Thursday, 21 November 2013

SEPTEMBER 2013 - Austria / Germany / Netherlands / Belgium / Sweden / Turkey

Sunday September 1, Salzburg, Austria – They played The Lemonheads as we boarded the plane to Berlin. The flight attendants wore tight ass enchancing jeans as they dished out the water and fruit juice in a swift and cautiously friendly manner. We plebs had a choice of snack. Salty or sweet. I had neither. A heavy downpour of rain greeted our arrival in to Tegel. But in Salzburg it was drizzling and humid. Played the gig and had an early night.

Monday September 2, Salzburg, Austria – Flags hanging on their poles, the bustle of the tourist town. People looking lost, some looking for adventure. On a ramble through the old city I discovered elaborate tombstones, magnificent metal crosses worthy of a place in an art museum. Church spires, horse drawn carraiges. So many people looking down into the abyss of the internet on their i-phones/smart phones/stupid phones. Who am I to judge. I had to get wifi sorted and once I did I discovered Im going to be on Frank Vranchx’s show on Radio Centraal in Belgium in a few days.

Played the gig and met top attorney and big time music fan W. Scott Wallace and his wife from Dallas, Tx. They bought CDs and invited me to their home town for a show and I will in due course put some effort into making that happen. 

Tuesday September 3, Munich, Germany – Off through Badendorf, Rosenheim, Grafink Bahnhof and arrived into Mucich. Navigated the S Bahn and found the bar at Marianplatz. Chatted to Tigue, a young Irish chao currently working in a fancy nancy Michelin hotel up the street. Its his third day. Met Mick (from Dublin) and Karen (from Deutschland) who had received an email from Brian in someplace in darkest Ireland saying to go check out my gig. So they did. They even had a list of songs I should play...’Down Into Hell’ ‘Nowhere Fast’ and ‘Tell Old Bill’. I played them all and got a bed for the night as well. Thanks Mick and Karen.

Wednesday September 4, Amsterdam, Netherlands – Woke up to the sound of the alarm bright and early. Mick drove me to some far flung train station on the outskirts of Munich and I hopped on the train. Lost my phone, found my phone, got to Copenhagen where one of the restaurants has the novel approach to keeping the bored and lost supplied with liquid refreshments. For example, buy a beer for 55DK, but get a refill for 20DK and you get to pull your own pint. And I thought my bar tending days were over. Read parts of The International Herald & Tribune, the inevitable slaughter and mayhem in Syria being a sober reminder that many of us live a bubble wrapped life.

Got into Amsterdamned and read a bit and nodded off in the smallest hotel room in the world. Went out on a ramble. Sister Sledge on the stereo in a bar near Dam Square. Found the hotel without getting lost or taking a taxi.


Thursday September 5, Antwerp, Belgium – Intense heat. Traveled on through Rotterdam, Rosendal, Kapellan and Ekeren eventually arriving in Antwerp. On Frank Vranchx’s show on Radio Centraal i played 5 or 6 songs, we had a chat and he played a few tracks from CD’s of mine. Sarah conducted the interview and Kristal did her crocheting as jazz cigarettes were passed around. Then we went up to Hoogstraat to the Half Souke bar as is the ritual every Thursday after the radio show. A hang out for poets and musicians since the 60’s the bar is small and with a floor like sea waves. It being sunny, we sat outside. Met a lady obsessed with the Tuatha De Dannann. That took up a few hours, but of course she had no interest in going to my gig. I had a red shirt on and down the street we met a lady with a red shirt (and red shoes) so Sarah took photos of us together in our finery. Went to the opening of an exhibition where we met Kika De Silva wearing a magnificent red dress so we took a few photos. It all seemed to make sense. Inspired paintings by Fred Bervoets on the wall, but it was time for soundcheck. Met a long lost girlfriend of Nikki Sudden. She was cool, damaged, living in the past and lost.


