Wednesday, 5 December 2007


Wed 5 December, Dublin....Obsessions come and go, and I've slid back into reading about the Bronte’s again, mainly because I found a great biography of the famous sisters alcoholic junky brother Branwell. Written by Daphne Du Maurier, it brings to life a much-misunderstood writer / painter who never had anything published during his short life and only managed to sell one or two paintings. His over active imagination got him into trouble from time to time, but it's difficult not to like this wonderful 'failure.' Stayed up til dawn reading the book, and only managed to get one and a half hours sleep before I hit off across to the north side of the city to meet up with Les Keye . On arrival, I discovered Les had no sleep at all, he's been up all night, but was ready all the same to get down to work. In his home studio we drank countless cups of tea and listened back to a 'live' recording we made last week. When I say live, I don't mean a recording of a gig, but a recording of me Les and Chris all playing together in a room, no over dubs, just lashing it out, and it doesn't sound bad either. Another 7 or 8 songs I had been working on were loaded up from one hard drive to another and we now have to figure out what’s good and what’s not so good. After five hours we were brain dead, so I packed up and off I went, heading south.

In the past few weeks I had been listening to a lot of Holly Golightly. Her LP "Surely There Is No Other" was rarely off the turntable, so I was very pleased when the postman arrived with a package from Damaged Goods Records with two more LP's and a four track EP on clear vinyl. The package also contained an LP by Billy Childish. Anybody who can write a song and name a band after his mother's 1950's cycling club gets a vote of confidence from me. The album from Mr Childish sounds like it was recorded in the forty minutes it took them to play it and it's wonderful. Holly, of course has been on the stereo day and night. In a vain attempt to break from vinyl addiction, I spent a few days in the Wild West of Ireland, where 'The Lilting Banshee' 'Out On The Ocean' and other fiddle tunes were recorded. On a drive back from Ballyhaunis, near Bekan, we stopped off to check out the ancient roadside passage grave, before continuing on down the long winding road.

A few days later I found myself staring in amazement at the fattest birds I'd ever seen, and I’m not talking about ladies. I’m talking pigeons. Big fat pigeons were everywhere. They struggled to get airborne, these lay-abouts. Over near the Rialto Bridge in Venice, but especially up around the tourist trap that is St Marks Square you will find these obese birds, fat from the never ending stream of tourists who, for some reason or other, feel the need to keep feeding these feathered vermin.Found a few great antique stores. One had a carved Tibetan thighbone in the window. It reminded me of the time many years ago when in L.A. I asked to see the thighbone in the display case of a particular antique store I had visited. The assistant obliged and then went off to deal with another customer. I looked at the hand-carved bone, which had been fashioned into a flute, with a row of holes drilled along the shaft, so what else would you do, but put it to your lips and try and get a note! And I got one, not a very melodic or clear sounding note, but a note all the same. The shop assistant came running over in a panic "Oh you must not release the spirits!! " she exclaimed. The fact that I wasn't a trained monk seemed to have something to do with It. I might have learned a few things about Kundalini, I may have known how to meditate a bit and put a stop to that endless chatter; the internal dialogue, but my ancestors had drunk from the wrong gene pool. As far as she was concerned, I was far from being the ideal candidate for blowing through this odd magickal/religious tool.

Mad, timeless Venice. I rambled up the street, stopping off for a drink before dinner, in the little bar around the corner from where an unseen hand has scratched a pentagram onto the door of the local drapery store. Later, I found a bookbinders down one of the labyrinthine streets, asking for €450 for customized leather bound books. An ancient looking copy of the legendary grimoire, The Necromonican sat in the window with a little sign saying 'enquire inside about price.' But of course this book wasn't / couldn't be ancient at all, as The Necromonican was imagined by HP Lovecraft in the 1930's. Still, the copy here looked splendid. However, that didn't mean I was going to stride in there waving a chequebook ...or a credit card. Come to think of it, I don't own a credit card, and I've never had the luxury of a chequebook taking up valuable space in my pocket either. Cash is King in my brain baby !!!

It was freezing cold in Rome, but before long we found an odd little place that sold slices of pizza, full chickens, big hunks of beef, cokes, sandwiches and beer, drug of the A bottle of Becks cost €2.20, so we had a few of those before finding a restaurant for dinner. The Hotel Cristina was a bit depressing after the palatial Palazzo Guardi in Venice, so we kept away from it as much as possible, spending lots of time at the Forum. The Arc of Septimus Severus prepared us for what was to come. Stopped by at the Temple of Saturn on the way to the garden where the Vestal Priestesses would spend the afternoon, just across from House of the Vesta. I imagined these foxy ladies taking it easy here for an hour or two after spending hours tending the flame in honour of their goddess Vesta of the hearth, and of course in honour of Rome. Further up the hill we found the house, which Augustus shared with his feisty second wife Livia. It's claimed she poisoned eight or nine people to keep her family in power. But who knows the truth. Further up the road, the Colosseum looked spooky when you consider what went on there. It was time for more spaghetti.........

Back in Dublin, the Fender Champion 600 Amp, matched with a €9.90 Beringer Tube Overdrive pedal was put through the mill. It sounded best with my old Epiphone Casino. Some of the songs were brand new. One, I wrote as the guys were strolling in. Days of merry solitude were spent getting the over dubs down, a little drop of red wine to keep me company, the black and white wild fat cat slowly roaming the gravel driveway, stopping every now and then to stare in the window at me. Days drifted on. A week felt like a month, just the way I like it.

Saturday, 22 September 2007


Thurs 13 September, Amsterdam....Amphibious city, with its canals spreading out from the harbour like a virus. Despite the sleaze and countless dodgy characters rambling around, it's a city that has always seemed safe. If you meet the grim reaper here, it's most likely your own fault. After getting into Central Station I walked down the broad majestic Damrak, past the Hotel Monofa where I stayed last spring. I hung a right and found a small bar, ordered a beer and sat in the window.

Later, in Mulligans on Amstel , I set up , soundchecked and grabbed something to eat. Chatted to John, a native of Dublin living here in exile and contentment. Some American tourists came in, took one of the posters off the wall and asked me to autograph it, which I did. After the gig I got a call from my friend Cormac who is over from Dublin to see The Police play a show as part of their reunion tour. We decide to hook up in a bar called the Soundgarden. Having a drink with Phil at the bar, he tells me he knows where the place is, and will come along and show me the way. Another call comes in to say that the Soundgarden has just closed (it's 1am) but Korskvf next door is still serving, so off we go into the night. It's a part of Amsterdam I haven't seen before, but we have no problem finding the place. The DJ downstairs is playing terrible Goth music very loud, no sign of Cormac AKA Ted. Upstairs I spot him, with his cousin Nikki, who also made the pilgrimage to see Sting and Co. Drinks are ordered, stories are told and a thick cloud of smoke hangs over our barside table.

Fri 14 September, Mortsel....Had a late late sleep in, and I needed it. Took a ramble through the local market, buying a freshly squeezed orange juice to slate my thirst. On realizing I recognized more streets than I had expected, I decided to walk down to Amstel in an experiment to see if I could find my way without getting completely lost. Collected my gear, and had a cup of tea with Barry and we chatted about his recent trip to China as a live sound engineer, how he would never ever live in Ireland again and the general state of affairs for folks like himself and myself.Took a taxi to the train station and got on board the packed train for Antwerp. We had only got as far as Schipol Airport when the ticket inspector made an announcement through the tanoy system in both Dutch and English, saying he had put up with rude travellers all day long, he wasn't taking any more crap from anybody and in fact the train would NOT continue its journey. We all had to disembark. Needless to say, most people around me looked pissed off, some smiled. People started to get off. In disbelief, I stayed put as did a few others. 'Is this for real?' I asked a guy who seemed unsure what to do . 'This happens occasionally, I've been told about it, but I never take the train , and this is why.' After about 10 minutes the same folks that got off the train, started to get back on and following a wait of another 10 minutes the doors closed and off we went, heading south towards the Belgian border.

As the ticket inspector got over his temper tantrum the train slid down the track, passing through the Hague with the giant windmill near the station, past the Gothic church with it's enormous golden clock counting down the minutes to armageddon and the return of Our Lord and Saviour to redeem us from the clutches of the Prince of Darkness. It was a dark dull evening as I gazed through the dusty dirty windows. I read another chapter from Bukowski's 'Factotum.'Got a text message to say I should meet Inneke23 at 'the elephants' beside the train station in Antwerp. Walked through three packed carriages to find a toilet and had my first piss in five hours. Got off the train and out into the rain. Asked a Chinese guy outside the main entrance to the station where the elephants were, he said, around the back of the station, so off I went in search of these elephants and there I found a sculpture of three life size elephants, made of scrap pieces of wood, nailed together and impressive they were too.

After a short wait Inneke23 arrived in a small van, Wim from her band was in the back seat. Off we drove at high speed, picked up a PA along the way and drove to Mortsel. The gig was in a place called Malanga, and I was introduced to the owner, a nice guy who insists I have a beer as the PA is being set up. There's no food available so I go for a walkabout. Time is tight so there isn't enough time to go into a restaurant and have a proper sit down meal, and I don't want another Falafel, so I settle for a Balisto, a chocolate biscuit bar that costs 40cents.I met Inneke23 last June when Chris, Les and I played in Berlin. She was hanging out with Mark Mullholland, but we didn't really say much to each other as she was real drunk. That tends to happen to people at racketeers gigs. While I was in Canada, she wrote to me and began to help getting extra gigs for me in Antwerp, Ghent and Mortsel. I was curious as well to get involved with somebody who calls themselves '23'. To my amazement, I discovered that she had never read Robert Anton Wilson. (google Robert A. Wilson and the 23 enigma to get information on this. It's too long and complicated to get into here )

Was introduced to a lady called Alice who spoke of George Murray from the Record Collector shop in Dublin, and then Inneke23 & The Lipstick Painters did their set. Afterwards their friend Karo from local band Sodatune played a few cool songs. I did my thing and there was a mixed reaction. The barstaff's choice of dodgy techno between the nights acts didn't help the atmosphere, but we got the job done.Back at Innekes pad, I was left with a set of keys and she drove off to her mothers place for the night leaving me to my own devices.

Sat. 15 September, Herentals. Sorrounded by pictures, postcards, drawings and engravings of elephants I got to thinking to myself that it's fair to come to the assumption that my host has a slight obsession with these big beasts. A huge painting of Ganeshe with beautiful Asian eyes hung close to the poster of Hank Williams all sad and lonesome. In contrast, a one-handed statue of Jesus stared at me from a table in the living room, the spitting image of ex-racketeers bass played Paul Dempsey, circa 1999.Out on a ramble I found a quiet bar down a side street, just me, the bar lady and two old-timers. All was going good until suddenly , all together, about 70 people of all ages, kids, granny's, mom's and dad's all dressed to the nine's arrived as if out of nowhere. An automated machine cranked out 'Delilah' at high volume and a couple danced while all cheered them on. It was a very surreal moment. The machine was like something from a 19th century fairground, with an accordion that played by itself, and the hi-hat on the drum kit magically moved as if the drummer was the first cousin of the invisible man from another dimension. In the space of five seconds the place had gone from the quietest bar in Belgium to the most packed bar in Belgium. I was surrounded !I soon learned that it was a wedding party, but no sooner had they arrived, they were off again to the next bar, where I can only imagine they danced, had a quick drink, scared the living daylights out of some tourist and once again departed.

