Thurs 7 April Just got back from an enjoyable gig and stay-over in Mullingar. I need to redefine my attitude towards the Irish midlands. Some months ago I had a great evening in Hughes's bar (gone now) and last nights show at the Yukon bar/Stables was almost as good. Paddy Dunning was down to see me, taking time off from running his empire which includes the Temple Bar Music Center (venue, recording studio, rehearsal studio) Grouse Lodge Recording Studio, Sun, and various bars and possibly other places I don't know about. His friend, whose name I can't remember, apparently cried twice during the gig. Not because I was bad, but because he was moved by some of my sad and lonesome songs ! He also bought two CD's. Hopefully he's not in tears as I write, bottle of whiskey in one hand, loaded shotgun in the other. The saddest song of the evening, and one that got the crowd to stay real quiet was my version of "Stay Bruised" by Nikki Sudden. I had played the song for the first time at a Dublin gig last week , and a couple got up to waltz. Nikki would have got a kick out of that. Rest in peace Mr. Sudden.After the gig I chatted briefly to a Swedish lady who enquired about my (as yet unreleased ) song, "Swedish Eyes, Russian Blood". The lady told me she comes from Uppsala. I know it well, having played there on a few tours. Last time would have been 1999. Fiachra got a good sound, the Leeds based support act seemed like nice people, folks bought me drinks, bought CD's and Johnny Cronin was and is a gentleman and an honourable host. I look forward to my return visit to Mullingar.
Mon 8 May Dublin.....Last week my friend Cormac Figgis told me by way of a phonecall, that he's renting an antique cane for me as a prop for a photoshoot. Little did I realize I'd really need a walking stick within 24 hours of our conversation. An old wound is acting up, the result of a motor bike accident back in the mists of time. I'm on anti-inflammetry medication and pain killers by the gobfull as well as cod liver oil plus Gloucossamine. I'm so pilled up I rattle !
The other day I found a video of Nikki Sudden on the internet, recorded at the Cake Shop, New York, two days before he died. The song in question ?..."Death Is Hanging Over Me." I get to thinking how we are possibly invoking our destiny without fully realizing whats going on. Speaking of Doctor Death, I heard today that Grant McLennan died in his sleep, aged 48. Who next ?Recorded a few guitar parts yesterday, borrowing a Fender Telecaster from Jimmy Cinders. Recorded vocals today, as the sky darkened to Prussian Blue and the heavens opened, spitting down rain fast and furious. An Apocalyptic atmosphere pervaded for three hours. I could have done with a drink but the cupboard was bare, just like in Mother Hubbards house.
Tomorrow I'll be with Paul Thomas in Ringsend trying to mix a few tracks. We've got five or six in the can . I passed on his contact details to John Jobbling who is writing a book on U2. (Paul worked on their first three albums) I'd be curious to know what stories Paul might tell about the band.Now, I'm going to put on Grant McLennan singing the song "Fingers" from his solo album Fireboy.
Sun 28 May Early in the week I blew harp on a few songs with Jimmy Cinders at his gig in the Voodoo Lounge, water being the only form of liquid to pass my lips. Had spent a few wild days in France and needed to clean up a bit. A few days later it was 'party time', kicking off with a solo gig in The Belvedere, Damien Connors and Paul Loughran also played sets. Good to see Vinny O Connor and Jimmy from Twenty Percent Dead again. Curtesy of Terry Finnegans big white van we made it home in one piece, with Jimmy and Damien following in a taxi. Red wine and beer was consumed and many great records taken out and dusted off. Following an all day mixing session with Paul Thomas, I met up with Jessica and Oscar from Gothenburg, on their first visit to the Emerald Isle. Hopefully they enjoyed themselves....I think they did. We showed them around town, went out to dinner , watched a movie. You get the picture.
Tues May 30 Insomnia has taken over and has left me with a metallic taste in my mouth, sore eyes and a general feeling of impending doom. Terror lurks behind every handshake. (I've only slept about five hours in the last two days.) As the day progressed, I drank gallons of spring water, collected keys from Mr Cinders, and went to Ringsend, recieving good news from Al Cowan about Italy. Got a new running order for the new album, worked on a few mixes, made a few phone calls....time for dinner.Tomorrow morning, bright an early (4am) I'll be making my way to the airport, catch a flight to Berlin for four gigs, two in the German capital, two in Greiz. Wish me luck.
Thurs June 1 Berlin.....Arrived here yesterday into the cold and rain. No sign of summer yet. Went for a ramble, was tired and needed a bit of a rest after a hectic week in Dublin.I took a taxi from Hermanplatz to Berlin Haupenhauf, the brand new railway station, opened only three days ago, and the biggest in Europe, Im told. It was freezing cold and my train was 30 minutes late arriving frim Kiel. I had the worst bag of chips in my life in Kiel, back in '97 as we killed a few hours before boarding the ferry bound for Göteborg, but thats another story.By the time we get to Leipzig, I had missed my connection. I eventually caught another train, full of bums and their horrible unruly children. Thankfully most of them disembark at Knauthain.
Overgrown railway tracks and graffiti everywhere. The red brick station at Pegau looked desolate. What horror has it witnessed ? The train rolled past the wheatfields. Now and again, through the black mass of cloud, came a straggling ray of sunshine. I arrived into Gera, the station now little more than a building site. Only one of the ten platforms functioned. I waited forty minutes for the last train to Greiz. On arrival, and unable to contact Norbert (my man in Greiz) I decided to ramble uptown. On Stavenhagenstrasse I found the little cafe at the Theatre de Stad. A beer cost me 1.50 and I attempted to strike up a conversation with the barmaid. Not that I needed the company, I simply wanted to learn if Neu-Schenka was nearby. A lady who was having coffee with her friends at a nearby table came to the rescue. The barmaid produced a flyer advertising the nights gig, complete with a photo of yours truly in action, Teusner in the background on drums with his "g'day mate" T-shirt.
