Friday, 30 April 2010

Strange goings on

1) After driving through North America for six weeks I've arrived in France
2) It's winter again and there are piles of snow
3) I've gained an hour. That always catches me off guard.
4) There are JSF posters all over town - that's a first
And, one guy was waiting to get Five Finger shoes after reading about them on my blog a month ago


French Canada

Last night was a good lesson. I did my usual type of show which has now become 80% chit chat and 20% music (humorous songs). I've been letting the talking do the talking up until now and it goes down well. But it fell flat tonight. I was on stage for 90 minutes and only realised afterwards that most of the audience don't speak English. The US border is 50km away (at least I'm saying kilometers) but a lot of people who I (tried to) speak to had never been there.

Louis the owner gave me good feedback. Less talking. One old man said "why is he talking so much, I came here for music?". He said that I made them feel stupid. They like to think they understand a bit of English so want to laugh along and don't mind if they don't understand everything, but if I make it obvious that they don't understand and ask them questions and wait for an answer then it makes them look bad.

With American audiences making them look stupid is half the fun. Such as a joke like that. They love the Englishman routine goes down well (apart from that one guy in Kentucky who went to get his gun). Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay are all big in the States. Jamie Oliver needs to be more abusive.

Anyway, it was a good lesson, particularly because 90% of the people on the European tour later in the year won't speak good enough English. More importantly though, it's a big sense of liberation. I play in Quebec City tonight and can do all the songs that are just nice musically but get pushed out of the way by those that are clever lyrically. Every night I mean to do more of those but I always end up falling back on the tried and tested ones that get a reaction. People love to laugh so it's not a bad thing but it does get routine. I also spend time thinking up new links between songs to keep it fresh but if they don't speak English.... anyway it's refreshing!

L'innocent - Riviere du Loop, QU


I slept above the venue. The top floor. Look at those stairs. I have very bad vertigo.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Le bedsit

The view

An idyllic life

Chicks behind the stove tweeted throughout the show

Fall Brooks Centre - knowlesville, NB

We started off in the barn but it was too cold (it gets down to -46•
in the winter) so we went into the farmhouse. It's a very cool place.
A sustainable community. They have forestry interns and hire in
entertainment, hence the show.

Their view

My view

World's longest (covered) bridge

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Loading up before the journey

Deb is a part if a local organic cooperative, a shop just open to
members. Co-ops are really popular in Canada.

They were great hosts. I really got an insight into Canadian culture,
and it turns out there are lots of people who are Canadian that you
would never have thought. I should do a top ten... Jim Carey and Mike
Myers. Michael J Fox. Ellen Page. She's from Halifax.

Just like all Americans have guns, D&D were typical Canadians with
their case of seal clubs, although Doug says a lot of people use
tazers now, which they say is more humane.

Go West young man

Halifax was as East as it went, now it's West all the way to San
Francisco. My back hurts already. And it's giving me constipation all
this sitting down.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

5 star

This isn't so much couchsurfing as a 5 star Bed and Breakfast. Great
food and company. Deb and Doug are lovely people. I went running with
Doug this morning around Point park. It's a lovely city and they live
in the centre but on a quiet street.

Its a TV night tonight. We're sitting down to watch the Trailer Park
boys, a very popular sitcom filmed locally.

Laptop days

Another full day on the computer. Sent (or scheduled) 10,000 emails to venues and 'fans' with the new album - The Quest for Less. That's the only promotion I have only time to do for an album. Bit of a shame - but in a sense, all that should be done. The rest was trying to book the European tour - but I only scratched the surface of the booking for Europe. I think for a four month tour you need six months solid booking. It takes so much time to do it properly. I won't do it properly.

It's funny how it's only my arms that change position. Low for the laptop. Mid-level for the guitar. And up for the steering wheel. Tomorrow is an up day - 8 hours.

Now cooking dinner for my hosts.

Monday, 26 April 2010

5th coffee shop of the day

Covers

I'm learning Abba's 'Dancing Queen' - should be a good crowd pleaser I think. Not gay though.

Road routine

Monday is advancing day. I'm touring Halifax's coffee shops subsisting
on tea and wifi. I mail couchsurfers for the coming week to get people
to come out to the show and find places to stay. And confirm with
venues two weeks ahead to check they haven't cancelled the show.

High up in Halifax

The view from the fort.

Halifax is a great little town. It feels like New Zealand I imagine. A long way away from everything. Quite alternative. A good fun little place. I wish I was staying here for longer. The towns on the way here through Canada were all a bit slow but this is nice.

Good and bad


The turnout has been really low so far. I've performed for a total of 30 people for the first 3 shows in Canada. Those there appreciated it but it's a bit disappointing.

