Monday, 8 October 2012

Summer 2012 - Sweden / Ireland / Austria / Czech

Sat 9 June Göteborg - the Andralangatan Street Festival was upon us and I had a 2pm slot on the Klubb Honky Tonk stage. Thankfully it wasn’t raining. Emmett, our friend visiting from Toronto found the place no problem. A big fat dog shit in front of the stage and the wandering folks walked through it and dragged it all over the place and it being a hot sticky humid day, the stink was bad. The pissed off roadie who likes to think of himself as a promoter wasn’t too pleased about having to clean up the shit. If he had had the manners to reply to my emails I might feel sympathy for him. But he didn’t and I don’t. A few good amps are set up. I plug in the electric Ibanez to a what might have been a Fender Deville and let rip.

Later, after two trams and a bus ride we arrived at a sort of wedding party. Emmett is mystified by Smörgåstårta, a big Swedish cake with bits of fruit, cheese, cream and random bits of dead animals stuck to it. They eat this to celebrate. What do they do for torture ? Two identical twin girls in matching dresses ran around the place, people were getting drunk and talking crazy. It was looking more like The Shining by the minute.

Sat 16 June Göteborg – The gig was at Mitt Andra Hem on Andra Langgatan, a small place with friendly staff and a slightly dodgy P.A. But they got curtains!

The rain was lashing down. The place was empty, things not looking good. Re-located to a bar on Linneagatan, and then over to the Bellman. A lady I knew invoked Thor and Odin. Umbrellas at the ready, back at HQ a few folks had braved the elements. By the time I went on there was a reasonable crowd in. I hit a chord and the manager opened the stage curtains and I kicked things off. That’s showbiz. Glamour with a small ‘g’. Enjoyed the gig and stayed up til dawn with Leif and Mariana on a balcony looking out over the city from Strummensbarrie waiting for the sun to rise. Armageddon postponed yet again.

Frday 29 June Göteborg – Slick Andy had been practising his glockenspiel scales and his melodica scales, so he played on a few songs in Vansinnet, a cool bar down a back-street beside the Maritime Museum in Majorna, near the staue of the sad and forelorn lady waiting for her seafaring husband to return home. But he never will. He’s brownbread. Dead as a doornail at the bottom of the North Sea.

This is the pirate side of town. Åsa Kärrman got up to sing on one song. It all seemed to make sense and the pool table was vacant. Good crowd, good bar, good money, bad weather.


Sunday 8 July Alingsås, Sweden – Green trees whizzing by, pretty girls, their long legs as brown as varnished mahogony. The train sped through Jonsered, Aspendalen, Partille, Floda, Stenkullen. Brightly painted houses - yellow and powder blue. Bikes parked in sundrenched railway stations that would never be robbed. In Alingsås I met with Nono who calls me Mr Eamonn. We talked about the upcoming gig and he showed me around his bar. Chatted to one of the locals having his Sunday afternoon drinks. Told me about southern China which is hipper than the north, apparently. He pulled out a laminated photo of his pretty Chinese wife. She looks 21. He proudly tells me she’s 40. “You should see her younger sister” he tells me. “She looks like a doll.”

Monday 9 July Dublin – Had a sort of a breakfast in Landvetter underneath a chandelier like light construction made of reindeer antlers. One would be ok but five hung low in a row across the airport restaurant ceiling is a bit spooky.

In Stockholm I had words with a pig ignorant Norwegian who kicked my daughters bag out of his way. He scampered off down the corridor to hell. Got into Dublin in the grey damp evening and across to our Harolds Cross base.

Clarence Winter had been working on some songs on his keyboard so we called down to his place and went through a few ideas. Later, his missus Barbara wanted to eat at Odessa so we all met up there. Had a beer, some white wine with fish and vegetables and relocated to the Gypsy Rose to see Jack & The Wild Horses play a show. Nodded off at the bar. Nobody batted an eyelid. Proper order.

Tuesday 10 July – Had a drink in the Glimmerman. Met Ciaran The Professor who says hes not in business anymore. I asked about a mutual acquaintance who had recently been married. He said he missed out on the wedding as he was “on his holidays.” Les, who had dropped in, later pointed out that his holiday was probably in Mountjoy.

Rehearsed for the afternoon at nearby Sonic Studios. Al had recently had Sinead O Connor in recording stuff. We were pleased to hear she didn’t say Mass in the studio….and nobody got married either.

Wednesday 11 July Clane – Another afternoon of rehearsing and then took a bus to Kildare, falling asleep on the way but waking up just before the stop at Clane. Nan bread courtesy of Holly, Indian vegetable curry courtesy of Ann, red wine courtesy of the good people of Chile.

