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 Irish....as 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