Tuesday 24 May 2016

Sausage in a jar.

It's BB King this morning. Live at the Regal.

There is just a week left on the Songs & Whispers Circuit and in a way, BB King brought me here. Or that's what I'll tell myself. In reality it was Iceland Air and the German train line in conjunction with Hertz.

But...almost 15 years ago one Monday morning in late October I was sitting in my apartment at 910 North 7th St. in Fargo, ND drinking coffee and celebrating a recent breakup by listening to Live at the Regal. BB King was coming to town later in the week and the show was sold out (though, I couldn't afford a ticket even if they had been available). The phone rang and it was Deb Jenkins, a local promoter and venue owner. I'd been playing duo shows with a friend at her Full Circle Cafe for a while and was expecting to book another show. We did all sorts of covers from James Taylor, Marvin Gaye to Joni Mitchell. She asked me if I had 45 minutes of original material which I didn't. I had no original songs save for a bad blues riff I'd written in the key of A and an even worse half song I'd started after the breakup commenced. So of course I lied and said, "Sure". She asked if I'd be available to play a 45 minute opening set that weekend and apologized that it would only pay $50. I agreed and spent the next 4 days holed up in my apartment writing the songs that would end up as my first solo record Three Day Notice. And then on Friday night, with the first original songs I'd ever written/played in public, I opened for BB King.

Back to the current. Yesterday was a day off and and and it mostly didn't rain. We bought day passes for the tram and just bopped around Bremen. Maybe the 4th time we've bought tickets for the tram and yet again, nobody checked to see if we had tickets. Much unlike the time transit security threatened to kick Jess of a bus and fine her for stiffing the city of Birmingham out of a nickel (£0.05) by going an extra stop. We tried to find a taco joint. I mean we really gave it the ol' college try but we were denied. Again. We ended up at a little bistro place that served nachos con carne with Käse au gratin. Or melted cheese. They were Doritos bits (maybe 6 whole chips) smothered in cheese and a bit of chili. No utensils provided so a difficult finger food. 

The night before was a duo gig with my circuit partner Pi Jacobs at Katocomben in Achim. Great venue and a wonderful crowd. I'm learning that the Germans are a very honest people. Take for example the fella who came up after the show and says, "your new album is Holding On, right?". Yes I say. "I don't like it....the show I liked, but not the record...too country." It's a bit different from my Midwest upbringing where you're taught that if someone makes lunch and it's terrible, you smile, eat, say how great it was and then complain to all your friends later...in a blog. Midwest nice. Oh, and they made us a sausage dinner. 

What we hoped for.

What we got. 

Pi Jacobs at Katocomben

Tonight I play at a church about a mile away from the flat. Best commute of the tour so far. 


Friday 20 May 2016

Zweigelt, Käse, & Vollkornbrot. Oh my!

It's Ry Cooder for the morning soundtrack and I'm pretty pleased with this decision. 

Last night was a show at one of the best known venues in Oldenburg: Listaff. A great room with a nice stage and cabaret seating. I didn't get a photo but the huge chalk diagram on the wall depicting the proper construction of a hamburger was pretty fabulous. Ky, the owner and chef really gave me the hard sell to try one of the hamburger delights on the menu but due to the huge Greek lunch earlier, I had to decline. We've come to the conclusion that Greek food is to Germany as Mexican food is to the States...you'll find a Taverna nearly anywhere and they're often inexpensive and pretty damn good. Anyhow, the show was good but with a beer festival going on a mile away the competition for audience was a difficult one. 