Friday September 6, Enschede, Netherlands - Woke up in Franks place in Antwerp with my boots on. Joined the artist/film maker/musician Ludo Mich and Chantelle Strubbelingen for breakfast. A bit like Kris Kristoffersons 'Sunday Morning Coming Down'. After a while I had a boiled egg. We talked about the Hunters Moon Festival in Carrick on Shannon, and I flicked through Karen Constances wonderful book with a 7 inch single hidden inside the back cover. The postman delivered collectable vinyl LPs, the atmosphere delivered heavy rain.

When the rain cleared we headed for the station and a train to Enschede. Needed to change trains in Rotterdam but missed my connection. Hung around for a while. Commuters were packed in like sardines, no seats available, only standing room between carraiges. A man wearing a white suit and white shoes did his best to make room for me to squeeze in. Looked like an Angel. As I trundled on board he said "Welcome to Hell". I nodded at him not sure what to think. Eventually I arrived into Enschede where a street festival was underway. Played the gig, had a sleep. Nice folks to deal with.


Saturday Sept 7, Dusseldorf, Germany – The lady in the ticket office was of no help. She said “You can by a ticket on the platform.” I explained I needed to go to Dusseldorf, which is in another country. She told me to go to Hengelo and buy a ticket there. It was hot and hazy. Outside on the platform the train to Hengelo awaited but I couldn’t see any ticket machines. I asked a ticket inspector. “You dont need a ticket to Hengelo” he told me in a no nonsense sort of a way. “So if the ticket inspector asks me for a ticket what do I do?” i enquire. “Im the ticket inspector on this train. No ticket!” Fair enough I think, and board the train. In Hengelo I bought a ticket to Dusseldorf and when the lady handed me the itinerary I noticed the first change was at Enschede. I said “I’ve just come from Enschede.” She shrugged her shoulders, I took the ticket and found the platform and waited....and waited.


Back in Enschede there was a long wait for the slow train to Munster from platform 4B. Two ladies were deep in conversation on the bench. I re-checked the details on the screen. I swung around to ask one of the ladies if this was indeed the right platform and they were no longer there, and neither was the bench. It was a bit early in the day for this type of spooky stuff. Trying to rationalise this psychic event I became aware that my shirt was soaking wet. I was sweating profusely. Maybe I had a fever, caught some bad bug, my cup of tea was spiked, a drone had shot a micro poison dart into my neck. A man of Persian aspect approached me “Do you speak English?”. I told him I did and we discussed the train to Munster scenario. He had also been given the runaround by the ticket office inside, as i had an hour earlier. I noticed he too was sweating profusely as he took out a hankerchief and mopped his brow. It wasn’t just me. It must have been 35 degrees and humidity was high as a kite. I had to accept that people, and sometimes the benches on which they sit, simply disappear. It never crossed my mind to ask the man of Persian aspect if he was troubled by invisible people. Sometimes its best to keep your mouth shut.

It was a long lonesome day. In Dusseldorf the rain came down and I felt lost but made it to Solaris 53 in one piece. Greeted Uki and crew before having Thai food in a small family run restaurant with all the gods watching me.  The same place I had dinner last time I was in this town. Then I went back down to the dark end of the street and played the gig.


Sunday  Sept 8, Castricum, Netherlands – On the train down to Amsterdam the ticket inspector informed that most of the toilets on the train were out of order. Eventually I located one and on the way back to the dining carraige where I was having a liquid lunch I bumped into the same chatty King of Tickets. ‘Where you from?’ he asked. ‘Ireland’ I replied.

‘Dublin ! Big tits and great pussy, I go there next week.’

I nodded and off I went. A while later he walked past me again gesticulating frantically to check out his work comrade, a chesty brunette. He was getting into the swing of things for his trip to Dublin and the cesspit of Temple Bar I presume.

After arriving into Castricum via Amsterdam I ate disappointing Indonesian food, found the venue, a place called De BakKerij. Cool venue, nice staff and got the soundcheck over with little pain involved. Steve arrived down from Alkmaar, played the show and so on and so forth. One of the bar staff urged me to check out the music of Jackson C. Frank.
He stuck on a CD of Mr Frank and after slices of plastic were exchanged for bio survival tickets Steve and I took a late train to Alkmaar. 



