Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Final thoughts

I'm taking a break from the blog over the holidays. Being Jack
Stafford is a full-time job and the blogging can be a bit of a chore.

I'll start again with the first show in Switzerland on 7th January.

I'm at the airport waiting for my flight back to England and the folks
for a week, luckily the flight hasn't been cancelled. After that in in
Vopenhagem for New Year.

2009 has been a real landmark year for me. After 10 years in Holland,
numerous projects, countless adventures, innumerable undertakings...
You get the idea, I've finally set myself free from all my trappings
and commitments and become a full-time travelling musician.

No record company put their money behind me, no booker decided to work
for ne, no one else put their faith in me or gave me a boost. I
realised if I was waiting around for someone else I'd be waiting a
long time.

I hope that's a little beacon of encouragement for anyone else
bemoaning their situation or lack of luck. The roads are already there.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

De Nieuwe Anita, Amsterdam

A great end to the year. It was really packed in the Anita and a nice
attentive crowd.

I'm coming down with a slight cold now. 5 months on the road and this
is the first time. The stresses and strains of your hometown are far
greater than any on the road. It reminds me what a relief it is to be
travelling.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Thermos, Amsterdam NL



Trudged through the snow to play in Thermos, a former gay sauna. It was a very nice underground party. Really steaming. Too much fun to take photos. I got invited to play again on Sunday for the art-festival's closing party so come check it out. Kerkstraat 58-60 from 6pm. I just keep getting more shows. I never played this much in Amsterdam when I lived here.

Pageturner Festival - Pakhuis Wilhelmina, Amsterdam NL



Playing in my underwear to spice it up, but Bas stole the show.



It's a nice monthly festival. One song each. Lots of good artists.

Delicatessen, Amsterdam NL



To overcome the problem of playing a brand new song, I had the audience sing-a-long.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Art Amsterdam & Vredebruke The Hague

Dinner on the last train back to Amsterdam.

Had two shows tonight. Man I'm ready for a rest soon. I'm so bored of
the songs I have. Only four more shows to go this year then two weeks
off.

They went well tonight though. I can blast them out. The art gallery
opening was quite rowdy but a few tuned in. The second in The Hague
was a lot quieter. I played after a stoner rock duo.

Cafe Camelot, Nijmegen NL

Christmas is creeping in with the frost on the ground and the
decorations growing like mold. After all the Halloween crap, then the
thanksgiving rituals, Christmas is just another carnival to endure.
The crowd were rowdy and inattentive last night. If I was dressed as
an elf with tinsel round my tackle I may have been able to distract
them momentarily from their deep and fascinating discussions, but I
couldn't be arsed.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

OT301, Amsterdam NL


An intimate un-miked show in an art gallery last night. Like a house concert but with less furniture. The crowd was quite stoic but said they enjoyed it. I sold a few CDs. Crashed at Reinhard's house with
his father Scott. I'll be house-sitting while they're in the states from tomorrow. My own place.

Monday, 14 December 2009

De Cantine, Amsterdam NL

It was my annual show in De Cantine last night. A lovely little cafe out by the docks. It was get up, get on a train for 4 hours, get a tram, play the show, crash. It was an afternoon show so that's not bad. I stayed with Marc and Tiffany. I'm trying to spread myself around my friends here. It's a good way to catch up with them, as it's a pretty hectic schedule.

I'm getting more shows and playing most every night in Amsterdam. Two new shows.

TONIGHT... OT301, Overtoom 301, art gallery event.

