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.