Arrived into Herentals and had a quick soundcheck through the wonderful PA. Top quality gear. Inneke did a solo set, I did my thing and went down well. Sold a lot of cd's and had a few drinks. The unfortunate thing about meeting Irish people in Europe is that they often get to thinking Aslan are on a par with Bowie and Christy Moore is a god. And you gotta make sure you don't say anything bad about Mother Ireland. God forbid. Thus, there followed a rapid descent into a Bukowskiesque nightmare. All phoney cocaine courage and bullshit, I was glad to get out of dodge and onwards to Holland.

Sun.16 September Hardewijk..On arrival at tonight's venue, Cafe Luxemburg, I checked in to the Great Western Hotel, relaxed as best I could, made a phone call and later did the gig. The folks here are a friendly bunch and people present me with shots of Geneva gin, which is supposedly good for toothache. Washed the gin down with a few beers and hung around for a while after my set, before the short walk up the street to my Hotel, where I only manged to sleep for about two hours.

Mon. 17 September, Antwerp...Walked around in the rain for a while to see what the town was like. Found the old town walls, still intact. Made it to Ammersfoort, where I had to change trains, then get another ticket and off I went back to Belgium again. Back In Antwerp late that evening, I found a bar called The Burning Plague, the sort of place where you don't go unless you've got a good size roll of 20's in your pocket. Got talking to some of the locals, asked a guy to keep an eye on my guitar while I took a leak. Had another beer and the phone rang. It was the elephant lady and she was on her way. Ordered another beer (€1.60) from the barman who looked just like Robert DeNiro.The guy who had looked after my guitar while I took a leak, leaned over and in a quiet voice said, 'Doesn't he look like DeNiro.' I couldn't believe it, I told him I'd just been thinking the same thing. We drained our glasses and stared into the distance as Iggy Pop screamed like a tortured soul through the stereo.

Up around the corner stood De Heksenketel, a nice old bar, with a hostel upstairs. The PA was in good working order and the mixing desk did what it was supposed to do. Not only locals, but tourists and people of a transient nature came in to the gig, and really got into it. Cd's were sold and off I went to a late bar, many of the folks from the gig came along too, and I made some new friends. I remember a bottle of rose being opened at 5.30am and after that I went off to the land of nod.

Tues 18 September, Ghent......Needed a coat so we took a tour of a few second hand clothes shop, until I eventually found a great big one which made me feel like a Russian gangster. Paid my €30 and off we went, unsure what to do next. Crossing one of the old squares, I spotted a bar so we went in and I grabbed a table . Overhead floated a few zeppelins. I had a beer, 23 had her daily coke & a smoke. The conversation turned to all things psychic and magickal, as they sometimes do. When you hang around with somebody who calls themselves 23, weird shit is sure to happen. Everywhere we went we saw the # 23, and we saw witches. Dropped into a corner shop and there was a sticker of a witch on the cash til. Walked past a new bar that had broomsticks outside and a statue of a witch in the doorway. The whole afternoon was like this.

Went down to Ghent to play in Kinky Star. As I got off the train a guy way up the platform started to shout at me. Here we go, I thought to myself. I certainly do attract the headcases. Dressed head to toe in black, late forties, not a lot unlike a Willie DeVille type cat, only a lot more sinister, it was obvious he was very wasted. I thought he was looking for a fight. He held out his hand and there was a bunch of grapes. He wanted to offer me a grape ! I accepted and on we walked. His name was Black and he had just put a band together called Romantica. 'Not Metallica, ROMANTICA !!' he proclaimed and laughed, and so did I. He insisted on carrying my guitar which made me a bit nervous as I thought he might fall down the stairs. Off he went, Mr Black went one way, I went the other.

After a beer or two and soundcheck the phone calls started. The wife wanted to make sure I was still alive and a friend from Dublin wanted to see if I wanted somebody dead. Played the good to a good listening and appreciative audience. Sold CD's and hung out. Promoter Luc took us out for dinner in a place across the road. The guy from the late bar in Antwerp the other night showed up and joined us. The conversation was in Flemish, so I drifted off into my own realm for a while.

Wed 19 September, Nuremberg.....Contemplated taking a flight to Nuremberg, but it proved too costly to book at the last minute, so the 7 hour train journey had to do. Arrived in to Nuremberg on platform 23 (where else) and went to catch a cab. There's a witch painted on the door of the car parked next to us.Get down to the venue, a cool place called Pegnitzbühne. After a few glasses of wine and a slice of pizza, I do the gig. Photos are taken the gig is filmed and I see more Cd's than expected. Most of the small gathering of people stay behind for a late drink and we all hang out together. Inneke brings her guitar over to the bar and gives us a version of Merl Haggard's "Tonight The Bottle Let me down" and i do Johnny's "I Still Miss Someone" and a few others. Chat to Marcus and Bea and Wolfgang, all good people who make me feel at home and very welcome indeed.

Thurs 20 September, Nurenberg.....Marcus and Bea have a great breakfast ready, and I get to re acquaint myself with the 3 cats. Then we hopped into the car, it being a bright sunny day, and went to visit the Imperial Castle , which is one of the most important imperial residences of the Middle Ages. Good old Emperor Friedrich1 Bararossa built the place 1015 years ago. We saw some great suits of armour, climbed the tower , checked out the well which is 47 meters deep. It was dug in order to survive several sieges, and in the courtyard stood the famous Kunigunde lime tree, the original of which was planted by the Empress Kunigunda back in the 10th century. She was canonized in 1200, for what, Im not sure, but she's a saint now, a sort of medieval B list celebrity. Down in the old town square we checked out the markets, and had a beer. Tourists lined up to turn a gold ring on the railings around the town square clock, which would, according to legend, bring them luck, but Marcus let me in on a secret. The gold ring wasn't the one at all !! Over on the other side was the real magick ring. Black as night it was and I spun it around three times, as I need some good luck.

Later Marcus's Grateful Dead Tribute band were rehearsing in Pegnitzbühne and we were invited down by Bea. A few bottles of white wine were opened and Bea told me great stories and we had a fun time. A phone call came from home, and I went outside to chat, missing the obligitary band arguement in the process. Just as well too.

Friday 21 September Greiz....After a boiled egg and bread, I bid adieu to Marcus and Bea and walked out through the back garden, down along by the river, crossed the bridge and walked in the Indian summer sunshine to the train staion. 10 minutes later i was in Nurenburg Haupenhoff, and set off for Greiz, getting there as dusk descended at 8.15 pm. They had sent a young man called Daniel to meet us, and it turns out he's also the sound guy.After the enjoyable gig, I talked to Evi who runs the Schlossfolk Festival that we played at earlier this year. We talked of the neverending hussle of rock n roll and she then drove us out to our countryside pension, where I went to bed and dreamed of a wonderful life as a recluse.

Saturday 22 September Leipzig...Awoke at 8.30 tossing and turning. Took a shower, read a bit of Factotum, and breakfast was delivered. . Its another hot sunny day and the birds are singing in the trees. The wife phoned and I told her I wanted to go home. A helicopter is necessary. I felt like the angel of death was hanging over me, then I also felt the great goddess Isis was sitting in the corner watching over me too.

Inneke23 had decided to indulge in her passion for hitch hiking, so she set out on the road with her thumb. I opted for the train. Two and a half hours later I was Leipzig and I surprised myself by navigating the complex tram system and I found the venue, the Kulturwirtschaft Waldfrieden. Said hi to Anders and had dinner and a drink. Went out for a ramble . Most of the shops were closed. Punks were everywhere. Typical east German graffitti covered the buildings that line the avenue. Went back to the bar, found a darkened corner and nodded off for an hour.Later, in the candle lit atmosphere, Inneke sang her songs about fairy men and elephants and I sang my songs and then I stopped singing my songs when I got tired. A lady told me she likes my sloppy guitar playing.

Sunday 23 September Berlin...On the train some ladies asked me for directions to the metropolitan museum , but I had to confess, although I had been to Berlin a few times, I had no idea where it was. In fact I find Berlin very confusing, its so big !Just after arriving into Berlin Haupenhauf, my friend John R Dalton phoned so I got instructions on how to get to Artliner, where im due to play.. So , I got on the U-Bahn to Friedrichshan and hung a right. Walked down the street in the hot sunshine feeling a little lost. Saw a cool looking Greek lady sitting outside a little corner shop, smoking a cigar and drinking beer from a white plastic cup. Cool shades hid her eyes. I asked directions to Gartnerstrasse, but she'd never heard of it. She hollered into the guy in the shop, so he got out a map and we both tried to locate the street of mystery. Customers came and went, we still searched the map. Then a friend of his arrived and got on his mobile phone to ask a friend. Eventually I got the information from these more than helpful people, and I bade my new friends goodbye and off up the street I went and hung a right.

Past the great Sunday afternoon flea market I eventually found Artliner. Had a beer, spoke to Andy, the sound guy and went out to the market. Bought a Baphomet piece of jewelery and a few other things. Watched the American ladies busking singing their country songs and went back to Artliner to soundcheck.John and his Peruvian ladyfriend arrived and I did my thing. The sound was real good, but Im not so sure if Im was all that up to scratch. Late drinks were had and as always, Berlin seemed like an old friend.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

TOO LATE TO STOP (June - July 2007 - Ireland / Germany / Canada / USA)

Sat 9 June Tramore....Another hot hot day. Following a three hour drive we rolled into the sea-side town of Tramore in the sunny south east of Ireland. With an aching back and shoulders, I felt as if I had been run over by a bus, but following self medication I perked up and we soundchecked and hung out. That's what bands do a lot....hang out. Then we played the gig and it was good fun and Chris and Les enjoyed themselves, and so did I and by coincidence, so did the audience. The rather baleful waning moon hung low in the sky as we made our way back to Dublin. Blood red, it seemed to cast an ominous spell. The thick fog added to the atmosphere. Still, we arrived back home in one piece and I fell into bed at 5am and slept well.

Wed 13 June Dublin....A few hours are spent making final arrangements for our trek to Germany and then on to the States and Canada. Then at 6pm it's rehearsal. We worked mostly on a new song which will be called 'Money' for the time being. We also messed about with 'Nine Bridges From Town.' Les split, Chris and I had a few beers and with Åsa, we went down to our local for one, then back home for our little disco. This went on a little late, so we only managed to get about two hours in bed, and nearly missed the flight.

Thurs 14 June Berlin....The taxi in from Schoenefeld airport took ages. The driver eventually found the Sunflower on Helsingforser Strasse in Friedrichshain which will serve as our Berlin base. Had a beer to unwind and went on the internet to check out car rental. Eventually get that sorted, so out into the hot hot sun we go. Ate some pasta and on we went. It ended up being a longer than anticipated walk to White Trash where we play a gig next Monday.

