Sunday, May 24, 2009

day 19 - Paris (part 4)

I realized today that I’d been sick for the past 3 days
It never really kicked in full tilt
I just thought I was tired
Our last day in Paris
Was the only day I really felt 100%
I felt great though
Which was good
Because we did a ton of things
Jayme and Gavin went to see if they could climb to the top of Notre Dame
Around 10am
I stayed in the apartment to wait for the leasing agency guy
So he could inpsect the place and tell us how to check out
I took the alone time to catch up on my tour notes
And emails
Around 11 the buzzer went off
“I am at zee door – buzz me in pleaze”
I pushed the button outside the front door
And the doorbell went off
“I am ztill here! Hang up the phone to let me in”
so I hung up the phone
“Push the phone like you are hanging up!!!”
Like this?
It seemed to work
Next I hear the clomp clomp clomp of this guys racing up four flights of stairs
He rushed into the room out of breath with a motorcycle helmet tucked under one arm
“You didn’t break anything right?”
he said as he looked hurriedly around the living room
“No…” I said
“Ok, you are fine to leave…”
that was casual…
at 11:30 J and G came back
they said the line for Notre Dame was 2 hours
so they passed
G was merrily clinging to a toy Eiffel Tower that Jayme got him instead
I have no idea how you actually play with an Eiffel tower but he seemed to have grand plans for it
We decided to do some exploring next
We walked to the Pompidou center to have lunch
Along the way we stopped and got some street food
A sandwich at a place I noticed was always crowded (a good sign?)
Plus my new favorite
An almond croissant
At the Pompidou we sat on the cobblestones and ate out lunch in the sun
While surveying the scene of people all gathered there
Afterwards we headed to the doll museum to meet Maureen (Cody wasn’t feeling well and had the same symptoms I had earlier – sorry Cody!)
The doll museum was amusing for Jayme
Especially the extensive retro Barbie collections
The rest of the afternoon was a flurry of activity
We took the metro to Sacré-Cœur
The church on the hill
We’d been there on the last trip but I wanted to see it again
It was really crowded so we didn’t go to the top
We just sat on the grass near the bottom for a bit then left
Next stop was the opera house
Then we walked to the park near the Louvre
And sat at a café there for something to drink
Maureen got some more classic Parisian lack of service
With a waitress who completely ignored her request for food
Then wouldn’t look at her for 45 minutes
She finally had to get her to come to the table by firing a flare gun at a small child (well almost…)
By the time we took the metro back home it was already 6:30
We spent an hour packing our bags for our flight home tomorrow
Then walked to an Italian restaurant to meet M and C for dinner
I was hoping for a nice last dinner here
We didn’t really get that
But what we did get was a waitress who completely screwed up our orders
Then ignored us for an hour while an untouched pizza sat on the end of our table – in plain sight
After Maureen asked them politely 3 times for the check we finally paid
And then chef chased after us yelling in French because I dared to take the receipt
The manager then scribbled something on a piece of paper with another restaurants info on it and handed that to me as the official “receipt”
I wasn’t too thrilled with the lot of them but it didn’t ruin my mood
I felt great and happy to be with my friends and family in this beautiful city
After dinner we hopped the metro to take G on a boat ride
Finally - Paris by night!!!
Our son was in awe of the Eiffel tower
Literally giggling with excitement every time we caught a glimpse of it
It was pretty spectacular seeing it lit up
Definitely one of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve ever seen
Everything was serene and beautiful until a teen peeing off a bridge drenched half the boat and jolted us into the reality of human cruelty
Luckily I narrowly avoided it
But I felt really sorry for a young Japanese couple who got hit
I wanted to throttle whoever did that to them
It was so barbaric
That incident aside
It was a great finale to the trip
Now tomorrow morning we have to get up at 7 to catch our taxi to the airport
It’s already 1am
Time for bed!!

day 18 - Paris (part 3) the Man-day!!

today was deemed “man-day”
and “girl-day”
the boys splitting off to kill time while we let the girls
do girly shopping things that would only bore our manly men pants to tears
we met M and C at 9:15 to walk to the Bastille area where our boat was leaving
the girls waved good-bye to us around 9:45 while our boat pulled away
with the speed of a disabled tortoise
we then spent the next 2 hours creeping up the canal
G loved it
I almost fell asleep 2 or 3 times
sitting in the sun and moving so slowly sort of lulled me into
an extreme state of jellyfish relaxation
at the end of the ride we passed the Science and Art museum
which Gavin enthused over due to the giant silver ball out front
“I want to go to there!!!” he exclaimed
unfortunately we were dropped off a bit too far away from it to go back
so we caught the metro back into town
Cody had sweetly lined up a trip to a store with a vast collection
of Star Wars figurines
after a quick and almost nasty lunch at a dodgy sandwich shop (I’m to blame on suggesting this one!)
we took G into the comic book shop
he loved it
gazing intently at transformers
Star Wars figures
and other toys that caught his interest
he was looking for the rare Jango Fett
Boba’s father
we crossed the street to another store
where G intently scanned the shelves for Jango
a couple of times I said “Come on, we gotta go now.”
and Gavin said “Daaad…I’m still looking for Jango”
his patience paid off when he finally found him
I enjoyed buying his prized Jango
“You’re such a nice Dada.” he gushed
our Manday continue as we walked past the Notre Dame cathedral
contemplated going to the top of it
looked at the line wrapped around the side of the building for 5 seconds
and decided to move on
we hit a cupcake shop and another pastry shop on the way back to our apartment
the girls checked in a let us know they were still hours away from wrapping up their shopping
so we had to figure out something else to do
we decided to walk to a large vintage clothes store called Come On Eileen
when we got there I found a sea of over-priced, dodgy vintage clothes
and nowhere to try anything on even if you found something
in the basement we discovered two Swedes stripped down to their underwear
trying pants on in the middle of the store
so you might ask…why is someone from Texas (which has great vintage clothes shopping) doing this?
boredom and curiosity
Cody took us to the French equivalent of Tower records next
it was interesting browsing the cd section
I even found an F Nourallah disc
we walked back to the flat
the girls still weren’t back yet
so we waited a half hour
when they finally arrived around 5:30
they told us some tragic tales of the French work ethic
in which 5 places they wanted to visit
with store hours clearly posted saying they should be open
were in fact closed
the doll museum
which Jayme desperately wanted to visit
even had it’s rude curator smoking a cigarette out in front with a closed signed on
they said they had to try 2 or 3 times to get him to actually tell them what was up
instead of muttering and making hand motions
he finally said “Well, look at the hours of operation right here…”
the sign said they were supposed to be open
anyway they still had some more shops they wanted to visit
or peer at from behind CLOSED signs
so they went out again
Cody went back to his apartment
G and I stayed in
2 hours later Jayme came back
of course they had experienced more unexpected store closings
around 8 we walked over to M and C’s place
they cooked up the rest of the pasta from the other night
we had a nice time talking
while Gava played with Jango
around 10:30 we walked home
we were passed out by 11

