Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Way up north

Wednesday 17 December, Gothenburg

" I'm not even fooling myself anymore" he mumbled, and I believed him. It was a cold grey afternoon. Bejewelled ladies with delicate features nursed their drinks. The creme de la creme. I had to push on with a half remember song in my head. The tune was in competition with the soul destroying department store stereos. The rumble of the downtown traffic was a welcome respite.

It took five rehearsals with The Last Souls to get the songs in shape. Andy had drafted in Rickard Yxelflod to replace Dick Tator. Andy and Daniel had some sort of disagreement when I was in the US. Andy wanted to keep the band name because of the good reviews for the album and all that goes with it. And so, long hours are spent in a dusty room at Hagabion playing very very loud. A new rehearsal space is being talked about. Less dust hopefully.

At Lucifer Rising noise is being made in front of microphones. Mick Cronin sent over the files of the sessions from Tranmission Studios in Drumlish, and I need to get started on the sessions from Sonic in Dublin.

Trying to write lyrics in the last darkest hours before dawn. The hum of computers, the ticking of the two-faced clock. The odd shuffle of the half awake rabbit. Tea pot on the heat, candles flicker nervously. Lights over the town, waning moon to welcome a spell. Started to read some of Gerald Masseys "Lectures". Might get inspired. I dreamed it all out.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Sweden / USA / Deutschland / Ireland 2014

Tues 19 August Göteborg - Got a new verse written, an alternative to the last verse on 'Let The Time Slide'. Its already been recorded, but the decision to scrap it has been made and its back to the drawing board. Cancelled a few gigs due to the books not balancing, and booked a few others because the plane tickets were affordable. Recorded harmonica parts for Johnny Stormcrows album. No auto tune, did it for real. Took the Ferry across the harbour to Lindholmn to collect posters from the printers. Things happen slowly in the North Pole.
Visited Gamlagarden, and typically got lost trying to get there. It's a 16th century farm. The original house is still standing, but its a shed of some sort. The 'new' house dates to the 1800's. Three cats, one dog, nine chickens, three hundred deer and a million trout in the lake.

Sat 23 August , Stockholm -  Its been a long time. Took photos in the ornate subway stations, but there are better versions by professional photographers on the net. Mark showed me a great painting by Brian Gormely worth $8,000. He was an influence on Basquait and you can see it. In Gamlastan a Buddhist monk approached me with a golden medallion and handed it to me. "Thanks" I said and began to walk on. But he followed, producing what looked like an autograph book and asked me to sign it and write down how much of a 'donation' I wanted to make. I declined his odd offer and gave him back the golden medallion much to his unenlightened disappointment. He should meditate more, beg less, and maybe get a job.

Wed 27 August, New York - Had surprisingly good food in London's Heathrow airport, which doesn't seem as manic as usual. Arrived into JFK feeling sprightly having not burnt any candles at both ends. Hot and sticky as expected, we made our way to Columbia Street Brooklyn and had dinner & drinks in the Jalopy Tavern, chatting to photographer Jack Hirschorn amongst others. The pick-up I had sent via airmail wasn't working properly. Need a re-think on what to do with newly acquired Epiphone dreadnought guitar.  Slept for a few hours but spent most of the night awake, jet lagged. Found an old radio in the kitchen. Turned it on....the BBC World Service. In the hallway there's a sign which reads - 'All Madams Must Keep Their Girls Off The Street After Dark.'
Salutation to the sun as it rose slowly over the bay. Played guitar, practising and trying out some half written songs while Freja took photo after photo.

Thurs 28 August, New York - Went to a music store and checked out some pick-ups for the acoustic guitar. The one I wanted was out of stock. Ordered it and off we went. Robert from Toronto was to join us but discoved too late that his passport was out of date. Next time.
Later played a show at Barchord. On the way out in the taxi we spotted Jeananne L. at traffic lights, rolled down the window, shouted out to her, she ran over and hopped in. Onwards we went to 1008 Cortlyou Road. Some old faces, and Jack Hirchorn took lots of photos.

Fri 29 August - Jack reckoned we should take the 'booze cruise' out to Rockaway beach, and that required taking a ferry from Red Hook into Manhattan, hanging around, getting in line, and for then the sum of $3 dollars each we boarded the old boat. Its usually 40 or 50 bucks but the price was dropped following last years hurricane. By the end of the year it will be back to full price. Make hay while the sun shines. Shortly after setting off Jack lost his cap to the elements. Freja and I went inside to get away from the wild wind. The drink was flowing. The boat docked some place in Brooklyn, pulled up alongside a party cruiser. Black girls in bikinis, tiny day glow hot pants, very high heels and obligatory hip hop blasting out of the speakers. Lots of photographers on board their boat. Looked like fun. But on we went and although Im no  fan of the beach, Rockaway was a pleasant surprise. Long, wide, clean. If only I knew how to swim. Later I went to Jalopy Theatre to see Jan Bells gig. Nodded off in the middle of it due to a mixture of Jet lag and booze cruise medication. Good show though, the parts I saw.

Sat 30 August New York - Its sometimes wise to not bother ordering food, or order something tiny if you have to. Then eat the left overs of your companions meal. Regular Europeans just can't eat these huge American portions.   Played at 68 Jay down in Dumbo. A good crowd in and Jan Bell as usual was a wonderful hostess. Dumbo is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Jonas arrived down and we had a chat.

Sun 31 August, Colt Neck, New Jersey - Took a taxi to Penn Station, but he got lost along the way. Then he blew a tyre. Luckily we didn't crash. It blew as we were slowing down approaching traffic lights. As the driver called for a service truck some weirdo in a huge SUV pulled over and offered us a lift. Yeah...right....
Another taxi arrived in minutes and off we went to Penn Station, got the tickets and bottles of water and boarded the train out to Jersey. In Colts Neck we hung out at the pool and didn't drown. On Monday it was Labour Day. A sort of Bank Holiday. Mike, a guitarist friend of Kevin is conspiring with us regarding gigs in 2015. His missus Christine used to work on the road with Bon Jovi and has plenty of stories to tell. Time drifted by as it does and the hawks were flying over head and the sun slid down the arc of the planet.

