Wed July 6 Göteborg…The genius of Joe Phelps brightens up the first hour of the day. “Shes A-1” “Wasting My Time” two great songs. ….and “Love Is A 5 Letter Word”. (its spelt M.O.N.E.Y.) Tell it like it is Joe.
Leonard was singing about Montreal, when I see on the interweb one of Orite Shimoni’s photos of her old pad in Montreal. I remember it well. Scanned her writings on touring, not having a home, the nomadic life and so on and so forth. Put on the Little Birdie CD. The sun was streaming through the trees.
Fri July 8 Dublin….. Met a dazed Liam O Maonlai on Duke Street. He was standing in the middle of the street staring into space. “You ok ? “ I asked. He went on to explain that he was trying to figure out if he should go to the US in the morning or stay in Ireland. A solo tour was set up but his work visa hadn’t come through. We went to the International for a drink and a chat.
Went to the Steps Of Rome for pizza and red wine, sitting outside on the street as the sun faded. Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing In The Moonlight” blasted out of the Gendist Fire and Safety van parked a few yards away. On the next street Phil Lynott’s majestic stuatue presides over the weekend revellers. Met Cormac Figgis AKA Ted of the Teds fame for a chat.
Sat July 9 Cong / Enniscrone…the car radio was on. Not my decision. The midday DJ was telling a story about some visitor to his home who commented on how lousy his CD collection was. He told his friend that he wasn’t all that interested in music !! And here he is on national radio admitting this, and still playing records for the young people of Ireland, helping to make and break acts, indoctrinating the gullible lazy youth of the emerald isle. No wonder the radio is crap.
Found Nymphsfield on the outskirts of Cong. These stone circles were first noted by Edward Lhwyd on his tour of Ireland in 1699. Lhwyd measured and made sketches of the four circles, and noted smaller inner circles or settings within two of them. William Stukley, the great English antiquarian later reproduced Lhwyd's unpublished drawings. The biggest circle was odd in that the stones were all warm to the touch, like electric heaters. And this was on a windy rainy day. The most complete circle is in somebodys back garden. How cool is that. It was around here that the famed first battle of Moytura took place, when the mythical and mystical race, the pre-celtic Tuatha De Dannan defeated the vile Fir Bolg.
The yellowing compass was pointing north. The rain came down in a sideways fashion. Dinner in Ballina led to a trip out to Enniscrone the wild and windswept seaside town. Down in the sand-dunes, the rain came in from the sea. The Atlantic waves rolled and rumbled, unstoppable. An old guy sat outside his mobile home thinking of what might have been and the tales of yesteryear, the forgotten lore of days long ago. The years belie the face and the hands belie the deed. Theres darkness on the edge of the page at this time of the evening.
Tues Aug 16 Berlin…. People in a hurry, S Bahn, U Bahn, taxis, planes, bikes. All on the go. Stopped for food in a small Thai restaurant near Frankfurter Alee. A beer to wash it down, followed by coffee. The food was passable, the beer very good, the coffee atrocious. Stank of saccharin, stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotamee and acesulfame.
The gig at East Of Eden was a sad affair. The last Tuesday show ever as the place is closing down. End of an era. I felt rusty. The guitar was like an alien in my hands. Tobias from Trailhead played a set too and all the usual suspects were up for a late drink and a ramble through Friedrichshain.
Wed Aug 17 Berlin… Spent the day in Allen Devines studio working on a song. Well, Allen did all the work. I just hung around. Later a taxi deposited me in the Tiergarten at the door of the Haus Der Kulturen where Lord Mouse and The Kalypso Kats put on a great show. A big hall, could probably hold 2000. I reckon there were 400 in. Later, re located to Artliners for beverages and discussion on a myriad of subjects.
Thurs Aug 18 Berlin…Went to a Russian Bar with Mark for a beer and a chat. Sun beaming down like a 150 watt lamp at close range. Later I had dinner in a Thai restaurant and from there went out to Kreutzberg to Soul Cat for the gig. A hot sticky evening, but one with a cool vibe. Later I hung out with Paul trying in vain to avoid the heavy down pours.
Fri Aug 19 Heidelberg….Last thing I wanted to do was deal with a 7 hour train journey with changes at Hanover and Frankfurt. Wasn’t in the mood for reading. A few phone calls. A drink. A sandwich. Another few hundred miles to go. Found a private carraige for the last leg of the journey, but was promptly joined by a lady and her two kids. They were just back from Southampton where they now live. But she learnt her perfect English in Ireland. Lived in Oz too for a long time. Her kids speak fluent English, German and French. I told her my story too, a very abbreviated version.