Friday, May 22, 2009

day 17 - Paris (part 2)

considering I slept like a baby
in the ulta-comfy Posh Spice bed
I should’ve felt great today
instead I felt like 1 centavo
I guess the tour had caught up with me
the bags under my eyes
the lethargy
the feeling twice my age
what was the solution?
to do stuff…
Jayme slept only 1 hour last night (more pregnancy pains!!!)
so G and I met Maureen and Cody at breakfast in America
we hoped Jayme would go back to sleep while we were away
B in A was great
good prices and good ‘ole American style food
Gavin had buttermilk pancakes
I had a breakfast burrito
our waitress was really friendly too (which counts for something in Paris)
after breakfast we went back to our apartment
Jayme was too wound up about seeing her favorite city in the universe
to go back to sleep
she was ready to get out and go sightseeing
M and C were taking us to the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery today
we caught the underground and took it all the way to the top
so we didn’t have to struggle with the uphill walk through the cemetery
the way most tourists do
once again the weather was perfect
sunny and 70ish
we visited Oscar Wilde’s grave
and lastly, Jim Morrison
who was tucked away and surrounded by a barrier
so people wouldn’t mess with his corpse
the Doors didn’t mean a thing to me so mainly this was just an oddity to me
being in Pere Lachaise was awe-inspiring though
gravestones as far as the eye could see
made me appreciative to be here
on this beautiful day with my family
and not in a coffin stuck in the ground
walking the cemetery took several hours
after that we caught the metro (thanks to M and C’s guidance)
and stopped at a typical French bistro for lunch
I passed on eating
after lunch we did some more walking
through the busy streets of Paris
we agreed to meet up later for dinner
J, G and I then went back to our apartment
it was about 4
I laid down for a quick siesta and woke up 3 hours later
J and G were passed out by my side
although they didn’t sleep as long as I did
I felt a lot better
I took a nice Posh Spice shower
then we walked to Maureen and Cody’s flat
about 5 minutes away
we ended up eating in the basement of Mai Thai while all the other patrons
enjoyed their nice tables upstairs and outside
the food was average, the prices ok
I remain foiled by eating anything other than sweets in Paris
it seems to me anybody can open a restaurant here
provide crappy service
dull food and just because they are in wonderful Paris
people will jam pack the place
it kind of annoys me
after dinner we had a short stroll through our neighborhood
the sky was an amazing sunlit blue
G cut it short when he announced he had to go pee
so we high-tailed it back to our apartment
for bedtime

day 16 - Paris (part 1)

we woke up at 9
and took a long walk to the park near the Louvre
we stopped on the way and got a tuna baguette sandwich
and some pastries
we sat at a fountain and ate them
they were delicious
the weather was perfect too
sunny and 70ish
after that we walked back to our flat
all in all about 3 hours of walking
we met up with Maureen and Cody around 2
they took us to a French restaurant for lunch
G spilled hot chocolate all over his El Cotzu shirt
ruining it
after lunch we did some more walking
ended up at a huge department store
the French version of super-Target (I was told)
I wasn’t that interested in it and was tired
so Cody, G and I had a drink in the café
while M and J shopped
we decided to split up and the men went to get some food
Cody took us to an Italian place where you buy freshly made pasta and take it home to cook
it’s kinda like a specialized Central Market thing
except it was 3 times more expensive
I guess it was worth it though
the pasta was ridiculously good
we cooked it up back at our posh Spice apartment
and went to bed at 10:30 after the sun had just set

Thursday, May 21, 2009

day 15 - going to Paris

we waved goodbye to Amy and Eric
as they stood on the front step of their house
it was 11:30
Eric’s birthday too
I was sad we couldn’t stay and celebrate it with him
we had a 4 and a half hour drive to Paris ahead of us
an hour up the road we got a “check tire pressure” prompt
from the Benz
we stopped at a gas station
and did our best to approximate the air pressure gauge
even though everything was in French
Jayme also took this chance to get more double magnum ice cream bars for her and G
as soon as we hit Paris traffic it was mayhem
a flurry of shitty cars and crazy motorcyclists
we were swept away in the current of traffic
the GPS guided us to our first destination
the office where we were to pick up the key to our apartment
that went smoothly
first checkmark on the to do list
then we went a quarter of a kilometer
to the apartment
where we dropped off the bags and the man from the leasing agency
came pedaling up on a bike
to let us in
the 4 flights of stairs were a killer
but Jayme deserves another gold star as tour manager of the century
for finding us this amazing flat
with an incredible view
for as much per night as a cruddy hotel room would cost (see G’s video tour)
the last thing to do now was get rid of our Benz
it had served us well
over 4,000 kilometers
but in Paris it had become a big liability
the Eurocar drop off was less than a kilometer away
go Jayme!
she had that all figured out too
we were less than 200 meters away though when
guess what?
our street came to an end
random road construction strikes again
we had to back up and come back down the street with a line of cars honking
at us
they had no idea they’d be greeted with the same fate
we managed to squeeze out of there
with the GPS going crazy
trying to guide us in a circle back to that same situation
this is when Jayme decided to take matters into her own hands
she whipped out a map of Paris and ignored the GPS
in 5 minutes she found a way for us to go round to the other side of the blocked street
we felt like celebrating when we pulled the car down the Eurocar ramp
checklist complete!
we walked back to the flat
up the 4 flights again
then settled into our Posh Spice apartment
I fell in love with this view from the bedroom window
it was spectacular
I had to get my guitar out and just sit there and play a bit
around 7:30 our friends Maureen and Cody
from Oakland
rang us up
they were at our front door with a falafel dinner
they’re going to be spending the next 4 days with us here
showing us ‘round and taking care of us
as they come to Paris just about every year
know all the cool places
and speak French!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

day 14 - (Part 2) the finale at Les Toques

we headed for the gig in Pergeux
in Eric’s big white van
around 3:45
it was an hour and a half drive to get there
I wish I had a transcript or recording of the conversation
it was great
we hit on a bunch of Stiff’s from Jake Riviera to Nick Lowe
Les Toques is another cool bar
they had my poster prominently featured
along with a poster for Amy and Eric
the people who worked there were all really friendly
especially Tobi
the owner
Eric and I took our time setting up
then we decided to practice and add a few numbers to our expanding repertoire
he played bass on “Pictures Collected”
then I played bass on his classic “School”
Amy arrived with Emmanual around 7
with practiced some more then sat down in the courtyard outside
for some dinner
we had a large table with lots of their friends joining us
I had the Reggae Reggae
a fish sandwich that didn’t quite live up to its name
the French fries were outta this world though
at 10 I started my set
I felt good but the talking was quite loud
I was ok with it but I could tell Emmanual Eric and Amy
were not happy with the rudeness of it
I started “Model Brothers” but just couldn’t get past the first 2 lines
because they were drowning me out
by the time I got to “Be Here Now” though
the entire bar was dead silent and it was a powerful moment
I think it’s the best I’ve ever played that song
and I even had 2 people afterwards ask about that one in particular
Eric joined me on “Pictures” then it was off to the races
“She’d Walk a Mile” with more Balalaika flying over the shoulders
a one/two “Public Skool” “School” medley
then a rousing “Girl with the Wandering Eye”
and the highlight (for me at least)
“Whole Wide World”
I could’ve ended on that and felt fully satisfied but there was still much more to come
“1978” then our two standards “Bus Stop” and “Misery”
I wish it could’ve just gone on and on and on
it was the perfect tour finale
we were done about midnight
milled around talking
one girl who had been dancing all night like she was
in a French musical (which i'd loved concentrating on instead of the talkers)
said "there is a universe in your music..."
i met another kid who said he had all of the Centromatic Old 97
records and was an avid follower of this kind of Texas music
that was pretty cool to hear this far away in the South of France
around 1am Eric and I took the van back home through the dark
and winding streets
we had more great conversation
and then bonus conversation until 3:30 once we got home

i'll try and post some video footage now

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

day 14 - La Taverne (Part 1)

we finally got going around 11:30
Amy and Eric said we’d better run up to the market for some supplies
because on Sunday they close at noon
in the checkout line I noticed one of my posters hanging
near the exit
Eric had apparently put them everywhere to promote the show
we joked around about having me do a “signing” near the Fromage section
which was unreasonably cold
Spinal Tap would have nothing on us!
a five minute drive through the country took us to another town
and another market
where Eric bought an assortment of cheeses
I got some apple juice 2 bananas and some fruit cups for G
we then walked up the street to a bakery
the second Gavin saw the 3 foot long loaf of bread
he shouted out “that’s what I want Dada – that’s what I want!!”
on the way back to the car Eric challenged a speeding driver to slow down
in French
with hand motions
almost like a bullfighter
it was exciting
back at the house we had cheese and bread
drank tea
and talked
I could listen to Eric tell stories for ages
he gave me a tour of his studio
and played some unreleased tracks
while J and G explored the backyard with Amy
Eric’s collection of vintage instruments was like a shrine for me
I’ll post a video later of it
around 2 we decided we should get out for a bit
as it was a beautiful day
we drove 10 minutes to a little Chalet/castle
and popped into a local tavern for some snacks
Abba played the entire time we were there
it was charming