Tues 2 September, Ridgewood, New York. - A ramble through Williamsburg, food and drinks and good times at the Alchemist and the same table in Pike Hill as a few months ago. Same waiter too. Never forget a face. (most of the time) Visited a Santeria shop. Back at HQ The Mighty Sparrow's "Village Ram" was blasting out the speakers. Jessy asked me to read her tarot, but I didn't have my cards with me. She produced a deck I'd never seen before. Kim Kran's 'The Wild Unknown Tarot'. I gave it a go and got good results. Jessy seemed pleased and so she read for me and it all made sense. Joined the crew for the session happening in the back garden. Ernie on ancient guitar, Jack on fiddle, Noah on resonator mandolin and the wine was good too. Photos were taking in a windowless room for possible posters and a few more taken in Jacks room, which does have a window. A very big window. Jessy showed me some of her paintings and her book-binding press. I bought her book *Diary Of The Seduced'.
On Thursday morning a phone call brought me bad news from Ireland. I booked a ticket to Shannon to attend the funeral.

Sat 6 / Sun 7 September - West of Ireland

Mon 8 September , Göteborg, Sweden - Arrived in late, way past midnight having read 'Diary Of The Seduced' on the plane. Started searching through the shelves for records for tomorrows radio show., then tried to get some sleep.

Tues 9 September, Partille, Sweden -  Radio Show, on 88FM. Fred Eaglesmith, The Stones, Jimmy Read, Ingrid Veerman, Clarence Carter, Joe Ely, The Black Marbles, , The Movements, Hank Williams and many more get a spin. 

Wed 10 September, Göteborg - Discover that the Masters of the new album have been lost in the post. The record was mastered at Buddha Sound Mastering in London. (Perhaps I was cursed by that Buddhist monk in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago.) The masters had been sent over to Sweden. All good with that, but the disc got lost somewhere between here and Ireland.  Thankfully I had a back-up and got that sent off again. Art work for the album had to be taken care of as well. Most of it was done.....but I re designed one of the pages. Having a meal seemed like a good idea. 

Thurs 11 September, Kaiserlautern, Germany - The glamour of taking the tram and the airport bus to Landvetter is something I will never be able to put into words. And of course I had to check my guitar in. Schipol Airport in Amsterdam is unique in that you dont feel youre being ripped off when you buy a beer. Caught the connecting flight down to Frankfurt. The train was late, and I nodded off on the journey and nearly missed getting off at Kaiserlautern, at the edge of the Palatinate Forest . Out the front door of the station, went for a ramble. Saw a poster for tonights gig beside a Ghost Wolves poster in the window of the Clearing Barrell Cafe & Bar. The place was closed. Made a mental note to return later. A phone call to promoter Carsten, had a chat. We'll meet later. 

Found a bar called Zack Zack. Looks like it hasn't changed since the 50's. Stereo is on loud. Euro trash pop, the odd good tune. An odd mix. Clientele mostly out of it. A guy approaches me to dance as I sit at the bar. Dressed in a filthy overcoat hes drunkenly yapping away in German, wants to be my friend. Hugs me, I politely push him off. He wanders away and spills his beer all over the floor much to the annoyance of the bar staff who have to get out the mop and bucket. The rain starts coming down. Soft Cell's version of *Tainted Love' comes on. Two ladies and a guy go outside on the street to dance in the downpour . When the song is over, they come back in and order more drinks. After a while I phoned Carsten again. He asked where I was. I told him. "No, you must leave there," he laughed. "Its not a good place". I thought it was lovely. Down the street beside the venue Kokroaches, was an antique store full of ornate oriental furniture, Persian rugs, vases as well as a few  rails of second hand clothes and boots.   There I met Thurston who would take care of me. We went upstairs. He asked what I would want to eat. I suggested something vegetarian, didn't care what. He said he'd do something vegan. Better still ! . Had a drink and went to sleep for a couple of hours. Dinner was something else. Rise with veg, mostly pumpkin and a magical sauce of ginger, orange juice, cinnamon and peanut butter. Went for a ramble after sound check, finding Clearing Barrell and having a chat with Meike who runs the place. Back at Kokroaches the gig was fun. Two girls from Kilkenny showed up and kept offering me jazz cigarettes. A late night but a good sleep too.

Fri 12 September, Niederschopfheim & Kehl, Germany -  Earl Grey tea with Thurston around midday and then visited his friend for a quick shower, more tea and bread & cheese (although bread or dairy products are rarely eaten, but when in Rome....and when very hungry....)
Got the train through the valley, mist on the mountains, deer running through the hay fields, rows and rows of apple trees . Onwards towards Offenburg, The train track high above the towns of Rastatt, Baden-Baden and Buhl. Promoter Stefan met me at the station in Offenburg. Within minutes it felt like we had known each other all our lives. Drove out to his place at Kehl. Had a beer, he produced a bottle of whiskey, but my whiskey days are over and that didn't cramp Stefans style. All the more for him and the US band due to arrive the next day. Tales are told of his days working with Dave Kusworth (solo) , The Jacobites etc. Mad stories....good fun. Loaded up a guitar amp that rolled about in the back of the wagon frightening the dog as we sped down the autobahn in the pouring rain, arriving into Niederschopfheim safe and sound. The place is called Linde. The PA was in good nick. We ordered dinner. Sweet home made white wine arrived at our table. The owner had his own vineyard. The gig was really good. A great reaction from the audience. Quiet as a mouse for every song. Good vibe for sure.

Sat 13 September, Karlsruhe, Germany - Us Lights from Oregon USA arrived with a Swiss band (whose name I cant remember) . Seemed like nice folks, a bit frazzled after a few weeks of touring though. After the left for sound check, Stefan and I grabbed a couple of acoustic guitars and played a few tunes, Stefan singing, me on back up vox. Good fun.
Down in Karlsruhe I set up, ate falafel and hung around. The gig was ok. Hung around with local musicians including one time Pogue Jamie Clarke. His band Perfect had toured with The Racketeers in the Netherlands about 12 or 13 years ago. Nice guy.

Sun 14 September, Karlsruhe, Germany - Woke up in a cosy hotel, paid for by last nights venue. Thank you very much. No affordable flight available until the next day. Booked myself in for another night and went for a ramble around town. A cup of tea here, a drink there. You know the vibe. Grey haze hanging over the town and indeed over Baden - Wuttenberg.  Thai food in a little restaurant way across town and then a lie down. 