It transpired that Neu-Schenka was 10 Kilometers away in the middle of the countryside. I decided to relax and finish my beer.I tried phoning Norbert again, and this time he answered. Within minutes he arrived and we drove out of town to the faerytale Hotel/Guest House in Moscowitz. Checked in and went down the little village. I hadn't eaten all day so I ordered what I thought was toast but it turned out to be a bowl of soup. A few minutes later I hear "Hello Eamonn". It was Christopher(who I never met before, nor even spoke to before, as Norbert had set up the gigs) Christopher is the son and heir to the huge mansion that is Neu Schenka. With him, his friend and interpreter, Daniel.I quickly finished my soup and joined them in a beer. Daniel told me how honoured he was to have me playing in (or near) Greiz. They had been following my adventures via the website. "Gigs in New York, Amsterdam, Dublin, Berlin and now Greiz".The drive to Neu Schenka was an experience in itself, Christopher behind the wheel, pedal to the metal, but we got there in one piece. The building is majestic. Built in 1498, it really is something to see. The large room upstairs where I played had great acoustics. A balcony over looked the rolling hills, over 100 deer to be seen, and a few, I presume hanging up on hooks in the kitchen, venison being the chef's speciality.
The PA was great and after soundcheck we shared a beer and I had a wonderful vegetarain dinner.I enjoyed the gig and chatted to a few folks afterwards, sold a CD or two, and Christopher's Mother told me the story of Nicel List, the infamous thief, who was eventually caught locally in 1698 having stolen a golden shrine from the Church, was tried and hanged from the rafters in the very room where I had just performed.Neu Schenka had been in the Winkler family for 350 years, but they lost it during the first world war,. It's now been in the Winer family for three generations.
Back at the Hotel I attempted to read a short story by Bram Stoker, but after a page or two I nodded off.
Fri June 2 Greiz...........Up bright and early, shower, text messages to attend to, there's no heating in this room, but then again, I presume the management weren't expecting it to be this cold the first week in June. I seem to be the only guest in this countryside Hotel/Guest House/Pension. I went to the breakfast room. Out of curiosity I turned on the TV. On channel 16 I found a frauline giving a very long and involved Tarot reading to who is most likely a C-list German celebrity. The reading goes on and on. I've no idea what it's all about. The reader seems to be using the Hanson pack. I use the Rider-Waite or the Oswald Wirth pack myself. Up on Channel 127 I found Kojak (dubbed into German) in an episode where he has a romantic dinner with Swedish actress Maud Adams.
I changed my guitar strings and took the # 12 bus into town. It's a picturesque place. Last time I was here, I only saw the venue, hotel and train station, in that order. Today I've time to look around. The town centre is cobblestoned, people seem to potter about, not a lot happening. Up at the market place, standing erect and proud amongst the stalls and traders is a majestic, 40 foot tall garlanded Maypole, shooting up through a hoop. The pagan symbolism is unmistakable. I crossed the bridge over the White Elster River as it winds it's serpentine path from its source in the westernmost part of the Czech Republic, and on through the states of Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony- Anhalt. The bridge itself is now twice the width of the river. Still, it must have been something to behold in it's former glory.Many derelict houses line the street leading to the overgrown Goethe Park, a place much in need of a gardner. You could loose your dog in the long grass !
I spent a while in the town Museum. I was the only person there, spooky 17th century Bibles on display in glass cases, a suit of armour, elaborately decorated furniture from by-gone times. I eventually took a bus back to Moschowitz, a huge grey hot-air balloon hanging ominously over the valley. Back in Greiz for the gig, I meet up with Karsten, who was so kind in his review of the gig I played here in Peanuts last year. Karsten writes for the local paper. I also met up with Evi who wants the band to play at the Schloss-Folk Festival next year. Cd's are sold, I enjoyed the gig, and as always had a great time in Greiz.
Sat June 3 Berlin.........Arriving into Berlin Haupenhauf at 5.30pm, I decided to take a taxi straight to tonights gig, The Emerald Isle bar. It's not a bad place, as Irish bars go. Soundcheck, dinner, drink. Meet Vernon and Suzanne and talk about Dublin , the occult and movies ! Later Carmen arrives, with friends Christina and Jörg. It's a bit of a mad place, The Emerald Isle. The rain is lashing down outside, nobody seems to care that the summer has passed Germany by.
Mon June 4 Berlin......Yesterday, the Festival of Cultures took place and went right by the window in Hermansplatz where I had been resting my weary bones. I watched a bit of the parade from the balcony, and then went out on a ramble. There was a great Carnival atmosphere in the neighbourhood, pity about the weather. Had some great South American food, a beer and went back to reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Up at White Trash the gig is great. A good audience and promoter Trinity takes care of everything. Its good to meet up with David Judson Clemmons again. Mark Mullholland from Impure Thought arrives. Mark's wearing his business man hat as he also runs Cannery Row Records with his partners Frank and Richard. I first met Mark when he did sound for a gig in The Butterclub (Berlin) about two years ago. I helped him out when he came to Ireland to play some shows a while back. The Cannery Row folks seemed to enjoy the gig, so I'm pleased with the nights work. Carmen ,Christina and Jörg arrive with a posse and a good time is had by all.