Monday, May 18, 2009

day 13 - Cussac and Wreckless Eric

day 13 was a blur
one of the longest days i've ever had
I didn’t get to bed until half past 1
at 7am I was up
ready to hit the road
J and G were snuggled up on their bed
sleeping peacefully
I hated waking them
we finally got G dressed and fed
and hit the road around 8:15
we entered Belgium from Aachen in a matter of minutes
I had no idea actually that we were that close to the border
it was a peaceful drive
not much traffic
mellow drivers
we entered France a couple of hours later
and it was the same
easy sailing
in Paris Jayme navigated us successful to the East
avoiding the inner ring
the traffic got a little crazy briefly
but all in all
it was a cakewalk
once we’d gotten south of Paris
there were hardly any cars on the road at all
and we made excellent time
only stopping once
at 4:30 we were winding our way through scenic French backroads
to get to Cussac
where Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby live
now a bit of a rock’n’roll history lesson for those of you
who don’t know anything about Eric
he was an original Stiff Records recording artist back in 1978
alongside Elvis Costello Nick Lowe the Damned and Graham Parker
with slogans like "we came. we saw. we left."
"When You Kill Time, You Murder Success" (printed on promotional wall clocks)
and "In '78 everyone born in '45 will be 33-1/3".
Siff blew to bits the label as corporation model
that had previously existed
see Nick Lowe’s classic “I love My Label”
anyway I’ve been following Eric for a long time now
a fan of both his Stiff records and then the slew
of indie releases over the past 25 years since then
Donovan of Trash is a classic I highly recommend
and the new cd which he and Amy released jointly
is great too
I met Eric in Dallas last Fall
and when Bucks Burnett introduced me to him as “this is my friend who goes and plays Europe all the time”
I never actually thought I’d be able to make good on Eric’s offer to come visit
and play France
so it’s been a slow steady build-up of anticipating this day
when we got to Cussac our GPS said “You have reached your destination”
22 rue de limoges
but we were staring at an abandon building with 22 written on it
I got out of the car to look around
and an elderly gentlemen peeked out of his door and said something in French to me
I walked over
said my one word “bonjour”
then thrust my address at him on a piece of paper
he didn’t seem to know who it was
a bad sign
we then spent the next 10 minutes driving around this small area in circles
until we came back to the same spot
this time the man had his wife with him
she seemed to know this address and they spoke French to us like we understood
and pointed a lot
we smiled and nodded our heads
drove off to arrive back at the same spot our GPS kept telling us to go to
then I spotted another old lady whom I approached
she did a slightly better job at using hand signals
and we pulled up along a building with 22 on it
that was it
when I knocked I heard a lady say “hello” from behind the door
it was Amy
we unloaded our bags
and then drove to Le Lawrence D’Arabie
where I was to play
the drive was about 10 minutes but the route was unbelievable
narrow one lane country roads
past barns and farms
horses and sheep
we were seriously in the sticks out here
it was really funny
when we got to Chalus we pulled up to the sounds of Eric checking one two
over the P.A.
it was a bit surreal
Le' Lawrence D Arabia had a great vibe to it
the PA was set up in front of a large brick fireplace that looked positively medieval
it was cozy
and the room sounded really good
Eric had brought his entire soundsystem in his van
which was really incredibly nice of him considering all the work involved
(all done outta friendship too - not for money)
the rest of the evening was a blur
Eric and I did a soundcheck and then practiced
some of the songs we'd discussed performing together via email
then he let me play his Framus bass with Joe Strummer’s old guitar strap on it
and we ran through his classic
“the girl with the wandering eye”
Amy’s “men with sandals” was last with Eric sort of talk singing the vocal
G kept himself entertained the whole while by drawing
the best of which was a defacing of one of my tour posters
in which he and his mother turned me into a pirate
after a bit Amy turned up and we ran the songs again
then we all went upstairs and sat down for some dinner
the owner
made some of the best pizza I’ve ever had
we met Eric’s friend Emanuel who was super-cool
he loved G’s Wreckless Eric t-shirt
and Clash patch
he told me his first concert ever was in ‘78
when the Clash played Paris
pretty cool
around 9 I started playing
there was actually a surprisingly large British contingent in the room
the hardest thing for me was playing for Eric
as he’s a hero of mine
the crowd was enthusiastic but there was lot's of loud talking
my new friend Emanuel and Eric looked very concerned and upset by this
Emanuel told some guys to keep quite then a fight almost broke out
the main offender had those creepy extra huge black earrings stuck in
his lobes
he was mean looking
they were giving Emanuel a hard time
so then i stopped and said over the PA "hey, you!!!"
the guy wouldn't look at me
i said it again
"hey, you - look at me. over here on the mic" as i tapped it loudly
he finally looked up at me
"if you came all the way from france to Texas to play in my local bar
i'd respect you and keep quite or go talk outside, so i'm telling you please...

that was the end of it
he stood quietly in the crowd then ducked out later
i played solo a bit longer then
Eric and Amy joined me for a rousing "she'd walk a mile"
with Eric on an extended Balalaika solo that he threw over his head
when he was done with it
then we veered into
Amy's "men with sandals"
Eric's "the girl with the wandering eye" (with me on bass)
nourallah brother's "public school"
and the grand finale
i loved every second of it
and it seemed the crowded bar did to
afterwards Jayme sold a bunch of merch
including all of our t-shirts
the owners Nico and Sabine hug me at least 3 times each
and told me how great it was
G passed out in Jayme's lap around midnight
we took him out to the car
and then i tried for at least half an hour to get out of Le' Lawrence
around 1am
we followed the pitch black winding roads back to Eric's house
what a day...

Friday, May 15, 2009

day 12 - Aachen Rastatte

tonight's show in Aachen was amazing
the best one yet
70 people packed into Rastatte
many who have seen me all three years
requests for new songs like pictures collected
and oldies like i'll be around
3 encores
1 with Johannes from Late Call
we did she'd walk a mile and stranger in my own skin
sold a bunch a cds too for that git who was down last week in Giessen
i even got to see one of Germany's coolest castles today as well
no cheese though
i'll be back with more details from France with Wreckless E
i have to get up at 7am
it's already 1
we've got a 8 hour drive
then the show
2 sets too
so i'll post more once i get out of the coma!!!