Thursday 12 July – Back to Dublin and drinks in The International Bar on Exchequer Street. Åsa is all “remember this, remember that…” Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. In the house I took it easy for a while and then grabbed a taxi across town to Sonic Studios. Taxi driver was talking about music and guitars and then about his son’s suicide. I empathized with him. He seemed like a nice guy. But I began to lose my patience when he couldn’t find Sonic. I didn’t know the street name but told him where it was…over past the Cobblestone, next door to the Glimmerman pub. He knew the Glimmerman, but still couldn’t find it . We went around in circles and twice took the same wrong turn. The meter was up to 16 euro. I suggested he use the satellite navigation. “Ah sure, I wouldn’t know how to use that” was his reply. Well, thought I to myself, begorrah would it be suiting you now sir to get on an auld FAS course and learn how to use the fucking thing.
To cut a long story short, as in the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire TV show, he phoned a friend (asking the audience not being an option) and his friend told him how to get there. Gave him 8 quid and loaded the gear in Al’s wagon.

Played the Leeson Lounge. Not as big a crowd as last time. Good to see Cathal and Emer, Alanna, and Willie Van Velzen who I hadn’t seen in years. Late drinks with band and ex comrade in arms – John Lalor, Justin and crew. Hailed a taxi that was well capable of navigating the puke-stained grey city streets.

Friday 13 July Ennis – Pebble-dashed facades, overgrown gardens, skips and Superquinn. The car arrived and we drove to Stoneybatter and I swapped over to Al’s wagon and hit the road, stopping off to pick up Mercedes along the way, waving at the Brazillian girls , eating blueberry buns in a one-horse town. Passed through Boris In Ossory, where according to Al the only known case of vampirism occurred in Ireland. On Bishops orders the body of a young boy was exumed and his head cut-off and placed at his feet, as was the fashion at the time. No stakes through hearts or silver bullets required. I assume they reburied the boy and that was the end of that.

Got in to Ennis with Daniel O Connell high on his pillar presiding over the town. Had a drink in a purple pub, and the gig was upstairs in Brandons. Watched Clarence do his solo set. Debra followed. Both sounded great. Chatted to Paul. We did our thing. Enjoyed it too. Met Geraldine and Gerry from Gingerjam. Photos were taken, vague notions about record releases, the sticky carpet in the Stella Cinema Rathmines, and Galway in the mid 80’s. Back to Pats place for pizza and drinks until 7am. Lied down then for a while.

Saturday 14 July Rockfield – Stopped off in Claregalway where Ed ate chips and sausages and beans washed down with coffee. Onwards down the N17 with the Sawdoctors song running through my head like WIFI. Arrived into Rockfield for a late afternoon dinner followed by a ramble in the fields where leaking boots prevailed against the odds.

Sunday 15 July – Sunshine, threats of rain. A faery fort to explore. Jamaican rum, Dutch beer, white Italian wine, Irish food.

Monday 16 July Dublin – A little Hitler in Heuston Station was yelling out orders…”you cant hail a taxi there”. But I did and in we got. The uniformed fool took out a digital camera to take a photo of our misdemeanor in progress, I assume to report the cab driver to relevant authorities. The driver was unfazed. Laughed at the idiot as he drove off.

Met Felim Drew running down the street. He stopped, we had a brief chat, then he turned around and ran in the opposite direction.

Mowed a lawn, cleaned bird shit off the garden furniture and ate Thai food as darkness descended on the streets of sad suburbia.

Tuesday 17 July Dublin – Checked out the Twisted Pepper venue on Middle Abbey Street, collected posters from the printer and ate pasta at the Steps Of Rome where I saw seven ghosts.

Thursday 19 July Galway – Stopped in Athenry for coffee in a big old hotel. Didn’t feel so lonesome, not as much as Paddy Reilly did anyway. But he was out in the fields. Onwards into the City Of The Tribes unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result. Got there in one piece. Spied Les and Ed in an Indian restaurant across the road. Al went off to eat fish, I hung around the venue – Monroes.

Paul arrived down as did Hugo, Kevin Duffy, John Fitz, Sabine, a few of the Lawrence clan and some folks I’d not seen in years and years. Got an unexpected encore, went through the hassle of getting paid and shortly afterwards hit the black road back to Dublin.

Friday 20 July Dublin – Met Joey The Clown on Dawson Street, no longer gainfully employed by the Leeson Lounge, and a few minutes later Count Tornado approached looking for a support slot. A phone was made to last nights promoter who’s cheque just didn’t make sense in the cold light of day. Later on, I played a solo / acoustic gig in Sean MacD’s.