Chris wanted to check out the Tattoo parlour which is part of the whole White Trash emporium. As he looked at designs and chatted to the artists I nodded off for a while in the waiting area. We had a few beers at the bar next door and later cruised down Oranienburgerstrasse. After sampling Berliner beer and tequila in a few hostelries we were feeling mighty fine and the crack was good. The final port of call was a wonderful Indian restaurant where we had a meal, and I drank a bottle of wine, while Chris stuck to the beer. A little bleary and a little the worse for ware, we took a taxi back to the Sunflower.

Fri 15 June Greiz.....It took two hours for us to find the car rental place, so we were later hitting the road than planned. Using the satellite navigation system, we left Berlin behind and hit the Autobahn, cruising at 120mph while big black mercs shot passed us at incredible speeds. At one point we ran out of road and this played havoc with the navigation system. My phone died yesterday, so I had to keep borrowing Chris's mobile to call ahead to the organizers of tonight's festival and to talk to Les who was on board a train crossing the country at high speed. Unfortunately Les missed his connection in Gera and would be forty minutes late for soundcheck. No panic.On arriving in Greiz we met up with Evi who runs the Greizer Schlossfolk Festival. Greiz is in the province of Thuringia, a cool town with a population of 23,000. During the World War II it didn't suffer much damage, although 3 of the 5 bridges in town were destroyed. The gig is in the courtyard of the Unteres Schloßin, one of the two castles in the town. I had a quick sandwich and checked out the Marshall Valvestate Amp they've hired for me and its great, as is the kit for Mr Teusner. Mr Leslie Keye arrives and we soundcheck.

As I stand on a balcony, dark clouds roll in from the other side of the White Elster River bringing thunder and lightning. Within ten minutes we're caught in the middle of a mad storm. Everything is put on hold. An hour or so later the show gets on the road and we do our set. The PA and sound is great and we have a good time. As soon as The Transylvanians hit the stage, the rain starts up again, still the audience hangs in there and the atmosphere is good.Taxi out to Moscowitch in the rain to our countryside guest house. the Transylvanians aren't up for a party so we three racketeers do our own thing, with Les playing a selection of tracks from his lap top, including Althea and Donna and LKJ.

Sat 16 June Wurzen......After a breakfast of bread with apricot jam and a cup of tea, I went back to bed to read another chapter from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'One Hundred Days Of Solitude.' Soon, we were back in Greiz to load up, say our 'goodbyes' grab a fruit juice from one of the festival stalls and hit the road, biding adieu to Thuringia. After long consultation with the instruction booklet, Les figured out how to get the satellite navigation system to speak to us in English as opposed to yesterdays German. So we got a very posh lady giving us instructions in the Queens English. Very 1950's BBC in fact.

After a few wrong turns we rolled into Wurzen around 4pm, an hour ahead of schedule. Wurzen is in the Muldentalkreis district, in the State of Saxony and is now, and has long been a hotbed of Nazi activity. We crossed the bridge over the Mulde River and found the Netzwerk für Demokratische Kultur, tonight's venue. Soundcheck is long long long. Afterwards we eat, chat to Sebastian (our man in Wurzen) and I go for a solitary ramble. Up in the town square I found the strange looking statue of Joachim Ringelnatz, the famous poet (and painter) and the towns claim to fame. Thankfully I didn't find any of the local Nazi's. Another of the town's claim to fame is that Goethe travelled in 1768 from Leipzig to Dresden and back through Wurzen. The long wait for the ferry inspired a passage in his first edition of Faust.Back at the venue I nodded off for a while, which is the divine right of itinerant musicians worldwide, then arose from my slumber, grabbed a beer and hit the stage.

The gig was great and although I was nervous for the first few songs (something that rarely happens) I really enjoyed it. We hung out afterwards, sold CD's, signed CD's and had a few drinks. A bottle of champagne was opened to celebrate the boss lady's birthday and the conversation included Mannix Flynn, Dublin in the 1980's and of course music. When both Chris and Les began to tell me about how good Justin Timberface really is, I began to think that the evening had become a bit too surreal. Les DJ'ed until the early hours of the morning. I had nightmares about Justin Timberface dressed up as a gay Nazi.

Sun 17 June Leipzig.....A long time was spent driving around in circles in Leipzig with a very confused band listening to a very confused robot. Eventually we found the Kulturwirtschaft Waldfrieden, had dinner, hung around and a suitable backline and PA was located in a nearby subterranean rehearsal room. Dan arrived in from Essen and Sebastian arrived in from Wurzen with his girlfriend and we played to a small but appreciative crowd. The show opened up with a solo acoustic 30 minute set from Les. We played well and had a good time. The post gig sing song also came curtsey of Mr Keye. Sleep was non eventful, simply a period of darkness between two beers.

Mon 18 June Berlin....Dan drove me in to Berlin, while Chris piloted the rented wagon, I slept most of the way. At the Sunflower Les insisted I have a beer, then taxi to Mark Mulholland's place to pick up two amps and a kick drum, off then to soundcheck at White Trash Fast Food. Dinner was great and the staff cool. The gig was ok, nothing to write home about, the post gig drinking session was more fun than actually playing. Always a pleasure to see Mark. Last time we met was in New York in April, before that it was Dublin in February. We had one hour in bed before alarm bells drilled a hole through my heavy head and in a state of confusion I arrived into the airport and somehow or other managed to board the plane and stay awake long enough to help Les drain a half bottle of champagne and a couple of red wine. (Chris was asleep.) It's a tough old rock n roll world, but somebody's got to do it. See you out there........

Mon 25 June Dublin.....Played the Belvedere last Thursday to a mad crowd. Headcases everyone. A crazy Japanese lady danced up real close, I wasn't sure if she was going to kiss me or throw a punch. Her man tried to persuade her to sit down, but she went crazy. He was pointing at his watch saying, maybe we should go home now. She was completely out of it, but her reflexes were fast enough to grab the watch off the guys wrist and throw it across the room. It took the poor guy about twenty minutes to find it.A row broke out at the bar, no security to be seen. I was glad to get out of there. On Saturday I played over at the Cobblestone. It was Stuarts birthday bash, and I also did a DJ set, other friends of the birthday boy got up to do a few songs, as did the man himself. Ended up at a party near Leeson Park, where South American sailor boys wooed a few gullible Irish ladies.

Wed 27 June New York....I thought Sunday would be a good day to relax before going to New York and on to Canada, but no such luck. We'd been invited to a barbecue so along we went. Met some Cuban musicians on tour, hung around, got home at 3am, up at 5am and off to the airport. On arrival in New York via London Heathrow I had to clear customs, and it was a bit of a hassle. Travelling without a work permit, I suppose I looked a bit too much like a musician. Guitar, cable's, microphones in my bag alongside harmonicas. Then the customs official opened my shoulder bag he pulled out a copy of 'Silver & Dust'. "This guy looks familiar," he said. I told him I just made up a few to give away to friends and I stuck to my story that IM NOT a musician and eventually he waved me through. After all, I'm not really part of the Axis Of Evil !On arrival into the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I zipped down to Jacks place and we headed out straight away to an Indian restaurant on 1st Avenue for dinner. Had a great time, later watched a movie and on Tuesday records were bought, pool was played and life is good. Word came through on a gig in Leipzig. News from Canada too. Sleepless hours are spent reading Victor David Hansons 'Carnage and Culture.' Especially the parts about Cortes and the Aztecs.

Sat 30 June Toronto....Took the overnight 12 hour bus from NYC to Toronto on Thursday night. No problem with customs, but 12 hours is a long time to be on a bus. My old friend Robert O Neill picked me up at the station. His brother Brian is with him. He's over here on business. Last time we met was a few months ago in Rathmines, Dublin of all places, when I played a gig with the band. Off out to Robert place and he's in the process of building a garden shed. Im no good at that sort of thing, so I sit down and have a few beers and offer encouragement. The sun is riding high in the sky, its real warm. A trip to the liquor store is in order and after a while I get some much need sleep.The gig is down at Dora Keoghs, next door to Allen's where I played last October. Good to met gentleman John Maxwell again and of course Dora herself. The gig went fine and Andrea brought down a bunch of people and Kate came in too. Afterwards we sat up late chatting and drinking and listening to Dylan bootlegs.

Tues 3 July Strattford....Hit the road to Hamilton after a huge breakfast at the Lucky Dice Diner on Saturday morning. Played at aplace called Rebels Rock. Good sound, good PA but hardly anybody there. They asked my permission to put "Silver & Dust" on the jukebox, and I of course said YES.On Sunday it was Canada Day, a sort of Independence celebration. I got a gig at the strange time of 4pm at the ultra cool Cadillac Lounge back in Toronto. Having a beer at the bar after soundcheck I chat to some guy who informs me that the big concert on tv is in honour of Princess Diana. There's those two royal twats dancing their stupid dance to a line up of the usual suspects, Status Quo, Elton John and Duran Fucking crap they named them twice ! The younger of the royal sons didn't bother dressing up as a nazi this time, as he seems to be fond of doing.After a while I finally get to meet Aimee who is booking agent for the tour. I play my gig and its cool and the sound id good. Afterwards I meet Ward, a local guy who spends half of his time in Nigeria, half in Toronto. He's taken over 150 photos of the gig and promises to email them to me.

Out in Etobicoke I gotta do a house concert, only its in the garden. Play and 7pm and its all a good vibe, good food, good booze good people. I get to DJ a bit too, after sharing a few rum and cokes with Hank the Gladstone Cowboy.On Monday everybody is a little bit weary, but me and Robert spend the afternoon visiting local artists, Hungarian Bill and Canadian Lucy. They've got paintings and drawings everywhere, and I mean everywhere around their apartment. They're an inspiration. Can after can of Guinnes is opened and drained dry. I get to hear some record by the Babyshambles and have to admit it sounded good. Still think the guy is a twat and the just can't cut it live, but the record is good, so credit where credit is due.

Earlier today we checked out the CRC Museum in town, saw some cool guitars and had a beer or two in Kensington Market. Then drove out through the County of Willington, down through Mohawk country and on into Strattford, hometown of Richard Manuel, keyboard player with The Band. The gentleman who, aged 42, hanged himself in his motel room after a Band show at the Cheek To Cheek Lounge in Winter Park Florida in 1986.Strattford is also famous for its annual Shakespearean Festival. Its farming country out here. We needed a mic stand and a guy called Mike got one for us. A cool guy who knows his music and listened to every note I played. Drove back to Toronto afterwards, nodded off for a while, thankfully Robert stayed awake. He was driving.

Wed 4 July Toronto.....A well deserved day off. Robert needs a break from driving and having to listen to me every night. On awakening, I notice it's a dark overcast day, the rain is lashing down, still it's hot and humid. Childhood memories of the west of Ireland come flooding back.Once the rain stoped, I took a walk down by the shores of Lake Ontario, walking up past the power station and the ominous Mental Asylum. Dropped in to the liquor store for a couple bottles of red wine. Back at the house, Robert and I watched a great DVD of Van Morrison playing at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1980, with two drummers, John Platania on guitar, Pee Wee Elis on sax. A great performance. 'Wild Night' was a highlight and stuff like 'Summertime In England' was just inspiring. Checked out some things on youtube and an Old Grey Whistle Test DVD got put on. Some of it was ok, Rory Gallagher for example. Roxy Music were funny and pretentious. Then Little Feat came on. What can you say about Little Feat, only it brought it home to me how much we NEEDED punk in the late 70's. Thankfully it arrived on time so that kids like me could get a guitar and do our thing and not be weighed down by virtuoso crap. And you could turn on the radio without having to listen to Little Feat !