The night before we were at the Syker Vorwerk Gallery in Syke. That's pronounced Zeek-a. The Gallery was built in the late 1600's and the acoustics were amazing. There was a sculpture exhibit by Louis Niebuhr on and his work is great. The crowd was amazing and I was joined for a couple songs by a local drummer. Before the show we hung out with the director, Nils, and had the usual German snack of brown bread, cheese and prosciutto. Not just brown bread but thick, heavy, seedy awesome brown bread. A few years back in France we met a fella named Jonosh from Germany who was staying with Fabrice, a French show promoter who put on a great theatre show in Changy. Janosh had had it with French baguettes and talked about how he couldn't wait to get home to have some real bread. I get it now. 
Syker Vorwerk show
The night before that was at....I have no idea. It's starting to blur. By the time this 2 month Euro tour wraps there will have been nearly 60 shows. In any case, the night before was in Germany and I know I didn't get nicked by a speed camera. That was earlier in the week on the way back from Hanover. KulturPalast Linden in Hanover was great. A bit smokey and the Pho joint next door closed during sound check leaving me on the opposite side of the venue having Greek again but in the end it was a wonderful evening. Well, until I caught the bright red side-of-the-road flash on my way out of town going about 60 as the limit went from 70 to 50. Oh well, not the first time that has happened and I'm sure it will be cheaper than last year in Amsterdam running late to the airport (traffic/construction and a BMW)....yikes. 

Oh, we bought bikes. 15 Euros a piece. You get what you pay for but it's faster than walking. At least it's faster when the tires don't blow out. Yesterday we had a wheel malfunction and the bike mechanic seemed appalled at the condition of our bikes. We politely informed him that we only paid 15 a piece and that they only need to operate for another 10 days, please just fix the tire. He said we'd paid too much, washed his hands as though the bike had some communicable disease and said he couldn't replace the tube until the following evening. Today I'll go find some tools and fix it myself. I'm immune to the bike. 
our beautiful bikes

TGIF. Not that this really applies. Even remotely. 

Sunday 15 May 2016

Should have kept my mouth shut....

So it's 9:59am here in Bremen on Sunday the 15th of May. It's a day off and it's raining. I'm listening to Bach's Cello Suites 1-6 as performed by Ralph Kirshbaum.

When I was in middle school and into high school, like many people all around the world, I was a huge Garth Brooks fan. In retrospect that may be the beginning of my obsession with Oklahoma artists: J.J Cale, John Fullbright, John Moreland, Carter Sampson and so on. Anyhow, he had a tune on his first record called Unanswered Prayers and I assume you can deduce the gist of the song's meaning. Well, I asked for rain and it came along with a 25-30 degree temperature drop, hail and 30mph winds. Request granted and delivered in full on the day I had a show at a beach club where just the day and week before hundreds of people relaxed in the sun and enjoyed the scenery. All while getting ready for the annual kickoff for the Summer Concert Series at Sonnendeck in Dangast. While modest in numbers the crowd came and sat attentively in the near freezing semi outdoor concert area while occasionally being dripped on from the rain coming through the roof. Thanks to the venue for the blankets! Hell, we even had an amazing rainbow as a stage backdrop twice during the show.
performing at Sonnendeck ("Sundeck") Beach Club

As a side note. On the way to Dangast I recall hearing a "tone" come from the car. It was the sound the car makes when it alerts you to a falling petroleum level. In layman's terms we were running out of gas. Well, it said we had 89 km to go until we were walking. That number began dropping drastically fast and soon we were sitting in front of a closed fuel station in a really small village that was preparing for the parade commencement to celebrate Pfingstmontag. Part of the Pentecost, I believe. This was an even worse time to experience a language barrier than earlier in the day when I got a haircut and ended up with the hipster/military-style look I'm currently sporting. Thankfully though, the good people of the town realized our plight and waved down Felix, the station owner, who opened the station long enough for us to pump 30 Euros worth of Super 95 allowing us to continue north to the Baltic. 
the parade just starting

As I mentioned it's a day off and I think we're going to check out the biggest flea market in Germany. We've heard rumors that we may find bikes that have "fallen off the truck" and are available at a steal of a price.

And we're off....

Thursday 12 May 2016

Praying for rain.