Saturday 21 July Carlow – Slept all the way to Carlow, waking up bright eyed and bushy-tailed on arrival. Lost we were. Knocked on the door of an Art Gallery. A rather startled lady opened the door. I have this affect on women. I politely enquired about the whereabouts of the Pembroke Club d’Art and she pointed me in the right direction on the wrong street.

A small place but a place with a good vibe. An interesting set was delivered by Niall T-Vita as girls in exceedingly high heels tottered about at the bar.  CD’s were sold and my shirt was soaking wet afterwards and I had forgotten to bring a clean/dry one so I had to wear the wet one all the way home risking pneumonia and muscular pain.

Sunday 22 July Dublin – Killiney beach - as always, windswpt and grey and awful. Dunlaoire was better, with a market and planes flying in formation overhead. Dinner later with friends….intense fatigue and a deep desire for 40 winks. 

Thursday 26 July Dublin – Leeson Lounge.  The gig was recorded and filmed, so we’ll see how that turns out. An experiment really. We played well, and harder than last time. Stayed back late to stare at the fish in the aquarium as is the tradition.

Friday 27 July Portrush – A long drive to the northern coast of County Antrim. A bleak grey day. The sweet aroma of incense greeted us at the venue, used wisely to mask the seaside dampness. Nice crew, good PA and the sound was spot on. Cheap Harley Benton distortion pedal died a death. Luckily I had a replacement, a Boss DS-1. Pedals that only cost 20 quid aren’t really suitable for the road. Lesson learned.

Saturday 28 July Dublin – Sonic Studios nightime session. We record versions of Iron City, The Price Of Everything, Your On Your Own and The Ballad Of Aleister Crowley. A good nights work.

Saturday 4 August, Alingsås, Sweden……A trip across to Pennies from Heaven on Södravägen resulted in a bag full of records. No vinyl…today its shellac. A bunch of 78’s, including Louis Armstrong, Johnny Desmond, Sugar Chile Robinson, the Harry James Orchestra and Bill Haley and The Comets ‘Rock Around The Clock’. Bill’s record cost me the equivalent of 50 cents.

My instincts told me through a riot of crackling shellac surface noise that I would be too late arriving into Alingsås for dinner, so I ate pasta, had a lie down, got to Central Station and learnt there was only one train an hour instead of the usual two. When we got to Aspen the metal travelling machine broke down. Something wrong with the brakes. Eventually made it to the gig in one piece. A phone call from Nono informed me that the PA had arrived and was ready to roll. A hot sticky night. Met some good people, friends of Jonas the P.A guy. Everybody was asking me about the Emerald Isle all night long. I told them I wanted to bring back the snakes.

Sunday 5 August Jonsered, Sweden – Stopped off at Jonsered, a small industrial town by the Säve River. Not a lot going on. Called into the only bar/restaurant that we could find. Ordered coffee and beer. A TV as big as a politicians ego dominated the room. That Fergie fuck from Black Eyed Peas was on the screen sounding like a hyena in heat and looking like a knacker. Sat outside, a safe distance from mind control machine.

Sunday 19 August Salzburg, Austria – A friendly couple accompanied  me from the airport to the last stop. Bus # 27 did the trick and I located the bar, which looked a lot more run-down and lived in than the glossy website photos. Good crew, friendly and helpful. Alex showed me to my apartment up the street with two windows overlooking streets of baroque architecture.

Hanging around waiting for showtime I met an English couple. The guy told me Oasis ‘Champagne Supernova’ is the best song ever. Whatever floats your boat. His missus asked me if I knew any of the guys from Westlife. I dont. She was talking about spending time in the West Country. I mentioned that PJ Harvey is from down there. She said, who’s HE ?
Played the gig, hot and sticky.

Monday 20 August Salzburg – Alex had recommended breakfast in his brothers place. Its only 10 euro he said. I settled for a bottle of water and a tub of salad from Spar that cost 2 euro. Not interested in a big breakfast anyway in this kind of heat (approx 29 celcius). Just up from the Spar shop is Mozarts former residence at Getreidegasse 9 where the family lived from 1747 to 1773.