Monday 15 September Frankfurt, Germany - Friendly check - in staff allow me to bring my guitar on the plane. In the queue, a man wearing two hats. One fedora sitting on top of the other. A jacket with '91' emblazoned on the back. Whatever floats your boat. Live and let live. 

Friday 19 September, Göteborg, Sweden.- Everything has been finalized for the album, "Down A Hundred Crooked Roads". Release date will be October 3rd. Four songs recorded with The Last Souls, three with the Racketeers, one with Ingrid Veerman and one on my own. Lots of phone calls were made to sort things out for gigs back in The Emerald Isle. Some were possibly a waste of time.....and time is all we have, if we're lucky enough.
Saturday 20 Sept Alingsås, Sweden. - After some frantic calls, a local PA was procured and life is made easier. Out in Alingsås, a big birthday party happening in another bar down the road leaves Two Lads Pub a bit lacking for audience. The people that are there seem to like it. A huge security guy kindly drove me to the station for the 3am train.

Wednesday 24 September, Göteborg, Sweden.- Should have been packing my bag for Estonia and Lithuania, but the folks in Tallinn were slow to respond to calls and emails and the whole venture has now fallen through, but can still be rescheduled for further down the line . Hope springs eternal. 

Wednesday Oct 8, Clane, County KIldare, Ireland - Took a bus from Dublin Airport out to Kildare Town and onwards to Clane, Tried to read some of Burroughs 'The Ticket That Exploded', but its getting repetitive and hard work. Should have brought an alternative to read but didn't. Sleep eventually fell down from the ceiling and I slept the sleep of the dead....I didn't dream.

Thursday 9 Oct, Dublin.- In Heuston Station, Dublin, I bumped into Ian O Doherty (journalist with the Irish Independent) having a quick pint before boarding the train for Galway where he's taking part in a debate. Can't remember the details but something to do with Islam. Apparently he's been getting death threats. Doesn't seem all that bothered. We hadn't met in many a good year, and swapped phone numbers but alas on this trip to the Republic, our paths would not cross again due to the hectic nature of things. 
Rehearsal at Sonic Studios yielded a few good moments. Ken Whelan joined us to play accordion and organ. Had a drink or two with Mr Keye afterwards and then up to Montpelier Hill for songs. I sang a few, so did Les and Jessica sang too. Then Mr Les DJ'd (from a lap top.... as is the fashion these days) until way past the witching hour.

Friday 10 October Dublin - Poster dropped off the the Leeson Lounge and accompanied Paul Thomas on a cash drop to the bank. We drank cold beverages in the company of John Fisher and then hailed a taxi to get to rehearsals. Accordion and keyboard are working out well. Out to Finglas for the night. Al put on Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in concert and we ate and drank as the full moon began to wane in the pitch black sky.

Sat  11 Oct Ennis - in Dublins fair city I accompanied friends on the massive protest march against the proposed water tax. A phone call came from Shane Nolan wondering my whereabouts in Ennis town. ( he had already arrived for the gig) . I told him the truth. I was having a pint in the elegant surroundings of the International Bar on Fleet Street. We would leave Dublin at around 5pm and the gig starts around 10,30, but we wouldn't go on til about 11pm. The rendezvous location was Sonic Recording Studios and Al had booked in a hen party. The deal is thus -  the ladies hang around drinking champagne and get a bit frisky, then they go into the recording room and put down vocals to a few songs, a mix is done and everyone gets a CD on the spot....or something like that. Must remember to suggest to Al that we have champagne for our next rehearsal.  
Loaded up the gear, hit the road stopping off at some roadside petrol station / cafe / restaurant / grocery store. Had a cup of tea. Onwards to Ennis. The place was packed and we had a good gig. 

Sun 12 October , Spancil Hill / Lisdoonvarna - after a fine brunch, Al & Mercedes had siesta and I went for a walk, meeting a lady along the deserted country road who said "lovely day" as she passed me by.I lied saying " yes it is". Back at the house we hung around and phone calls were made and photographs were taken and we drove out to Lisdoonvarna.

Monday 13 October , Rockfield - Woke up Montpelier Hill and crossed a few streets down the hill to get to Heuston and boarded a long train westwards arriving into the rocky fields of Rockfield before it got dark. 

Tuesday 14 October, Dublin - In the train station a guy approaches me saying he recognizes me ....from Sweden. He's a trumpet player, played with Julio Iglasias for a while. Took the Luas (which is what Dublin County Transport Authority decided to call a tram) Just to make life even more difficult for tourists and foreigners. And of course all the tram stops are announced in gaeilge. And so this Irish speaking tram got me to Stoneybatter (and I still dont know the Irish for Stoneybatter)  Then walked the rest of the way to rehearsal. Tried out a few new songs. Al gave me two skull hair slides for Freja.

Wednesday 15 Oct Longford & Drumlish - Bright and early in Busaras. Enough time to get a breakfast from the polish waitress. Fried egg, beans and toast, black tea, cold water. Pigeons walked around the place. Nobody cared. A phone text  message told me to to disembark in Longford, not Mullingar as planned. I had time on my hands for a quick cold fizzy beverage and as I did so a local gentleman of too many beers engaged me in a rambling meaningless conversation while the grumpy bar tender gave the waitress grief. Johnny and Mick Cronin arrived in a big van and we drove to a remote warehouse full of hundreds of cheap keyboards , guitars and expensive guitar cases and so on and so forth. There we collected Micks drum kit and drove onwards to Transmission Studios near Drumlish. The drizzle was a fine unrelenting spray. WE worked hard and fast and got the bones of four songs down, Mick on drums, me on vocals / electric guitar blasting out through a vintage Music Man amp. Took and break for dinner with Mrs Cronin then back to work.....and photographs. More photogaphs.