It's strange to think it's been ten years since I played regularly with Kelly Pardekooper. If anyone ever went to the Honk Tonk Tuesday sessions at Mickey's in Madison that was his brain child. We also played a handful of proper shows in and around Madison during the short time he lived there. He's an Iowa guy and a great songwriter. He has this tune called Pray for Rain we used to play sometimes and lately I've been thinking a lot about droughts. Not the typical farm related rain drought referred to in the song but the kind of audience drought we're seeing here in Germany. Why can't it just f*#@ing rain?

The shows have been cool but as I mentioned last time, it's been a rash of really nice weather here in Germany. And like the Irish say "make hay when the sun shines", the Germans do "make outside activities a crushing priority over going to some American dude's show that is only in town this one day all damn year"- Josh Harty. Patience is waning.

Hamburg government building
Take last night for instance: We arrived at the venue at the scheduled time of 5pm, 17:00, after spending a way too short time exploring a small slice of Hamburg only to be told the sound tech wouldn't be there until 6:30pm/18:30. So we left and found a little Greek joint to have dinner. We went back at 6:30 and were told we were still early...maybe 7pm/19:00. "Why don't you sit down and have dinner and a drink". Thanks but we already left an hour and a half ago and ate somewhere else. Fast forward to 7:55pm/19:55, 5 minutes before show time. "It doesn't look like anyone is going to come, it's just so nice outside...you should have a night off and take a wander around Hamburg". To which I said, "we'll hold out for a while and see if anyone shows up...you never know." Besides, we already had a short wander around Hamburg that we cut short as to be sure to arrive at 5.
8:45pm/20:45 rolls around and not a soul. Again, "you should go have a night off." We packed up and drove the 90 minutes back to Bremen listening to Billy Joel and Fleetwood Mack sandwiched in between German techno while the Audi's, BMW's, and Benz's went flying by at Mach 4 on the way home from their BBQ at the beach.

The gig the night before was semi-outdoors at the Hafen Casino and Truck Stop. A kind of hometown gig for Songs & Whispers as it was their first ever gig some years ago. It was a good time and we had a nice crowd. Tried schnitzel for first time and a curry sausage. There was a fella who was scolded and denied access to the show by the owner due to his propensity to steal things from the bar. Drinks out of the cooler. Salt shakers. He left and returned with a bottle of clear liquor and sat on the stoop across the narrow street and watched the show. He clapped early on all the endings but not for long as he needed his left hand to keep from falling off his perch.

Jess in a Hamburg central square

The Hafen Casino Truck Stop!

When in Germany, do as the Germans.

Tonight I'm off to Walsrode and it looks like they have a French menu. Forecast in sunny and warm all day. I'll bring something to listen to and my driving gloves for the trip back....


DISCLAIMER: Last nights venue was a wonderful place doing great things and the proprietor Tine was lovely. I only wish it had rained.

Monday 9 May 2016

On a German Straße.

The trip to Bremen from Amsterdam was pretty uneventful. It was a bit longer than expected, though, and I was told that due to the train coming from Amsterdam the German authorities may have done a bit of inspecting before they let it come into Germany...aka they may have had some reason to think there could have been some illegal contraband on board. In any case, I made it to Budget to retrieve the trusty German chariot which strongly resembles a Ford Fiesta. It's not that festive.

This is the first extended German tour I've had and it's been organized by Songs & Whispers. They're a Bremen based promotion and booking company and have been pleasure to work with so far. They've provided a flat for us to use while we're in Germany and I must say it's nice to unpack my suitcase for a little while. We're sharing the flat, as well as a few shows, with LA based artist Pi Jacobs. My fears of her being a 20 something grunge rocking, whiskey fueled party hound were dashed, though, when she turned out to be perfectly pleasant and a fan of hummus and rice cakes.

Pi last night in Bremen
The first show was in a nearby town and Arne, the S&W rep we're working with, came along for the show. Well, I should say he offered to drive and I gladly took him up on the offer. We set up for the show and after sound check I ended up involved in an impromptu free style blues jam with a fella who was passing by. It was....interesting.