Thursday, May 14, 2009

day 11 - Bacharach

I didn’t sleep well last night
I was all wound up from the NUN gig
plus the bed sheet underneath me sort of had a grainy
towelesque texture
it felt like a wheat thin
I just couldn’t get comfortable
around 8 I rolled out of bed
feeling like I never really went to sleep
i posted my latest tour note
and wrote emails then at 10 J and G woke up
we went downstairs to have breakfast with Mark and his wife
in their flat
they’d laid out a huge spread for us
a basket of bread
5 different jams
Mark made us tea
and Jayme went for what she thought was sugar
two minutes later
it was French salt
we all had a good laugh over that one
the German Cherry jam I had was outta this world
and we drank tea and talked
mainly about German/American societal differences
guns laws
German people who drive too fast
the time flew by
before we knew it 2 hours had passed
as if they were 15 minutes
at noon we packed up
we had a few nice moments with Mark and his sons Noah and Meyo (see video)
then we said goodbye and headed for Bacharach
I felt sad when we left
I want to come back here again to the NUN and Mark and his family
our GPS said we’d be at scenic Bacharach on the Rhein in 2 hours
I took my time today
drove slow
called Matthias, Basti, Dirk and Gunther
to let them know we were having a great time
and to also say goodbye
we’d be mailing the Tapete cell phone they lent us back to Hamburg
once we hit France on Saturday
so now was the time to use it one last time
about half an hour away from our destination
Jayme said “Wait a minute…we’re heading back to Giessen”
she checked the GPS route and sure enough
we were on a completely wrong route
she was upset with herself for the screw-up
but I told her we were in no hurry
it was no biggie
we only lost an hour afterall
as we back-tracked it to Frankfurt
and then on to Bacharach
about 15 minutes away from the town
the scenery got amazing
like nothing we’d ever witnessed in Germany before
the Rhein to our right
splitting lush mountains to either side
it was spectacular
“Act Naturally” with Ringo singing came on the I-Pod
it was a funny moment
“they’re gonna put me in the movies…”
Bacharach is everything and more than what we thought Hameln would be
oozing with charm
cobblestone streets
a large Castle looking down over the town
our Hotel is a Rick Steve’s recommend
with our room situated at the top of an old city tower
spectacular views to either side of it
and a train track that runs 20 feet to the west of us
(the room is heavily insulated)
around 5 we started exploring the town
Jayme bought a little pink antique porcelain box
that was so her
it looked like Marie Antoinette had once owned it
we picked an Italian restaurant and sat outside
enjoying the cool weather
and old German town ambience
we ordered fried fish for G
one of the only things he eats
they sent him chicken instead
almost the same thing, right?
I had spaghetti with Salmon in a garlic wine sauce
but more importantly J and G giddily ordered and consumed ridiculously large
ornate German desserts
they walked ‘em off by a 1 kilometer climb to the huge castle overlooking the town (see video)
I don’t have the words to describe how amazing the views were
it was incredible
after going to the top of this mountain
and back down
we headed to our Hotel
I was able to get in a short practice for my show Saturday in France
with Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby
we’re doing Amy’s “Men in Sandals”
Eric’s “the Girl with the Wandering Eye”
and a couple of mine
and 2 Nourallah Brothers tunes
I’ve been looking forward to this for months
and now
I can hardly believe it’s almost here
but I don’t want to skip over Rastatte in Aachen tomorrow night
my other favorite German venue
I can’t wait for Friday night
it’s gonna be alright

day 10 - Heidelburg and Cafe NUN

at least the City Hotel, Giessen, had a comfy bed
I woke up well rested to the sound of jackhammers
drilling on the street outside
Jayme had been kept awake most of the night by the sounds
of a Russian businessman snoring next door
it was that loud
the walls were that thin
i hauled one load of luggage to the car while she went upstairs
to try and get close enough to the wireless connection
down the cobbled streets i went
ka-chud ka-chud ka-chud
Gavin happily following and singing
“Dada is a poo head, poo – Dada is a poo head”
on the windshield was some sort of parking ticket
or warning
I guessed warning because of this word verwarnungsgeidstelle
maybe i should use the google translator to find out?
after we finally loaded up the car
and tried to get the proper parking pass (which I don’t think we ever did)
from a machine on the corner that kept spitting back our change
we walked to a bakery and had a proper German breakfast
gigantic crème and fruit filled pastries
then we had a proper German post breakfast walk
we bought G a leggo car in a toy shop
and had a nice walk through the Giessen town center
then Jayme said “Why don’t we go to Heidelburg? It’s on the way to Karlsruhe…”
I liked that idea since Heidelburg is one of the prettiest towns I’ve ever been to
we’d already been there twice
so we kinda knew our way around
it was only an hour and a half drive from Giessen
and by 1 we were sitting in a restaurant there having tartes for lunch
(they were excellent by the way - kind of pizza like with a thin crust and cream instead of tomato sauce)
we spent the next 4 hours walking Heidelburg
we completed a 3 time Nourallah family tradition established in Heidelburg in 2006
with the purchasing of the giant chocolate balls
we walked the entire town center
walked alongside the river
over the big fancy bridge
took a picture with the famous bridge monkey
ate ice cream
climbed the tower of a church
two nice elderly people even randomly gave Gavin gifts
(was it because he was adorable or because he was sporting an Obama t-shirt?)
you be the judge…
we got to Karlsruhe around 5:30
it’s only a half hour from Heidelburg
which was easy
from the second we set foot in Café NUN I realized how much I love this place
my first trip here in September of ‘07
was really the best gig of the entire tour
the owner Mark and I became friends that night
and the entire NUN crew was awesome
it felt like I had just been here
like I just stood on this very stage soundchecking while a 4 year old Gavin played behind me
now we were here again
almost as if we’d never left
the sun streaming in the big windows from the West
the cool red and gold mural on the back wall
as we talked over dinner
I wanted it all to go slower
but the entire evening raced by
Mark took us to his house – where we’re staying
an ex-convent that was built in the ‘70s
it looks more like a hip apartment complex than anything else
we met his two boys Noah and Meyo and then had to go back to the NUN
I wrote up both of my set lists and then stood around and talked for a bit out front
of the club
the cool evening air felt great
I started at 9 with “so down”
the sound on stage was perfect
the lighting too
a nice crowd of smiling faces who I could all see clearly
sat to both sides of me
I played 12 songs and then took a fifteen minute break
"saint georges" felt particularly good
throughout both sets there was dead silence
and I felt like the connection I hope for at each show
that only sometimes occurs – happened in spades tonight
they were all with me every bit of the way
from the saddest songs to clapping along on “she’d walk a mile”
I played “bus stop” and “whole wide world” for the first encore
and then
by special request
“it’s not enough”
I didn’t think I’d remember the words but I got most of them right
I also realized I should be playing this song
from here on out – it’s in

so now it’s 2am
and this amazing day
(and night) are over now
this shattered whatever silly questioning wall I’d hit yesterday
the past 24 hours alone (not to mention Hamburg/Potsdam and Berlin)
made this entire trip more than worthwhile
and Rastatte, the South of France with Wreckless Eric and Paris are still to come!
these are wonderful experiences and memories that J, G and I will have
the rest of our lives

I just wish it would all go a little bit slower

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

day 9 - Dusseldorf and Giessen

we had another good day
Jayme got some much needed sleep in the Atlanta Hotel
which is what I’d hoped for
we pushed off from Vluyn around noon
and drove half an hour into the heart of Dusseldorf
to the old part of the city center
called Altstadt
it was supposed to be worth seeing
some of the people at the gig last night said not to drive
the traffic would be bad and parking a hassle
but it was really easy getting there
no traffic to speak of
and a handy parking garage as soon as we hit the no driving zone
the weather was great too
sunny and warm
we walked along the cobblestone street
peering into some art shops
and other interesting stores
in 10 minutes time we’d hit the waterfront
we found a restaurant scenically placed under these interesting looking knarled trees
with ultra-green leaves and round little lights dangling from them
our table overlooked the Marktplatz
a cobblestone filled open square
with a towering old steeple begind us
and view of the river in front
it was the best part of the day
Gavin fed the pigeons
took a nice photo of his parents
and ate bread
our food was good too
after lunch we explored the rest of Altstadt
which was only half interesting
it mainly seemed like a ton of pubs and drinking holes that come alive
at night
menacing clouds were beginning to roll in too
so around 3 we headed for the car
the drive to Giessen
a small college town where I was playing next
was only about 2 hours but it rained most the way
Jayme and I both agreed that one reason this tour feels a lot easier than the other two
is that the drives we’ve been making are so much more manageable
we got to Giessen by 5
and navigated the no driving zone
lugging all of our suitcases and my equipment 100 yards or more up a busy street
in the drizzling rain
the venue for this evening
was only one third of a kilometer away (very close)
we walked there around 6:30
looking around for street numbers
it was supposed to be at 54 Selterweg
when we got to 71 without seeing it
I noticed a guy busking with an acoustic guitar
so I asked him if he’d heard of it
he said “sure, it’s down there near the ice cream shop”
and pointed
we had walked right past as it was tucked down an alley
I don’t think we ever would’ve found it without our friendly buskers help
upon our arrival at the club the promoter Toby
greeted us with a great big smile and plenty of hospitality
he hooked us up with the Bitchen Bistro for a nice meal
and took very good care of us with drinks and food all night
the club was great too
nice décor and more great sound (the norm for German acoustic venues)
this was another double show opening for the Late Call
I went on at 8:30
straight out of the gate I was a bit dismayed by the blinding stage lighting
I couldn’t see one single audience member all night
I should’ve said something and learned a lesson to do so next time it happens
I felt completely disconnect from the room for 45 minutes
it was disappointing
what otherwise should’ve been an enjoyable show
was not that enjoyable for me
it felt like I just wanted to get it over with
in fact
I cut my set one song short just so I could get off the stage
I felt like a chicken nugget under a heat lamp
afterwards it was hard for me to relax
I walked J and G back to the hotel
kissed them goodnight
then came back to the Ulenspiegel for my merch
I felt fidgety and moody during Johannes’ set
I found myself spiraling down the steep slope of self-doubt
and dashed expectations
I’m not just over here fucking off with my family
we didn’t come all this way just to eat cheese and look at castles
I’m here to hopefully get some people to listen to “Constellation”
and so far it’s hard for me to feel very good about that end result
after 5 shows cd sales have been meager at best
we’ve come a long way to be here
it’s taken a lot of hard work
and support from our friends and family
yes, we’ve had a great time here
and there will be more to come
but tonight the reality of it all got to me a bit
it dawned on me that this could very well be our last trip to Germany
we’ve been here three times now
crisscrossed almost every square mile of autobahn
seen almost every major city
visited castles
walked parks
ate cheese
soiled lederhosen
been there
done that
been there again and did it too
for the past 18 months I felt a strong urge pulling me to come back here
it wouldn’t subside
even when I wanted it to shut the F up
I’m really glad to be here again
but now I feel like I’m saying goodbye to Germany