Found a gothic graveyard at Linzer Gasse, took some photos and rambled the streets. Attracted by the faint whiff of olibanum  I had a look inside St Peters Church. Theres a sign inside the door saying ‘This is a house of prayer, No guided tours allowed.’
But they’ve got ‘phonomats’. Judging by their design, these telephones were installed in the early 1960’s. For the price of 1 euro you can select a language and listen to a long tale all about the church. Not sure if it’s a hotline to God, a saint or a taperecording. Languages on offer are (and I quote) Deutch, Eng, Francais, Italiano, Espanol, Netherlands, Magyarol,
中國的, and another one I couldn’t decipher it being in ancient hieroglyphics. Possibly Atlantean.

The Stations Of The Cross, central myth to this obselete middle eastern death cult are elaborately decorated paintings, framed in black and crowned in gold, Roman numerals identifying each scene of horror.

The place is full of tourists and many of the ladies are (as my mother would claim) dressed immodestly. Teeny weeny hot pants, bare backed dresses, tight sweat stained T Shirts, nipples sticking out. Priestesses of Babylon all. I love them unconditionally. But surely this is the work of Satan. 

Penny candles cost 65 cents. A mere trifle to ask God to ease the torment and suffering of your loved ones in purgatory. I lit a candle and wished upon a five pointed star that Ratzinger and all his contemptable cronies would get food poisoning and die purple-faced choking on their own puke. But I didn’t pay the 60 cents for the candle.

Went back to my room with a plastic tub of pasta, salad and mozzerella cheese, a piece of bread (that turned out to be stale) and a small bottle of JP Chenet red wine. The traffic rumbled outside. Four floors up I could still hear the evening chatter of the diners and the drinkers. Talked to the wall for a while. Stretched out on the bed and nodded off. Woke up, went down the street, played the gig.

Tuesday 21 August Prague – Salzburg train station in the afternoon. A Californian girl walks up to the SANDWICH BAR and says “ do you have….like…..noodles?”

Buying a ticket to Czech wasn’t easy. The lady at the desk for Austrian Rail couldn’t figure it out and recommended I speak to the German repersentative across the room at the other desk. He could sell me a ticket half way, but couldn’t guarantee a seat on the connecting bus, or if the bus would even be there. Another fool told me there was no such thing as a train to Prague ! Eventually a German guy came up with a fast train with seven changes that cost 120 euro or a slow train with one change that cost 50 euro. I went for the slow train, and ten and a half hours later I arrived into Prague.
It was late and most places were closing. Had a beer in the old town square just around the corner from my room, too tired to venture further afield.


Wednesday 22 August Prague – Visited Edward Kelleys Tower on Mala Strana, half way up the hill to the the castle. It was here that Kelley carried out his alchemical experiments in the late 1500’s. This is the same Kelley name-checked (along with John Dee) in Rambling Jack. Interesting to see his former residence, one of many properties he owned while being bankrolled by Emperor Rudolf ll. All went well for Dee and Kelley as they ran the gamut from ceremonial magic to alchemy to discovering / inventing Enochian, conversing with angels, and so on and so fort, until Kelley slept with Dee’s foxy young wife at the behest of one of their angelic contacts. It was all down hill from there.

Later I risked the subway and with some luck got to the right place. An Israeli guy overheard me talking english on the phone and struck up conversation. When I told him my name he asked me if it was like the Eqyptian god Amun. I told him it was but with a different spelling and on occasion I was like an Egyptian god in attitude. A statuesque, elegant blonde lady with magnificent white shoes helped me figure out which tram to take, and while on that tram another lady helped me find my stop with the aid of satellite navigation on her phone.

At Mon Ami I was greeted by Vesna who has self-published a novel and a collection of short stories and there’s more on the way. A very large poster of myself hung in the doorway. It was a warm balmy evening and I met some great people, genuine, no hidden agenda. Czech, Canadian, Norwegian. Played my songs and had a post midnight feast of egg plant and baked vegetable pie. Thankful for the hospitality I hopped in a cab bound for Týnská 19 in the old town.

Thursday 23 August Prague – Needed a long lie in. Must be getting old. Rambled the packed streets, tourists everywhere. Found Kino at Lucerna. Walked on the dark side of the street to avoid the blinding sun. Boats cruising down the Vltava River, buskers on the King Charles Bridge, pretty girls worn down by the world.
The gig was at the Globe Bookstore located at Pštrossova 6. An independent bookshop with a big bar out the back. Played and then hung out with local musician Petr and a Finnish guy and his Canadian/Czech wife. A few hours later I was in the airport having pasta and red wine for breakfast before taking a plane to Berlin.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Spring 2012 - Sweden / Ireland / France / Germany / Netherlands

Saturday 11 February, Göteborg, Sweden -
A bitter cold day just one street away from Iron City. 'Life is long, if you know how to live it' she said stumbling off the #1 tram, a hip-flask in her hip pocket, king-size cigarette in hand.