Thursday 16 Oct Dublin - Homeless guy in the pissing rain, sheltering in a doorway. The smell of deep fried fish & chips. Litter, fat women, the Evening Herald and pot holes. By the time I got to the Leeeson Lounge I was not feeling good. Couldn't catch my breath, profusely sweating.....weakness . Les told me to cancel. I told him to google my symptoms. Apparently I had accute anxiety, paranoia, a sense of impending dread and deep depression. The kind bar man enquired about the diagnosis. When I told him he said all musicians had that (hes a bass player) and promptly poured me a beer. After two of these wonder cures I felt much better and we had a fine gig and played well with many old faces in the room and a late late session afterwards

Friday 17 October, Dublin - Journalist and friend John Fleming kindly gave me the use of his sofa last night. Had a long sleep in, then a cup of tea followed by an afternoon drink locally. Got caught in rush hour traffic, and then got caught in the rain. Fi Shanks AKA Johnny Stormcrow arrived to collect me and off we sped through the night to the Al Media Fortress at Jamestown Road. Fi had asked some time ago for harmonica on a few of his songs, so parts were recorded in my home studio. ( a corner of the bedroom) . The resulting tracks must have been to Mr Stormcrows liking as he wanted me to play on a few more. The studio is a big enough place. We set the main microphone in such a way that I would record my parts facing compass north and it all worked out fine. Thought it would be wrapped up early but the session went on until way past midnight. Then a jam ensued with engineer Al (not Cowan....another Al ) and Vincent Swan. I played guitar for a while, sang a few songs. Switched to bass, but had most fun playing (or trying to play drums). That racket last until about 5am. 

Saturday 18 Oct, Thomastown. - Arose from small sofa in Fi's place. No room for leg stretch, but I got a bit of that rambling around town. Text message informed me that the Irish Times newspaper had an article about us. Ate Indian food and then onwards to County Kilkenny. The venue was a wind swept shed out the back of a pub in picturesque Thomastown. Would be lovely in summer, a bit cold in October......January? I've no idea. My old fiend Jos Braddell arrived with a crew and kindly gave me a few of her new poems. The gig was ok and stories were told and we drove back to Dublin.

Sunday 19 Oct Dublin - Down through Prussia Street and Greek Street in the jam jar, the taxi driver explaining that the warm breeze was the result of a storm in the Caribbean. Taxi drivers know everything, although some can't figure out to use their Sat Nav. Recorded the bones of four songs with Al in Sonic Studios. Debra arrived up from the Banner County.
Breakfast the following morning was sweet potato chips with tzatziki in a burger joint in Rathmines. In Dublin airport I was allowed by the friendly check-in lady of Scandinavian aspect to bring my Ibanez electric guitar on the plane and at security another kind lady (Irish) very carefully handed me the guitar after it went through the x-ray machine. "My son plays guitar" she said. We chatted a bit. Turns out she had worked for EMI for twenty years and was wary of her son getting serious about music. Things aren't the way they used to be

Monday, 25 August 2014

July.....ireland , sweden, norway

Sat 19 July,the Wild West - We were on a quest to locate some of the 20 castles that my ancestors had built (or acquired)in the long distant past. From Kildare we drove westwards down long crooked roads, through unheard of villages and townlands, eventually finding  Ballymoate with its majestic fortification. The O'Connors, O'Hartes and Dowds took over the ancient castle in 1588 but only managed to hold onto it for eleven years before the English stole it. Onwards to County Leitrim with the mist hanging over the Keelogyboy mountains, stopping off at Colgagh Lough to take photographs and stretch our legs. On the shores of Lough Gill we found Parkes Castle. Built in  1610, the courtyard grounds contain evidence of an earlier 16th century Tower House once owned by Sir Brian O Rourke. He was hanged at Tyburn in London in 1591 for high treason. Not sure what that was all about. The Isle of Inishfree was visible, as was Church Island but we didn't bother with the boat trip. It was late evening by the time we found Rosslee Castle beside the sea in Easkey County Sligo. One version of history tells us that  it was built by the Dowds in 1207.  In we went, the ghosts were welcoming. I had arrived home at last. Although a ruin, a stairway leads through a secret passageway inside the walls all the way to battlements at the top. Vertigo prevented me from undertaking the climb. 

Another Dowd stronghold  is only a few miles away. One Tower is all that remains of Rathlee Castle, but it was still worth the visit. Tried to find a cheap hotel or BandB in Enniscrone but every place was booked up.  On the outskirts of the town we called into a place where the helpful friendly lady phoned around her many friends to see if any of them had room for us, all to no avail. As we were leaving she handed me her business cards should we ever be in the area again and in need of a bed. It read ' Peggy O'Dowd - B&B'. I told her I was a Dowd, but I didn't have the 'O'.  'Thats all just posh crap' she said. 'Nobody around here had the 'O' til a while back. The old name was always Dowd. They only put the 'O' in to be posh'. I felt vindicated. Peggy (who had married a Dowd / O'Dowd)  spent a good 10 minutes chatting away, telling us all about the area and convinced me to return and spend a night at her place. 

But we had to hit the road again and stopped off at Crocketts On The Quay in Ballina as my traveling companions were hungry. In the back room Rackhouse Pilfer were playing. A great band fronted by my old buddy Leon from Sligo. We  didn't get a chance to talk as I had to leave before the end ...onwards to Rockfield. 

In the morning we drove northwards again, and eventually found Cottleswood Castle hidden away behind a row of stables. Our genial host not only showed us around his 16th century manor, but was full of information about the castle, even taking time to lock the wild horse away.
In Enniscrone on the beach I met a ugy renting wet suits and we engaged in conversation. He was full of information about the Dowds and as we talked somebody handed me an ice cream cone. 'Thats a Dowd ice cream,' he said. (The ice cream/sweet shop was owned by a Mr Dowd.) Following my hand-drawn map we located Dowds Castle on the outskirts of the town. Its 
located at a strategic point along the coastal route through Connaught into western Ulster. During the 12th century the Dowds ruled the kingdom of North Connacht having removed the O'Caomhain from the Enniscrone area. Apparently a few fortifications existed before the first castle was built in the late 14th century. During the 1522 conflict between the Burkes of Mayo and the O'Donnells of Donegal, the Burkes captured the castle. Later it
 was besieged and demolished by the O'Donnells who must hae been an uncultured crew, but then rebuilt by the Dowds and fair play to them / us.  But come 1607 and the Flight of the Earls, things would never be the same. By 1640 it was all over for my ancestors and they either fled the country or slid into obscurity and poverty.
I came from peasants, but my people used to be kings. Dark clouds gathered overhead, I could see the wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean through the window of the north facing tower.