The following day on my way to Rostock I saw a Fiat Panda slide down the highway and directly into a steel barrier. Everyone was fine but as I do have a certain fondness for the Panda I was sad to see this particular one end it's tour of duty so flamboyantly and in front of a crowd. On the way back to Bremen the following day I saw a Mercedes on it's roof on the Autobahn near Lubeck. Like the previous day everyone appeared fine. I wasn't too sad about the Benz.

Nice scenery on the Autobahn

Rostock is a nice college town located on the Baltic Sea. Rostock is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Rostock, founded in 1419. The weather was nice. I mean, really nice. And in northern Germany, which doesn't get many really warm days, when it's this nice people take to the harbor and their back yards. They'll also take to the sidewalk with a boom-box strapped to a wagon that's full of beer and hang out. Right there on the sidewalk. A kind of foot path jamboree. The great weather also means the average Rostockonian isn't likely to spend their evening inside listening to some dude they've never heard of. I played the show to a small but fantastic crowd who apparently had been busy texting their friends during the show. After I finished a group came in and said they were there for the show which led to a table side after show, show. Then more people showed up, and more.

Not much of a vegan menu

I'll get to last night and the screaming Turks in the lower flat in the next issue but for now, I've noticed that my socks don't match. This means I need to do laundry. Hopefully I won't run into the scary German woman who yelled at me about the trash in the trash bin yesterday....

Auf Wiedersehen,

Thursday 5 May 2016

Liberation Day

Today is Liberation Day in the Netherlands. A celebration of liberation from the Germans in 1945. It’s also Remembrance Day to remember those who have died in war. Much like Memorial Day in the States but I think more of the population in the Netherlands knows that it’s a holiday with a meaning and not just a day free from school and the bank or a reason to go boating and get loaded. At the gig last night I was told that at 8pm sharp there would be two minutes of silence and this was the case all across the Netherlands. Two minutes of silence in a huge room full of people next to another room full of people in a city like Amsterdam with everyone being silent. The sound of silence is amazing. As a side note, this was the only cool part of this particular gig. Note to self and others: Don’t play a bar gig on the eve of Liberation Day in the Netherlands. I imagine it’s not unlike playing Hooters on the 4th of July in Tampa. 

It’s about 10am on Zaagmolenstraat and Paul has just made coffee. He was in Ethiopia recently and brought back some beans and they're fantastic. His parents wind-up clock is ticking in the other room and occasionally you can hear a siren in the background. Aside of the sirens and the clock chimes at the top of the hour it’s pretty quiet. The apartment is small, coming in around 400 sq. ft. I’d imagine, but it’s perfect and about a 15 minute walk from the central train station. Jess and I stayed here for 3 days a couple of years back in December when it was full on Dutch winter. We stayed inside mostly, cooked and listened to nothing but Sam Cooke. 

This will be next year's tour car. 

Today there will be a brief gig with the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild at the Central Library and it will also be on Amsterdam FM. Fingers crossed. Tomorrow I’ll take the 9am train to Bremen, Germany where we’ll be based for the rest of the month. 25 nights straight, with a couple days booked in the afternoon and evening. I believe that’s a play out of the Brian Epstein rule book there. Wish me luck. 



Wednesday 4 May 2016

A Day in the Life

We flew out of Dublin where to nobody’s surprise it was raining. But to be fair it had been raining everywhere in Europe. The night before was a nice show at the DC Music Club. I found out a few hours before the gig that the DC Club was the Dublin Conservative Club which was where the Music Lee series puts on shows. You rang a buzzer at the door, were rung in and would then proceed down the stairs, over the red carpet, past the mirrors and through the red velvet covered halls that led to the basement level bar and music room. There were snooker tables in the side room and a garden area around back that was visible to nobody outside. I had the feeling that if the show didn’t go well or didn’t draw a crowd I could be disappeared before I finished my post show Guinness. Luckily, I’m writing this….

