Miss Jakki Degg (27) from Staffordshire. There's an interview with Miss Degg (it's in German, so I'm none the wiser) Nikol thinks she's hot and I'm thinking to myself that this lady looks a lot like my missus : Å.K. It's a real sweaty gig, (three encores !!) and I didn't bring a change of clothes, and I'm completely soaked afterwards. Harrold is talking about the full band coming next time and I'm all on for that. I explain how much cash we would need and perhaps we could do the show in Kandern.
Fri. April 22 Emmendingen.....In the afternoon we walk up to the old Jewish Cemetery. It's dated back to the 13th Century and it's a bit of a miracle that it's still here as the Nazis destroyed virtually everything to do with Judaism during their reign of terror and ignorance. A spooky place but with a charm. Then again, I've always felt very at home in any sort of spooky environment. The bar is right beside the main railroad tracks that lead all the way from Amsterdam down to Switzerland and it makes some racket as it whizzes by at top speed. No messing with precision German engineering.
Played very well tonight, the sound was great, but a poor attendance. A slightly deranged lady arrives after the gig and is pissed off cos she thought she might have caught the last hour !!?! I can't deal with this, but Mick, being the gentleman that he is, gets out his Guild acoustic and sings the Jarvis/Williams composition 'Still I long For Your Kiss' . I think to myself, what the hell, so I sing 'Drunken Angel' sitting at the table especially for this lady and her boyfriend. They seem to be genuinely grateful that we made the effort. Later a few people join us at the table, but I smell trouble. One of the cunts starts saying he's offended by my language...I use the word 'fuck' too much. So I go " fuck...fuck...fuck...cunt...fuck...fucketty ...fuck !" He doesn't seem amused. He storms off in a huff, and his friend joins me at the bar, where I've moved to, to get away from the madness at the table. The guy apologizes profusely for his friends rude behavior and buys me a Jagermeister and down the hatch it goes. Ten minutes later we're on the road, the gig just a memory...................
Sat 23 April Titisee-Neustadt is actually two towns that have grown together. The gig at the Kultur Kafe is on the Neustadt side. We're way up in the mountains and the scenery was beautiful on the drive up. Again, we're playing in a place that has wonderful acoustics, especially for an acoustic / unplugged type show.Dinner is the best all week. Potatoes (fried) with sheep's cheese and a great salad. In case you don't know this, dinner is very important for the itinerant musician. It may be you're only chance for a proper meal all day, and if the food is shit, or worse still, there's none, the gig is going to suffer. Likewise, you shouldn't eat too much too soon before the gig.
After dinner we go for a bit of a ramble, only to discover that the nearest bar, about 100 yards down the road has a big neon sign outside boasting "all drinks 99cents." How are we supposed to compete with that ? It's 8Euro in to see us, so as you can imagine, not many alcoholics show up for the gig.The show itself was nothing to write home about....a small crowd. I enjoyed playing however, and 'Swedish Eyes' could become a great song. It's my second night playing it.. A bit of a bummer to end the tour on a low note, but it just goes to show, you never can tell what's around that next corner.
Sat 30 April Dublin......Been living a bit like a recluse for the past few days. After a tour I sometimes need to disappear from the world for a while. Spoke to a lot of people on the phone but the only person I actually saw was Steve Wall, who I bumped into outside, and Carl upstairs who kindly collected my mail while I was away. Today I'm recording. Got a good version of 'Caroline Says' down. Four hours it took me to get three acoustic guitar parts down, electric guitar, vocals and back-up double tracked vocals. It doesn't sound bad at all. It seems mostly in tune too !
Sun 1 May Kilkenny......My instincts told me to watch out ! After consulting the tarot I was prepared for disappointment, but all is not lost was the message, the problem could be dealt with...etc. It's not easy read for yourself. So, I decided to put my vintage Burns amp in the van, just in case my regular amp gave me any hassle. It's a bright sunny day and after our two and a half hour drive we roll into KIlkenny and witness a party atmosphere on the streets, which is what one would expect at the Rhythm and Roots Festival.
We're playing at the Kyteler Inn, named after the 12th century witch Dame Alice Kyteler. And just as I had feared, my Marshall Valve State amp is fucked. It was ok during yesterdays recording session, although the reverb wouldn't do it's thing. Today, it's useless, royally fucked. I plug in the old Burns amp, given to me by my old buddy David Bickley in Cornwall back in '95 I think. It really doesn't have enough poke for a loud gig like this but it will have to do. I need a certain overdriven sound and the Burns is too clean. Again, luck is on my side as our van driver JP happens to have a Boss distortion pedal on the dash-board, so together with my Rat pedal I've got all the dirt I need.
During soundcheck some people wander in, one guy, obviously into old amps, takes a photo of the Burns...and not of any of us humans. Sheila Sullivan (who played fiddle on both "By Hook" and "Long Time Gone" and gigged with us through from '97-'99) is in town and arrives down for sound check. It's good to see my old friend and she tells me she's off to play a few gigs in England with the Dead Plants. Si from Dead Plants use to drive for us back in '97 and '98, and his band played support to us in Galway once. I have fond memories of that big blue Mercedes van. And I recall the night we nearly got thrown out of a hotel because our post gig session was turning into a gig in my room, Seb had the double bass out and I'm not sure who else was there, most of the Racketeers, Si of course was there and I remember his missus was downing most of the bottle of tequila given to us by the promoter.
The gig kicks off and Sheila joins us for "Apology Not Accepted" "Racketeers Lament" and "Too Far Gone". It sounds great, and I reckon we must get her to guest with us again soon, a Dublin gig hopefully. WE sell a few CD's sign some autographs and after a quick two drinks we hit the road.