Thursday 24 July Dublin - Graves and graveyards .....left the wild west behind and took the train to Dublin, a city famous for many things and name-checked in a famous folk song about a foul smelling prostitute - Molly Malone. They even have a statue of her and its been relocated. It now stands outside a de-consecrated church.
My travelling companions wanted 'Irish food' so we made our way towards O Neills on Suffolk Street. On the corner of William Street South and Exchequer Street a shaky looking guy offered  " speed or smack." Didn't think I looked that dodgy.....but it was a bit early in the day. I shook my head and he understood a business transaction wouldn't be taking place.
In O Neills I battled with the fruit flies who were legion.
Later we visited the National Gallery. Giovanni Paolo Lamazzo's book translated by Haylocke in 1598 was of interest. As artists instruction manuals go, it was fine. Bumped into an old friend from long time back, when I sold jewellery on the street. Si from The Severed Limb (who I regularly play on the Rock N  Roots radio show) used to work on the same after I retired.
 Songs were sung on Montpelier Hill, Sonic Recording Studios were paid a visit and Mr John Fleming was paid a visit too as he prepared for his trip  to Urumqi, China via Biskek, Kyrgyzstan and onwards to Uighur Kashgar. The same day we took a flight to Oslo.....not as exotic as Johns trip.

Thursday July 31, Göteborg  ..Patti Smith started the gig with 'Dancing Barefoot. ' It was all down hill from there. it wasn't loud enough, the sound engineer was crap and you wouldn't hear the drummer behind a newspaper. Bumped into Slick Andy and his extended family. Missus needed a toilet but there were queues everywhere. Went over to Gasten, the ghost bar and restaurant. Ordered 2 drinks. Waitress initiated short-lived conversation. Was I at the Patti Smith gig.? Yes  but it was getting depressing and I needed a break. Bad poetry over the two chord shuffle with lousy sound. Waitress smiled, relieved she wasn't missing much. After our drinks and a cigarette we crossed over the bridge and back to the area in Liseberg where they host the gigs. Patti Smith, champion of the Pope was doing a very long winded version of Gloria. I started to sing along...Van, the man, Van the man, as Georgie Fame would have way back. Nobody got it.

Sitting on a bench in Central Station waiting on the 513 bus to Partille to present my show on Radio 88. A guy asked me the time, but  before I could reply his lady  friend spotted the clock. He said, "By the way, Im the Golden Man."  I knew straight away what he meant. He was the street performer who paints himself golden and by some trick manages to sit on a chair that floats in mid air. I tried to rescue him once from an asshole who was interfering with his gig. Took his hat, wouldn't give it back, you know the type. Out in radio world records by the Severed Limb, Fred Eaglesmith, Two Dollar Bash, Elvis and long forgotten blues players were broadcast

Tony Berg met me at the station in Amal and we drove to a cafe for a chat. I drank earl grey black, no sugar thank you very much, and ate some class of a bun with bits of apples inside. Tony had coffee and a bun, similar, not the same. I played for exactly 60 minutes at the Marino as part of the towns street festival. We had time for a drink at the lakeside cafe owned by the guy who plays drums with Sea Sick Steve before catching the train. People were swimming, the sun beaming down, Tony and I made plans for 2015, assuming both of us survive 2014.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Cornered By The Vending Machines

Thursday 10 July, Göteborg, Sweden - Shadow cars moved across the frosted glass. Cornered by the vending machines couldn't help notice so many people staring into the abyss of their smart phones. If you stare into the abyss long enough it stares back at you. Best thing to do was catch the #7 tram back to HQ. The faders shoved up, all wired and ready to go. Mixing 'Train Station Turnaround' was easier than expected with everything falling into place as in a good dream, and they're thin on the ground. 

A few hours later with The Last Souls I blasted out a short set at Vastervik in the pirate borough of Majorna. Hot and humid, we had fun, with one recent rehearsal under our belts.

Tuesday 15 July. - We watched as the torrential rain ruffled the egos of the long long line of Bob Dylan fans. The true believers, the curious, the naive and the easily led were getting drenched as we sat in La Sombrita, a bar & restaurant on board an old boat at Kungsportsbron. As expected, the rain stopped ten minutes before Dylan and his band ambled on stage and kicked into 'Watching The River Flow.' 
Several highlights were in store...'Desolation Road, 'Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee,' 'A Hard Rain a Gonna Fall.' We got right up to the front, the sound was crystal clear and he played 'Girl From The North Country'. 

Wednesday 16 July, Oslo, Norway - Having taken time-off from tour management duties I had to accept that arriving to Central Station in a mild panic to catch the midday bus and then be told the booking was in fact for the 15,40 bus it was out of my control....and for once, not my fault. At least this meant we had time to eat and Indian food and red wine filled this blank time. The clouds and telegraph poles flew by on the bus ride and the Land of Nod beckoned.
On arrival, Oslo seemed of little interest. Phone call to art dealer / art hutler John Fitz led to a few drinks, leaving the Leonardo Da Vinvi for a street bar and winding up in Mono before catching four hours shut eye and onwards to the airport by train.

Monday, 14 July 2014

sunrise & sunset

Saturday 28 June, Gothnburg - Met guitarist Thomas Silver at Mug (musical equipment store and home of the guitar doctor). Thomas played for 10 years with Hardcore Superstar, a famous Swedish heavy rock band. A great guitar player. Nice guy too. Chatting away, I suggested he play on some stuff Im recording but he says hes really stuck for time , but then instantly changes his mind and says maybe in the autumn. That would be cool and could be fun . He knows all the notes I dont.

Dropped into the record shop upstairs at Lagerhaus, the place stinks of detergent. Somebody must have puked listening to a Per Gessler record and they’re trying to mask the smell. Found a good soul compilation LP  for 10SEK. (thats a little more than €1 or $1) Worth it alone for the Roscoe Robinson song -  “One Thousand Rivers”. Never heard that one before.