We flew Aer Lingus to Amsterdam and I happily took a nap for the first part of the flight. I woke groggily and ordered a coffee from the attendant who magically appeared in the aisle and was quickly made aware that coffee on this flight was not free. 3 quid! I think the Aer Lingus folks have been hanging around the Ryan Air folks and the result does not favor the coffee dependent/loves the free stuff kind of traveler. At least it was real coffee and not instant. 

We arrived ahead of schedule at Schipol Airport and were greeted by a customs official who was much like the Honey Badger. He didn’t give a sh**. A lightning fast passport stamp and we were off to the Avis counter to retrieve the keys to a well worn Citroen C3…a step up from the quaint little C1. This car, though young in age, had clearly seen it’s fair share of tourists who were surprised at the manual shifting. This was made evident by the nearly non-existing clutch. We cruised up the A1 as fast as possible to Gronigen where we met up with Peter Mulvey and John Statz at the Rhythm & Blues Night. Peter’s agent couldn’t make it to the gig so Jess became his representation for the night…in that she made said claim (Peter said to do it) and we were given a free hotel room. BAM! 

The following day was a gig at Cafe de Amer in Amen.  Great gig with well over 100 of the best folks I’ve seen in a while. It was like negative quiet in that room. We even indulged in their famous meatballs at the break. It’s amazing what a little clove can do the meatball. If you’re into that sort of thing. Then we went to Hilversum and had a nice little rooftop concert with some friendly folks we met last year on a FreeBird Concert run. Thanks Christoff! Again, such lovely people to hang out with. Thank so much Linda!!

Jess is in Greece for a few days and I’m in Amsterdam for a couple shows with the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild. It’s sunny and warm and the gig tonight is a 10 minute walk. These people riding bikes while texting/smoking/rolling a smoke/drinking coffee/chatting over Facetime and avoiding the kids on their souped-up scooters will never cease to amaze me. It is one of the most most terrifying bits of clockwork action I've ever witnessed. 



Thursday 28 April 2016

Rain and the Emerald Isle...

It's been a while since we've been to Ireland. The last time was 2 1/2 years ago when I drove to Stansted Airport and hopped a Ryan Air flight to Dublin without my guitar because Ryan Air sucks. I bought a seat for my guitar for 9 Pounds (same as my seat) but they said I'd have to pay an additional 50 because it fell under their musical instrument policy. Luckily this happened online before I left so I was able to scream at the computer and the Ryan Air guy I was chatting with and then call Roy at Ballymore Acoustic to see if I could use his guitar for the show that night. Anyhow, I arrived at the Dublin airport, fetched my Nissan Micra and headed to Ballymore Eustace. That night I shared a show with the lovely Amelia Curran, slept at Mag's B&B, was out the door by 9am the following morning and flew out of Dublin around 2pm...less than 24 hours after I'd arrived the day before. This time, we get 5 days.

Ballymore Acoutic Gigs take place at a great little pub called Mick Murphy's. It's an old pub and the owners live in the apartment attached to the pub which is accessed through a door behind the bar. The bartender can pour drinks and nip out back to still keep up with his favorite television program of the evening. The crowd was great and we even had someone who had driven 2 1/2 hours for the night. Thanks again Damian.

The next day we took a leisurely drive through the Slieve Bloom mountains, took a little hike and found a gigantic 5 meter tall fire place in the middle of nowhere. Sorry but this was an unfortunate time for my phone to have died leaving no ability to provide photo evidence. We also climbed the 2nd highest round tower in Ireland. 108 feet tall and built in the 12 century by Monks as a status symbol and also as a beacon for weary travelers to be able to find the monastery and a warm meal. Unfortunately Vikings could also see these towers and were wise to the fact monastery's and churches typically had a fair amount of gold and tithe money kicking around therefore making them an easily spotted target from miles away.
from atop the small but impressive Slieve Bloom Mountains

Jess at the top of the round tower in Kildare

the church in Kildare from atop the round tower

Yesterday was a day off. An off day. Believe it or not it rained for most of the day. Today we'll drive to Galway and you guessed it, it's been raining and is supposed to continue. Galway is a great city. I hope we find a fabulous umbrella store. Tomorrow we'll go to Dublin for the DC Music Club. I'll Tweet Bono later today to make sure he knows he's invited.

