Saturday, 31 October 2009
I'm up in Queens, about half an hour on the metro from Manhattan, but it's a city in itself (I think). I have a room in the Wonderland, an artist commune/collective. Like a smart squat. Everyone's very friendly and it's quite clean, even though I did find a cockroach in my suitcase this morning. But for $40 a night in New York is worth it.
Friday, 30 October 2009
It's nice to be back in Vermont. It's like the Lake District of
America. Except here there's skiing, which starts in about four weeks,
which is when I should come if I want a crowd. It was pretty empty
after this old crowd left the front table. Thankfully as they were
very loud and I didn't have a mic initially due to an organisational
oversight. It was my best paying gig of the tour so far so I didn't
I'm crashing at the owner's brothers place, a guy my age who's just
renovated a house in the woods. A very sharp little place, like
something straight out of Wallpaper.
I made it all 44 days without having to pay for one motel room!
Tomorrow is back to New York and off the road for a while.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Wednesday night. The Indras (pic) and The Filthy McNasty's played.
The Halloween fever is growing. It's been in most bars and houses
since the start of October. They really go for it over here. Then
Thanksgiving, then Christmas, so that's three months of solid
It came down to the wire finding a place to sleep and my cleansheet
was threatened, thankfully the last band live together and had a spare
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
My translator and guide, John Hart, has been a wonderful host with boundless energy. He has devoted himself unreservedly to the Foundation's cause and I have much less to do than I did when I arrived.
Download Debt Train
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Friday, 23 October 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Two shows today. The busiest day of the tour. 3 hours driving to get here. And now another 3.5 to Madison. And it's pouring.
I've decided to go skip back there for more recording when I'm in New York, and then go again in December on the way back from Austin as it's such an opportunity. Kevin was a live touring engineer for years, with artists like Marilyn Manson, Debbie Harry, etc, and has a lot of contacts, and wants to shop the album or EP around to people. It would be great to get some help professional booking and promoting. It gets a bit much doing everything myself and doesn't leave much time for music.
- - - - -
In other news, I'm one of the featured artists on www.reverbnation.com this week, which gets a lot of publicity.
The show went well. Again not many people and no money but I've long since come to expect that. The other bands were good. Des Moines is a nice enough place. It was an experience walking across town to the gig through the Skywalks without having to go outside. The city is a cross between a space station and a hamster run.
I almost couldn't walk to the gig because Mark made a Chicago-style pizza - the first one I've tried - and I stuffed myself. Truly deliscious!
Monday, 19 October 2009
for one day so I found a place in saint louis through couchsurfing. It
turned out to be one of the poorest parts of town. So poor almost
everyone was black. They didn't even have wifi.
The family were very friendly but nocturnal and I didn't get much
sleep. At least I wasn't there the night before when one of their
friends was on PCP and put his head through the glass door. They tied
him up in the spare room until he'd calmed down.
They have four young children and the youngest was crying at 3am askin
for the mother who was out. I tried to nurse him back to sleep with
tales of my adventures, but he didn't know what a jacuzzi was. A rough
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Saturday, 17 October 2009
in the tip jar again. Nashville has (god awful) music coming out of
every hole. Now I know why the booking was so easy. To paraphrase a
Groucho Marx quote, I shouldn't have played at any club that would
have me as a performer.
Seth took me around downtown Nashville this afternoon. I've got to get
some cowboy boots to go with my tweed three-piece, but not at those
prices. I also need a coat. It's cold!
The Woolly Mamas.
This photo and the one below were taken in the Gaylord Opryland, a huge indoor hotel and conference centre across the road from the bar.
Knoxville I found a Vintage shop that was closing down and having a 75%-off sale, so I got a new suit of classic togs for $28. "Sweet" as they say in these parts.
Friday, 16 October 2009
The advance promotion didn't work so well either. A fraction of the people who said they'd come down actually came. Nevermind. I was on a flat fee so it didn't matter so much. But next time I will run out some cheap b&w flyers and paper the place.
I had a great four days here and made friends for life. I'm ready to hit the road again though. It's a small town and I've seen a chunk of it. On to Nashville.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
fun. Yesterday Evening i jumped in the car with Matt and Hollis to
drive to Chattanooga for some late night shopping to buy guitars for
his new music shop from a shop that was closing down.
I'm staying in his shop now while he's out of town. It's not open yet
and I have all the instruments to myself.
Now I'm off to the gym with someone I just met in a cafe. I'm tired
but they offered so the yesman goes.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
The promotion is going well. If as many people come to the show tomorrow night as say they're coming then there they'll be queuing round the block. It's so easy to meet people here. They have just come up to me in the street because they think I look different.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
It's a very lively place, like Austin used to be they say. Most people know most people and everybody knows Matt so it was good fun going around with him. He's opening a music shop on the main street and the big banjo above will be his show-piece (no, he's not a midget). I helped him move it down the street to a few raised eyebrows.
We visited his girlfriend Hollis getting a tattoo. She has a yoga studio and raw food restaurant, as well as owning the largest tour catering company. She did Bob Dylan's tour catering for 10 years. I hope to get some good anecdotes tonight when we're all getting off for Sushi. I wonder if Bob's a Sushi man?
show. Another night of minimum tips. It turns out Wednesday night is
the busiest night to play, as it's half price beer. But I'm not even
sure I'd want to play to a noisy crowd without the armory of a band.