Got in a bit late for the gig. No panic. Sold CDs and had a good time chatting to Scottish Iain who had supplied the PA. The manager of the place took me out to a few dodgy bars and then I went back to the hotel for 40 winks. Another day, another gig done and dusted.
Sat Aug 20 Ludwigshafen….Had a much needed long sleep in. A ramble through a hot Heidelberg took up early afternoon. Down by the River Neckar and then up through the baroque style Old Town. I’d been here before several years ago, but didn’t get to see much of this Handsel and Gretel town snuggled in a deep deep valley in the Odenwald. People were sitting outside cafes and bars, some inside to avoid the sun. Afternoon drinks I the lonesome world of daydreams. I decided to join them. Ordered a bottle of Rathaus Pils. Sat in the window looking out onto the busy street.
Earlier in the week I’d been reading Burroughs and in the hazy heat notions of ‘reading between the lines’ using his cut-up technique on some automatic writing / streams of consciousness prose as a means to divine the future. Scribbled down a few notes and made a promise to look deeper into this at a later stage. The past however, is a different kettle of cacti. What if you had no past, no memory?. No ghosts, no demons. A clean slate, a clear path to walk through the gate.
Swatted an annoying wasp to death with my pocket diary. Straight away there was another one on the scene, but he kept his distance, either understanding that he may suffer the same fate as his murdered relative or maybe he couldn’t be bothered.
A lady went by in a wheelchair. Both arms amputated from the elbows, and legs amputated from the knees. A practical medicinal cigarette holder attached to the upper arm allowed her to chain smoke while she was pushed along. A tall skinny man with a walking stick followed closely behind. He had huge rubber stumps where his feet should be. As big as a young elephants feet. Another guy with a wobbly leg arm in arm with his blind girlfriend. A balding spastic type guy in his 30’s, pushed along in his chair by his elderly parents who were probably thinking ‘what will happen to our Wolfgang when we are cold in the grave?’ Makes you realize how lucky you are to write a cliché that hits home. When a well dressed hunched old guy came around busking the tables with his hand-clapping gig, it was time to move on. You could train a monkey to do that and it would still be shit. Sir, buy an instrument, a modicum of talent goes a long way. I should know.
Got down to Ludwigshafen, which seemed urban and moderrn by comparison. A nice place to play on a hot steamy night and Andreas is a genial host. Luckily I had two huge fans either side of the stage to cool me down a bit. All the windows had to kept closed during the gig to avoid complaints from neighbours. Later as I was getting ready to crash out the rains started and it lashed down all night.
Sun Aug 21 Friedelsheim…Thankfully the rains ended and after a cup of tea and a few biscuits with Andreas, I was on a train for Friedelsheim, a small town near Mannheim. When I stood up and grabbed my guitar and bags to get off the train, all the passengers stared. I felt I’d made a mistake. Could this be the right place? No town in sight, just a dusty platform and mile after mile of sun bleached vineyards stretching to the foothills of the distant Taunus mountains. It was 34 degrees celsius. I expected tumble weed to roll by. Luckily I had a mobile phone so I called Jenny. She told me I was in the right place and she drove down to collect me. The town was about 2 miles up the road. I quickly et Mark and crew and a fine pint of Guinness was put in front of me. It didn’t last long.
The festival vibe was in full swing. Then I met Hans, a journalist from a national newspaper who took me off to a bar on the edge of a big field where we drank sweet white wine. The sun eventually sank behind the hill and I played my set. Enjoyed it too.
Was invited to some guys nearby house but something told me to politely refuse. I recall once in Switzerland when bass player Brian accepted an invitation into some guys pad. After sharing a glass or two of whiskey Brian was subjected to a martial arts display with several high kicks just missing his head. His derranged host then produced a knife and insisted that Brian should buy it from him and when he refused to buy the weapon the guy got very very pissed off. Somehow or other our bass player got out of there in one piece, albeit a bit shook up. When I refused this German gentlemans invitation he too got really annoyed and Mark and crew had to get involved and ejected him from the area.
A few hours later I was on a train to the airport and it was all just another piece of fiction, that might have been true.