Met up with Damon down at the Bellman at soundcheck. Had a drink or two and a chat. The soundcheck was a long affair. The owner of the place couldn’t figure out how to get the P.A. going. Neither could we. Eventually we got a few speakers to make some noise, and I went home.

Later back at Bellmans, a good crowd had arrived. Did a long solo acoustic set, before being joined by The Renegade Two – Slick Andy on drums and Mikka Haki on double bass. A good gig and a good vibe until 3 songs from the end word came through about complaints from the neighbours. Typical. Our residency got shut down on the first night. But not until we played a very very long version of‘Seven Years’ with improvised ending, walls of feedback, mayhem and madness. Sold CD’s and got paid in Norwegian Kroner, worth a lot more than the swedish currency. Spoke to a pissed-off bar manager. Got the money and with Marlene and her Indian friend we went across the road to Haga Bio for a late drink and ended up trekking in the falling snow to Sköll for more beer.

Wednesday 22 February, Dublin, Ireland - Cold as Siberia, damp as the dungeon. Rehearsals in Sonic were fun. Tried out a few new ideas with Clarence Clark on pedal steel. The heat sunk in and we did our thing. Out in Finglas we had a late night chat with Al and Mercedes and the German lady whose name I can’t recall. Off to bed and soon entered through the rusty gates of the land of nod.

Thursday 23 February Dublin…Lunch was a bowl of soup with bread and thick butter in a café near the courthouse in Smithfield. A phone call came from Svenska World. Over at Arad Studio I had a drink and hung out and listened to recordings. Bumped into a few people I knew on the street. Ate in the Hare Krishna place on Baggot St. Back at Sonic H.Q. I met Horslips roadie Pat who was having a cup of tea with Al.

Later, over at the Leeson Lounge, roadie Pat, true to his word, had passed on the message to the Horslips boys that we were playing around the corner from their hotel. So Jim Lockhart (who lives nearby anyway) arrived with Charles O Connor and wife. I knew Jim from years back. Never met Charles before. Nice guy. He asked about my Ibanez electric guitar, we chatted about music, his band, the 70’s the O2 shows and he bought me a pint. Steve Wall was in, Pete PAMF, Darragh McCarthy, Lorraine from Lois and Clark, Kate, Alanna and crew, old friends, strangers, the disenfranchised, the oblivious to it all
, the connoisseurs, the tone deaf and the lovers. ….a good gig and a good vibe.

Friday 24 February Ennis, Ireland - A cold evening in the County Clare. But Brandons warmed up and we enjoyed the gig. Proprietor Declan said it was the best he had there in years, so we must have done something right. Paul was down from Galway…or was it Clifden. Eric Mullins who I hadn’t seen in 20 years or more. Debra played a few songs with Paul and sounded great. A lady who I haven’t seen in over 20 years as well. Clarence did his solo slot and we made our noise. Didn’t sell any CD’s, but somebody managed to steal a few. Such is life.

We were invited to a party in somebodys house where Eric was DJ and later relocated to Spancil Hill for a few hours kip.

Saturday 25 February Cootehall Co. Roscommon, Ireland - ”Last night as I lay dreaming of pleasant days gone by..” and so I awoke in Debra’s house in Spancill Hill. Always liked that song. Rolling fields dipping into the valley, tangled trees, green green grass. As green as if Tom Jones was singing about it. A tractor perched on a ledge in an old decaying out-house, a cat creeping around with bird murder on her mind.

Drove to Ennis and loaded up the gear. A stately hostel / restaurant was visited for lunch following a standing liquid breakfast in as nearby Hotel bar. Bottled Italian beer, red wine, food and more read wine in that order. Hit the road with Al at the wheel. Stopping off to take photos of the Padraig Pearse War monument in a lonesome windswept field. Night fell upon us. We reached Cootehall in County Roscommon. A crumbling ghost estate lurked behind the church. Petrol pumps stood to attention. A pub called Forge MJ Henry was and is the centre piece of the village. Dwarfed by the church, the pub has character, life and colour. The church is grey and obsolete. A good crew of folks came down to Forge MJ Henry. Steve filmed some of the gig, Ava Maria took photos and it all went well.

Friday 3 March, Sollebrunn, Sweden - 16 hens laying eggs, 2 cats and a dog, several hundred deer and half a ton of salmon in the lake. The farm house was 400 years old but didn’t look it. A walk in the woods sharpened the appetite for dinner as the sun dimmed across the swamp. Not a soul for miles.