Asked the google god for precise information concerning the length of the day as I cant recall having seen darkness for a long time. Im informed that sunrise is at 4.15....sunset at 10.16. In between it doesnt really get dark....more of a kind of hazy grey.  The same website told me that the moon is waxing too, but I knew that already.  These past few weeks Ive been rising with the sun, more or less, getting up around 5am, but tend to crash around 9 with book in hand and there really aren’t any real sunsets worth staying awake for. Winter and Spring is the best time for surreal Nordic sunsets.

Down at La Sombrita palm trees manned the enterance. Interesting and slightly kitch decor, we had a beverage. A boat moored in the centre of the town masquerading as a bar and restaurant, the drinks were cheap but the deal on the tapas was off for the day.
Before heading out to see Bunny Wailer a package from Crusher Records arrived in the post....a Spiders LP, a Vilunder LP,  two LPs by The Movements, a few CD’s and a couple of 7inch singles. Will be playing these on the radio show on Radio 88 Partille over the next few weeks.

Liseberg, a funfair that boasts the biggest rollercoaster in Europe is the venue for Bunny Wailer. Looking frail, he apparently had concidered canceling the gig, but changed his mind and soldiered on. I can still remember the day when his ‘Blackheart Man’ LP arrived in the post from a Scottish based mail order company. Also in that package was John Lee Hookers LP ‘Blues Before Sunrise’. Both crucial LPs in their respective genres. I was about 14 years old, happy to be off sick from prison school, and with the record player within reach from my sick bed i played both LPs over and over. A wonderful education.
At Liseberg, Bunny played Rasta Man, Armagedeon, Blackheart Man and even one of his 60’s ska hits. Great to see him after all those years. Martti Blacksmith was there with his missus, and Ali. Back at home Bunny was on the turntable all night long.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Silver Persian Rings in Thuringia and Brandenburg

Monday May 5 Goteborg - Tried to get a mix of 'Fiery Frank' to my liking. Needs more work. Sometimes less is more. In this instance its guitar we need less of.
The post lady brought a biography of A. Crowley written by P.R Stephenson and Israel Regardie. Published during Crowleys life, its a welcome gift from Horslips drummer, poet and journalist Eamonn Carr. Apparently the book comes from the library of Barry Martin who had published the Ogham Stone in the 80's. There may be a copy or three of that gathering unwanted dust on the shelves in the other room.

Gallon Drunk's new album 'The Soul Of The Hour' is great. Instead of the usual mayhem, there are great melodies.....and of course a lot of noise. Worth checking out. And The Ghost Wolves too.

Tuesday 6 May Berlin. - Unusual  to have an evening flight. Its usually up cock-crow and off bleary eyed. At Landvetter airport the Air Berlin staff are helpful and theres no drama over bringing the guitar on the plane. The hostess even helps me find a vacant overhead bin and tells me to sit wherever I want. On arrival, I got lost, the bus not going any further than Allexanderplatz. Tried to get a connectng bus, but all to no avail. Went into the S Bahn station and happened upon the right line that got me to Ostkreutz. Rain came down. Time for a taxi.

Thursday 7 May Berlin - A borrowed apartment courtsey of a friend is HQ for the week. The internet is very slow, the weather is grey and dull, but everything else is good. A ramble through Neukölln and up to Kreutzburg takes up a few hours. Had some Mexican food and returned to Hazzerstrasse and had a lie down.

The nights gig at Tik Nord was blessed with good sound but blasted by a never ending downpour which kept people off the street....and out of the venue. NIce plce, good people and a session afterwards.

Friday 9 May,  Greiz - Down to Hauptbahnhoff and on my merry way, looking for adventure. A train ticket got me to Leipzig, and the rain came down big time as I boarded the slow train to Gera and on to Greiz.

Always good to meet Mathias, who brought along his wife and a few friends. They had dinner and drnks and it was show time. It being a small enough town,  competition with a very well publicized Jazz Festival took its toll on the turn out. Despite it all, we had a good time, CDs were sold, stories were told, photos taken. Always good to play at Peanuts.

Saturday 10 May, Berlin - Up at 10am, breakfast....sort of. The display of meat is of no interest, so its Earl Grey tea, a piece of bread with apricot marmalade.....and thats it. ! Checked out of the hotel, with staff being very helpful with information concerning the times of trains..

Onwards back up north to Berlin. In Hauptbahnhof fish and chips were devoured. Over in Wedding, a part of Berlin I'd never seen before, I played the Tipperary Pub and hung out with heavy metal guys (and girl) from Translyvania. We had beers on the street (as you do in Berlin) trying to locate the S - Bahn (train) and I even managed to get off a bus at the right place.

Sunday 11 May, Berlin - Drinks in a bar in Kreutzburg that doubles as a DVD store. The bar girl is playing interesting CDs. I enquire and Im thankfully educated about Georgia's Horse and Big Blood. I pass on info to her about Shilpa Ray and The Ghost Wolves. She asks me if Im aware Ive got glitter on her face. Im not, but then I notice shes got glitter on her face too, it being dark I hadn't noticed it. It transpires the place is full of glitter , on the carpet , the seats...all over the shop. Could be worse. Could be chocolate......or dust.
A few Australians and a guy from Israel engage me in conversation. They've all got very dilated pupils and are drinking large gin and tonics.
I had to find some food / fuel and off to play at Culture Container . The show was filmed and Joe Armstrong and The Wildfires arrived down as did Jack Ponissi.

Monday 19 May Gothenburg  - The smell of flowers and earth on the early morning ramble, the overnight rain showers open up mama natures perfume box.
I had spied Elvis Presley's 'If I Can Dream' through the window of a local record shop. 7 inch single in a picture sleeve. The shop was closed, planned to return but then got the notion that said record may already be in my posession. And so, a welcome Elvis phase kicked-off as long forgotten LPs were pulled off the shelves. Eventually I found 'If I Can Dream' on an LP entitled Gold Records Volume 5. A good pressing too.

The post lady brought a postcard from new friends in Greiz, Germany. Alex and his lady friend wrote to say they enjoyed the show and hopefully it wont be too long before I return. Hopefully not.

