11.23.2011

ROADLOG: EUROPE 2011 - COMPLETE

    ROADLOG: EUROPE 2011




This is my little scrap book of the tour.
I write these so I don't forget
What happened years later.



THE GEAR
Any traveling musician knows
Getting your gear on a plane
Is a pain in the ass.
You try to get everything
Guitars, pedals, and/or amp
On board with you.
Not in the cargo hold.
Because cargo dudes
Will toss your shit around
And often fuck it up.
Imagine your guitar
Sitting under a ton of luggage
In the belly of a plane.
Even if it’s in a good case,
It can get munched.
So you say everything you can
- Lie, scream, cry, beg -
To the airline attendants
To convince them to let you
Carry all your gear on.
Most of the time,
They make you check
They pedal board or amp
And let you keep the guitar.
If airline person is cool
They’ll let you
Stash your guitar the first class section’s
Coat closet.
If they have room,
And if you are polite,
They’ll try to accommodate you.



LAFAYETTE AIRPORT

11.2.11
Check in.
Get the ticket.
I’m flying light on this trip.
Renting a backline amp
In Europe,
So all I’ve got is:
1 hiking back pack
1 effects pedal board
1 Dobro
Airline makes me check in
The pedal board,
Gate check the guitar,
And carry on the backpack.
Fuck it.
Dobro is in a good case.
Hopefully it doesn’t get
Munched.
I go through the metal detector.
It beeps.
Then beeps again.
Each time I go through.
All my shits in the plastic bin.
Not sure why it keeps popping off.
The security people
Steer me off to the side.
A TSA guy puts on rubber gloves
And gives me the full TSA
Pat down.
Balls and all.
Homeland Security, meet me nuts.
This shit is ridiculous.
In my opinion,
The TSA pat downs
Are just a dog & pony show
Meant to train people
To submit
To their masters.
Fuck’em.
The dude doing the pat down
Looks more miserable than me.
Oh well, dude.
You choose your lot in life.
You could’ve been
A respectable garbage man
But you chose this.
So this is what you get.
Halfway through the patdown
I remember the nicotine patch
Stashed in my back pocket.
It is made of foil.
I pull it out and toss it in the bin.
The pat down dude looks relieved.
He makes a lazy show
Of finishing the pat down
But we both know it’s over.
He waves me through
And goes about
The business of working
For the fear mongers,
Scaring people out of
What freedoms they have left.
If you disagree,
I can’t help you.


HOUSTON TO AMSTERDAM
11.2.11
11 hour flight.
I settle into my window seat.
Nobody booked
In the adjacent seat.
Very nice.

I eat some plane food.
Stare out the window.
Fly through a cloud.
I’m in a cloud, I think.
I stretch across both seats.
Make a makeshift bed.
Sleep for few hours.
Long ass flights
Are like a survival exercise
In staving off boredom.
My solution: read and sleep.
There’s really no one
To talk to on this flight
Except an old Dutch guy
Sitting directly in front of me
With his seat reclined in my lap.
He must have a special seat
Because that thing is way back.
Everytime I move or roll over
I bump the back of his seat
And he grumbles.


AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND
7:32 a.m.
Plane lands.
Amsterdam, Holland.
Overcast and grey.
Exit plane.
Grab the Dobro at the gate.
I make my way to the baggage claim
And wait for the pedal board to pop out.
There was a band
On the same flight as me.
They nervously wait
For their gear as well.
Sometimes the gear gets lost.
CC Adcock and I once flew
to a one-off gig in Finland in ’05.
They lost my guitar, pedal board,
And suitcase.
I ended up using borrowed gear
At the gigs.
And
Washing
The same clothes
For five days
In a sink
Until we returned to the states
Where my stuff mysterious
Popped up at baggage claim.
Go figure.
Here’s another funny story about that trip.
While wandering around the Helsinki Airport
Waiting for our flight,
CC and I saw a few
Aging metal dudes
With long, dyed-black hair
Wandering around the Helsinki airport
Looking bored just like us.
Jokingly, as we passed them,
I quietly said to CC, “Check out Anthrax.”
Not five seconds later,
Scott Ian (guitarist of Anthrax) walks
Around the corner and joins them.
It was really was Anthrax!
What’s even funnier is 15 min
Later after passing the Anthrax guys
Numerous times,
We all end up at the same gate terminal
Making small talk with them
As we’re waiting for the plane.
Anthrax: “What band you guys play with?”
CC: “CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis.”
Anthrax: (blank stare).
CC: “Who are you guys with?”
Anthrax: “Anthrax.”
CC: (blank stare).
I guess CC wasn’t much of a metal fan.
Nor Anthrax roots music fans.
You live and learn.