after the room cleared I hung out with Toby and Johannes for a bit
then walked back to the City Hotel
here I am now
typing in the dark
while J and G sleep peacefully
I’m so glad we’re going to Karlsruhe and Café NUN tomorrow
it was one of my best shows on the last tour
I hope it comes through again

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

day 8 - the comeback in Krefeld

Jayme slept only 2 hours last night in Hotel Russia #2 (aka:the Mercure, Hameln)
I woke feeling a bit strange myself
my face hurt
like I’d been punched
we checked out
and then walked to a bakery for some breakfast
I ended up having lunch because I saw a vegetable and cream cheese
it was green
I hadn’t seen much green lately
I thought I’d better eat it
our breakfast was nice and only 6 euros
Gavin had a “chocolate bazan” (croissant)
the town was also a little calmer
which was much nicer than yesterday
on the way back G did his “birdie customer!” routine
were he chased one of the street pigeons
it was really cute
I wanted to film it
my video camera was dead
we headed out of Hameln
with not an ounce of sentimentality
today’s drive was only 2 hours
the routing on this tour has been a lot less punishing than the first two
which is nice for the driver
I was hopeful that we’d have another good day and get back on track
I booked a hotel on the fly last night to save sagging morale (go internet!)
it’s called the Atlanta
in Vluyn Neukirchen
just outside Krefeld
it looked really nice online
with Jayme not sleeping much and also knowing the promoter had booked a 50euro pit
I didn’t want to take any chances with two bum nights in a row
this 5 star Hotel was also only 89 euros a night
I absolutely believe that for close to 100 euros per night you can stay in a posh hotel with lots of personality
this is why I get so pissed off when we stay at places that suck for the same price or more
they’re just ripping people off!!
a possible book idea?
the drive today was on one of my least favorite autobahns
Krefeld is just outside the crowded industrial epicenter of Dusseldorf/Dortmund/Koln
the traffic is horrible
18 wheelers as far as the eye can see all hugging the right lane
crawling along
while Audi, Volkswagon and Benz folk race by in the left lane at speeds well over 100 miles per hour
it’s a bit disconcerting
we got to Vluyn around 2:30
a peaceful suburb
just as I had imagined
the hotel was really nice
our room had a kitchenette
3 awesome views
and carpet that actually looked like it wasn’t going to crawl away in shame
we were happy
we spent the entire afternoon relaxing
Jayme watching CNN on the couch while I caught up on emails
around 6pm we all went to Kulturrampe
it was only about 10 minutes away
we had to get on a highway to get there but it was easy
I’d played Kulturrampe once before for the “Snowing In Mein Heart” tour in ‘07
it was the last gig of the tour when Matthias and I pulled an all-nighter driving 10 hours round trip from Hamburg in the pouring rain
thank _____ (enter your God’s name here) that tonight was not gonna be a repeat
I remembered the promoter Markus
was really nice and I also remembered how to find the Rampe
(we got lost the first time as it’s in an industrial loading dock with no address)
we got there with no problem
Markus greeted us warmly
I set up
had a quick soundcheck
and then M told us we could go have dinner at a Greek restaurant next door
no one there spoke English but we did alright communicating with them in our pigeon German and hand signals
J and I had fish with fries
G had fries and ice cream (health food) while also making a new friend (see video)
I was really glad my family was with me tonight
I get tired of going to all the shows by myself
they are the best entertaining company to have
anyway we had a really good time at dinner then walked back around the corner to the Rampe
I went on at 8:30 and played a short (for Europe) 45 minute set
my label mate Johannes (aka: the late call)
had the 2nd slot which was nice so we could get home early
the sound was excellent
the audience was great
really polite and receptive
I felt like there was no language barrier here tonight at all
I also felt very relaxed and really enjoyed having J and G in attendance
it was a solid show
I even made a new German friend afterwards who asked me to guess where he was in 1978…Eastwood High El Paso

it’s a small world indeed

Monday, May 11, 2009

sidenote on my video camera

my video camera is still not working right
it will turn on sometimes
other times not at all
could it be the battery?
could it be the charger?
the 2 shops i've taken it to have no idea
and said i have to send it back to Sanyo
the camera apparently has a will of its own now
and has been set free to function whenever it wishes
so i just try and keep it charged
and whenever something cool happens that i'd like to film
i roll the Sanyo dice and see if i'm in luck!!!

p.s. yesterday in Hameln it decided to not turn on - maybe for the best, right?

day 7 - Hameln and the Pied rip-off

was yesterday in Potsdam to good to be true?
i guess so…
our good luck streak came to a crashing halt in Hameln
touted as the city of the Pied Piper
a charming little town with cobblestone streets and half timbered houses
we thought it would be great to take Gavin hear
we found out Hameln was in fact a tourist trap
cleverly devised to rope in suckers like ourselves who didn’t know any better
i guess we’ve seen too much of the “real” Germany to go for it
we knew right away we’d been duped
thank you German tour book for recommending it!!
it all started at the Hotel Mercure
over priced and shoddy looking
(a recurring theme for the rest of the city)
our room looked like something from Georgia
and i don’t mean the one with Atlanta
at over 100 euros a night you’d think it would be more than decent
it wasn’t
after seeing our dreadful room i went back to the front desk and asked if they could
possibly move us or maybe we could even pay an upgrade (to another Hotel?)
“sorry, un kinder bed is in your room”
that’s ok he can sleep in a double with us
“but um, we have no category for that…”
what does that mean? no category?
it just means to me you don’t care if your customer is happy or not…
thanks Mercure (or should i say Hotel Russia number 2?)

