Fri 14 Nov. Gävle……Im not used of travelling first class, but with economy seats sold out I had no option but to buy the first class ticket for the train from Göteborg to Gävle, via Örebro. Knut Hamsun’s “In Wonderland” kept me company as we rolled out from the west, heading northeast through the farmlands, vast forested areas, lakes and rivers. It was dark by 4pm. At Örebro, I only had 5 minutes to make my connection and the information on the screens was confusing. If I missed the next train I was stranded, no way forward, no way back, but I caught it in the nick of time and we made our winding way north through Arvesta, Kyrvbo and one horse towns like Sandriken. Apparently Gävle is more northerly than St Petersburg, so I was prepared for the wintry chill.
CC Puben is a big enough place, a long room, good PA, big stage. Small audience however, but I made some new friends and sold a few CD’s too. Local band The Daisy Cutters were to give me a place to stay, but they never showed up. Instead, Andreas and Catrine were kind enough to offer me a bed. Photos were taken and story’s told. We took a taxi out to their suburban apartment, chatting to their neighbours along the way. Vodka and fresh strawberries with a secret ingredient was a most welcome nightcap.I forgot to set my alarm clock; just as well Catrine came in to wake me up. A taxi appeared from nowhere and before I knew it I was on the train, destination Stockholm.
I had a three-hour stopover in the Swedish capital. Time for food and a beer. The low hum of conversation is a welcome antithesis to American etiquette. A lady in white walks by with in patent leather high-heeled boots, a bearded man in a white cowboy hat follows closely behind with two well-groomed cocker spaniels. The aroma of hot dogs and burgers. Get fat fast, food. People are making small talk, a waste of time in any language. Back on board the train, I try to read, but soon nod off. I wake up and we’re pulling out of an unknown town, all tower blocks and dusk grey doom. Dead trees that look like skeleton fish. People get on and get off, a slowly evolving cross-country game of musical chairs. Ten hours after I had set out, I arrived into Goteborg. I was in bad need of a decent meal.
Wed 26 Nov. Rockfield….We had arrived into Dublin, all Christmas trees and phoney good cheer. Stayed with friends in posh Foxrock as the economy crumbled all around us. A 6am start couldn’t be avoided, and by 8am we had braved the morning rush hour and made it to Heuston station and boarded the Westport train. It was good to be back in Mayo again, like a place from another time. Misty afternoons spent wandering in the fields, past the faery fort up towards Ruane’s.My ancestor, Daithi O Dubhda, was the last pagan king in Ireland. Fair play to him, he held out to the bitter end before pressure from the Xtian hoard in Rome pressurized him into taking up the alien middle-eastern creed. That was back in the 7th century. The castle still survives in County Sligo, and in fact it’s for sale. I can’t afford the one million euro price tag, but with the property crash, who knows what could happen?
Fri 29 Nov. Dublin….Three hours by train and we arrived into Dublin. Had breakfast in some place on South William Street. Can’t remember the name. Went down to the Temple Bar Music Centre to set up for rehearsals. Åsa and Freja went off to meet friends. Both of the guitar amps I tried were useless. Chris arrived, and thankfully he had a Marshall Valve State for me. We ran through the songs, took a cigarette break, ran through the set a second time. Called to guitar doctor Kevin up on Exchequer Street who had promised me he’d have the Antoria electric ready for me. He didn’t. Just as well I brought my Epiphone Casino over from Sweden. Wandered the streets for a while, before dropping into the Stags Head for a drink. Didn’t know a soul there. Made a phone call or two, nobody answered.
Met with Chris and we drove over to Smithfield, home of the Cobblestone. Les arrived, as did Orla the promoter, sound lady and hustler supreme. Sound check was completed and we sipped on a few beers. Dayo played support and it was really nice to have so many old faces down at the gig. The place was full and I reckon if I moved to Mozambique, we’d be able to fill the Button Factory. With Ed, Barbara and Joe we went over to Sheila’s house for late drinks. I think I nodded off for about an hour before the doorbell rang and there was my taxi. We drove straight to the airport, where I had a wonderful breakfast of two beers and promptly boarded the flight to Gothenburg.
Fri Dec 5.Göteborg….Les arrived yesterday evening, Chris arrived several hours later and that’s a long story. I’ll keep it short. Apparently if you’re not an EU citizen you can’t do ‘priority boarding’ and as Chris is Australian, he was left stranded in Dublin airport. We got him another flight, at great expense via Copenhagen. But today is another day and I don’t want to dwell on the idiocy of some airlines.We went out for a ramble, picked up some beers and wine. Back at HQ I played some new songs for the guys. They like some of them.. They don’t like some others. That’s fine. We stopped off at a drum shop (there are such things) for a bolt for a kick pedal, and then went to Storan for sound check. Met up with the guys from The Don Darlings who are on the bill. Cool guys. Also promoter Jenny, but things are delayed so Les needs to find a shop that can sell him some cable for his laptop. We have a beer or two and then dinner. Word arrives that we can sound check, and it’s a painless exercise. Take the tram back to HQ where there’s a party going on. I think I’d have preferred peace and quiet, but I managed to sleep for an hour anyway.The gig itself was ok. The sound wasn’t as on the button as the sound check. Such is life. I enjoyed the Don Darlings set, and I enjoyed playing too, a good audience, but it just could have been a lot better. A lot of folks I hadn’t seen in a long long time were down and late drinks were had in the dressing room. Nobody fell over, nobody threw up or fell down the stairs or tried to steal somebody’s girlfriend, or set a newspaper on fire. Nobody ordered pizza and refused to pay when the delivery guy came, nobody broke the door off the fridge or complained about the lighting. It was one of those nights when there was no unnecessary drama.
Sat Dec 6 Göteborg…. Another difficult day for Chris. One of those where he must be cursing the Racketeers. He had stayed in a Hotel in the city centre, but somehow still managed to miss the airport bus, and had to take an expensive taxi. Ran into some trouble with security in London, but eventually made it to Dublin in one piece. Meanwhile, Les and I got down to the job of recording some new songs I’ve written. We stuck at it for 5 hours or so, took a break and had dinner. The sun went down, a turquoise sheen across the horizon over by the docklands.Records were taken out and played. Hank Mizell, Fabienne Del Sol, Alan Stivell, Little Milton singing ‘We’re Gonna Make It’..Ann Peebles. Holly Golightly, the great Clifton Chenier, the King of Zydeco. Rory Gallagher wrote a song about Clifton, you’ll find it on his 1990 album ‘Fresh Evidence.’ Hank Williams got played, Little Birdie, Calexico, Spade Cooley and Hank Snow. I consulted the Tarot at one point. The hands on the clock scraped a slow circle through time.