Hours were spent extracting, storing and catalogueing song files. Basically, getting songs, track by track off the hard drive of my 8 track and storing them for some rainy day when somebody gets the bright idea to re-mix some songs. Wrote a song by accident. I was trying to finish one that had been started before Berlin happened, and ended up wrting something else. Handy when that happens. Music, melody and lyrics for four or five verses. Chorus too.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Friday 21 February, Clonmel - A late arrival as a result of a car crash along the motor way on the way out of Dublin. Maybe we had miscalculated the distance to Clonmel as well. The fact that I'd been told the the gig was in O Keefes Bar, when it was in fact in The Bakery added another hour or so to proceedings. Still, nobody seemed too phased. Got the gear in, including PA (which we rarely bring), set-up and Clarence wen on straight away. The late night revellers warmed to us after a while and the gig was fun, folks taking photos and that sort
of thing.

Afterwards the disco came on and all the girls sang along to the classic 80s hits. Across the way at Hearnes Hotel we had a late drink or two. It was the sort of residents bar that looked like it hadn't changd since the mid 60s. Sticky carpet on the floor, velvet curtains, gilded mirrors. Chatted to an American lawyer at the bar about the law, and a possible gig in her sisters bar in upstate NY. A local musician was keen to do a song, but had left his guitar at home. Clarence lent him his acoustic and the guy did a few covers. Clarence sang one of two as did Les. I took my turn and sang 'Let The Time Slide'. The first time ever in public. 'Telegram Sam' got an airing too, and that was enough. A girl arrived over with a much appreciated bag of chips as a present. I was starving. These were real cheaps too. Supper time. Al nodded off at our corner table. A dodgy painting of President Mary Robinson was our guide along the labyrinthine corridoors. Hang a right at Mary and your heading in the right direction of the bedroom.

Sat 22 February, Ennis - It was on the house, so I went for the full Irish breakfast (veggie version). Al had forgotten his phone, so he went off in search of an internet cafe. Les and I went for a ramble around town. I figured out how to getthe wifi set up and a facebook message from Mercedes in Mozambique led to Patrick Stack passing on phone numbers and Als missus was then able to phone Al via my phone. It was one of those sort of days.

Clarence decided to spend the afternoon in a Clonmel bar watching a bunch of millionaires on TV kicking a ball around a field. Al and I hit the road and it was grey and raining and miserable in Ennis. Met Bernie and took the Lifford Road out towards Lisdoonvarna and Kilfenora. Drove past the great looking ruins of Leamaneh Castle which was originally built in 1480, and what one now sees on the site is the manor house which was built or rebuilt in 1648 by Conor O’Brien, of the famous family who ruled Co Clare for centuries. He was married to Red Mary, but thats another story for another day.
We ended up on the edge of the Burren, or maybe it was a bog. Certainly the middle of nowhere. My traveling companions had business to attend to. I was just tagging along.

Back in Ennis we had dinner, pasta, wine, a good chat. Later the gig. Good to see Paul and his brother there. Very few showed up as a bunch of bands were playing a local charity gig raising money for flood damage. They could have let us know. Spent the night with Debra in Spancil Hill. Visited (another) O Briens Castle in the morning, which I stumbled upon by accident and then porridge and tea and hit the road for Kildare.

Saturday March 8, New York - In the airport the announcement rang out loud and clear...'Can Eagle Eye Cherry please go to gate 21.' Long time since I heard about him. We boarded, guitar in hand.  A sign read " No sleeping on the floor allowed."  We were in the cheap seats for sure. The screen informed us the plane was traveling at 885 miles an hour. Still, the flight from Stockholm took nine hours, and we'd already spent an hour getting to Stockholm.
Arrived into Newark, zig zagged our merry way to Brooklyn and up to Ridgewood near Queens.  Not familiar with this part of the world. Dumped our gear, out for a drink and something that resembled food in a Polish place with grumpy waitress, but all presnt were in such good form, even the waitress got in on the vibe after a while.

Sunday 16 May, New York - Cold blustery days. Explred parts of hipsville Williamsburg, Had lunch in a time warped German Dancehall in Ridgewood. Played at BarChord in Brooklyn on the Tuesday night with Jack. A good crowd in for a Tuesday. Some guy with too much testosterone coursing through his fats lined veins smashed the door off its hinged. Jonas , John Connors and Des from the Golden Horde called down. Jonas (from the Big Geraniums) I had seen last year, but hadn't seen John or Des in years. A good time was had by all....and the money was good too.  Afterwards, Des gave us a lift home in his big SUV. Dropped into someplace with Thalia for a late drink. The bar owner has a psych band called The Oranj. He gave me his CD. Told him Id play it on the radio....and I did.

THe show at Hanks Saloon had good sound, a cool dive bar, but the place was more or less empty. And very cold too. A very very big guy came over to me to compliment me on my set, then promplty fell over, thankfully not on top of me.
That would have meant broken bones.

Happy hour prices all day at the White Horse Tavern in the Financial District. Not the same Whit Horse where Dylan and the clancys hung out, not the one where Dylan Thomas knocked back all those whiskeys. Thats over in in Grennwich. €.3.75 a pint....not bad....and not an Armani suit in site. All dock workers, fire men, off duty waitresss, truck drivers. You get the idea. It was cold and damp on the Staten Island Ferry, but they had a bar. Out to New Jersey to see old friends Kevin and Laura,  while the hawks circled overhead. Jack educated me on US drinking practices of the 40's and 50's.

Back in Dumbo we played at 68 Jay and had a great night. Our hostess Jan took care of business, but I dont think she made much progress trying to convince the booker of the Brooklyn Folk Festival a show next year. But thats fine by me. I wouldn't fit in there at all........

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Embrace the weird and strange times.......

Friday 25 October, Gothenborg - Down at Trixter Theatre Distel various dark ambient acts were playing, industrial noise on tap. Chatted to Marijn from Those Foreign Kids and bought a copy of their “ Zero Gravity Somersaulting Craze” LP on see through blue vinyl. Somebody was saying that they were drinking to much and needed to slow down. You gotta watch out for the booze, it surely is the road to ruination, misery, delusion and the devil. Music is recommended at all times, day and night and books can save your brain from stagnation. Embrace the weird and strange times...If things get too normal, buy a new pair of boots.

At the local record shop I picked up “Memphis Rockabilly”, a 1987 Sunnjay Records Production, Sunjay being a Swedish label.Its got  Lioyd Arnold with The long Hairs doing “Go Go Go” that sounds a bit like a proto “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. Charlie Feathers has two tracks on the LP as well as Jim Shaw.