Thurs 5 July Sarnia....A mysterious lady who goes by the name of Crystal has been sending out bulletins through her myspace concerning all my gigs. She seems to know if one is cancelled, or there's a change of venue, long before I do.I get it organized so that a poster is on the way to Montreal via email from Ireland, and we hit the road. Arrived into Sarnia (population 73,000) past the Hiawatha Racetrack Slots. We turned off for Modeland Road and rolled on past the Temple Baptist Church on the left. They wouldn't like me if they met me I bet. The sign says it's 7K to the toll bridge into the US, but we don't want to go there. Down along Indian Road, hang a right and we found the bar. We both needed a beer or two after the long drive and then we checked into the Motel next door.Dinner is good. Jack phones from New York. The gig is fine. Meet some good people, and spend some time out on the veranda afterwards.

Fri 6 July London....Checked into the Maple Leaf Motel, an then had dinner in the nearby Thai Restaurant. Had a beer or two and got some sleep. The show in The Wick was a strange affair, as predicted. The bar itself is a cool joint, and everybody is friendly. Met up with the Duke himself. Tonight Im opening up for Duke Sedan and The Hightones, a fairly traditionalist 50's rockabilly outfit. They're nice guys, but their audience seem a little perplexed by the Irish man singing songs about 16th century Prague, walking along by the canal in Amsterdam etc, and my version of the Stones 'Play With Fire' goes right over their heads. Not to worry. I get to meet the mysterious Crystal and her boyfriend Randy. The barman keeps me well supplied and Robert is knocking them back big time. I enjoyed the Dukes set, and guest Leah is a cool lady, like a cross between Wanda Jackson and Holly Golightly, but she's got her own vibe going on.Later we take a taxi back to our Motel with Crystal holding a large paper cup full to the brim with orange juice - mixer for the vodka. We have a little party in our room and it's all good fun.

Sat 7 July Windsor....Another day, another Motel. Last time I played Windsor I had a great time. Tonight it's nothing to write home about. In the morning we hit the road early (11am) and drive out past North Chatham where an avenue of gigantic pylons run alongside the motorway, before diverting through the fields of wheat, looking like something from a 1950's Sci-Fi movie. We drove on, Robert with the boot down, past the half rotten corpses of the roadside racoons. Made it back to Toronto in one piece.

Mon 9 July Toronto....I found myself on the streetcar at 8.30am, taking the hour long ride into the city centre. Off at Bay Street and walk up Dundas Street and get to the bus station. You get a better deal on the price if you buy it more than 24 hours in advance. Spent all day rambling around this vast city. Picked up 'Villette' by the incomparable Charlotte Bronte for $2.50. Went through a big Bronte phase last year. Later I relaxed with some Sangria, as the sweat dribbled down my forehead. Another hot and sticky night in south Ontario.

Tues 10 July Montreal......Arrived into town at 6.30 after an endurance test of a seven hour bus ride. Sean Moore met me at the station. We had never met before, but we've had an on going email correspondence for a few months now. The connection is Cannery Row / Two Dollar Bash. It's my first time being in Montreal and I can tell straight away that Sean's a good guy and that Im in safe hands. The gig is great. A real good atmosphere and the sound is good and I play well.

Wed 11 July Montreal....The gig in Quebec City didn't materialize, so Im content to hang out here. Bad news from Europe, but I won't elaborate. A few beers are had on Shannon's veranda after breakfast with Orite, who sings and plays with the wonderful Little Birdie, a great country influenced band. Well worth checking out. Sean arrived back from walking the dogs and it turned out to be a day of beers and smoking and making new friends and having a good time. Later, much later, we rambled off into the French part of town for a look around, found a bar and settled in. A surreal evening by any standard.

Thurs 12 July Toronto....Left Quebec at 1.30 in the afternoon and arrived into Toronto as the heavens opened up at around 8.30pm. Straight down to the gig, which was in a horrible bar full of awful people. Got the cash and split. Civilized drinks out in Etobicoke. The following day Robert brought his newly acquired Silvertone amp into town for repair. Later on, after dinner, we ended up at the Gladstone Hotel up on Queen Street West to see Hank, The Gladstone Cowboy perform. Hank dedicated 'Your Cheatin' Heart' to yours truly. Later, we stumbled across an opening at a shoe shop. Complete with bar, sexy footwear, and interesting people, we were in the right place at the right time. I spoke to the artist about the possibility of him customizing a pair of cowboy boots for me. He lives in Paris and the price he quoted me is affordable. Fell into bed at 3, up at 6 and onboard the bus to NYC at 8.30. Twelve hours later I found myself in Port Authority. Took the subway downtown.Over the next couple of days I bought some records, watched a few movies, played a gig at the Sidewalk Cafe, ate good food and was conscious that back in Ireland everybody was getting real pissed off that it was cold and the rain wouldn't stop.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Thurs 17 May There's something about these overcast mornings when you can smell the leaves on the trees, flowers, weeds. Summer is approaching, not sure what season we're in. Reminds me of the west of Ireland, a previous life. The sort of morning where an Andy Irvine record makes sense. Or Bonny Prince Billy. On I rambled to the post office to send a few packages to the Netherlands and good old Deutschland, always on the look-out for a club or bar that may wish to hire me 'for one night only.'

I've been running the Acoustic Lounge over in Smithfield now since February, and while we got off to a good start, these past few weeks have been quiet. A few friends are regulars, and the more popular special guests bring down a crowd. Some friends haven't made it over to any of the nights at all. Then on the other hand , I've had people drop in that I haven't seen in 13 years (in one case) or 16 years in another case. Last Friday night we ended up in Toast in Rathmines afterwards with Jimmy from Twenty Percent Dead, and Triona. The place was half empty and it brought it home to me that bars and clubs aren't having it as easy as they used to.Saturday, bright and early I cooked breakfast after a cocktail of vitamin pills, and quickly got down to recording. I managed to get a few good ideas down, so I didn't feel the day was wasted. Later, I found myself in Cornellscourt, a place that had hitherto existed for me only in the realm of advertising. A massive shopping centre on a Saturday evening is not my idea of fun. We located the off-licence, bought beer and tonic water and off we went. We had been invited to Tove's pad in Foxrock to watch the Eurovision song contest. I kid you not. Tove is a good friend, she contributed backing vocals to a few songs on 'Silver & Dust' and she's from Stockholm, and the Swedes love the Eurovision. Thankfully, we arrived too late to catch the Irish entry, and before long we had settled into a eurotrash world fuelled on rum and coke. With Mark I discussed the art world (he knows some art hustler I hung out with last month in Philadelphia) we listened to a lot of Nina Perrsson and generally it was a good time and I got home by around 4.30.

On Sunday, I continued recording and as night fell, I had a few drinks and played some records and went to see Claydolls in the Sugar Club. A good gig, although there was a small attendance.The recording process continues. This morning at 8am I got a melody swimming around my head. Turned out a simple enough riff would suffice, moved it up a key from what was in my head, easier to sing that way. After a few hours I had 3 acoustic guitar tracks down (with a click/metronome) and a good vocal. It may or may not require drums and bass. Time will tell. I also managed to get 'Nine Bridges From Town' down, after about 7 takes. It a song i started to write in a cheap hotel in Amsterdam in March. I got the last verse here at the living room table, and I've aired in in Smithfield now on the last two Fridays. Another new song recorded last weekend and finished today is called 'Never Enough Time' which is a good title.... and it's true. There never is enough time to do all that needs to be done. Even when you get up at 7am as I did this morning.

I've been listening to the great great Nancy Sinatra a lot. The album she did in '94 is ok, but the song 'Don't Let Him Waste Your Time' is a killer. Great lyrics (written by Jarvis Cocker) and a wonderful vocal delivery. Sexy and sweet. Miss Sinatra is about sixty years old now, still beautiful and still cool. Check out her performance of this great song on youtube. May we all be sexy and cool at sixty.

Thurs 24 May The Acoustic Lounge over in Smithfield was good fun on Friday. Alice Jago did a few songs, and performed admirably despite technical difficulties. The battery in her acoustic guitar died, and as she's left handed, I couldn't lend her mine. We miked it up and she soldiered on, a little unhappy, but it was the best we could do. She's gonna come back this Friday to play again, and Jimmy Cinder is going to play too.Afterwards we ended up with Tom in our pad, drinking red wine and playing choice cuts from The Clash's triple album from 1980, "Sandinista"...we put on "the Equaliser," "Broadway," and Tom's favourite "The Call Up." Other records that graced the turntable included Springsteen's "Nebraska" The Stones, Nikki Sudden, Nancy Sinatra and "Claudette" and the wonderful "Afraid To Sleep" by Roy Orbison from 1965. It wasn't a late night really, so that getting up at 9am to catch a bus to the west wasn't a big deal.

A 24 hour period was spent chatting, drinking wine and eating a lot. Filmed my old man playing mouth organ and later the fiddles were taken down. Too soon, I found myself on a bus heading east, watching the cattle graze lazily in the rolling fields. Sunshine streaming through the window as we drove through the flat midlands, down through Rathowen before sunset. I gave up on Rick Moody's 'The Black Veil.' The first few chapters were fine, but despite glowing praise from Thomas Pynchon, I found that Moody seemed to get bored with his own story after a while. I never came across a writer who made drinking to excess seem so mundane.

Thankfully the postman brought me an interesting grimoire type tome from the pen of Michael J. Ford, so that's now keeping me occupied.The recording goes on and on. Paul Thomas (best known for his work with Horslips, Thin Lizzy, Nikki Sudden, U2) called around with my old Lacie harddrive on Monday and we resurrected a song we recorded a few times back in 2003 when we were in the midst of trying to make what became "Exit Hellsville." I had heard a mix of this song "1849" in Sweden last February and thought to myself that if it had a new vocal and perhaps some extra guitar it could come in useful. The version we finished in 2003 never got released. So, Paul tweeked it a bit and uploaded to my recorder and off he went. I put down a vocal, rhythm guitar part and a guitar solo.

Tuesday morning, I re-did the vocal, much better too. Wrote two new country type songs, which shall remain nameless for the time being. Recorded a new vocal on a song that was called "Slide On" but it's now called "Return Of the Snakes." Recorded other bit 'n' pieces, made phone calls, emails etc. Designed a poster for Canada, and finished four paintings, two are on paper, two are on canvas, no titles yet. I suppose they'll get piled up in the corner for a while.