Chun do dheagh shlàinte, 
p.s. Still a bit melancholy...

Monday 25 April 2016

Pollo Azul

We made it to Ireland, and as expected it's still beautiful here. The airport staff was friendly, the car hire folks were friendly, the woman at Tesco that sold us a SIM card was nice and helpful, and the woman at the checkout even informed us that the avocado I'd picked up was bruised and that I should go ahead and pick out a different one. All of this random kindness that is so typically Irish.

The VW Polo aka "pollo azul" 

I was going to write a blog post a few days back but to be honest I was pretty bummed out. And I figured there were enough sad laments floating around the internet concerning Prince that I didn't need to add another. But, I will still mention that I will most certainly miss the presence of somebody in the world of music that did things perfectly. Someone so committed to their craft and so focused and unwilling to not bend on the vision. Someone who was as generous as he was. An inspiration and so much more than a musician. Watch the video below.

The last few shows in the UK were wonderful. Liverpool Acoustic was brilliant and it was great to hang out once again with the Good Intentions. Matthews Street is home to the Cavern Club and the View Two Gallery and is a wild time after dark. Or maybe I'm just getting old? The following night at the Thimblemill Library in  Smethwick (Birmingham) was excellent. Thanks to Amit and Rich, Mellow Peaches, and Dan Hartland. Do yourselves a favor and check them out! Dan & Amit also have a fantastic radio show where they play music and argue a lot. 50 Miles of Elbow Room on Brum Radio. They play sweet jams and throw some good verbal punches. It's a great time.

Thimblemill Library in Smethwick

Tonight I'll head back to Mick Murphy's for a Ballymore Acoustic gig. It's been a few years and I'm excited to be back.

I'll be back in touch soon. take care and watch the Boss knock this one out of the park.

Thursday 21 April 2016

Greenwich Mean

Tour date: Thursday, April 21, 2016 approx. 3:45pm GMT

With only three days left of the UK leg of the tour, I'm again surprised at how quickly the month cruised by. Tonight in Leicester. At the moment we're hanging out in Appleby Magna and David Gray is picking his new Mandolin a bit.

Two nights ago was the Greystones in Sheffield and it was the third at-capacity crowd in a row! Once again I was able to fight off the urge to whip out the Def Leppard cover I keep telling myself I'm going to play one of these times. The night started out with M&J Blues and once again they were great. Mark Lyall is unmistakably one of the best players I've had the pleasure to meet in the last number of years and it's always great to him play. Next up was the Fargo Railroad Company and they joked a few times about their name being the reason they had gotten the gig (I'm sure you know I'm from Fargo), but I'd argue that it may be due to the great songs and the bands ability to be really good. But who am I. It was the 5th year in a row Craig with WagonWheel Presents has put on a show for me, the first actually being a Rod Picott show that I opened, and was once again a pleasure to work with him. Thanks again to Craig & Maggie for the fabulous hospitality!

Last night was in Nottingham at the Polish Eagle Club. The show was originally supposed to be at the Guitar Bar, but sadly they closed last month. On the bright side, Rob is still putting shows on and we had nice time. Mellow Peaches opened up the show and it was great to see Amit Dattani play again. This time he was with his co-conspirator Rich and they sounded great. Check them out if you get the chance.

Nottingham, I like that town. We had a nice walk around during the day and were able to catch the 4/20 rally in the market square. Any more time spent down wind of that crowd and I likely would have skipped the show to hang out at the chip shop.

Time to iron the shirt and go to sound check.
p.s. More photos on the next edition...