Monday Sept 9, Amsterdam, Netherlands – The rain was coming down hard and fast . Sheltered in a corner bar near Central Station. My second time in this city in the past week. The unrelenting rain may have been in cahoots with the taxi drivers union. Hailed a cab - 7 Euro, not a bad deal, and the polite gentleman insisted on lifting my heavy bag and guitar as well. I was left with a bag containing a half empty box of CDs and an alarm clock with the alarm function broken. However the disabled plastic clock tells me when the gig is coming to a close. Its usually beside my effects pedals on the floor. For acoustic gigs it lies beside my stomp box usually.

An Australian lady rushed out in the rain to help me with the gear. Harry who runs Monumentje is a musician himself and knows the score. Refreshed with a beer or 4 and following a few pangs of impending puke (and I only throw up once every 10 years or so) I reckoned I should change to red wine. The room was full and the gig was a special affair in that I knew I was amongst kindred spirits and the vibe was very good indeed. Not only did people buy CDs, they wanted to know what songs were about and where they were recorded and it was clear that we were all in this madness together and people arrived in that I hadn’t seen in years and time drifted slowly and everything seemed to make sense. Hanging around in Schipol Airport for six hours waiting for a flight wasn’t much fun or interesting in any way. But you can’t have everything! Where would you put it?



Thursday Sept 12, Göteborg, Sweden - Jack Earls ‘Take Me To That Place’ was on the record player rocking at 45r.p.m.  What a minimialist and cool rockin’ guitar riff. Later I found an old Tony Tuff LP. Stuck it on and listened to ‘Mista Know It All’. Memories of Galway in the early 80’s came flooding back. My old bedsit on St Marys Road - like a furnace in the summer and like a fridge in the late autumn. Couldn’t stick it any longer and I moved out. Tony was for a long time the invisible man of reggae. My friend Arvid down in Malmo agrees, but in the last few years Ive been able to track down a few of Mr Tuffs records mail order.

A cloud blew the rain from its throat. Closed the windows. Checked out some songs from Omar Souletman from Syria on soundcloud. Then the wife came in and announced she’d decided to get out a life insurance policy on me. A doctor told me two years ago that Im in pretty good shape all concidered. Suddenly I felt a strange feeling of unease and ultimately  dark paranoia.

Wednesday Sept 18, Side, Turkey – Explored the Temple of Apollo and what may have been a second century hospital. I wondered where all the Persian Princesses were. But I started writing a song called ‘Persian Princess’ anyway. What else would you do? At the hotal bar the proprietor asked if I was looking for a wedding party. I wasn’t. Wearing a white shirt and dark pinstripe jacket with black trousers and red cowboy boots I must have stood out amongst the bikini clad girl-tourists and the shorts and T shirt brigade.  Apparently it was 38 degrees celsius and I hadn’t noticed. He was trying to be funny I suppose. I asked for another drink.

Later I ended up rambling through a few acres of desert. Got dust on my boots and spotted a few camels and assorted tumbling down ancient ruins.
An oasis beckoned. The No Name Restaurant provided me with a beer and a view out over the Aegean Sea. I decided to try to get to Manavgat, but having started out with bad directions I took a bus to Komkoy. A detour was required and eventually an hour or two was spent roaming the gigantic markets of Manavgat and I realized this is where the regular folks live and work and hang out. Converse runners for a tenner, fake rolex watches, fake jeans, fake perfume that smells like vodka, fake any fucking thing you want mista.

Sitting under the blinking bikini sign, John Lee Hooker was on the stereo blasting out “One scotch, one burbon, one beer.” My evil spirit days are over but I can handle a beer. Then another one from John Lee...”Im in the mood for love.” Aren’t we all. The sun went down fast.

Started work on a country ballad and slept for a few hours and the days melted into one and other as they sometimes do.