LOST IN AMSTERDAM
My pedal board pops
Out of the baggage carousel.
I grab it.
I make my way through customs.
The European Customs guy
Asks, “Business or pleasure?”
“Both.”
“Have a good stay.”
I wander around,
Lugging my gear,
Looking for my contact, Theo.
The guy who booked this tour.
I assume he is going to pick me up.
But it turns out
That Theo had made arrangements
For Bjorn (Euro road manager)
To pick me up.
However,
As I soon found out
Through text messages,
Bjorn couldn’t make it.
Theo instructs me to buy a train ticket
and
To meet him in Eindhoven,
90 min from Amsterdam.
Ok.
I search about for the train terminal.
Locate it.
Attempt to buy ticket,
But none of my credit cards are working
Because
As I am told
“They don’t have the Euro chip.”
What the fuck is the Euro chip?
Whatever.
I came here with $100 in pocket.
I’ll use that.
I try to pay with an American $20 bill.
The train ticket guy shakes his head.
“You must pay in Euros.”
He points in a vague direction
And says I must exchange
My American money for euros.
Ok.
I grab my gear. Lug it across the airport.
Locate money exchange bank.
I change in all the cash I brought: $100.
I get back 60 euros and change.
Keep on rocking in the free world, America.
Keep on rocking.
Good job with that.
I lug my gear back to the train ticket terminal.
Buy ticket.
Make my way downstairs to the trains.
I then begin the confusing process
Of figuring out which fucking train is mine.
I ask a few Dutch people.
Even they don’t know.
The Dutch train system
Inherently confusing.
And all the signs are written in Dutch.
I find a sign that says Eindhoven on it
I park my gear under it
And wait.
Till it arrives.
Train pulls up. Doors open.
I struggle my way through throngs of people.
Stuff all my gear in a seat
And plant myself down
Across from it.
Train rolls.
I watch the scenery.
Canals, fields, factories, subdivisions, etc.
90 min later I’m in Eindhoven.
Hump my gear off the train.
And text Theo that I’m here.
He shows up 15 min later.
We shake hands.
Welkom to Holland.


THE TOWNES VAN ZANDT SUITE

We load my gear in Theo’s car.
He drives to the apartment
Where I will be staying.
It’s a 3-bedroom apartment
In Eindhoven
Where guest musicians stay.
The apartment is owned by a
Dutch husband & wife
Who are folk musicians.
Their son Dylan lives their too
And kind of manages the place.
We arrive.
I’m led to a small bedroom
And informed that this is where
Townes Van Zandt used to sleep
When he played in Holland.
This will be my room.
I toss my crap in a corner,
Climb in the bed,
And sleep for 4 hrs.


GIG: THE RAMBLER
I’m playing at a club called The Rambler.
Cool place.
They book everything from roots
To punk rock
To metal
To indie bands.
I plug in all my gear.
Since Europe is wired for 220v
And American stuff is 110v,
I had to rent something called
A “step-down transformer.”
It’s 30 lb metal box
About the size of a shoe box
That has got a small transformer inside.
I need it to power my pedal board.
I plug everything in.
Flip the switch.
And it pops the breaker in the club.
Lights go out in half the place.
This, I will learn,
Will be a fairly common ritual
Of this tour.
The transformer, it seems,
Sucks a lot of power.
I sound check.
Drink a few beers,
And then
Play a 90 min set.
Composed of material
From my album Folk Songs of the American Longhair
Plus some new tunes
Plus a few extended
“Slide-scapes”
Where I layer loops of slide parts
And such.
The crowd hangs in there
With me.
This is good.
Because 90 min
Is a long time to play
By yourself
When doing
All original material.
I finish the set.
Talk with the natives.
Shot the shit.
Hang with
A couple Dutch metal dudes.
Cool dudes.
Friendly.
People are friendly here.
They aren’t jacked up on bullshit.
Or at least not as much bullshit.
Also my old buddy Bjorn shows up.
He was the road manager
For a European tour
I did here in 2005
When I played in CC Adcock’s band.
Haven’t seen him in six years.
Good dude.
Sleep.