Later, Tom arrived over having dragged a double bass up from Wexford Street. We rehearsed, running through about twenty songs. The chord changes in my songs seem to baffle the man, as he listens to a lot of rockabilly, bluegrass and cajun, basic three chord stuff. Tom used to be a drummer with Aces Wild, and he also plays a bit of banjo and accordion. We settle on covers of "Folsome Prison Blues" and the T Rex classic "Telegram Sam." I reckon we've nailled them well enough to perform in public. After a few glasses of red wine and having listened to a few Johnny Burnett Trio and Charlie Feathers records, Tom went off home. I was having a bit of cabin fever, so with miss Kärrman as a travelling companion I took a taxi over to Harolds Cross to a crap bar called the Cross Bar. The place was empty. Ten years ago you'd find more people in a Dublin bar at three o clock in the afternoon that you would find in a bar now at 11 o' clock at night. How things have changed. When the looming property crash happens, there will be even less people able to afford a pint.

After drinks with Jimmy Cinders and Maria we walked home, it being a warm night. Stay up til 4am playing records and painting and sipping wine, all on my own. Booked a ticket to New York with Virgin. I'll be flying via London, and Virgin is a far superior airline to Aer Lingus, and €60 cheaper too. The food is better, staff are generally more helpful, better planes. I'll have a few days (hopefully a gig too) in NYC before heading north to Canada to continue the Too Late To Stop Tour which, at the moment comprises of 23 gigs. 3 in Ireland, 4 in Germany, 1 in the US and 15 in Canada. The band will be travelling to Germany with me. Last time we were there was last September and we had a ball. I like the Germans and I like the Canadians too. Let me tell you who I DON'T like. I don't like any of these useless politicians that are trying to get elected in the Irish General election. Maybe, just maybe I could trust Pat Rabbit, but none of the other fuckers are worth a vote. I'm tired a gig later.....don't want to type anymore......

Wed 30 May A dark overcast day, rain pouring down, the low hum of nearby road works for company. Only noticed it now, as I was listening back to recordings from the last few days. Very loud. Some of the stuff sounds good, some, I'm not so sure about.Since my last scribblings I went down to vote, and here we are a week later and still no sign of a government, useless lot thery are. On my way back from the polling place, I heard my name being called out. It was Fergal Davis from Suite Studios who mastered 'Silver & Dust' (and 'Exit Hellsville) He was standing ouside a newly opened Art Gallery on Dunville Avenue. At least I think it's newly opened. Last time I looked it was a shoe repair place or a pharmacy or a newsagents or a hairdressers, perhaps a cafe, maybe a travel agents. Now, it's none of these.With glass of wine in hand, Fergal beckoned, I made my way over. After some friendly banter, I went inside and had a look at the paintings on exhibit. Axel had just sold one for €1,650. Not bad. His stuff is good, and you can see the influence of Turner on his style. Axel has been my neighbour for a few years, but I hear he's just moved to Portugal. A grand and a half will go a long way in Portugal.

As usual in these circumstances, I was called upon to regale the folks with tales of the road and madness. Fergal had played a few gigs with The Racketeers, standing in on bass a few times, and told me he was sorry to miss out on the opportunity to travel outside Ireland with us. Well, there's always time for that in the future, but going by the ammount of money he's making running his mastering studio, I don't think he wants to spend a week or two with me in Germany. We drank more red wine and John from Sun studios invited me down for a look around sometime, and I will. I then realized it was getting late, so I went back home where I found Tom and his double bass ready to rock. Out on the street (my regular driver wasn't available) I grabbed a taxi and then phoned Tom to say I had a van taxi on the way to pick him up (these double bass's are huge) but he said he had changed his mind and wanted to go home !! Very strange behaviour. We rehearsed, at his behest, he turned up at my humble abode all dressed up and then decides to go home. So, onwards we went in the taxi, no special guest tonight. Played my solo gig, chatted to Darren afterwards, and unfortunetly we had to drop into some dodgy singer songwriter place on O Connell Street to pick up some gear.

After that, Terry dropped me home, and with glass of red wine in my hand I watched The Sopranos which the missus had taped for me while I was off playing my songs to the disinterested and the drunk. Pressed the play button and Im in Jersey. The Sopranos is the only thing I watch on TV these days. Occasionally I might look at the news if I need reminding what a crap world the powers that be would like us to believe in. Or a documentary on Discovery. I gave up on The Simpsons long ago. I found Weeds on the internet the other night , but haven't gotten around to watch any of it yet. That's the US drama about a 30 something middle class lady who sells weed for a living.

The following day (friday) I was over at the Acoustic Lounge. Alice Jago didn't show up, so Jimmy Cinders played a longer than usual set, and he was great. He had Maria on backing vocals, Beverley on sax and Hughie Friel, ex- The Atrix on percussion. I knew John Borrowman well. I loved The Atrix, a great band, sadly forgotten by most and of course John is off with Elvis now. I played my set, and if I say so myself, I wasn't bad at all. Trevor, who I hadn't seen in ages was down and kindly bought me a drink. Afterwards we ended up in Toast (surprise, surprise), as did Mr Cinders. Met a few people I knew, drank some beer and vodka and made it home in one piece.Saturday wasn't up to much. Got a few sets of lyrics down onto paper, and then decided I didn't like them. The next few days sort of melt into a blur of reclusive activity.Recording, writing, making phone calls and writing emails to people who don't bother to reply. I keep writing songs by accident. I was putting down a guitar part for example yesterday on a song, when I came up with a new riff that was too good to go to waste. So now its a complete song in itself. I got a demo of it, vocals, bass, 3 guitar overdubs (drum machine) and its not bad. Yesterday, guitars mandolins, microphones and erratic scribblings on paper kept me occupied from 11 in the morning until 1am, the only break being an hour at 5 for dinner.

By 1am I was fucked, so I listened to the Gun Club and drank some wine and when that ran out I went for the beer. I wound down like a tired spinning top and entered the land of nod with little difficulty.

Tues 12 June A few months ago in Sweden I heard a mix of '1849' which was first recorded during sessions for what became Exit Hellsville. I thought to myself, if it had a new vocal track, some extra guitars and perhaps a new bass line, it might be worth working on. So last Wednesday we finally got it finished when Les put down the bass part. Two new guitar tracks, rhythm and solo, as well as a new vocal had been added by yours truly last week. After that, we got down to rehearsing, running through some of our repertoire for roughly three hours. Chris regaled us with tales of his recent travels to Chicago to record with Steve Albini, Stockholm to do some sort of work-shop and Australia to spend time with family.

Then Johnny Cronin from the Aftermath phoned to see if I was going to make it to the Sugar Club for the tail end of the Hot Press Yearbook launch. The free bar had ended by the time we got there, but it was good to be out and about for a social evening. Johnny and his crew including brother Mick had relocated to Keoghs, so that meant a brisk walk across St. Stephens Green. There I was introduced to Bresy from the Blizzards who was in the process of telling Johnny that his first gig ever in Dublin was supporting my gang of reprobates back in the mists of time. Apparently I was very nice to the guys and let them use our backline.On Thursday, following a stress free meeting with the tax people I picked up a copy of NME so I could get my hands on the free 7inch red vinyl one-sided single by the White Stripes. Its good, not exactly mind-blowing, but its ok. Later on I found myself over at The Belvedere. Once the gig was over and money changed hands, Jimmy and I took a taxi over to Toast in Rathmines for a late drink where we met Pat Cannon, who will drive me to Tramore on Saturday.Friday was taken up with following up phone calls and emails and I watched an episode of the Sopranos, which I had taped while out gigging. Then a few beers at tea time.

The missus rented the Da Vinci Code movie, which was bad beyond belief. I gave up after 10 minutes and lay down on the bed and got stuck into reading Lawrence Sutins 'Do What Thou Wilt,' one of the better Aleister Crowley biographies. I had read it before, but my brain works differently now, so I wanted to see if I could get a different angle on the Great Beast 666. Great fun indeed and he never fails to inspire.Saturday was yet another hot hot day. Following a three hour drive we rolled into the sea-side town of Tramore in the sunny south east of Ireland. With an aching back and shoulders, I felt as if I had been run over by a bus, but following self medication I perked up and we soundchecked and hung out. That's what bands do a lot....hang out. Then we played the gig and it was good fun and Chris and Les enjoyed themselves, and so did I and by coincidence, so did the audience. The rather baleful waning moon hung low in the sky as we made our way back to Dublin. Blood red, it seemed to cast an ominous spell. The thick fog added to the atmosphere. Still, we arrived back home in one piece and I fell into bed at 5am and slept well.

Friday, 19 January 2007

TARNISHED SILVER - Ireland / Denmark / Sweden / Netherlands / Belgium / USA - (January - April 2007)

Fri 19 Jan Dublin....Somebody once said to me that 99% of the people on the planet were a waste of time. At the time I thought this was a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m not so sure anymore. Out on the road one’s psychic antennae seem to be more in tune with what’s going on, and it’s easier to sort the wheat from the chaff. When one is at home, wherever that may be, the fools and assholes get a chance to get their grip on you. I was listening to the radio in Terry’s van as we drove through the rainy streets of Dublin on the way home from a gig last night. He had it tuned to 98FM, a favourite of Dublin taxi drivers too. The phone-in topic was all about ‘pet napping.’ This apparently is big business. He even had guys phoning in saying that they were involved in stealing pedigree dogs and the like, then contacting the dogs owners for ransom money, or else selling the unfortunate animals on to somebody else. Very strange. A world of which I was completely unaware. I don’t have a dog, but it seems like a rotten business. But then again, most people are a waste of time, for various reasons. Of the thousand or so you might see while out to buy groceries for example, how many would you want to talk to ?

In an attempt to rid my mind of the pet nappers, on my arrival home I treated myself to a glass of red wine. I read from Mary Shelly’s ‘The Last Man’ and soon found myself in the land of nod. I was up at 7.30am, had breakfast, and swiftly got down to recording. These last few weeks I’ve written a few new songs, and I’m in the process of recording rough demos of a few of them. What else would you do on a cold January day. Later I’ll hopefully hook up with somebody for a drink. But before I go out into the windy winter night-time, I’ll spin a few records to (a) get my own songs out of my brain, and (b) because, above and beyond all else, I’m still a fan. So, I reckon ‘Wreck A Pum Pum’ by Prince Buster and ‘Heartaches was all we Got’ by Sven Zetterberg will get a spin. As will the new 7 inch from Nikki Sudden, featuring Southern Bitch, a great great record. Tracks by Charlie Feathers, Gregory Isaacs , Johnny Thunders and The Two Dollar Pistols should put me in good form. See you out there. We can be the 1%.

Mon 22 Jan Out for a few drinks the other night, I met Mick Pyro from top Irish pop ensemble The Republic Of Loose. I was chatting away to some folks when I spotted Mick out of the corner of my eye. We had never met, but I recognized him from TV. His drinking buddy seemed to have left him on his own. He was looking at his own reflection rather gloomily in the mirror. An invisible grey cloud hung over his dishevelled head. I've often been in similar states myself, so as I walked by on the way to the toilet, I gave him a slap on the back and said "How's it going Mr Republic". He turned to me and without saying a word, started to sing in a loud voice "Apology Not Accepted..." ("Apology" is one of the more popular songs from the first Racketeers album, 'By Hook Or By Crook from '97) I was really taken aback. He went on to tell me that a friend of his used to go to a lot of our gigs years ago, had that first CD and would quote lyrics to him when he had a few pints. Me and Mick got on well and had a good chat. He was lamenting the fact that he was broke, and also that people give him a hard time cos his band is a 'bloody disco group'. I tried to cheer him up by pointing out that these very same people were probably just jealous. After a while he rambled off into the night, while I ended up back at HQ with Åsa and Rockfield man Kevin Lavin, drinking into the early hours, playing records and having a good time.