WEDNESDAY... Art happening... Lev Kaupas, Eerste Weteringsplantsoen 6 (6-8pm)

THURSDAY... Art gallery opening Delicatessen Sumatrastraat 32, presentation of responses to the work of Nick Helderman, a.o. by Gerhardt Heusinkveld, Jack Stafford, Rebecca Wilson and Bernadette Booij. 20:00-21:30. (I have to write a song for it which I haven't done yet) Then afterwards Pageturner at Pakhuis Wilhelmina, Jack Stafford, Joshua Baumgarten, Kismet, Hunter Complex...it opens at 20:30, show starts at 21:30, (Veemkade 576)

FRIDAY... Great party @ former Gay Sauna Thermos at Kerkstraat 58-60 for a once in a lifetime party CENTERFOLD with loads of acts, a.o. Boris de Jong, We Be Naked (yeah yeah in a sauna), Lester and many more. It's part of an exhibition by Carmen and Ellen. The party starts at 21:00 / entrance is 5 euro (+3 euro lidmaatschap, which covers the costs of the exhibition and it's also for the cloakroom. Bargain).

TUESDAY (22nd)... Den Nieuw Anita, 8.30pm www.denieuweanita.nl 100th and final show of the year.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Shamrock, Liege, BE


I had a great show last night in Liege thanks to a great crowd. I played for Two hours and the bar was packed. Sold a lot of CDs and made lots of friends. They even applauded each time I came back to get
better directions to the apartment they'd arranged. I finally found it, unfortunately. A stoner's sty covered with butts and beer cans. And a hyper young dog that hadn't been outside all day. If I wasn't a hardened couch surfer I would have walked out. As it was, I curled up in the corner and blocked it out. Oh the glamour of life on the road.


Friday, 11 December 2009

La Taverne du Théâtre, La Louviere, BE: The Stutters II


I fell back in love with the Stutters again last night. Their third gig since reforming after they imploded when their Danish drummer, the late Andreas Langhorn (he's not dead just unreliable) moved back to build a goat and coffee plantation.


They wowed the rockers of Southern Belgium and with their new drummer Darko from Slovakia, and almost all new songs. These boys will go far. 


We had a great night on a tidal wave of beer, but if every night was like that I wouldn't be able to play many shows a year.

To those that just rocked I salute you.


Darko didn't remember buying beers in the hotel after the show but I have the proof. I managed to get a separate room before the mayhem ensued. Unfortunately that was the room next door to them. They finally quietened down when the manager threatened to call the police. Rock and roll.


Cafe Briljant, Haarlem NL

Another day another show, not too bad, nothing new to add.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Last Philadelphia track

Here's the last of the songs we managed to get finished in Philadelphia last week:

Dreams of plenty

It's funny how the four songs relate to each other. It's a waltz, same as ADD, but it has similar instruments and is closer in feel and subject to the Debt Train. (While Every Moment Matters doesn't relate to any of the others.) I wish I had more time to write some songs in this direction for a recession album but it's hard moving around every day. I'll just have to save them for when the next depression comes along.

I also wish we'd had more studio time, because this one in particular could do with some more instruments to fill it and break lose in both the breaks. I'd love to hear Mariachi trumpets. Chris could have got them out of the keyboards, because we couldn't afford more session guys. The accordion isn't real, it's from the keyboards, he's very talented. And mad.



Once I have the final mix I'll be emailing the songs out every six weeks to the mailing list, so please sign-up above if you want to receive them.

Bilabong, Nijmegen NL

I need a new camera.

Not many people at last night's show. It was nice none-the-less. No
amusing anecdotes I'm afraid.

The jetlag is working out well. Late to bed late to rise fits in right
with touring.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Gert the hitchhiker

The person that responded to my couchsurfing quote actually works in
the Bilabong, tonight's venue. He's given me his room, filled with the
signs from his hitchhiking adventures.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

De Rode Pimpernel, Den Bosch NL

My own hotel room. At last. After all those couches it us a sight for
sore backs. It may only be a two star with no onsuite, but it's the
Hilton to me.

The show went very well. My first in a week and a half and the grind
is paying off. I made a good impression. One person offered to get me
gigs in Finland in July and another works in a bar in Vancouver where
I can play in early June. A good day's work.

Hanging out in Den Bosch's cafes tomorrow (booking of course) and then
half an hour by train to Nijmegen. Nice and easy.