EINDHOVEN, HOLLAND
11.4.11
I wake at dawn
With the ghost
Of Townes Van Zandt
Pecking at my head.
The town is completely silent.
No sirens.
Screaming.
Or
Honking.
It’s pretty surreal.
I grab a coffee up the street
At a coffee/weed shop,
Check some email,
And locate the local grocery store,
Which is called “Jumbo.”
I buy some stuff that
Looks like American sandwich meat.
Bread.
Coke.
Chips.
Walk back to the apartment.
I eat in silence,
Biting down on potato chips
While
Pondering the odd trajectory of my life.




JABO GUMBO RADIO SHOW
Theo drives me to do a radio show.
It’s called the “JaBo Gumbo Show.”
People love the word gumbo.
Jabo is the host.
He seems cool.
Informed.
Asks good questions.
I play four songs live in the studio.
Plus a short interview.
Having just gotten over a cold in the U.S.A.
I’m still snotting,
So
I play a couple mellow tunes
So I don’t have to strain my voice too much.
Note to self: quit smoking.
The other guest on the show
Is a songwriter chick named Devon Spoule.
She’s good.
     Me and Devon Sproule on Jabo Gumbo Radio Show

Quirky, folky.
Good songwriter and singer.
Here husband Paul Curreri is a ripper, too.
Other than the interview segments,
Most of the show is in Dutch,
So I don’t understand what they’re saying
Until Jabo points to me and says
“Broother Deeeege.”

GIG
11.4.11
MORRISON'S PUB, ROSSUM, HOLLAND
Small pub out in the country
Known for hosting
A lot of touring roots musicians.
Old place.
Countryside.
I drink a few Jameson & Cokes.
Then the bartender tells me
That they also serve
“The world’s oldest and greatest beer.”
“I’ll have one of those, please.”
They’ve been brewing beer in Europe forever.
They know how to do it.
It has no preservatives in it.
It doesn’t give one a
“hog balls off the forehead hangover”
And it’s good.
20 min later
With nice buzz in tow
I have to agree
It is indeed
The “world’s greatest & oldest beer.”
Got a nice kick.
I wish I could remember the name of it.
I order another.
Theo and I make a food run up the street.
There’s nothing open but a snack shop.
He orders me something
Called a frikandel.



It’s the Dutch equivalent of a hotdog,
I think.
Like a hotdog, nobody knows what’s in it.
And nobody wants to know.
It’s late night food.
I munch it down.
It tastes ok.
Kind of weird.
But it’ll do.
I have a feeling
The World’s Longest Frikandel
Will work its way into the set.
Back at the club,
I bang out the second show of the tour.
Decent set.
Not great
On my part.
But the crowd is good.
Fun.
Once again,
They follow me on the slide-scape detours
And don’t seem to get bored.
Nice.
I appreciate that.
A photographer buddy of Theo’s
Is at the show.
He is working on a photo book
Of guitarists.
We shoot some pictures.
After that I drink another
Of the World’s Greatest Beers
And
Smoke a pinch of weed with some locals.
Nobody believes me,
But I rarely smoke weed.
It’s just never been my thing.
Or at least the kinds of weed
I’ve been exposed too.
It tend to makes me quirky & weird.
I don’t need any help in that department.
But fuck it.
It’s Dutch weed, which is good
And
It doesn’t make me tweaky.
Which is nice.
Just relaxed.
The locals caution me against
Buying weed in Amsterdam.
“It’s tourist shit.”
“The good shit is outside of Amsterdam.”
Although I’m not planning
On purchasing any weed
Nor smoking any for another 2 years
Or so,
I take mental note.
Good times.
Theo and I pack up the gear
And make
The night drive
Back to Eindhoven.
I fade in / out
Of sleep.
Head against the glass.
The Dutch country side
Slides by, dreamlike,
In the watery shadows
And dikes. 