Tuesday 19 April 2016

I Gotta wear shades

Holy shit those were some amazing shows. It’s kind of like being on a road trip a long way from home not knowing if you have enough money to get back. Then, you find a $100 bill on the ground and can rest easy because regardless of what the day/road throws at you from here on out, you know there’ll be fuel in the tank. That’s how these last shows in Scotland were and now the soul is full and the future is so bright I feel like I could quote Timbuk 3.

I just played a show at the Barry Mill in Carnoustie, Scotland. It’s an operating oat mill that dates back to 1539 and is run by a delightful Irish ex-pat named Kerrin. The room was packed almost beyond capacity and even though it was a bit chilly we had a fabulous time. Truth be told, it was cold. But who cares, it was a blast and we had space heaters and my guitar stayed in tune. We sang, we laughed and we shivered but for the first time on this tour we didn’t talk about Trump. And I’m OK with that. 
Barry Mill (photo by Alan Rollo)
The Barry Mill- originally built in 1500's but rebuilt after fire in 1800's
Barry Mill

Next up was The Newport. Just across the 2 mile long Tay bridge from Dundee is the lovely little village of Newport. The view across the river was stunning and the sunset couldn’t have been better. The Seven Sons kicked off the show with a wonderful set that included what could have been the best version of “If I Needed You” I’ve ever heard. Again we had a capacity crowd and the energy in the room was incredible. Even the occasional dub step creeping in from next door was fun as it only added to ambiance. 
The Newport- nice view, huh?

A million and more thanks to Andy & Natasha, Hypercoaster Music, for the shows, their hospitality and their friendship. Gary, Alan, and Zeb it was great to hang out with you. Oh, Andy & Tash, sorry again about that little round-about debacle on the way to the Alibob…..

Now Sheffield. 

take care and keep on


Saturday 16 April 2016

What's so great about Scotland, except everything?

It's 10 past 8 in the morning and I'll be damned if the sea gulls didn't decide to take the morning off...for the most part. Maybe they're on holiday due to the fact that the sun finally came out. First time since last Sunday. Don't get me wrong that doesn't means it's necessarily warm but I'm sure I'll see some locals out in shorts today, as well as a few convertible tops which are sure to be down.

We're in Carnoustie, which is in Angus, which is in Scotland. They say Angus is the birthplace of Scotland though to be honest with you I'm not exactly sure how to substantiate that claim. It's a nice quiet little town on the east coast just north of Dundee and south of Aberdeen. You'll see some oil rigs now and then in Dundee which are docked for repair and then they'll head up the coast and further out to see just up north. Damn those things are big.

Arbroath is just a few miles up the road north. A bigger town and home to the Arbroath Smokie. No doubt I've mentioned them before but for a little recap: Arbroath Smokies are a local delicacy and sadly we've never had them. With any luck we'll take advantage of the sun today and go have some by the harbor. I also need to stop by Abbey Music and buy a few plectrums, or picks as we call them back home. Most anyone reading this knows that I'm typically not one to employ the use of these little guys but I might try to push the envelope a little bit. This decision could also be motivated by the large amount of super glue I've been using to keep my right hand together.

Last night was a wee little show at a cafe called the AliBob (at Cairn O'Mohr Winery) over near Perth. Super funky place that started in the owners boot closet 29 years ago. People had to bring their wine jugs back each week for a refill of the strawberry, elderberry, ginger or raspberry wine they made. Now, they produce 300,000 bottles each year. And you get to keep the bottle. Anyhow, it was a great warmup to kick off this Scotland run.
Cairn O'Mohr Winery. . . yes, those barrels are full of wine!

Tonight I'll play at the Barry Mill which is an old flour/oat mill that dates back to 1539. The first concert they ever had there was April 16, 2016. The dude's name was Josh Harty.

take care

Amendment: since writing this post this morning, I have tried Arbroath Smokies. . . . Delicious, but you have to watch out for the bones!