Parool



Just did an interview for Amsterdam's Parool newspaper, which will be in Friday's issue. My friend Marc Driessen, who produced my first two albums, now works as a photographer for the paper and he did the photos. Funny how things move around. He used to make me sound good now he makes me look good. I love that guy.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Back to work

Landed in Amsterdam this morning and sorted things out here today. The
shop has great stuff in but was looking messy so I've sorted it out
this afternoon. A good way to fight off the jetlag.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The end of the beginning of the end

Sixth day in the studio. Last day in the states. Four songs (almost)
done. I wish we had more time but it just hasn't worked out.

It's been a tumultous week. Chris broke up with his girlfriend. Kevin
left his last night (I was staying the night). Heavy stuff. And the
future of the studio is in doubt. And all the stuff that comes along
with that. There's a song it somewhere.

Anyway, I've made some friends for life. And songs that will last
longer than that.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Loop pedal

After all the frustration of playing to a click track AND to make my
show more interesting, I have purchased a loop pedal, upon which I
will loop percussive thumps.

Studio pains

Day five. Last day. All will not be done. It's pretty exasperating.
Having to redo things chewed up all the time. I put four new ones down
just guitar and vocals but if we can't add to them that will have been
a waste of time. I always forget how slowly things happen in the
studio working like this way. Track by track, piece by piece.

The dream is going to Nashville and working with phenomenal session
bands who can play the song in one take. But I ain't got the dough.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Cello II

This is actually double bass but who cares. He's doing a great job.

What a day

Now we're redoing ADD from scratch. It's a real pain. We just realised
that my guitar was used as the base instead of the click, and my
guitar wasn't on the click. It's a ton of work and everyones mistake.

The view

This monstrosity is next door to the studio and gives off an ungodly
smell. South Phili is pretty rough

Italian review

Getting some publicity in Italy ahead of the tour there in January. No idea what it says but it looks pretty.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Bluelight studios, Mt Holly, NJ

Two hours on the bus to get to the studios. I played live for 45
minutes and they videoed it and recorded it. It was harder without an
audience. I need the video to book help book house concerts. Two hours
back by bus now to my Phili couch. A long day.

Cello pains

The cello player didn't cut it. A bit of a stoner. We wasted an hour
on him. It's pretty cut throat in the studio and extreme. You're
either under the microscope or sitting on your hands. I put two new
tracks down and had to leave early to go to another session.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

To the click

Another long day in the studio. Kevin the producer was riding us hard today to get on the click. To play in time. He's scrapped the Debt Train and we're building it up again from cratch more in time. I put down two new tracks. Quite slow and we've got a cello player coming in tomorrow to play on them. I'm beat. Studio days are long and draining. Crashing at Kevin and Pamela's tonight. Just had a lovely homecooked meal.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Back in Phili

[Insert random studio photo here]

Flew back to Phili yesterday. Couchsurfed with Sean again. Another long day in the studio today. This time just polishing Every Moment Matters. It sounded fine to my easily satisfied ears but we moved and we adjusted and we wiggled and we added and now I feel like the track came alive today. Kevin and Chris are a great team. I hadn't even offered it for download before because I didn't feel it was anything and had given up on it but now it has become a hit.

Here is the result

Saturday, 28 November 2009

T-Rexmas: The beast grows

Mike Meadows from porterdavis is today's studio guest. He's a great
percussionist and is really filling out the tracks.

The way we've done it is to play along to the originals. This is a
very fast way of working because the others don't know the structure
of the songs. Once everything is finished we just mute Trex. Easy, but
a little disappointing to hear I'm sure.

Unfortunately, I realised that it sounded better for half the tracks
(the slower ones) if I played them live with my own timing. So a day's
work wasted doing them to Trex first. Oh well, such is life.

The Corner Pub, Conroe TX

Real Texas. Hot and full of red necks, from the sun. Tshirt weather
here folks. Back to Phili on Monday. Pretty cold I imagine.