Friday 23 March, Nice, France - Rambled through the winding streets, stopping off for ice cream for the Princess. The old carousel off the Promenade de Anglais spun around and around and the water kept tumbling down the waterfall of the Colline du Chateau. Turned up at the traffic lights past the Palais de Justice and we had a beer or three down the side street next door to the over-priced jewellery shop.

Nike– Greek goddess of victory was watching our every move. Wasn’t feeling too victorious myself. I had written two songs and recorded one, which may or may not be worth using at some point in misty time. No major achievement, but I didn’t come to the south of France to achieve anything. Waited for our Indian food as we sipped Grolsch and I took a photo of the bright red Ganesha statue under lit by an ultra violet bulb.

Saturday March 24 Bohus, Sweden – In from the airport, not much time for a lie down before the car arrived to chauffeur me to Bohus for Martti the Blacksmiths Birthday Party / gig. All the usually fare, pizza, beer, wine, hard liquor, cake , sandwiches and of course rum. Martti likes his rum and big fat Cuban cigars. I played my set and drank more rum but reneged on the cigars.

Friday March 30 Dusseldorf, Germany – Following instructions, hopped the S-11 from the station under the airport at the end of the terminal. Figured out where I was going on a grey overcast day and with time on my hands and an empty stomach I set up base in a Thai restaurant. A ramble around the neighbourhood led me to the door of Abraxas, a small bar with a window full of witches - statues, toys, antiques, brewing potions, flying on greased broomsticks, casting their spells on Ratzinger. A few streets away at Solaris I had a good evening in the company of a gathering of like-minded folk who seemed to like the songs and the vibe.

Saturday March 31 Oberhausen, Germany – Awoke in the abode of Rory and Kathi. Had a big breakfast and went out to explore the town before hopping on the train to Oberhausen, a sort of Germanic mini Las Vegas. An Israeli lady became my tour manager for a while showing me where to catch my connecting train etc. All very friendly. Played a big Irish Bar called An Crannog. But as Paddy Pubs go its top class. A bunch of rocker / rockabilly guys are up from Dortmund, good looking ladies with class footwear are sipping their shiny glasses of wine and the moneys good too. Sold a lot of CD’s and the PA was in good nick and nobody complained about anything.

Sunday April 1 Bonn, Germany – A strange, nervous laughing guy wanted to help with my bad directions. Reminded me of the spellbound estate agent in Hertzogs ‘Nosferatu The Vampyre’. We walked through the streets, he was wheeling along his bicycle trying to figure out where Zone was located. Thankfully we found it and the hyena guy left me. He meant well, but I wasn’t in the mood for nervous small talk.

Went to the Pendal restaurant for a drink. The aroma of pasta and tomato sauce, chili, fried potatoes got to me. Ordered pasta. ‘Don’t mix ze German beer vis ze vine’ warned the waiter. He might have a point.

Down at Zone on Maxstrasse I played and soon after crashed out in a tiny hotel over an Indian restaurant, getting up and making a B- line for the airport and a long wait for a plane to Berlin.

Monday 9 April, Göteborg, Sweden - Had the best of intentions to put an amp into the living room, get the electric plugged in, distortion pedal, a bit of delay….you know the score.. and get to work on a song I started writing in France the week before last. But I was manky and in bad need of a shave and a shower. As it turned out, in the shower I got the words to the chorus and first verse of the song. Its all about time management and if you can multi-task your rockin’. So I was able to forsake the living room malarky and get straight into pressing the red button in the other room. I decided this song could do with some fiddle. Took down my trusty old hey diddle diddle from its lonesome place hanging on the wall. Hadnt played fiddle since xmas…..and much to my dismay and horror, the back was coming off. In fact this 200 year old instrument was about to fall apart. I reckon that it was so used to living (like myself) in damp old houses and damp flats that the last few years of triple glazed windows and proper heating has played havoc with its life-span. I got out some wood glue but without a vice it was a waste of time. Put some gaffa tape on it and tuned it up and got stuck into recording, working on a version of the song I had started with Slick Andy on drums. I need to get the fiddle to a fiddle doctor this week. Plans are already in place. But the song (working title “Dark Blue Twilight”) is sounding ok. Sleet coming down outside, Bank Holiday stillness, wine on the shelf, phone off the hook…..not a bad way to spend a day.