On the upside I'm getting some good interest from radio. A show called Rock Talk in Toronto (ast guests have included Ray Davies, Al Kooper, Nick Lowe, Judy Collins, Nile Rodgers, Dave Stewart, Andy Kim, Barenaked Ladies and many more). Want me to come in and do a session Wednesday next week. And a radio station Ottawa has giving me some good airplay.

And last night the bar I was playing in turned out to be owned by Canada's first VJ, on the equivalent of MTV. Mike is on the left above with his friend Donald (also a booker). So the point is that it's paying off just to get my ass out there in other ways. The first tour was bound to be hit and miss - something to build on.
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The Carleton - Halifax, NS


A stylish lounge bar /restaurant in the third oldest building in Halifax. My dressing room was where generals used to meet here to discuss tactics over a glass of port. They didn't leave any.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Heaven is a big old bed

Hard nights

I stayed with Nick the bartender last night. It was kind of him to put
me up at the last minute. I slept on blankets on the floor. It wasn't
too bad. He took the rats into the other room thankfully.

The night before was worse. I had a bed but it wasn't clean. There's
nothing worse than sleeping in someone else's dirty sheets.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Fair Trade Cafe - Truro, NS

Every night is music night in this town.

Serenity now

I have had a good day though. I'm feeling pretty serene despite all the problems. I can sing 'Peace of mind' and really mean it again.

I was just walking around Truro here in Nova Scotia before the show killing time, and got chatting to an Indian lady in her souvenier shop, and I asked her if there was an Indian restaurant in town. She closed the shop, drove me home and her and her husband cooked me the best Indian meal I've ever had, and then drove me to the show.

More problems

A good show in Portland wants to cancel my show because I didn't send out posters. Pretty annoying. I really don't have time to do that - I ask venues to download them from my website. Better for the environment. Maybe one day I'll get a booker who loves doing all these things. A man can dream.

Racers

I stopped off the highway for a walk and got chatting to some model
airplane enthusiasts. The large one is a copy of the red bull air race
planes.

Bed bug bites

Cooking up

Not yet spring in Canada

Biddeford

Coco with her daughter. Her and her husband organised the show and i
stayed in their old farmhouse.

I had a really nice show in Biddeford, Maine, one of the best of the
tour so far.

I even got a gig in Lithuiania from it, from a fellow traveller.

The view

Canadian muscle

Pat was my first host in Canada. A fitness instructor.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Disaster

I just had a near-death experience - in the touring sense. Canadian customs took an interest in me. I was in there two hours.

I don't have a work visa for Canada. I have one for America but last time I drove across the Canadian border for a few shows I had no problem, but this time...

Finally a nice lady took pity on me I think and let me in for two weeks - so it's not as bad as it could have been.

It's a small miracle. I'd deleted the dates from my website but they still found references to Canada elsewhere.

I feel like such a fool. I should have just bought the work visa but it is so much paper work and it is expensive. I almost let-down my designated drive who responded to my request for help and has already booked his flight into Montreal and out of Seattle. He's coming all the way from Cologne, Germany.

I was sure they were going to bar me. I was planning what to do next - to go back to Springfield and drown my sorrows, and then cobble together some last-minute shows to get me across the States to pick-up the rest of the dates. And then I couldn't get into NXNE - the big Canadian festival - which I've already booked flights to.

As it is, I have to leave the country on May 8th so half my tour is blown out - unless I can re-apply and they'll let me in again on another 2-week visa. 

If not I'll go down to Chicago, Madison, get some last-minute shows where I can and hobble across to pick-up the tour on the West coast.

Sitting there with my dick in my hand feeling like the biggest fool on the road - it was a truly life-changing experience. I haven't felt so alone in the world for a long time.  I'd put so much work into getting those dates together. I just couldn't face begging for last-minute shows and driving all the way across the states. I really felt like giving up. It was a massive slap in the face.

On the up-side - it has made me reconsider the European tour. Doing such a huge whirl-wind trip would make sense if I had a lot of publicity but not by myself. Better to wait until I have some help. Instead I'll just go with the paying shows in countries that can afford me. At least I definitely have a visa for that.

But what a fool. I knew the risks - I've heard of bands getting barred before but I thought I would be ok driving through on my own.

I have to play the first show in a minute and really don't feel like doing it. There are only eight people in the bar. I want to get a motel room and sleep for a few days. It was 10 hours travelling today.

A rough day.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Hog farm - Biddeford, MA

Old soul opening up.

One for the rider

Biddeford entertainment

The town council meeting is televised in the local Irish bar (genuine
Irishman).

All Asia Bar - Cambridge, MA

Homemade Armenian Tahini bread. Delicious.

Remind me not to do any more open mics. The poor turnout at shows
continues. Even as a featured act at a normally busy mic in a good bar
in a big city it doesn't work out. No CDs.