Thurs 25 Jan I’ve been trying out some new ideas, recording new songs I’ve written etc..etc.. On Tuesday, I was simply playing electric guitar, trying out a few overdubs on stuff I had recorded last week, when suddenly I had two new songs. One is called ‘I Got The Job Done’ the other remains untitled as I’ve got no lyrics yet. These songs seemed to come out of nowhere. I didn’t have time to get them down onto the digital recorder I use. Instead I went back to glorious analogue, and taped them onto cassette on my old battered ghetto-blaster.A bitter cold day, I took the Luas (a local name for a tram) across town and on arriving at St. Stephens Green, I avoided the busy shopping streets, and crossed over to the North Side of the city. Over in Smithfield I had a meeting organized with John from top band Sack. It had to do with a gig I’m trying to set up in that part of the city, and we came to a sort of a deal.

On the way back home I observed a guy sitting on the pavement doing his begging gig, paper cup in his hand collecting loose change from passers by. It’s something you see ten times a day in Dublin, only this guy was chatting away on his mobile phone !! Maybe one of his beggar friends was doing a bit of shopping and needed some advice, who knows. Which reminds me, last week I was crossing Capel St. Bridge on the way to a Trip Hazard gig, when a guy begging came out with the usual mantra ‘Some change please’. I shrugged my shoulders indicating I didn’t have any change, which I didn’t. ‘Fuck Yousss’ was his charming reply.Later on Tuesday evening we had a band rehearsal, and I unveiled a new song called ‘Lady Lies Low’. I recorded this on my own last week, but me Chris and Les played it through a couple of times, and it seems to work. The song is loosely based on an Angela Carter short story called The Lady Of The House Of Love. We had to run over old stuff to tighten things up, which can be a bit of a chore. Its more fun trying out new ideas.Apparently ‘Silver & Dust’ is selling well in Germany. I just got word today that the distributor wants a few more boxes. That was a pleasant surprise indeed. If you haven’t already got a copy , you know what to do.

Thurs 1 Feb On a grey morning like this, Anita Lane’s ‘The World’s a Girl’ is the ideal soundtrack for dealing with phone calls and the odd email. And nowadays, there’s myspace to tend to. Cyber gardening. And you gotta look after them, or at least check in, even if you’ve got somebody else taking care of business. A few days back I went to see Two Dollar Bash who were over from Berlin for a short Irish tour, and they were great. However, too much beer and tequila took its toll, so when Mark broke a string on my acoustic (he had borrowed for the gig) it was up to me to act as roadie while he swapped to mandola. Unfortunately the booze had kicked in and I failed miserably to get the new string onto the guitar within the usual two minutes that it takes me. Somebody else did it for me, while I struggled to remain vertical at the bar. Fuel for another dodgy rumour I suppose. In complete contrast, Mundy proudly told me that he was off the booze. Gavin Glass was down for the gig as well and seemed fairly together, while Declan Rooney was knocking them back while doing Pat Kenny impressions.

The following day I met up with Mark again and Matt for drinks in Russell’s Pub in Ranelagh, one of the few left in Dublin where you can drink without feeling ripped off. Ted dropped in for a while on his way to a date. A good time was had by all, and me and Mark got a chance to talk shop as well, as we are label mates….(sounds posh, doesn’t it) In fact I don’t feel like I’m in the music business at all. I’m so far underground I’m off the radar. But having a label has its advantages, and I’m happy enough to play music, get paid for it and still not feel like I’m involved in some ‘business’. I like the phrase ‘outsider music’ but that tends to apply to people like The Legendry Stardust Cowboy and Hasil Adkins, and that’s a whole different kettle of fish to what we do.Tonight I’m playing over on the north side of town, and I’ll be with the band in Carlow on Saturday. See you there perhaps.

Fri 2 Feb Im listening to Lisa Ekdahl and thinking how I'd like to be somewhere in Sweden having a beer package cure. The Swedes can't be beat. They've got the best women on the planet, great countryside terrain, blankets of snow in the winter and sunshine in the summer. Good record shops too. But let me explain the beer package concept . Simply buy a beer and get a bottle of the same brand for free. A lot of the bars in glorious Goteburg also do free food around tea time. Thats 6pm. Or you can get Potatos Mos from one of the Turkish vendors real cheap. Either way your set up for the evening.

Last night's event at the Belvedere was as usual, not many people, but sort of fun in an odd way. It certainly helped that Fi Shanks was over from London for the night. He played a cool five song set, doing a great version of 'Roll the Dice' which I blew harmonica on. My own set was fine, Terry arrived and once money had changed hands we hopped into the van and off we went. Not being in the mood for going home, I had a few drinks with Mr Shanks in the Russian bar, having picked up two female drinking buddy's from the Trocadero. Of course they had crap music on the stereo, but living in Dublin you learn to turn a deaf ear . Back at my pad Fi decided to cook a meal, and I encouaged him, while records were played, the tarot consulted and a lot of red wine was consumed. Earlier today the phone rang, and it was Sebastian calling from Wurzen in east Germany, where we will hopefully perform in June, either the day before or after our appearance at the Greizer Schlossfolk Festival. We struck up some sort of a deal and in celebration I sank two glasses of red wine and plugged in my heavy Guild electric guitar and let rip.

Tues 6 Feb Wide awake at 5.30am, I consulted Mary Shelly's 'The Last Man' for brain stimulation as opposed to lying there tossing and turning. A great book, first published in 1826, but set in the late 21st century when the world was about to end….because of the plague ! The aristocracy use hot air balloons for long distance travel and the Greeks are at war with the Turks on horse back , using muskets and swords. Mary still was a great writer, The novel certainly transports the reader to another world, albeit a very odd world, using her flamboyantly romantic poetic style of prose.I had boxes of CD’s to get ready for postage. Making sure each box had it’s customs sticker, I set out for the post office , and got the three boxes of Silver & Dust off to Pool Music who are distributing the record in Germany.

A few more chores to attend to back at my pad, emails to answer, IMRO forms to fill out, people to put on my hit list. On a cold grey February day like today, Nico’s “Chelsea Girl” made perfect sense. Then I worked on a few tunes, even played fiddle for a while. Maybe that’s why the neighbours give me the evil eye.Looking back, Friday was another late night, having bumped into Mundy by chance in Birchall’s in Ranelagh. Pints were knocked back, pints were spilled and nobody noticed and nobody cared, including myself.

Saturday evening we were on our merry way to Carlow. The venue was cold. The sound however was good, and they had printed their own posters, which were huge, still, only a small crowd turned out, but not too bad for the first weekend in February. At some point during the night I let the audience know that the last time I had played Carlow was 1989. I could hear one guy turn to his friend and say “I was five years old then.” That was in the days before mobile phones, before the internet, before the so called axis of evil, when being Irish in England wasn’t such a good idea, when there was only white people in Ireland, when it was a novelty to know somebody who had a real job. A terrible decade by all accounts, and most of the music made in the 80’s was crap too. And I contributed to the pile.We enjoyed the gig at the Music Factory, and hopefully I won’t have to wait another eighteen years before I play Carlow again.

Thurs 8 Feb Copenhagen ………I thought to myself; “Hear not the rushing sound of the coming tempest, fear not the steely grip of impending doom, feel not the earth quake and open, dread not the coming of Doctor Death.” Confidence and optimism were my dual companions on the early bus as I drew nearer to Dublin Airport, my first time to board a plane in ten weeks. I was content to spend these past few weeks at home, having spent so long on the road before xmas, often not knowing what was up around the bend, living from hand to mouth, sleeping on sofas, in cheap hotels, on inflatable mattresses, in Schipol Airport one night when I was left high and dry. A precarious existence, but fun. I slept little on the flight over to the Danish capital, and on arrival in the bitter cold I decided to chance my luck with public transport and attempt to navigate my way into town. A man on the bus overheard me asking the confused driver for directions to Christiania, and kindly offered to accompany me there, as he badly needed to score. As we drove through the grey streets of Copenhagen, my kind companion told me in his best broken English the story of his mother’s fame as the first female rock n roll drummer in Denmark.

Christiania is an autonomous community that started 33 years ago following the civil occupation of an unused area, then owned by the Ministry of Defence. Traffic free, the smell of weed in the air, several bars, shops, clubs, and over one thousand inhabitants on 85 acres of land. After meeting Eva, I have a cup of tea and bread and cheese, which exorcises the ghost of Mary Shelly from the right side of my brain. After a walk down by the river, I take a taxi to Bloomsday Bar on Niels Hemmingsens Gade. After sound check I have a drink or three with the owner Jonathan, who seems to have more jewellery than myself. In fact he recommends an Icelandic lady who has custom designed several rings for him, but they don’t come cheap. The gig got off to a good start, but after 45 minutes the cops arrived and shut us down because we were too loud. A pity really, as I liked the place and we had a good vibe. I still got paid, and I would like to return, but next time without interference from the law. Copenhagen used to have a reputation as a ‘live and let live’ place, but things are changing.

Tues 13 Feb Gothenburg.....Minus 3 degrees but no sign of snow, although the heavens tried to spit some out earlier. I was working on a new song, singing about walking around Aspen Lake, people I knew who flew the flag for rock n roll, self obsession and the road. As I scribbled down the words on the back of an envelope I tried not to fall into clichés. It looked like snow as I wrote " here comes the snow” which probably will be the title of the song. Down town I bought a bunch of records. Roy Orbison, Green On Red’s “Gravity Talks”, Ike and Tina Turner, The Stones “Goats Head Soup”. Also got Dylan’s “Under The Red Sky” which I heard for the first time while driving from London Ontario to Toronto feeling a little weary a few months back. I had been on the road for nine weeks and all the good times were beginning to take their toll, but ‘Handy Dandy’ cheered me up big time.I also got my cold hands on Cher’s Greatest Hits. I kid you not. It’s an Lp from 1974, so it real early stuff. I got it especially for “Half-Breed” and “Gypsy’s Tramps And Thieves. “ I had the latter on 7inch but its badly worn, very crackly, so I got it on a clean slab of vinyl. We went to strangely named etc, a wine bar in Vasastan, ended up having a wonderful spaghetti pesto meal and then we were joined by Arvid and Carolin, before hopping on the train out to Lerum.