the next chain of events went like this
we walked to the tourist information office
it was closed
then we walked to the old town center
it was over-run with people and crummy shops selling tacky clothes
we walked to the river because i thought it might be more tranquil there
perhaps lined with bistros where we could eat outside and look at some pretty scenery
the river was lined with concrete
we walked back to the center
and tried to find a restaurant
all the menus were full of desert items or pig dishes
we finally settled on one out of desperation
Jayme and i both ordered a tuna sandwich
what we got was a can of tune emptied on a stale piece of bread
with a cucumber on top
for the nice price of 7 euros
i couldn’t eat it
it was disgusting
we paid our 22 euro bill and left having had no lunch
Jayme had only slept a couple of hours the night before in Hotel Russia
so we walked back to the Hotel to regroup
G and i let J try and sleep for a little bit while we took a walk to try
and find something nice
we came back an hour later empty handed
all i found was a graveyard and an old folks home
i then spent an hour online trying to find a hotel in Krefeld
because we realized tomorrow could be even worse with the promoter
coughing up an underwhelming 50e for Russia Hotel number 3
i found something nice about 15 minutes out of town and booked it
i’m not taking any chances
around 6:30
we ventured back out for dinner
the streets had cleared so the town looked considerably better
still not very charming but better
we ate in a restaurant our tour book recommended called Ambrosia (one of J’s most loathed words)
that should have served as warning enough
the food was terrible and in keeping with the theme for the day
way over priced
it made me wonder who the hell wrote that tour book we got this info out of
i might have to send them a personal message when i get back
write my own!!
we walked back to Hotel Russia number 2
got some ice cream for J and G
not the best day we’ve ever had
that’s for sure
but at least we're together
nothing bad happened
it was just disappointing
and in the grand scheme of things i'll take disappointed any day of the week
over the slew of much worse things that can happen

Sunday, May 10, 2009

day 6 - Potsdam and Magdeburg

we woke up around 9 in Hotel Adina
our plan to go to Potsdam
where Churchhill and his gang signed the post World War II
splitting up Europe accord
we had a scenic drive out of Berlin
driving past the Holocaust memorial we’d seen yesterday from the tour bus
we also got to drive through a long straight avenue
lined with trees and shops
Potsdam is only about 40 minutes away
we were in for a special day
the weather couldn’t have been any more perfect
just the slight touch of a breeze
we parked the car and headed on foot for castle Sanssouci
built by King Frederic in the French rococo style (Jayme's favorite)
we bought our tickets
2 day passes for the entire park and all its castles
for 38 euros (kids free)
then we walked down the garden’s massive steps to a fountain
we ended up spending 6 hours walking the 11 kilometer park
we saw the Orangerie where they would grow tropical fruits in huge greenhouses
we climbed the 200 steps to its top and looked out over the amazing vista of the park
then we toured the Neue Palace which was spectacular
kind of like a smaller Versaille
the Neue Palace only had 200 rooms
we got to see about 25 of them and it still took an hour to see
around 4 we headed back to the car along a tree lined path
it felt like we were in France
my show was at the Blue Note in Magdeburg
only about an hour away
it felt good to be in the car for a bit and off of our feet
Gavin fell asleep in the back seat
and we got to the club in no time
once there I was greeted by Jan
the promoter
he was really friendly and took good care of us
i had an easy soundcheck then we walked down the block to a restaurant
he said it was a place run by handicapped people as a sort of social experiment
although the chef “was not handicapped”
i think he meant – the food was good
we had a funny game of food charades with our waitress
who spoke not a word of English
the best part was watching Jayme try to pantomime “bread”
dinner was good
I had lachsteak – aka: salmon
apple strudel for desert
and G had a huge bowl of ice cream
the Plaza Hotel
where the music festival was putting us up in
unfortunately had a Russian pre-cold war vibe
with awful striped yellow and blue wallpaper
thin hideous carpet
shoddy brown furniture
and garish floral curtains that looked like an old ladies’ skirt
i felt bad leaving J and G alone there
if there was a good night to attend one of my shows
this was it!!
they were exhausted from Potsdam though so it would be Hotel Russia
for them
at the Blue Note Jan was nervously standing outside
waiting for more people to show up
the club had a really great vibe
decorated with some balck and white ‘60s jazz photos
dimly lit
with blue Christmas lights wrapped around the windows
it had about 6 tables with bar stools in front of the stage a bar that ran along one side of the room
and then some more tables in the back
it was cozy
we waited until 10 then i started
i opened with “so down”/”don’t mind me”/
the small crowd was very appreciative
and polite
dead silent during most songs
with absolutely no noise when i’d finish playing a song
Jan later informed me that the Blue Note was really a pub
so this made it doubley impressive
I played a 15 song 60 minute set
closing with “stranger in my own skin”
then 2 encores
which included “bus stop”
and “whole wide world”
they ran cool projected images behind me
while one spot shown on me
setting a very nice ambience
the sound was absolutely perfect
all in all it was really positive
although I got the impression
sort of like i did in Gera
that less English was spoken here
there was just something a bit off from truly connecting with everyone
after my show i spent some time talking with Jan and the soundguy
at the end of the bar
Jan told me about how he had bought Nourallah Brothers as an expensive import in 1999
and loved it
he thought it was an "indie classic"
he also loved my new cd Constellation
i was pleasantly surprised to hear all of this
around 12:30 i headed back to Hotel Russia

Saturday, May 09, 2009

day 5 - wandering around Berlin

we woke up at noon today
10 hours of sleep
that’s right
count ‘em
i can’t think of the last time i slept 10 hours
today we finally felt like we were truly on vacation
the luxurious Bowie Hotel
fresh laundry
some breakfast of jam in toast in our kitchen
then a walk to the underground station
Jayme wanted to go to an Audrey Hepburn exhibition
that had lots of her old personal belongings
for her this was very exciting
kinda like if I was going to a Lennon exhibit
we spent about an hour and a half there
she got to touch the famous black dress Audrey wore in “Breakfast at T’s”
i noticed the place was 90% women
she was very happy so that made me happy too

afer a quick lunch we took another train to the city center
so we could catch a bus tour
by this time the clouds had completely disappeared
it was sunny and 70
the perfect weather for our trip around the city
we sat on top of an open double-decker bus
Gavin loved it
my video camera even worked for about 15 minutes
our tour guide took a particular interest in our son
and they had some funny back and forth banter with each other
the tour took about 2 hours
i wished the whole time i could make it last a lot longer
it was so relaxing
moving slowly through the bustling city
looking down at all the cars and people scurrying about
the sun kissing our faces with a gentle breeze
while the tour guide’s German English accent set an almost musical tone
Berlin is a beautiful city
with amazing old and new architecture co-existing together
its history is fascinating
and troubling
but now it seems so peaceful
people lounging in parks
walking along the river
riding bikes and eating in outside cafes
it was hard to imagine that not all that long ago
it was the center of unimaginable violence and terror

the tour ended at 6 and it took us about an hour to figure out how to get back to the hotel
i gotta say tour manager Jayme was our fearless leader
she studied the underground map and did all the thinking while her boys did their impersonations of Spongebob’s mentally challenged friend Patrick
we had one funny moment when we thought we were taking an elevator down to the U1 train
when it went one floor down to where we had just been
no train at all
we felt like dumb tourists

our Hotel happened to be only a few blocks away from the infamous
checkpoint Charlie
we walked there around 8 and took some photos
then went into the Charlie museum
it was really interesting and also sad to see how many people suffered at the hands of the oppressive communist regime
all a good reminder of how lucky we are to live in a free society
on the way home we found a quaint Italian bistro
with checked tables Christmas lights and candles
we took a seat outside under some trees
the cool evening air felt great
and the food was incredible
our best meal of the tour so far – by far
if this place was in Dallas it would be some uppity McKinney avenue restaurant
our entire dinner plus desert was only 26 euros
we walked back to the Hotel in some light rain
our 9 hours wandering around Berlin finished
it had been a great day

