Monday 16 September 2013

Jurastrasse and raining.

Good god, the rain just doesn't stop for some damn reason. I mean really, I brought a sweet new velour sport coat that I can't wear if this keeps up.

Alright, at the time of writing I'm listening to this Dire Straits show live from Basel in '92. Check it out.

Just having an afternoon off and getting ready to hop an overnight train to Graz, Austria.

The tour so far has been great with 8 shows in 7 days. Started here in Basel and included Bern, Zurich, St Gallen and a few other great stops. Roger Waters found it necessary to book a gig the same night as mine at Bar Rossi in Zurich...I'm sure he won't do that again. I can only assume my show cost him at least 20 tickets. Tony owns the Bar Rossi though he doesn't manage it. We caught him on a strange night where he was there tending bar. Tony is Italian and he whipped up some pasta before the show. It was the best tomato cream sauce I've ever had, hands down. Tony then stood by the stage for most of the set and then personally carried a tip hat around. Tony is awesome.
Basel. . . our home-away-from-home this week

In Balgach we were introduced to a traditional Swiss game consisting of a big log, a hammer, and some nails. Hammerschlagen. This game is much like your typical Wisconsin yard game as it's best played along with a few beers. You set your 3 1/2 inch nail and then take turns with the narrow edge of a hammer, with one swing each round. The first person with the nail driven all the way in wins. Sounds easy right? Try it.
tough critics. . . in St. Gallen

Rico in St. Gallen sporting his homemade "Josh Harty" t-shirt (check out Rico's awesome handmade bags at!)

In St. Gallen I saw the most amazing hamburgers I've ever witnessed. Double and triple decker locally sourced meaty madness with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon and of course real Swiss cheese. And let me tell you, the finished product on a plate at the table...looks exactly like the menu. All this for a mere 32 Swiss Francs. That's $34.52. Fries are and extra 9 Francs. Want a Coke? That'll be 7 Francs.
Later on in St. Gallen at the big annual market I saw more cheese, cured meat, wine and beer vendors all giving out samples that I could have ever imagined. Not just your typical fare but really, really great stuff. Prosciutto, ham, Brie....oh my. I asked a vendor for a beer sample and he gave me a half pint. I asked for one cheese sample and the guy gave me ALL the cheese samples. Then there was the hot Brie wheel where the woman literally poured the cheese onto a slice of bread. wow.
And, oh yeah, the show was great.

Well, this one may have been a bit more of a food blog but I couldn't help it. Oh wait, also the tunnels in this country are amazing. They're everywhere. It's like an entire country's worth of Big Dig. Amazing really.

Alright, night train to Graz. Be good. Take care.

Sunday 8 September 2013

In the beginning...There was a plane ride.

At moment I’m watching  How to Train Your Dragon, Breakfast At Tiffanys, Good Will Hunting and Star Trek all at the same time. There’s flight attendant bringing around water and another bringing around wine. I chose one of them. There’s a nearby line at the bathroom and the AC is on just a bit too much. It’s 10:30pm in my head and 4:30am where I’m about to end up.  It Delta flight 38 at 42,000 feet and I’ve 3 hours and 52 minutes until London.
                                              Stock Google photo for added perspective

I’m pretty sure I was a bit of a wreck the last few days…at least in my head. I felt I had too many loose ends to tie up, too many car reservations to make and the PIN number for my new bank card hadn’t come. Not to mention we’re on our way to Europe for 3 ½ months. Then in one fail swoop I figured out that the PIN number for the new card was the same as the old card and well hell, we’ve been on the road in the States for 9 months. Cake walk right! Did I mention that we’re sitting right by the bathroom and the line just never really goes away. Neither does the airplane bathroom fresh smell or the constant  swoosh just before the door lock slides to let you know the toilet is vacant again.
Oh that Audrey!
We’ll take a bus ride across London in a few hours and then there will undoubtedly be a controversy at the Easy Jet counter involving my guitar. It will likely involve numbers of bags and 20 kilograms will also come up. I fear it will be expensive and a primary reason why I’ll not visit that counter ever again.
                                            We’ll wish for the best.
In any case, we’ll then make our way to Basel, Switzerland to meet Kristina our Swiss agent. We’ll have a drink maybe, get the keys to her place and go there. Then, we will take a nap. 

Fast forward 31 hours. 

Holy hell that trip took damn near forever. I’ve now been up for 31 hours having spent just over 10 hours on an airplane, 8 hours in 3 various airports and about 3 hours in a car….most of which was spent driving aimlessly in circles looking for parking in Basel. 
                                                  You get the idea...