Tues 20 Feb Dublin and Rockfield…….The sunshine has gone, and a heavy blue /grey sky hangs gloomily over the town, possibly over all Ireland. Umbrellas are put to good use by the passers by. Cyclists, head down, speed by. Rush hour is approaching, but I’m in no rush. As soon as I’ve hacked out a paragraph or two I’ll put on a record, perhaps Fats Domino and treat myself to a glass of red wine. Already I’ve attended to many emails and myspace messages. Answered most of the phone calls, and played guitar for a while, although I didn’t feel all that inspired and put it back down again.There is nothing worth reporting about the gig on Thursday at the Belvedere. Afterwards I caught The Trains three song encore in Madison, Rathmines. A great band by any standards.

On Friday it was the first night of the Acoustic Lounge, a night that I will host most Fridays at Thomas Read’s new bar over in Smithfield. Special guest was Gavin Glass, who blew me away with a great set. He can play guitar so well, and his songs are on the button. I played an hour long set, although I had intended to play a shorter one. I was also DJ, and that was fun playing cuts from Carl Perkins, Johnny Thunders, Mark Lanergan, The Kinks, Wreckless Eric and many more. Paul Conlon, who played tin whistle with Shane MacGowan and The Popes is down to see me with his own entourage. John Lalor (ex-Swine) Clarence Clarke, Jimmy and lady, Damo and Tom, Jimmy Cinders and Maria, Al Cowan. It’s name check time!! Some of us ended up in a mad Russian bar on South William Street, where we were happily ensconced for an unacccountable number of hours. It was a great shock when I realized I would miss the 10.30am bus bound for the wild west. However, we did manage to catch the 1pm. A big dinner awaited and a gallon of red wine washed down the fine meal. Stories were told and I walked a mile under the starry sky, the moon being absent. It would not wax until Monday.

Mon 26 Feb Red wine. Where would we be without it ? On Wednesday night we spent a few hours at the bar in the Trocadero on Andrew’s Street. Fi Shanks and Mari from Barcelona where knocking back pints of Guinness, me and Miss Karrman stuck with the vino, and we even took the unfinished last bottle home in the taxi.

I had a glass or two with lunch on Friday before I hit the road for Mullingar and that night’s gig at the Yukon. I had expected Dave from No Ego Promotions to drop in, but he didn’t. The PA sounded a lot better than last time, but it wasn’t an easy gig. It took the good folks a while to warm to me, but once they did I was in good company. Of course, once the gig was over, everybody wanted to talk, a couple of CD’s were sold, and Vince took me off to some dodgy nightclub. Later still, I was about to try to navigate my way up three flights of stairs to somebody apartment for a late party, but my phone rang and it was Johnny from The Aftermath. They had just pulled up across the road in their van, having survived a drive from Limerick where they had just played a gig. I threw my gear in the back of the van, and with Michael at the wheel we drove of to a location unknown where we entered the land of nod.

By 10.30am I was on the bus back to Dublin, reading (re-reading) selected passages from JG Frazers ‘The Golden Bough.’ On arriving home I decided I need more sleep, so I caught forty winks, before preparing some food and making my way to the Acoustic Lounge gig in Smithfield. As host, I introduced Jimmy Cinders and Maria to the audience, and later Seanie Foy, who actually managed to show up for the gig. Not only I was surprised. I threw on some CD’s in between sets. I’d have been happier playing vinyl, but transporting a bag of records, turntables AND guitars etc is just too much work. My own set went down very well and with Miss Karrman, Foy and Clarence Clarke as travelling companions, we made our merry way back across the river to Belgrave Square East for a late drink, a smoke, and a chat. Records were played and the vague arrangement of going down to Toast for a while went out the window.Saturday morning, I found Foy asleep on the sofa. A liquid breakfast and a short walk to Ranelagh village for a beer was the order of the day. Things were beginning to get a bit foggy. Had dinner in Marios across the street and next thing I knew is I awoke staring into stygian darkness. Flicked on the light. It was 11pm and I was stretched out in my bed at home, unsure as to how I got there. I then spent many hours pottering about the place, until sleep once again claimed me at around 7am. And that was my weekend. How was yours ?

Mon 5 March ……A few days ago I was on a tram into town and for some reason I got The Clash’s ‘Garageland ‘ whizzing through my head. “ I don’t want to know about what the rich are doing, I don’t want to know about where the rich are going…”Well, how things have changed. Take that junky twat Pete Doherty. He used to be in The Libertines, whose LP was produced by Mick Jones from the Clash, and his claim to fame is that he’s shagging one of the richest models on the planet. Poor old Joe Strummer’s ghost should give the lad a good kick up the hole. Speaking of gobshites, I can’t figure out if I hate Britney or love her. Last week I see the fat little skinhead attacked a car with an umbrella (!!) this week she wrote 666 on her baldhead and run amok in the loony bin before a sad attempt at hanging herself. Fair play Miss Spears.

Down at the passport office I got ticket 43 and had to wait a whole two minutes to collect the new one. Easy. Off to Hodges Figgis bookshop around the corner to get some reading material. I picked up a fairly decent book by Robert M. Place ‘Tarot, History, Symbolism and Divination’. I’ve read several books over the years on the tarot, but it’s always good to get a new perspective, and Mr Place seems to know what he’s on about, which is a lot more than can be said about a lot of these so called ‘New Age’ writers. Money also changed hand for a collection of short stories by Stephen Crane and a biography of Mary Shelly’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. Crane's an interesting character, who wrote prolifically as a novelist, short story writer, magazine journalist, foreign correspondent and poet. His brief career ended in 1900 when he died from tuberculosis aged just 28. He was an influence on Joseph Conrad, Hemingway, and even Kerouac. With my bag of books under my arm, I went off back home for a few hours. Time was spent messing around with a new song and then later it was time for the cross-town trek for a gig. I wasn’t in the mood for it, but it went ok.

The following night we were over in Thomas Read’s bar in Smithfield for the Acoustic Lounge. Anthony White and Niall Lawlor were special guests, and there was a good crowd in. It looks like the evening is building up it’s own following. At the end of my set, Niall and Ger Kiely got up and joined me for a version of ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ Gavin Glass and entourage were throwing a party so with Clarence Clark and Damian, I took a taxi across town, stopping off at an Indian restaurant near Portobello Bridge to buy a few beers. I looked at Ed, he looked at me and we both had to admit that we were slowly being seduced by the aroma drifting out from the kitchen. Within minutes we were sitting at a table reading the menu. I had Saag Paneer, can’t remember what Ed or Damian ate. Later, we eventually made it to the party on Harrington Street and I think I got home at around 7am.Saturday afternoon saw our guests Leif and Marianna off shopping while I had a meeting with a promoter. Later we drank a few glasses of red wine and visited Ron Blacks famous pub on Dawson Street, the smallest pub in Ireland. However, it was packed full of tourists and we walked a few yards further down the street to its sister pub of the same name, only this one is the biggest pub in Europe, or so they claim. With pints of Carlsberg at €5.50 a go, I won’t be back.Somebody had booked a table for seven at Fitzers and I ate spaghetti with feta cheese and basil and then off we went to see Moneybrother play a gig in The Village. They’re big in Sweden, and managed to sell out the Wexford Street venue. A great gig by any standards.. I met Anders Wendin from the band in a Camden Street bar afterwards and he seems like a nice guy. We chatted for a while and then I sat down and promptly fell asleep.

Wed 7 March Amsterdam…..I was hanging around in Schiphol Airport waiting for a phone call, and when it eventually came it wasn’t good news. I had arrived into The Netherlands a day early, with the intention of recording with Mark Gilligan in Voorst, but Mark told me it wasn’t going to happen as his father in law had just died. I called somebody I knew who had a pad in Amsterdam but they happened to be in Portugal, so I was left high and dry, nothing to do and nowhere to stay. I had a drink. Why not? I boarded the train into the city centre, optimism my constant companion, and I was lucky enough to find a cheap hotel (€25) just up the street from Central Station.

Luck was on my side, and as the rain began to lash down I made a quick phone call and went for a lie down as I had been up since 4am. After my nap I went out, grabbed something to eat had a drink and basically rambled around for a while, meeting a lady from Dublin in the process. Can’t remember her name, but we had met at a gig in Za Globa, a Polish bar in Dublin last summer. We chatted for a while and I wandered on my merry way, having another beer in a cool little place near China Town. After a veggie spring roll I had to shelter from the rain outside the Krasnapolsky Hotel on Dam Square. The rain eased up, and as the number 24 tram zipped by I made my way towards the Hotel Manofa on Damrak 46-48. For a while I worked on a new song called ‘Nine Bridges From Town.

’Thurs 8 March Groningen….Breakfast consisted of stale bread and a boiled egg that was like a rubber ball, a ceramic box on the table in front of me bore a white plastic carnation and plastic blackberries! Within an hour I found myself on platform 12b at Central Station watching the ferry’s cross the harbour as I awaited the train to Groningen. On the journey I read a few chapters from the biography of Mary Woolstonecraft.

We passed through Deventer and Zwolle, where I had played a few gigs back in ’97 and ’98, a previous life in many ways. A bright sunny day, Peter met me at the station. We took a long walk through the park and down to the lake and the big old windmill. We sat on a bench to rest our weary legs. . A contented canoeist drifted by and the blackbirds sang us a song from their treetop-resting place. We stopped off for a beer or two on the way back to the house, where I slipped into the role of DJ while my host cooked us a meal. . Down at the bar there were a few familiar faces and I played the show and we split not long afterwards.Back at the house two bottles of red wine were polished off, before his wife Eva arrived. . We chatted into the early hours of the morning. Eva is an artist and one of her paintings is on the cover of the book of poems by Danish poet Miriam Van hee. ‘Instead Of Silence’ is a fine collection, and has been translated into English by Judith Wilkinson. Eva kindly gave me a copy of the book.

Fri 9 March Hengelo…..A long sleep, which was unusual in itself. Peter gave a present to me to bring back to the wife, seeds for a four-leaf clover. He’s got one himself on the living room windowsill. Grow your own luck! Before long I was back on another train bound for another town. Got talking to a lady from Peru who asked me if it always rained in Ireland. . I told her it did, but with global warming I’m optimistic that we might get a good summer this year. As I write, I’m in my room in the Hotel Stravinsky in Hengelo with an hour to go before showtime.Sat 10 March Herentals……Met some nice folks last night, and this morning I got a chance to hang out in the room after breakfast. The cleaning ladies are polite and tell me they can clean some other rooms if I need to relax which is unusually kind.