Friday, May 08, 2009

day 4 - Berlin and LUX

i shook the jetlag by sleeping 8 hours at Casa Buskies
we woke to the sounds of the cleaning lady
took our time getting ready and headed to the Tapete offices
which are about 20 minutes away
the whole gang took us to a mod Chinese restaurant
i had some tofu vegetable dish that was good
it was mainly nice to eat something green
and without cheese
after lunch Matthias bravely volunteered to help take us to
an electronics shop to try and fix the video camera
plus find some fuses for my blown out merch lights
when we finally got to the place there began a series
of serious head shaking
fast talking German while looking down at my American devices
more head shaking
and in the end
Matthias translating to us that we were basically fucked
this archaic American fuse is not used in German
this Sanyo camera is, well, not made by a good company like Sony
so there was nothing we can do
he was only the messenger
i could tell he felt bad telling us
we walked back to the office Jayme got some decaf and a chocolate croissant
for Mr. Bread
we even popped in an organic grocery store and got some things
for Gavin
we said goodbye to Basti Gunther and Matthias
and headed for Berlin around 2
the drive was beautiful
lush green fields and tall pine trees
the amazing yellow flower fields too
we effortlessly cruised into the Berlin city center around 5:30
the traffic being not nearly as bad as we’d expected
our GPS led us to the Adina Hotel which we’d booked for 2 nights
judging from the hip mod lobby we had made the right decision
the man at the desk cheerfully told us our room had been upgraded
for free
that sounded nice
when we opened the door to room 313 we were stunned
the room was spectacular
a spacious living room with a kitchen
tall windows looking out over a city view
the bathroom was state of the art with a washer and dryer in
the closet
this was seriously one of the nicest hotel rooms i’d ever been in
i felt like we’d entered David Bowie posh
we decided to go down stair and eat dinner in the hotel restaurant because the menu
looked good and actually reasonable
the setting was serene
large windows surrounding the dining room
flowers at each table
the whole thing decked out with a kind of west elm mod vibe
our food was great and it all cost about as much as that terrible lunch in Gera!
more good fortune insued when i hooked my video camera up in the hotel room
and it seemed to take the charge
i turned it on and filmed G for a few minutes
stunned but happy
i left for LUX at 8
it was supposed to be two turns and then a 2 mile straight shot to the venue
about half way there my straight shot ended
the road ahead was full of construction and it became a one way street
going against the way i needed to go
i turned left then right and came back to the street a little further down
thinking i would get around the construction
unfortunately there was another full block of it
so i crossed the pylons and drove on the right side
breaking German driving laws in at least 5 places
then went all the way down the block on the construction side of the road
dodging barriers and parked dumped trucks
when i got to a light
then i waited for the traffic to clear and jumped over to the “wrong” side of the road
shot across the intersection to clear sailing
when i’d gotten to the corner where LUX was Gotz, the promoter
met me outside and helped me with my gear
he sort of looked a bit like a young Bill Wisener with heavy horned rimmed glasses
he wore a beat up tan motorcycle jacket on and a cigarette perpetually dangling from his mouth
the club was sort of like a small aircraft hanger
high ceilings
tin roof and windows everywhere
on the PA i heard a great lounge version of the Clash’s “Guns of Brixton”
by a French singer called Camille with the band Nouvelle Vogue
i happened to be wearing my Straight to Hell t-shirt so i got a kick out of that
i need to track down that cd
a girl named Kat who was opening the show
said hello and we started talking
she offered to take me on a short sightseeing walk
we crossed a river which used to separate east and west Berlin
then we were there at the sight of the famous wall
i took my video camera out to film this for J and G
and i got a big nothing
the p.o.s. camera wouldn’t turn on

back at LUX there was nothing doing
i was beginning to get the sinking feeling that this gig was going to be poorly attended
a few of Kat’s friends trickled in but they were all on the list
and poor musician’s
when she went on around 10 there were about 8 people and they were all her friends
i played right after to the same 8 plus her
they were really nice
they sat and respectfully listened
even joined in with me on “Bus Stop” by the Hollies
which i’d closed with in Hamburg and decided to play again tonight
at the end i asked if they’d like to hear a happy or sad song
they shouted “HAPPY!!!”
so i played “she’d walk a mile”
after i finished a girl in the back called out with a thick German/English accent
“i zought you were going to play a happy song!”
i was a bit confused
I said, “what do you think that was?”
“it zounded sad to me…”
before i could respond a black guy with dreads was now on my left
asking for me to play Bob Marley
i told him “i don’t know any Marley” and handed him my guitar
then he broke into a version of “One Love”
while everyone else sort of milled about and smiled
Gotz sheepishly handed me 30euros
i didn’t sell any cds
from a financial prospective this gig was a complete disaster
and it made me wonder
how on earth did anyone expect me to draw people in a large city like this
with absolutely no promotion or help in spreading the word?
without Kat and her friends i would’ve played to the bar staff
it made me feel good that i hadn’t dragged Billy all the way here for that
i would’ve felt terrible
i was also really glad that my family was waiting back at Hotel David Bowie for me
it really didn’t matter that i’d just had such a disappointing gig

Thursday, May 07, 2009

day 3 - Hamburg and the Astra Stubbe

At 4am in the swanky Penta Hotel in Gera
I woke up
I guess I’m set to 4am now
I lay there contemplating time and space
And everything in between
Also the Jules Vern book 35,000 miles over the sea
Several times I thought of taking the laptop into
The ultra modern German bathroom
And working on my blog there
As to not disturb my peacefully slumbering family
I decided to tough it out
Count sheep
Count black Mercedes’ on the autobahn
Count just about anything I could think of
think peaceful thoughts
Nothing worked
suddenly I’d be trying to remember song lyrics
Or thinking about how much money I needed to make at
The next gig to cover the hotel room
Or some other random bullshit “adult” concern
I guess around 8am I finally dropped off
At 10:30 I was jolted from my drooling state by the shrill sound
Of the telephone
It was Daniel
Last night’s promoter
Calling to see if we wanted to meet up
I quickly got ready and we met him in the lobby 15 minutes later
He took us to a quaint restaurant called Downtown
Which was underground in a sort of winecellaresque situation
We ordered some drinks and talked
Then ordered some food
About half an hour later Daniel bid us goodbye
We waited for our food
And waited some more
Was this France or Germany I wondered?
About an hour an 15 minutes after we ordered
The food came
Or shall I say
Our two bowls of cheese
I just couldn’t bring myself to eat more than 4 or 5 bites of it
It was good but I felt like someone may as well inject a syringe of grease
straight into my heart
We split town 30 euros lighter
On the way back to Hamburg I swerved in front of an 18 wheeler
To take an exit which led to an amazing field of yellow flowers
We’d seen them everywhere but none accessible by road
Until this one
So we stopped the car
And went to have a look
I wanted to take some pictures in the middle of the field
But it looked kinda swampy
I went in anyway
With Gavin jumping up and down
“I wanna go too Mama, can I go, can I go too? Can I go?”
"No Gavin, you'll get too dirty...hold on!"
she quickly snapped a few photos from up on an embankment
And then I noticed I now had yellow flower schmutz and dirt
All over me – nice…
We got back to Hamburg around 6
My plan was to drop J and G off at Casa Buskies
Charge the video camera and cell phone
Then go to Tapete to pick up Gunther for the gig
The video camera was dead
The light would come on then die 3 seconds later
Since my camera broke on the last tour and I specifically bought a new one for this tour
To guaranfuckingtee this would not happen
I was a bit upset
I left in a a bad mood
cursing Sanyo and all of it's employees
and also vowing to go home and spread crappy rumours about their suckee corporation
It didn’t last long though
At the office I told Matthias all about Dolly and Kenny and the Gera show
Then we all headed off to Astra Stubbe
The Stubbe is a small but cool club
With really good sound and a nice owner
We had a quick sound check where I performed the Nourallah Brothers classic
“Public School” for the very first time ever
then we went through a huge boxes of slides to pick out the backdrop
for my performance
i went with a giant question mark
it seemed somehow appropriate and amusing
then Matthias, Gunther and I walked up the street to get dinner
we settled on a Greek/Italian place with loads of soccer fans staring unflinchingly
At TV sets
I had the Hamburger fish with potatoes (no beef in there, so don’t worry…)
Matthias had the pizza
Which looked amazing but considering the amounts of cheese I had already consumed
In the Rhineland
I just couldn’t go there
The Astra Stubbe show
Ended up being my favorite Hamburg gig to date
It was a very small but very enthusiastic crowd
Gunther manned the merch
Basti lead a group of handclappers in the back on “She’d Walk a Mile” and “Pictures Collected”
Lars helped out on “Montreal” with a 1-2-3-4 beat
The whole audience sang the backing vocals with me on “Don’t Be Afraid”
It was as good a show as I’d ever done
It was as much fun as I’ve ever had playing music
I wish there had been maybe 15 more people there but still
it was great
i got back to Casa Buskies with Gunther around 1am
and fell asleep almost the very second my head hit the pillow

day 2 - Dollywood Gera

35,000 miles over the sea?
yep - jetlag is funny...