The first flight was fine as mentioned in the prior episode. Customs in London was a bit eerie because they expected me to be working there as the agent knew I’d done for the last couple of years. I assured him I’d be back in a few weeks and he smiled and said “see you then.”  Jess thought she’d get some snacks for the plane and picked up baby carrots and some H.M.D. To those of you who don’t know that would be Hummus of Mass Destruction. Who knew 5 ounces of unopened hummus was as dangerous to bring through security as a pipe bomb. Needless to say we lost the hummus.
Easy Jet was easy. They totally gave me one bag for free and let me walk my guitar up to the plane. They even carried it off themselves with someone’s own two hands. Then they let us walk out of the airplane and down the steps onto the runway just like the Beatles. Go Easy Jet!
Just like last year we ended up with a bigger diesel car due to a mix up. This year it’s a Peugot Megane 1.5 DCI. It has a Bluetooth Radio and navigation built in to the dash. Navigation was an extra charge on the first/wrong car. It reminded me of when Jess booked the hotel in Ireland on in front of the hotel, using their WiFi for less than they had quoted us at the desk.
Just now there was a German couple arguing on the street. I think a good heated argument, one which I'm not directly involved with, in a language I don’t understand is like a killer guitar solo. ….who needs to listen to the words.
Jess just made dinner. You know what’s awesome. Curry. It may be time for a nap soon.

Monday 2 September 2013

Tuesday September 2nd. 6:01pm EST

in Brooklyn with Nathan. . . seems like an eternity ago

These days the miles seem to fly by as fast as the time and it's a chore sometimes to keep up. Your mind gets a bit crazy at times.

We just pulled into Atlanta and crossed the 26,000 domestic mile mark on the way(the last UK/Europe trip was an additional 7,000 miles). 10 1/2 months, 38 states, 6 countries, two traffic tickets, and and Lord knows how many bags of dry roasted peanuts. The food co-op in Boise is still awesome but the salt bar at the co-op in Mt. Vernon, Washington is amazing. I mean really, 20 different salts to choose from. The breakfast bar at the co-op in Putney, Vermont will always hold a close place to my heart but JD McCliment might be part of that scenario. JD is an incredible individual. The bookstore in Bushwick with the wine/beer bar and Tom Bianchi's open mic every Monday at the Lizard Lounge in Boston are both giants in their own right. Laurence Scudder, Jon Wigg, Trevor Krieger, Ariel can that many amazing fiddle players exist? Hummus, I love you. The taco truck in Storm Lake, Iowa is fabulous. Maybe not as great as the taco truck in Bushwick where the lady working hated me for not being able to read the menu but still pretty fantastic. Oh wait, that taco truck in Eugene, Oregon where we had a killer meal for $4! That may have been so great partly because we were flat broke but I think it was still pretty good. I can only assume that cop in Avondale Estates, Georgia is still an unhappy schmuck. Pueblo, Colorado is dismal. Poor Old Shine, you guys are great. That new Jason Isbell record is &*#%ing unreal. Really.

Arkansas and Pope made for one of the best weekends I can recall in recent memory.


with Ben Bedford in St. Louis
When we left Atlanta back in February Dan gave me a Dire Straits tape because we had a cassette player in the Previa and I'll be damned if I don't still listen to it at least 3 times a week. Sometimes more. A lot more. In fact, as I'm writing this I have a Mark Knopfler mix going on Youtube. Perhaps to enhance your reading pleasure you should do the same. When the solo at the end of Telegraph Road comes...turn it up.

 We've been all over the U.S. in the last 6 months and it's been great. Daunting at times and often a bit overwhelming but overall, it's been a great trip. Recently we were in Fayetteville, Arkansas for the Roots Festival. Oh, it was also 98 degrees with about 80% humidity. The first night at the Greenhouse Grill I met John Fullbright and his manager Greg who are both wonderful guys. The next day just before my set at the Walton Arts Center I met Jerry Douglas in the hallway! Luckily I had my Kenny Rogers t-shirt on so the ice breaking part went super well. Chris Plowman (and his lady Jennie. . .and their cat, Olive) met us for the festival and after we finished our shows we headed to his moms house out in the Ozarks for some down time. We had a few fires, built some saw horses, glazed the windows and I even got to climb a ladder about 30 feet in the air and sweep the chimney. Did I mention heights without any kind of guard rail scare the hell out of me?

 We also met Pope. Not the Pope.....Pope. Pope is the executive and founder of Windemere which is the homestead Chris's mom, Tina, lives on. Windemere doesn't allow bad shit. Bad vibes, toxins, GMO's, pesticides, TV, drugs or alcohol. We did get a waiver for the latter as it was an event with Chris coming home and his sister making a surprise visit. Pope even had a beer. Pope is an old soul, wise in the ways of wisdom, knowledge, and also in people. He taught me a lot in a really short time.
Jess & Jennie swimmin' in a river in Arkansas

 I need to be in Switzerland in a few days and I have a months worth of work to do before so I'd best get my nose on the grindstone. Be nice, practice being better, listen to more Mark Knopfler and take care


p.s.'re growing on me. The last time I was in Omaha I was with Hayward Williams on a 3 band bill. David Rawlings and Gillian Welch were playing two blocks down so we all decided we'd each play two 30 minute sets as to each have an hour to go the David & Gillian show. There were 4 people at our show and one of them came to the stage during my set, took the microphone and started singing Toby Keith in the middle of one of my songs. This time was better.

p.p.s We went to Yellowstone National Park. Holy shit that was awesome.
Check out all the photos from the past year on Flickr!