By 1.30pm I’ve begun my five-hour journey to Herentals in Belgium., with a half hour stop over in Antwerp’s wonderfully gothic train station. Belgium looks and feels different from the Netherlands as the train slides through the farmlands. Herentals is in the northern Flemish speaking part of the country as opposed to the French speaking south. Herentals is a bigger town than I had expected, with an ominous looking church in the market square. I later learn that it no longer functions as a church, but is now a sort of Town Hall. It’s top heavy. Looks like some mythic giant trundled into town and sliced off part of the gable, which adds to its strangeness. As I walk by I imagine public witch burnings in the early 18th century taking place in the square, a crowd gathered, the city elders conducting the ghastly procedure. I blank it from my mind.Arriving at the bar, a lady asks me am I really Irish. and I say I am. “But are you for real?” Oh, yes, I’m for real all right. We chat for a while, she’s had a few beers and I’m curious about her attire, navy blue trousers and a sky blue shirt. Is she a cop, a security guard ? “I’m a prison warden” she tells me. A tough job I reckon. Her drunken friend enquires if I’m a Satanist as he points to the silver pentagram ring on my little finger. No, I’m not what you would call a Satanist. The lady, who is called Annalies, points to a pentagram on a chain around her neck. Turns out she’s shamanic wiccan, a solo practitioner. We discuss magick for a while and I’m in good company. When Annalies goes home to change clothes and get something to eat have dinner, sound check and go for a walk around town. At 10.30 its showtime. I’m thankful to have such a good PA system and the monitors are great too. An enjoyable gig, and a good responsive audience make me feel good. CD’s are sold and email addresses collected. On Sunday morning I awake at 7.30 and can’t get back to sleep. As I write, it’s 10.20am and any minute now we’ll be pulling into Antwerp. From there I travel on to the airport in Amsterdam to catch a flight back to Dublin. I got the job done.

Tues 20 March Dublin...The snow is falling, and the ground is dry, so maybe it'll stick around for a while. Over the weekend I played two gigs, and on Paddy's Day, I didn't go outside the door. Like New Years Eve, it's amateur night out. I'm listening to Gabriel Kelley who hails from Athens Georgia. He contacted me via myspace, and his country flavoured songs are worth checking out. I think I'll drop him a line saying if I'm ever passing through Athens, maybe he could help organize a gig for me. I'm off to the US next week, two gigs in Philly and one in NYC. I'll get to see Jack and some friends, buy records, hang around, eat at the great Indian place on Houston and do all the usual. I'm on the same bill as Two Dollar Bash in New York, so that should be a good night. (We're on the same German label)

Records on the turntable these days include T Rex LP 'The Slider,' The Broken Family Band 7inch single 'Alone in the Makeout Room' as well as the 7inch single from Bonnie Prince Billy 'Lay & Love.' A B side by The Television Personalities 'All Love Is Good Love' makes me think a happy thought. A desire to listen to the radio is thankfully something I never experience, although Karen Millers Americana internet radio show is worth catching.

Sun 25 March....The plink plonk sound of an effervescent ginseng pill being dropped into a glass of water was the first ritual of the day. A cod liver oil pill and a single tablet of L-larginine completed the days intake of legal drugs. After dinner in Mario's last night, we strolled home to watch Amadeus. The actor who played Mozart was a bit annoying. Maybe Wolfgang was a bit of a twat in real life, either way, the film had little to do with the what the history books say. I gave up on it half way through, it being around 2am, and anyway the wife had already crashed out in a heap on the sofa. The last few days were filled with activity. I worked on new songs and had various business type dealings to take care of.

On Thursday we shared the bill with The Aftermath in Madison, Rathmines, here on the south side of Dublin city, about a 20 minute walk from the city centre. I've been friends with Johnny Cronin now for a while, and as his brother Mick said, it was about time we got around to doing a gig together. Not many people showed up, but still we enjoyed playing and we were good too. Claire and her friend, who I had met in Amsterdam a couple of weeks back were down, Ed AKA Clarence Clark, Brian O Neill, a man I hadn't seen in a few years and a host of others. The Aftermath played a great set, and afterwards they came down to my pad where records were played, and we had a few beers, although Martin drank red wine, and Mick was on coffee, as he had to drive the van back to Mullingar. After the guys hit the road, the vague notion of doing an Irish tour together seemed like a good idea, so I wrote a note to myself to give Johnny a shout over the next couple of days an formulate some sort of plan of action. I also want to go to Greece, as Mr Cronin and crew have gigged there, and I've never been. I also hope to spend some time in the south of France recording before autumn arrives. But that's another story.

Friday night I was over in Smithfield for the Acoustic Lounge. Special guests were the Dirty 9's and Clarence Clark, and both acts were great. I met a few ladies I hadn't seen in many a year and a few taxi's ferried us off across the stinking Liffey to a late bar on the south side. There I bumped into Justin Healy who played drums with The Forget Me Nots back in the early 90's and later with The Golden Horde. He also played drums with my own crew on a tour of Sweden, Finland and Estonia back in 2001 or 2002, I can't remember correctly. We had a great time on that tour, but afterwards Justin got the idea into his thick head that I had ripped him off and he didn't speak to me for two years. Drummers are like that. But that's all water under the bridge now.I was told earlier today that over 1,000 people have read my recent blogs on myspace, so I reckon I should keep on writing. If I could sell records that easy life would be even better than it is. But I'm not complaining. I'll get around to making another record when I'm good and ready. It seems like ages since 'Silver & Dust' came out, but it's actually only seven months. Time has slowed down, which is what I set out to achieve. At the moment I can ram about three years into one. Later, I have to try to track down a promoter in Germany who has done a disappearing act. There's been a lot of that recently. I might go out for a walk. I'll have dinner etc.. New York beckons. I'm going there in two days time, but right now, I'm going to put on The Detroit Cobras 'I Want To Holler, But The Towns Too Small.' Turn it up !!

Wed March 27....New York.....In Dublin Airport we ran into Bobby McDonnell and his wife Hilda, on their way to Florida via a days stop over in New York. Bob had played with the Racketeers for a few years. We toured around Ireland, undertook a few trips to Finland, Switzerland and Estonia. My memory is vague on specific dates, but I know we were in Estonia together because there's photographic evidence on the Photos page at

We also toured The Netherlands together because I vividly remember one morning in Utrecht, having played at a blues festival the night before we were all feeling the worst for wear. We were loading up the van to drive on to the next gig in Zwolle, when I went into the storage area of the club to get something. Bob was eating a bag of chips and not helping out with the load, so I left him in charge with the van. I said, 'keep an eye on things for us.' In the few minutes that I was away a lady in a jeep drove up and tried to get past our van into the nearby car park, but didn't allow herself enough room , and reversed..When I came out I saw to my horror that she had reversed over one of my guitars ! I couldn't believe it. The case was smashed, but miraculously the Yamaha acoustic was more or less in one piece. Four machine heads had been broken off but the neck was still in one piece , as was the body. I had another acoustic with me, a Gibson/Epiphone, the Yahama being used only if I broke a string on the Gibson. I didn't panic, and although the lady gave me her business card, she never did pay for the repairs. In hindsight I should have called the cops there and then, but I can't stand dealing with cops. So yes, Bobby was definitely on that tour. A good bass player, but he'd never make a good tour manager.

In the airport we had a few drinks before we boarded the plane. On board, he sent down a bottle of champagne to us, which was a nice gesture. On arriving into NYC we had a drink or two over near Greenwich before parting company. Then we hopped into a cab and hooked up with Jack on Stanton Street. We ate in a Thai restaurant just off 1st Avenue, and had drinks across Houston on Allen Street.

Thurs 29 March. Yesterday was a hot hot day. After a bit of a ramble up on Broadway, we met up with Jack and I had some emails to attend to. A promoter in the Czech Republic has re- surfaced, so we had to try to sort out a few things. The German (full band) tour for June is shaping up with some new offers. So I'm feeling good. I needed to get to a post office to post a bunch of CD's to CD Baby in Oregon who take care of our online sales, and some posters to Philly. Later, a German promoter was looking for promo material, so I got that sorted too. Having coffee at an out door cafe at 1st Street and 1st Avenue I ate a big blueberry muffin and all was good, until we were approached by a huge fat rat. Jack threw a stone at him, and I freaked out, cos those fuckers give me the creeps. The rat didn't seem all that bothered my the missiles hurled in his direction, and we had to leave.

I saw some great guitars in a shop on Ludlow, vintage Gretches, Ibanez, Hagstrom, Gibsons, all out of my budget. I got info on Fender Champ amps which are being manufactured again.Happy Hour was spent with Asa in the 3 Crowns on 1st Avenue as Jack had to go off and do his own thing for a while. I marvelled at the competitive prices of the local CD manufacturing companies, before we all met up and had dinner. I was handed a bottle of champagne as a gift as we walked down the street. I later drifted off into the land of nod after reading a short story from Bukowski's 'The Most Beautiful Woman In Town.

'Fri march 29. Yesterday I visited Academy Records up on 10the Street . Spent over an hour looking through heaps of old vinyl. Thankfully they had turntables there, with headphones, so I listened to a lot of stuff before settling on an LP by Betty Lavette 'Do Your Duty' A Congo's LP and a double album of various OKEH artists from the 60's. We visited the White Horse Tavern where Dylan Thomas infamously drank thirteen shots of whiskey in rapid succession, before returning to his hotel and dying. We stuck to beer. The barman even gave us one on the house after we chatted about Ireland and Sweden.In a few hours I gotta make my way to Philadelphia for tonight's gig. I'll report more later when I get a chance..................

Saturday March 31 Philadelphia.....Yesterday we took the bus from Chinatown in New York up to Philly, a city held together with gaffa tape. Caught a bit of a gig by John Train, before we drove out to Erdenheim, way out past Germanstown. I played at Fingers, a new place, and if there's any justice in this weary old world it won't be open for much longer. The food was truly atrocious. I had Pasta Paradice, but it was more like Pasta Purgatory. Tasted like the chef with the phoney Italian accent poured a tin of cheap vegetable soup over some cooled penne and heated it up in the microwave. After the gig we had a few late drinks in Johnny Brenda's.

Tuesday April 3 New York......On Saturday afternoon we had a great big Philly breakfast and a look around town. We met up with Dave Dowling for afternoon drinks, and later Wendy drove us out to the suburbs for the second gig in the fifth rate bar. I had contemplated not showing up, but I'm a man of my word. I shouldn't have been booked into the place. Not my fault. Kevin and Laura drove up from Jersey to see me, and we split straight afterwards, arriving into Red Bank, New Jersey around 2am. A party atmosphere took over and I met Keith who is a radio DJ. Can't recall the station he's on, but hopefully he'll give 'Silver & Dust ' a spin. I think it was around 7am when I finally put my head down for a bit of shut eye. Sunday morning we took a bus in to NY and watched a movie, Scorcese's 'The Departed.'A bottle of champagne was opened and sampled, before we took ourselves over to the Sidewalk Cafe for the nights gig, and a great gig it was too. The sound was spot on, and it was good to be back dealing with professionals again, as opposed to those fools in Philly. Before my set, my friends (and label mates) Two Dollar Bash played. It happened to be their last show on a five week tour that saw them play something like 40 dates, so they're a bit tired. They split after my set, but we still had time for a brief chat. I sold a few CD's before rambling around to Sofies for a late drink. Rachel from Dublin, Voychech from Jersey (via Poland) Justine and friend, Jeananne, Paddy & Åsa....all ended up in Sofies.

On Monday Jack re-recorded his slide guitar part on a song we recorded a while back. I did a quick mix and hope to work on it over the next few days. Ate in Little Italy, picked up a few records...Rory Gallagher 'Irish Tour '74,' and Loretta Lynne 'One's On The Way' both on vinyl in Rockitt Scientist. I was cajoled into doing a tourist type activity. This involved walking half way across the Brooklyn Bridge, and taking photographs. I wasn't that impressed.