ZONDAG, BLOODY ZONDAG
11.7.1
SUNDAY
Sundays always catch up with you.
They find you hungover
Crying
Lonely
Grey
Strange
And
Greasy.
with
Bad breath.
This Sunday is no different.
And I am no exception.
Zondag, bloody zondag.
I sleep most of the day
At some point in the morning,
I vaguely remember
Being awoken by the cacophonous
Sound of all the church bells in town
Ringing in clattering unison.
Put that in your Kloosterkerk
And smoke it.
It was both frightening
And beautiful.
Townes had left the window open
So I got a good dose
Of the sound of these
Voluminous bells,
Urging the citizenry to church.
I think this was Townes’ idea
Of a good joke.
I went back to sleep.
Slept all day.

      (View from the Townes Van Zandt room)



GIG:ENSCHEDE, HOLLAND
NIX BLUES CLUB
11.5.11
Good gig.
The owner of the venue
Collects vintage guitar amps
So the place is filled with
Beautiful old tube amps
That line the place like furniture.
It’s like amp museum.
Place is called The Nix.
I end up using the club’s
Vintage Fender Bassman
Because it sounds better
Than my Twin reissue rental.
The club video tapes every show.
I need to search the net for footage of it.
Note to self.
I play some new tunes.
Some with no words.
Some with no home yet.
I pull “Operation: Have U Never Been Mellow”
Out of the song bag.
It’s a 10 min slide-scape thing
I first wrote/improvised while my fiancé Joni
Was shooting video in the country.
It’s interesting to note that
The Europeans have been digging
These slide-scape things
During the sets.
They hang in there with me
And listen.
When I put these type songs
In the set
At home in Louisiana,
I tend to lose the crowd.
It’s like letting the air out of tire
Till it’s flat.
But that’s Louisiana.
It’s about shaking your ass.
Not so much your mind.
But that is the lot
We have been given.
I will make
The best of it.
Regardless.



11.6.11
De Groot, Eindhoven, Holland
Small club gig.
I bang it out.
Drink some beer.
Yak with the locals.
Good gig.
One of my favorite bands
Of all time,
The Birthday Party,
Played a gig in Eindhoven
On this same day in 1981.
That was a long time ago.
But the soul
And damage
Still resonates.
Don’t believe me?
Of them.
11.7.11
MONDAY – DAY OFF
Eindhoven, Holland
No gig tonight.
I have the day off.
I sleep most of the day.
Rest my voice
Which is scratchy and hoarse.
Leftover remnants of my cold.
My book on the history of
The Mississippi River
That I bought for the tour
Is getting good.
There’s a crazy chapter on “camp meetings”
Along the Mississippi River.
Read up on that shit here.
They were like hysterical
Burning Man, religious revival festivals
Held out in the woods.
People caught the ghost,
Went crazy with the holyspirit,
Jumped up and down,
Flailed around,
Convulsed,
And in general
Just freaked out in the backwoods.
Some of them were 5,000-10,000 strong
In attendance.
Quote from the book…
Participants at the camp meetings would be often become enthralled with what was known as the falling exercise. It was a kind of violent fainting spell that would come over people at the height of their religious transports. The subject would generally begin with a piercing scream, fall like a log to the earth, and appear as dead. They might remain that way for minutes or even hours. When they revived, they would often sob controllably or scream out to god and the glory of the gospel in what witnesses describe as “almost superhuman language, agonizing in tears.” Those who didn’t become fallers might instead experience “the jerks”…a convulsive movement that would begin in the arms, legs or shoulders and spread throughout the whole body. Others would twist and jerk their heads from side to side, rapidly nodding and snapping their heads back only to hurl themselves on the ground and in the mud, rolling around like dogs, writhing and screaming as though they were being stabbed with hot pokers.