The couchsurfing was excellent. A very nice room in a beautiful 150
year old town house (always search for hosts with a spare room, who
wants to sleep on a couch?). The host Roy was very nice, making
breakfast and chatting away. He has a very interesting family,
intelligent and beautiful daughters (who weren't there of course, I'm
not that lucky). And his wife started Zip car company, the equivalent
of Holland's Greenwheels. In fact the spare bedroom I slept in was
where they started the company.

A relaxing few days

In longmeadow massachusetts with Jonathan and Keisha. A writer and a
surgeon. It turns out that Jonathan's from the same hometown - Bury
St. Edmunds. I only realised after two days (and this is my second
visit). He's just finished a book about a Tibetan girl that was
killed by Chinese border guards. It will be serialized in the UK in
the Mail on Sunday and Ridley Scott has an option to make a film.

They have a big quiet house and we went mountainbiking in Pioneer
Valley most days. A nice break.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The plan

Overly ambitious?

9/1/2010    Copenhagen
9/2/2010    Malmo
9/3/2010    Goteborg
9/4/2010    Oslo
9/5/2010    Stockholm
9/6/2010    Stockholm
9/7/2010    Stockholm
9/8/2010    Turku
9/9/2010    Finland
9/10/2010    Helsinki
9/11/2010    Tallin
9/12/2010    Riga
9/13/2010    [Train]
9/14/2010    Vilnius
9/15/2010    Moscow
9/16/2010    Moscow
9/17/2010    Moscow
9/18/2010    [Train]
9/19/2010    Kiev
9/20/2010    Minsk
9/21/2010    Minsk
9/22/2010    Warsaw
9/23/2010    Berlin
9/24/2010    Hamburg
9/25/2010    Kiel
9/26/2010    Copenhagen
9/27/2010    Copenhagen
9/28/2010    Copenhagen
9/29/2010    Germany
9/30/2010    Cologne
10/1/2010    Amsterdam
11/2/2010    Holland
10/3/2010    Holland
10/4/2010    Amsterdam
10/5/2010    Amsterdam
10/6/2010    Switzerland
10/7/2010    Z├╝rich
10/8/2010    Vaduz
10/9/2010    Munich
10/10/2010    Prague
10/11/2010    Prague
10/12/2010    Prague
10/13/2010    Vienna
10/14/2010    Innsbruck
10/15/2010    Steyr
10/16/2010    Wiener neustadt
10/17/2010    Bratislava
10/18/2010    Vienna
10/19/2010    Vienna
10/20/2010    [Train]
10/21/2010    Italy
10/22/2010    Italy
10/23/2010    Italy
10/24/2010    Italy
10/25/2010    Italy
10/26/2010    Italy
10/27/2010    Slovenia
10/28/2010    Slovenia
10/29/2010    Croatia
10/30/2010    Croatia
10/31/2010    Hungary
11/1/2010    Hungary
11/2/2010    Romania
11/3/2010    Romania
11/4/2010    Moldova
11/5/2010    Moldova
11/6/2010    Bulgaria
11/7/2010    Bulgaria
11/8/2010    Turkey
11/9/2010    Turkey
11/10/2010    Greece
11/11/2010    Greece
11/12/2010    Greece
11/13/2010    Albania
11/14/2010    Macedonia
11/15/2010    Kosovo
11/16/2010    Serbia
11/17/2010    Montenegro
11/18/2010    Bosnia
11/19/2010    Croatia
11/20/2010    Slovenia
11/21/2010    Italy
11/22/2010    Italy
11/23/2010    Italy
11/24/2010    San Marino
11/25/2010    Italy
11/26/2010    Italy
11/27/2010    Italy
11/28/2010    Monaco
11/29/2010    France
11/30/2010    France
12/1/2010    France
12/2/2010    Andorra
12/3/2010    Spain
12/4/2010    Spain
12/5/2010    Spain
12/6/2010    Portugal
12/7/2010    Portugal
12/8/2010    Spain
12/9/2010    Spain
12/10/2010    France
12/11/2010    France
12/12/2010    France
12/13/2010    France
12/14/2010    France
12/15/2010    Switzerland
12/16/2010    Switzerland
12/17/2010    Switzerland
12/18/2010    Switzerland
12/19/2010    Switzerland
12/20/2010    Luxembourg
12/21/2010    Belgium
12/22/2010    Belgium

Monday, 19 April 2010

Jacob Dylan in Nottingham

A nice show

Days off are days on

It's nice to have three days off but that means I have to do booking.
Today I've been working on September and finding the best train times
connecting northern Europe. It's a nightmare trying to find the best
route. Night trains would be best of course but they usually leave too
early in the evening, I need to play a show in the evening.