i'm on a strange euro keyboard
so everything in a different place
enjoy the results!

i slept only 4 hours on night one at casa buskies
we waited for G who slept like a champ
until 10
did some laundry - the bed linens
then waited for the washing machine for 2 hours
i am completely sure we got them clean as a whistle
around 11:30 we headed to the tapete offices
to have lunch with basti - mr. breezy hair
and matthias
we walked to a cozy little italian place
i had salmon
Jayme had the best tortellini ever
mr. bread had well - you guess...
after that back to the office for our tour itinerary
and merch
at 2 we left for Gera
a town of about 100,000 4 and a half hours away
my show was part of a musical festival they are having
with bands and singer songwriters coming from all around
i had to get back up to speed on the autobahn ways
going along caustiously at first
then doing 150kms in no time
still being passed almost as though we were standing still
when we all walked in to burgercafe
there was a small group already gathered who started
clapping and smiling widely
dolly parton was playing in the background
they immediately ushered me to set up on the stage
just a mic in the corner
i noticed a large filming rig in the back
the sound guy was really nice but spoke no english
in fact other than daniel
the promoter
i only spoke to 2 people the entire evening that seemed
to know our language
it set kind of an odd awkward tone for the entire evening
after my sound check
they told us they would prepare dinner
i asked if they could please make it vegetarian
this threw them for a bit of a loop
we were presented cheese and tomato sandwichs a few minutes later
as a table was swiftly placed in front of us by two men with large
and curly mustaches
we nibbled our sandwichs and a lady with greying high hair
snapped photos of us and smiled wildly
now kenny rogers was playing in the background
it was still pretty early
maybe 7
still light outside too
daniel asked if it would be ok for me to play soon
i said sure but we need to get to the hotel
he kindly offered to take J and G
so i was on my own now
Jayme kissed me on the cheek and smiled sheepishly
good luck tonight
i think they'd put waylon jennings on by this time
it was sweet and a bit sad
they were really nice to me though
and communication problems did not stop the acoustic party from
rolling forward!
i had a brief interview with a lady named anna
who was supposed to introduce me
i could tell she didn't really understand much of what i said
she just kinda glazed over
after a long german intro in which i could only pick out
and john lennon
my show began
i carried on with business as usual
told stories
sang my songs
did what i normally do
they smiled and applauded
they asked for 4 encores
i kept trying to end the show
they kept asking for more
i was running out of songs
so i played missing funerals
and even model brothers
it was all really positive
but i think 90 percent of the room
had no idea what i was saying
so there was kind of an interesting
dynamic taking place
i felt a bit like the circus had come to town
at the end of my performance 2 and half hours later
i noticed i'd blown the lights on my merch suitcase out
by using the wrong euro converter
nice...oh well - what can you do?
i said goodbye to my new friends
and the cafe owner guided me to my German chariot
he was fiftyish
with a sort of italian flare
a fancy jacket and ascot
greying wavy hair swept to one side
he did everything quickly and with zest
he spoke to me as if i understood every word
smiling and gesturing with his hands
he ushered me to my car
said a few more things
then patted me on the butt
and said something else i didn't understand
i did understand that the butt pat meant i needed to get in the car
so i did that quickly
as he stood there by it's side
gazing off across the street and smiling
i sat there for a few minutes getting the GPS ready
he was still there
gazing and smiling
i slowly rolled forward and lowered the window
i said goodnight
he waved eagerly and bid me a fond farwell

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

we sat in chairs
35,000 miles over the sea
With snacks
And movies
And Ipods
Unaware of the freezing wind and icy waters below
Stuck in a metal tube
Going hundreds of miles per hour
this feat
by all of us
we nodded off
slipped in and out
the tube sped forward
it was dark inside
then the lights came on
we headed downward
held hands
anticipated land
drank O.J.
chewed gum
the sound was loud
we grabbed our bags
navigated through unfamiliar corridors
Read signs
Go this way
Not that
Got on a bus
Rattled about
Got out
Followed more signs
Everything was new
And different
Heathrow and crowded
We caught another tube with wings
Passed out upon take off
In a blink we landed again
Our bags came easy
the Guild was unharmed
they gave us the keys to a black Mercedes
We loaded it full
the GPS told us where to go
we listened
and drove

This place is familiar now
Once strange
Now comforting
Lush green fields with bright yellow flowers
The sun peaking through early evening clouds
Cool air blowing in through the window
We felt safe and happy
“You have reached your destination”
the female with the English accent told us
our smiling friends open the front door
it feels nice to see them again
it's as if we'd just been here
the 2 boys resume playing
just like they’d only left off 2 days ago
not 18 months
we sit at their dinning table
in front of the big window that looks out to the lush
green backyard
I flashback to Gunther and the kids on the trampoline
I flashback to the pouring rain and the 1st time I saw the white stucco house
we have a glass of wine with some cheese and bread
the boys build their leggo cars
Dirk arrives
He’s leaving for London tomorrow so this will be the only chance
To se him
Jan Marten drubs Gavin in a game of tabletop soccer
Everytime he scores “Whosh!!!”
Then “Darnitt!!”
I tell Dirk and Gunther it’s 3 to 0 now
We’re winning the traveling soccer match
They have to come see us in Texas now to avoid a shutout
We say goodbye to Dirk
I feel sad to have only seen my friend for a couple of hours
Mr. Bread calls Mr. Breezy Hair on the phone
I flashback to their first detante
Basti and G over lunch and bread 4 years ago
The girls and boys retire one by one
I stay up talking with Gunther
I know this will be our only chance to hang out
At midnight we both know we’re too tired to continue
we say goodnight
Another nice moment over too fast
I go up the wooden stairs to the 3rd floor
Crawl into the warm bed where J and G are curled up
And sleeping peacefully
I’m out like a baby in less than a minute

At 4am I wake up
I lay in the dark thinking
And remembering
my little family laying next to me
on the soft wide mattress on the floor
I remember coming back here to them after the treacherous
All-night drive
2 years ago
Kissing them both on the cheek
So happy to be back at Casa Buskies with them
it was then as it is now
time seems frozen
We’ve been all over Europe
And home again
Did this and that
Running here
Running there
Making records
Made a baby
caught up in the endless scream of doing
day after day after day after day
but now
here again
in this bed
in this room
in Hamburg Germany
time feels frozen
I see all of your faces now
I picture where you are
Right now
Back home doing what you’re doing
I’m a world away from you all now
But you’re here with me
In my head
And in my heart
A feeling hits me
Like how it felt to be in my grandparent’s house
All those years ago
When I was a boy
I feel safe and loved
Like time has stopped
Like nothing in this world matters but this very moment
I am truly at peace

Then Jayme shoots straight up and says
“I think Gavin just wet the bed…”

Sunday, May 03, 2009

May 3

leaving tonight on jet aeroplane
i'm going to try to write all about it for you
maybe even upload some video too
it's the best gift i could ever ask for
to be able to go on this adventure
one more time
Casa Buskies in Hamburg tomorrow night
then on to Gera
Karlsruhe and the cafe NUN!!!
Raststätte in Aachen - one of my favorite places to play
Chalus with Wreckless E and Amy R.
i've got the Guild
an old suitcase full of cds
polyestor pants
and a not so clean shave
it's my birthday too
thank you for sending love
and best wishes

i love you all too!!