Friday 11 May, Lisser, Netherlands - Göteborg was in a deluge. Watched the muddy current of the river from the bus. Charged an extra 30 euro to check my guitar in by gestapo-like lady who is ‘only doing her job.’ Set sail on the ship that sails through the heavens. Time to kill in Schipol, so ridiculously over-priced food was consumed. Onwards by train to Haarlem and from there bus 51 to Lisser and I missed the stop and had to backtrack a few miles. The gig was in a place called Nexxt1. A hotel hasn’t been organised and the local flower show means all the cheap rooms are booked.
Played a civilized gig in a lego-style town and Peter organised a hotel for me in Haarlem, which means a late night bus ride to the next town. A friendly chap at the bus stop complements me on my boots and we strike up a conversation of sorts. He does most of the talking. Thinks hes old at 25, shows me a trailer to an ‘Irish’movie on his phone and so on and so forth. In Haarlem, with a little help from Friday night revellers, I locate the Carillon Hotel at Grote Markt, check in, get a litre bottle of fizzy water to bring to my room, read a bit of Dylan Thomas and slept the sleep of the just.

Saturday 12 May, Haarlem & Alkmaar - The Carillon Hotel is an old school Dutch affair. Theres no lift in this building of steep steep stairs, from an era when people must have had much smaller feet. A chandelier like a giant bejewelled monster over the breakfast table. Tea and toast, a boiled egg too, and cake. On a ramble through the back-steets I found a Honor Melodica for 17 euro. Used to have one when I was a kid. Might come in handy recording. Over at Beachclub De Oerkap I played at 5pm. Nice place. Sandy and windy, boats going by, pizza being baked, sand castles being built. Asked the lady in the train station kiosk for a ticket to Haarlem. “This IS Haarlem” she replied. Yes of course it is…..lets try Alkmaar then.

Passed through Uitgeist, Castricum, Heiloo. The gig at Café Mervs was fun and the sound was good, thanks to Steve, ex Dead Plants drummer and all round good guy. Inneke 23 arrived up from Belgium and Jurie arrived from a few streets away.

Sunday 13 May, Egmond Binnen, Netherlands - Caught the bus by the skin of our teeth . Off we went in the bright sunshine. Got off at Egmond Ann Zee and it took about 10 minutes to figure out this was the wrong town. Amused myself taking photos, had a beer, Inneke had a cappuccino. Got another bus and found the festival in the next town. Big big old school PA. Time was tight, but the gig was ok and somebody drove us to Alkmaar and before long I was in Amsterdam and then Schipol Airport and ready to roll on to Copenhagen and then Gotham City.

Saturday 26 May, Bohus, Sweden - 23 degrees, a mild breeze rustling the leaves. Old 78’s on the newly acquired Philips three-speed portable record player. It folds in on itself like a little plastic brief case. Takes batteries as well as electrickery. I had a pile of 78’s by Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, Bill Haley and The Comets, the Joe Mooney Quartet, Lisbeth Bodin, Fats Waller, Nils Weingard, Les Paul, but nothing to play them on. Now that’s all changed following a visit to TV Repair Man in Majorna. All this excitement and the sun belting down, not a cloud in the cerulean blue sky led to a few drinks. The phone rang. It was Marrti Blacksmith, organiser of the Alla Smeders Dag. He said he would collect me at 6. I went for a lie down. Slept. Woke up and off we went in the van to Bohus.

Hung out with Kristian who had recently returned from India. He recommended I vist Varanassi - the City Of Death. With a name like that, how could I refuse. Tales were told of his travels. He met an Aghori, one of those Hindu ‘Holy Men’who live near graveyards, smear their bodies in cremation ashes ,collect human bones and cannibalise corpses. Sometimes they meditate too. And I thought Catholicism was creepy.

Played my set and later I did a few songs with Kristian and Kexan. Marrti had a bed made up for me in his house, but I awoke in the morning lying across the kitchen table.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Sat 3 Sept Göteborg The South American guys in their Mayan feathers and finery are doing their boogie around Östra Hamngatan. They got their P.A. set up, are playing their pan pies and CD’s intended for sale are neatly arranged on a table. A guy goes around with ‘the hat’ to collect as street buskers do. Some coins are collected and although its a bright sunny day business seems to be slow for these Indian troubadours who are obviously a long way from home. Then a middle aged guy who has been siting on a low wall watching the show gets up and places a crisp note in the collection hat. Then he pauses, puts in his hand and slowly takes out a note, some coins, a few more coins and content that he has got the required amount of change hes happy. That’s all he wanted. To break the 100 kr note he had. The Indian Chief looks on bemused. Only in Sweden could this happen.