The show went well. Well paying but almost nobody there - the day
after thanksgiving. I enjoyed it and played anyway because the
acoustics were great and I could play new stuff and the ones I like,
rather than crowd pleasers.

I'm looking forward to living room shows next year. I will carry a pin
to drop for comic effect.

Thanksgiving

Every year Americans gather together and thank the English for
everything they have.

Dogsitting is quite straightforward

Thursday, 26 November 2009

T-Rexmas continued

Simon in today. Laying down some fat harmonica and some feminine
falsetto. He poses like this to over-compensate.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Chi

I had a Chinese Chi massage yesterday for my back. Not for the faint-
hearted. It hurts worse than it looks.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Booking hell




I'm feeling really overwhelmed with the booking at the moment. My email box is bursting with responses. It's almost insurmountable. I plan to play around 100 shows in six months, and if searching, sifting, getting, booking and confirming each one takes about 10 hours (that's a guestimate) then it is an impossible task.

I'm really making it hard for myself going to so many different states and countries. All the booking experts recommend touring in concentric circles to build and widen a fanbase. Whereas my circle involves a three-month lap of North America and then coming back next year. I'm not really interested in playing the same places over and over again so I'm doomed to marathon computer sessions and venues with an echo.

On the brightside, I've already found half a dozen good house concerts after a few days of looking. That would be the perfect audience for me - quiet, captive and well-paying.

Saxon Pub, Austin TX



I have a pretty bad hangover but it was well worth it.  That was the best gig of the tour by far last night. A packed place supporting my brother's band porterdavis (above). I did a short set of my most slavishly crowd pleasing songs:
1. ADD
2. Lonely stoner
3. Renunciate
4. Gay OK
5. Every day's a joy

I don't want to get stuck doing comedy songs but for a pub crowd they go down the best. Flowers were even thrown on stage at the end (that won't happen again though - too expensive).

It was great hanging out with PD and the supporting cast. Crazy Eric was molesting everyone in the place, wrapping the Christmas lights from my merch stand around anyone within cable reach. I nearly lost my guitar. A bystander's white jumper got red wine down the back. An incident-filled night.

Back very late but the alarm clock showed no mercy.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Recording in Austin


I'm recording again. This time for the annual Christmas album. T-Rex
this year. It's fun to do covers for a change. Today I did the vocals
and will have another session next week for harmonica, guitar and
percussion.


If you want to receive the album as a Christmas present please sign up to my mailing list here:


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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Back to booking



The joy of booking again. Just bought my Eurorail pass for the first three months of next year. I was originally planning to drive, not wanting to walk around in the rain and take lots of different trains and buses with all my bags. But after this long US tour and hours in the car with only podcasts for company, I have a stiff back and a sore arse. I've also learnt to travel lighter - so train is a much better option.

I will have about 30 shows but only 19 confirmed so far. I need to fill in the gaps. That means hours of internet time. The stiff back and sore arse will continue for a bit longer.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Kickbutt Coffee, Austin TX

My last coffee shop gig. They're really a waste of time.

Went to a gallery opening after with the family. Oscar ran riot, even
playing a piano solo.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Super Happy Fun Land, Houston TX


The couchsurfing community came out to support me at SHFL, a cool squat place on the outskirts of Houston. Lots of them work for NASA and I crashed with Neal, the man in the hat, an aeronautical engineer. We saw a bunch of bars after the show and played darts in Rudyard Kiplings, Houston's English pub. The Flying Saucer (pictured) has 300 bars on tap and if you drink all of them you get a commemorative plate (saucer) on the wall.

The other act at the Fun Land was Poopy Sings, autistic folk. Joanna Newsom on magic mushrooms. Very good. She lives in the venue.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Carousel Lounge, Austin TX


Outside the Carousel Lounge. A funky place. Tuesday night is not it's busiest night though


Simon played as well, looping his Harmonica like a mad man.


My alarm clock. Snooze button not included.