Thursday 14 April 2016

British Figure 8

Well, here we are two weeks into the UK leg of the tour and things are going swimmingly. We started off with three shows across the South right down near the English Channel. First at the Wight Bear in Southbourne, a fabulous little micro pub run by our great friends Dave & Nicola, and then headed to the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers. I've played at the Square & Compass every year I've been coming over and I must say there isn't another place like it in the world. From Charlie's cider, Kevin's chickens and Welsh sense of humor, to the people that attend it's truly one of a kind.
walking with Kevin near the Square & Compass in Dorset

Then we were off to Torquay. The home of Faulty Towers and one of the most unimpressive hotels I've ever seen. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure when it was last updated in 1961 it was fabulous. Even though the single beds brought me back to the mattress (on the floor) I used to sleep on at Grandma's house as a child, and the tea kettle would be a good charity find for a college freshman on a tight budget, and the shower spraying down the wall onto the bathroom floor reminded me of a nice afternoon at a water park in the Wisconsin Dells, and the casino carpet and flickering lights in the hallway let me experience what it must have been like to live a day in the life of Hunter S. Thompson... maybe the bar that is my taste in hotels has risen a little.
riding in luxury in the back of Suzy's VW

We were again so pleased to have a few days to spend with Suzy, Rosie and Fidget in Arundel. She put on a fabulous show and even ferried us around in the new VW.

London at the Green Note was great. Love that place. Even with the 3 1/2 hours of train travel, a "London cheap" cab ride, and a rush hour Tube excursion, the 11 minutes at BBC London was fabulous.
playing at Green Note, London

The Midlands, Round 1, were great. Many thanks to David Gray! I'll let folks chew on that one for a while. Looking forward to getting back to Leicester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Birmingham next week. Feel free to call your local BBC in any of those cities, repeatedly, and demand a Josh Harty appearance.
playing a Buddy Holly tune with Mick in Appleby Magna

Berwick-Upon-Tweed is always great, especially when you have an extra day. Thanks to Dave and Jill and of course the pool room. The YHA was great especially with the impromptu excellence of Frederick the Fabulous who baffled the crowd with his conjuring arts and stage crashing prowess.
Scottland Ho!!

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Reykjavik Excursion

I woke up in Reykjavik this morning. First time for everything right? At the moment we're on a bus back to the airport to head to London but it was a fun 36 hours. Let's start from the beginning.

It started with a Van Galder bus from Madison to Chicago in the rain. Then Iceland Air flight 1805 (I think that's the right number) to Iceland. I was so excited when the gate agent informed me that we'd been seated in the exit row as that means you have twice the leg room. What he forgot to mention, though, is that Icelandic safety regulations won't let you keep your hand bag below the seat in front of you and your own seat would not be reclining for the entire 6 hour overnight flight. Even though it's only about 4 inches, it's a meaningful 4 inches. He also didn't tell me that the exit doors on this particular 757 were insulated about as well as my grandpa's tool shed that he built in 1946. He used old newspaper to clue you in on that one. A cruising altitude of 35,000 feet equals about -55 degrees Celsius or -67 degrees fahrenheit...right outside the door. These things led to a fair amount of angry TV watching and a zombie walk to the hotel upon landing. Oh, and there were no free peanuts or boxed wine.

Time for a current update or PSA. This country is f$%*@#$ gorgeous!!


At times it reminds me of a cross between Western Ireland/Vancouver BC/Teddy Roosevelt National Park/the Alps/the Moon.
Downtown Reykjavik has some great little bars and restauraunts. Some English stye places and even a Lebowski bar. There's a Chuck Norris Bar too. To quote their front window. "Chuck Norris once took a polygraph test. The machine confessed."

Check these things out....

It's expensive though. Really expensive. I guess that's what you get when an island imports nearly everything except renewable energy and beauty.

Oh, the geo thermal pools are amazing. Hands down the best swim/soak I've ever had.

Alright, time to enjoy the rest of the ride through the countryside on the way back to the airport.

Wait, not done yet.

take care