A snow storm blew in from Russia. The electrickery went off for an hour. When it came back on I slid a Fred Eaglesmith CD into the tray and listened to the Canadian genius. “Water In The Fuel” is the closing track on the disc. Wish I had written that one.

Thursday 31 October Dublin - Daytime rehearsal at Sonic , then load up and across town to The Odessa. Unload, up 3 flights of stairs with help from hastily hired roadie. After sound check I was interviewed by Patrick Freyne from the Irish Times newspaper and it was filmed....for what Im not sure. After the gig a politician told me he really enjoyed it but never asked for my vote.

Friday 1 November Wicklow - Whrn the regulars in the Glimmer Man know you've a gig in Wicklow its time to re evaluate how  'hanging around time' is spent or mispent. Out in Wicklow the place is empty but we play our gig and the few who have braved the elements seem to enjoy it.

Saturday 2 November, Dublin - Recoring in Sonic, Clarence layed down some pedal steel and I played bass on three songs. With Debra I went to Whelans where I played a solo set opening up for Cronin, and even joined them on stage for a version of 'Gloria'. A late night of stories and vague plans about recording together.

Sunday 3 November Dublin. Caught a bit of the session at the Cobblestone and then onwards to the Thomas House to see Niall Lawlor and Felim Drew play a set. Got up and played a few songs and a few hours later I was in the airport drinking fruit juice.
Wednesay 11 December, Leeuwarden, Netherlands - First lie of the day was at Landvetter Airport. They told me the flight was fully booked but of course the plane was half empty. I checked the guitar in....had little choice and it was too early in the day for an arguement. Flew to Frankfurt and there I boarded another half empty plane and arrived into Schipol Amsterdam in one piece. On a brief stroll from Central Station I found a corner bar I had frequented before. I asked a gentleman to keep an eye on my gear while I went to the toilet and this led to a conversation. Baz from Grimsby and his girlfriend are on the last day of their shopping holiday. They disagreed on how long they've been together. He says 2 months, she claims its 3. They hit the road to catch the ferry to Hull, i took a train up through Leystad and Zwolle, arriving into Leeuwarded at 7.20 thirteen hours after I had set out from home. It was foggy and gloomy.
At the bar I met with James who is very proud to be from Nashville Tennessee, but he grew up in Idaho. H must have told me this about 5 times in 7 minutes before I got real busy making an imaginery phone call while he spilt his drink all over his friend.

Thursday 12 December, Amsterdam - Stayed at the Hotel t'Ankor. Small, run-down , bathroom down the hall type of place. The breakfast room was full of elderly out-of- town Dutch ladies. The regular buffet breakfast malarky. I had a boiled egg, an apple and an orange and a cup of tea. Dairy free.
On a morning ramble through town I came across the Oldehove Tower. Originally part of a long demolished church the tower dates from 1529. During construction, the tower began to sink and the project project was stopped in 1532.
It leans more than the tower at Pisa apparently, but I've never seen that.
Nothing to do and all day long to do it. I left Freisland behind and traveled through Aakrum, Steenweljk and rapidly onwards through desolate terrain. Marches, swampland, crippled tress, wind battered cattle. Flat fields with hundreds of deer, a field with seventy horses all tan with black manes, they wandered aimlessly in the gale. I was getting hungry. I was already thirsty.
On arrival in Amsterdam i returned to the bar I had been in the previous day. Sat at the same table. An Italian guy tried to engage me in conversation, but he had very little english. He tried to sell me a ring, but I wasn't interested. Too early in the week for retail therapy. His call-girl friend tried to translate.
After the gig at Monumentje I spoke to Peter from Australia. A film maker based in town we chatted about all sorts of projects, traveling, gigs, music etc. The guys had forgotten to book a hotel for me so I stayed in Harry's new pad in Goldenstraat in the centre of the red light district.

Friday 13 December - Dusseldorf, Germany. An hour or two was spent in Dirty Nellie's chatting with barman/musician David Masciari, the never ending hussle. Then took the train down to Dusseldorf to play Solaris 53. A good crowd were in, old friends, photos were taken and slices of plastic were sold. 

Saturday 14 December - Rupelmonde, Belgium. After a very late, back onto the lonesome train. A day of cancellations and missed connections, trouble in mind, a detour to Aachen and eventually a much appreciated lift from Inneke's mom Louisa who picked me up in Bercham and drove me to Rupelmonde where I played a gig at t'Guildenhuis, arriving over an hour late. Nobody complained and the gig was enjoyable with a big PA to blast out the sound.
Sunday 15 December, Ghent & Antwep, Belgium - Woke up in a room with hundreds of LPs, the one that caught my eye was a Benelux compilation, "16 Great Hits." All I need is one. Downstairs at 12.45 theres a Sunday morning coming down vibe. Young gentlemen playing pool, the balls swirl into their pockets, church bells chime.  Elderly ladies sip their gin & tonics.
My host Bert is not only a talented musician but a genius of an film / video editor and we conspire to work together, if I can get my hands on the film thats been shot the past couple of years. Phone calls need to be made, promises need to be kept. Talk is cheap. Inneke 23 phoned me to say she has located a recording studio in Ghent. Within an hour she arrived in a borrowed car and off we went on our adventure. I had the bones of a track called "The Rivers Frozen Til April" on a memory stick and the plan was to get Inneke to sing on the sng. After a long drive we pulled in to YelloTape Studios and got to work with Peter van der Veir. Inneke got her vocals down, sounded great, then we drove to Antwerp arriving very very late for a shambolic gig and then I took a train to Amsterdam and got on a plane to Sweden via Copenhagen.

Wednesday December 25, Alingsås, Sweden - Onwards past the dog hotel, before the turn off to Tollered. Past the 'rent a canoe' place, caravans perched on top of rocky hill tops, skinny pine trees in the inclines. Past Hemsjö and Norsesund. Horses in the gloomy fields wearing jackets. Onwards past Hästeryd, under the fly-overs, under the Nifhelm, under the Nordic darkness, under the blood of the tribes.
In Alingås CDs were sold and people recognized many of the songs I sang, having colleced some of my recordings in previous times.