Wed 7 Sept Solingen…. I got into Dusseldorf airport and went straight to Information. The big blond lady handed me a time table and intoned in a deep as death voice “ Zis is all ze information you vill vant.” A few weeks ago I had read James Youngs “Songs They Never Play On the Radio.” A wonderful book about his years spent playing keyboards with a doomed Nico. And here I was face to face with a lady who looked a bit like her and sounded EXACTLY like her. And it was first thing in the morning. As it turned out, I needed a lot more info than could be gleamed from the timetable, but with a little help from a Spanish lady who had just returned from Peru I was able to navigate the complicated rail system and get on the right train to Solingen.
Met with Fritz, tonights promoter. A gentleman road warrior who’s just got back from touring in Poland. The rain came down in buckets as we ate our Tagliatelle with basil. Fritz told me stories of the road. A recording session with Nikki Sudden and band in Sub Rosa, Dortmund and being on the road in Romania and the mad set-up there….doing sound for Townes Van Zantz. He said the first thing Townes did was walk out on stage, sit down and let the guitar fall. Took him 10 minutes to get it in tune again. It was all down hill from there.
The gig was in an art gallery . A small but appreciative crowd. Sold CD’s, met cool people. Local artist Regis Nöel presented me with two drawings he had completed during my performance. A lovely gift from a talented man.
Took a taxi out to The Cobra, one of the hipper venues in the town. Fritz regularly runs gigs here, but theres nothing on tonight. He showed me to my room upstairs and split in the taxi. I went down to the bar for a ‘wind down’beer and decided to take advantage of an early night.

Thurs 8 Sept Amsterdam…….Rainy day and got into Dusseldorf Hauptbahnhof with an hour to spare. Read a bit of Burroughs in the station bar with a small glass of yellow pils. Inane pop crap on the stereo, but rather than mtv or sports on the TV screens, instead they have a rotation of great paintings from Manet, Monet, Degas. A welcome respite from mind control television/terrorvision. Now, if they had Mikey Welch, HR Giger or Ian Pyper on the screens it would be even better.

Going through Oberhausen station I spotted a wonderful sculpture of a train covered in moss and rust. Didn’t have a camera handy. Passed through some bleak one-horse-town with a restaurant called The Sultans Palace. What a great name for a place. I was sitting in the dinning carriage, the best carriage on the train. Two mustachioed Iraqi guys were deep in conversation over their beers. Another guy talking on the phone in indecipherable tongue. We pulled into Arnheim. I think I played here once upon a time.

In Amsterdam I located Café De Baroness. A nice place, good people. Arvid came down for the gig and during my merchandise spiel, my Dead Formats Volume 1 cassette tape got a round of applause, but alas nobody bought one. I spoke to people who loved the idea, and wanted to see my tapes but didn’t own a tape recorder. Back at Arvids place he DJ’ed a bit on his two technics decks and we finished off the night with scrambled eggs and toast and beer.
Fri 9 Sept Alkmaar….Coffee in Dam Square with Carolin in the afternoon sunshine. Les arrived into town with Clarence Clark on a stag excursion. Mr Keye is soon due to wed a witch. Met up at Café De Baroness for a beer or two, but a wayward skinny cigarette put a halt to conversation as confusion and tiredness set in. The two decided they needed to lie down and rambled off looking for their hotel. I got lost trying to locate Arvid and Carolins flat, but a few phone calls later I had outwitted the mad twisty streets of Amsterdam.

Ate a falafel that tasted like a cardboard box. Got to Central Station and hopped on the train to Alkmaar where the gig is at the Odeon. A nice place. Go to meet with Jurie who I had only spoken to on the phone. We had a good chat and I tried to eat a slice or 2 of pizza that tasted like the lid of the cardboard box I had a few hours previously. A bad day for food. Les and Ed and another guy arrived up for the gig and afterwards we got the last train back down to Amsterdam and went out late on the town. What else would you do.

Sat 10 Sept Antwerp….My voice was in bad shape, I can usually get about 3 notes, 4 at a stretch. Today Ive got one. After a ramble around Amsterdam I hit the road to Belgium. Down in Antwerp the skies opened and a huge downpour was preceded by thunder and lightning. A hot humid night and I enjoyed the gig and nobody complained about my shabby vocal performance…or lack of. Good to see my old friends Inneke 23, Frank, and Frank #2 from Den Hopsack, Wim, and new friends Kristel and Luc.

Sun 11 Sept Amsterdam…. Small gathering at Monumentje, but an ok evening. Not good for CD sales. A few drinks afterwards before trying to find the airport. The trains were off for some reason and a free bus was laid on, so I have a nap in Schipol and then get into the flying metal tube pointed in the direction of the North Pole.