I met a lot of nice folks again. The Lone Tones were very social and
had folks dancing. I got chatting to a cage fighter. He asked me if
I'd ever seen it and I said only on Bruno, which I immediately
realised was the wrong thing to say. Thankfully he hadn't heard of the
film so I retain the abilites to walk and feed myself.
Another guy was an ambulance driver. The most common call-out was for
people with breathing difficulties or other problems of obesity. But I
haven't seen any of them. It's like they exist in a parallel America,
driving from the office, via the 24hr walmarts and home. The pear people who walked straight off a Gary Larson sketch.
I travel via the interstate to stay with open-minded worldly people to
play in bars that attract social people. I'm not seeing the other
America. I walked downtown in Johnson City, a once thriving town and
more than half the shops are closed, but it's still a prosperous town.
Everything is now in the malls outside if town. It's a real shame.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
dry South not forestry.
Had a quiet morning alone in a house to work on songs for once. My
host from couchsurfing was out of town but left the key out for me -
having never met me. It refreshes my faith in humanity, every night I
stay with someone through couchsurfing.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
a 'commercial' between the two acts, playing one song and handing out
flyers, but by the way they were going I think most will be too
There are some real characters. This guy Benjamin drives 18 wheelers
for days straight, while surfing the internet on his laptop (it's
easier at night because you can drive in the middle and follow the
white line). The companies sacked the experienced older drivers and
hire young guys like him for cheaper.
Friday, 9 October 2009
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Metal Hardcore bands (reaarrange into your favourite acronym). One guy
vomitted while he was singing. The crowd just lapped it up.
Thank heavens for the pool tables.
I found a place to crash before even entering the place. An 18 year
old kid who needed to be with a band to get in. A very interesting
young fella who's majoring in film and anthropology. Who lives in one
of the Victorian style houses. Who has the life aquatic flag tatooed
on his arm and is endorsed by Bill Murray. And tells me that the
biggest French film festival outside France is in Richmond.
Besides him I spent the night playing with two locals on the table and
drinking my two free pitchers of beer just to numb the noise.
Maybe I need to rethink my strategy and get to the cities a day early, and go round talking to people and handing out flyers to get them out. It would be better to play half the number of shows and have double the number of people out. I don't really have any time to promote now. At least it's good I haven't started fixing my next North American tour yet, because I'm learning something new every day.
I made the same mistake of playing after the local band. They asked me to play second but I should have stood firm and played a short set first. It's virtually impossible (even for me!) to follow a loud band in front of an even louder audience by myself. I did my ruddest set and got a few laughs but they were drops in the ocean.
I crashed with Tony (my brother's wife's cousin - is there a name for that) and his fiance Emily, who gave me a quick tour of DC.
Just did a bunch of booking for Germany in March (my friends Andreas and Patrick from Copenhagen said they'll back me up on bass and drums - all I need to do is find well-paying enough shows). Now I'm off to climb Mount Vernon.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Phew. I don't know whether I'm coming or going. I have to play a show tonight and it's come as a surprise. My head is somewhere else entirely. I went round the zoo in Wilmington today to try and clear my head after the studio.
I have so much stuff to do, I don't have time to play a show. Touring is really cutting into my booking time. Luckily I had a cancellation for Saturday. One good thing about working on the road is that you're more realistic and not so ambitious. For example, I have a three week gap in Spain in February that I was going to break my back to fill, but now I think I will just take it off. I have friends in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville and can take some downtime.
Here's a copy of my To Do list:
- Write more songs
- Update Google map of where I've been
- Advancing (confirming shows two weeks before)
- Mail everyone I met at Dewey Beach
- Book Spanish venues for February
- Book Germany for March (big job)
- Find US house concerts (important)
- US and Canada dates (Apr-June - big job)
- Start a Facebook group (I've been resisting)
- Make the ultimate merch stand
- Book greyhound from to Phili for more recording and the gig I got through the open mic
- Book flight back to amsterdam
- Book ferry to England for Christmas
- Add shows to agenda
- Press kit to NL and beyond
- Work on mailing list
- Get St Louis show
- Message wind whistles
- Record tracks to click track
- Learn covers for NY subway (gotta make some money)
- Get my Dad a birthday present
I'm upstairs in the Wonderland Ballroom in Washington, DC. I've set up my office in the corner and will wait for the fans. Could be another quiet night. Barack has to work late and Michelle was only a maybe.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
they will produce as the 'Philadelphia sessions' EP. And I thought of
asking Alan to do the artwork.
I never expected to do any recording on this tour. Kevin even
suggested doing an album. It's a real stroke of luck to meet him. If I
had to pay for their time and that studio it would be thousands. I'll
come back on 5th and 6th November and do more.
- - - - - - -
I already have a rough version of the track Chris and I did together. They're going to work on it a lot more but this is the skeleton version, and is what we performed at the World Cafe Live. You can download it here
Monday, 5 October 2009
It's a hectic day today. I wanted to hang out in the jacuzzi but I'm having too much good luck. I met a producer at the conference called Kevin Wesley Williams who said come to my studio in Philadelphia tomorrow and record with this great guy I know called Chris Leggerie.
The studio is top notch and Chris is a great multi-instrumentalist. We worked on ADD (Parental Deficiency Disorder renamed for simplicity's sake), which they both liked and I've ever recorded before.
Chris on the studio's 120 year old Steinway.
I've left them working in the studio to queue up for a good slot in an open mic, even though I swore I'd never do another one. I have a free night and it's in a top venue (World Cafe Live), and you can get bookings from it, and Chris will come down and we'll do the new and improved song, and there's WiFi in the queue.