I'm going to do a whirl-wind trip, one night in each capital, because
that's the easiest way. You would think taking longer and having time
to see each would be more relaxing but it just drains you, thankfully
I know that from experience. It's better to get the rhythm going - get
in and get out, keep moving and keep it simple.

Too many songs

I've recorded so much material lately that I feel swamped by it. Not a feeling that's conducive to writing more so I've dumped them on the bottom of my music page. Because if I lose my laptop they're gone. It's also good to have them there if anyone's interested. But to send them all out to the mailing list now  would be too much. It's funny how you have to make things scarce to make them more valued appreciated. On the other hand, I can't be too precious about it, like they're gold dust. Yesterday somebody actually paid for one of the downloads. The fool. Nobody pays for music anymore.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

My 2nd pair of nylon camping quick dryers

I've calculated that if everyone washed their underwear in the shower we'd save 2.5 rainforests every year.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Friday, 16 April 2010

Wonderland

My room was above the common room and had no Walls. Noisy

My audience

Ingrid was a famous opera singer in the 1940s

Don opened up for me

Jan and snacks

Jan and snacks

Carousel

House Concert - East Stroudsbourg, PA

Don made a stage in his living room

The wonder gang

No questions, please

So I thought of a title for the album (I recorded 10 or 11 'produced tracks' in Philadelphia over my four different visits and am sending them out once a month, which will add up to an album by the end of the year). My motto for the tour has been 'No questions, please', because people ask you the same questions everyday. It's great people are interested of course and I am very polite always. The questions are:
1) Where are you from?
2) What kind of music do you play?
3) Is this your first time in America?
4) Where have you been?
5) Where are you going to next?

I've spoken to other musicians about it and they say it's their No.1 pet peeve as well - going to a different place and having the same conversation. So if you get chatting to your favourite band, don't ask them something but tell them something them something interesting, about your town or local goings on.

The album cover
Here's a rough idea for the album cover. Just as I was leaving on the last day and we realised there were enough songs for an album, I thought we'd better shoot a cover. Lou, the studio owner and bass player on the tracks, is a barber, and his shop is downstairs. It's been there a long time and looks as lived in as a barber's shop should be, so we took a few photos there on Kevin's crappy digital camera. The files he sent are only 80k so I hope he has larger versions or I'm screwed. This is what I had in mind.


Making artwork like this I find the most enjoyable thing. I used to make posters for every show, but now it's impossible, and because I'm not in the flow I don't even do one. It's all about being in the flow. People say you must get songwriting ideas on the road, but there isn't the time or space to develop them. Not when you have to have one eye on where you're going to sleep that night. And don't even mention the booking. There isn't even time to pick up a guitar.

I just got interest from one in Canada after sending out The Searcher video. That has got a lot of interest. Videos are really the way to go. I have 10,000 on my mailing list now. 6,000 "fans" and 4,000 venues (incl. a few press contacts) and I've decided to mail them as well with new music and videos.

My attitude has always been to jump into something blindfolded and to be sure that something good will come of it. It's better to just to a scrappy job. I'm not afraid to do things badly. If you think about things too long, the things that can go wrong and all the ways it could be better will stop you ever doing it. Like those Christmas albums. At least now I'm learning.

The touring is an even better example. Most people see the big picture - the big map - and it looks very good. But day-to-day it's empty venues, long drives, cancelled shows. It took 5 tours of Germany to get a decent list of venues together. And that was with a good independent booker. You just have to jump in and do it and then good things will come of it - things you could never have predicted. I only met Kevin the producer in October last year at Dewey Beach, and could never have foreseen finishing an album and two videos by April. Two videos for $200 and an album for $2000 (roughly, I didn't bother to count it - what's the point). And if you did plan it ahead it would be a world of stress. It's better to just go with the flow. It would be better to have more time on the album though. There are a lot more sounds that could go on and it could be more polished. Because we worked with so many different musicians and styles, even over such a short period, to me it almost sounds like a compilation album. On the upside, that will make it an interesting listen.

Christmas plans

I'm thinking of the next Christmas album. I'll probably go for The Kinks this year. If I had to name a favourite band it would be them - and the same goes for a lot of people, so that's a good thing. I got a lot of nice messages after T.Rex from the States in particular that people liked them, so if you're going to do covers.

I'll try and get a band together and do a nice live recording. I've not been really happy with any of the last Christmas albums because they sound so rough. There's a charm in that obviously but I now look back at them as wasted opportunities, so this year I want to get it right.

I've asked an old friend in Amsterdam if he'd be up for getting a live band together and bashing them out, kinda like the way we did "Why does this keep happening to me?" on Exes.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Living Room - New York, NY

Literally no one came. As expected but still dissppointing. Tough
town. Especially if you don't do any promotion.

I don't remember what this was

Stuffed