THE DUTCH TOILET


The toilets of Holland
Are a strange
And alarming delight.
In most of them,
The hole is at the front of the bowl
Rather than the rear
As in American toilets.
In fact,
Many of Dutch toilets have a shelf
At the rear
That catches your turd.
There is no idling water,
Waiting to catch and mask
The overpowering stench
Of your human turd.
It is only when you
Actually flush the toilet
That a rush of
Water mercifully carries
That turd off the shelf
And down the hole.
Forever to be gone from your sight.
And your smell.
The interesting thing is:
While making a doo-doo,
You get a really hearty
And disturbing whiff
Of your own feces.
There is no water,
Masking the smell of
Your own nasty humanness.
Your nose is forced
To confront
The stinking pestilence
That is your own ass. 
For the 3-15 min,
That you are shitting,
You must live with the
Smell
Of that
Horrible reeking turd
Coming out of your ass.
It’s a truly humbling experience.
Perhaps you are one
That thinks your shit
Does not stink?
If so,
Please go to Holland.
If only to shit once
And leave.
It will make you more human.
It will make you
A kinder or my empathetic
Man or woman.
Or beast.
For to be human
Is to shit in Holland.



MARC RIBOT
Theo and his wife Diana
Pick me up early evening.
Tom Waits’ guitarist Marc Ribot
Is in town playing with his trio.
Free jazz.
Reminds you that there are no rules.
That everything is music.
That you can play
Or
Do whatever you want.
Time will determine
Whether or not it is art.
It’s a good show.
Interesting.

***
I meet up with Dylan
at the Ribot show
And we head out to catch
A few songs
Of Boo Boo Davis
Who is playing up the street.
Boo Boo is an old Mississippi bluesman
Now living in Holland.
It’s an all too typical story.
Mississippi bluesman
Can’t make a living in the U.S.
So he moves to Europe
Where people appreciate him
And he can make a living
And live a life not teetering
On the brink of ruin.
Boo Boo was good.
Good Dutch blues players
In his band as well.


EURO BIKE
Dylan is a cool kid.
Round 20 yrs old.
Good drummer.
And a good guitar player.
And he’s got the gift of taste.
He just knows what is good
Musically
And what sucks.
We leave the Boo Boo show.
Head up the street to another bar.
As we’re walking,
He tells me there aren’t a lot of homeless people
In Holland.
But that the one’s that are homeless
Are usually drug addicts.
Most of them get by on stealing bikes
And selling them for $5 euros.
“But you can talk them down to 3 euros,” he says.
Not five minutes later a guy
Walks past us, pushing a bike.
“Five euros,” he says.
“I’ll give you three,” I say.
“Ok.”
I give him three euros.
I think Dylan gave him an extra euro.
And I have a bike.
We ride to a hole in the wall Dutch bar
Owned by a Scottish, ex-Navy man.
The place is empty except
For three guys playing cards in a corner.
We drink beer.
The places is dense with smoke, old wood,
and dirt.
“This is the true Dutch experience,” says Dylan.
The vice-president of the Dutch educational system
Or something like that
Shows up.
He’s a friend of the family.
Also an old guitar player.
His name is Eddie.

     (L-R: Dege, Eddie the Vice-Chancellor, Dylan)

He drives an expensive car and wears a suit.
But he likes to party, hang, and get drunk.
Which is what we do.
The true Dutch experience.
The evening rolls on.
We’re all drunk.
We roll out.
Time to go home.
Exit the bar.
Eddie, drunk,
Hopes on my newly purchased bike
And wildly pedals it up the street
Back and forth a few times.
I take his picture.
He gives me the bike back.
Hops in his nice car
And disappears
Into one side of the night
And we, the other.


    The "Vice-Chancellor of Education"
    In Holland riding my bike.


      Dylan. Dude's going to be a monster musician one day.


THE DUTCH & SPRINKLES
11.8.11
Note.
The Dutch love peanut butter.
Theo claims they invented it.
I need to do some research
To see if this is true.
That put it on a lot of stuff.
Even more than they love
Peanut butter,
They love sprinkles.
Little chocolate sprinkles
That you put on cupcakes.
It’s really kind of cute.
When a person from Holland
Asks if you would like
Some “sprinkles,”
You cannot help but smile.
It’s a major part of their food thing.
Upon further research
I discover a Dutchman
Invented chocolate sprinkles.
His name is Gerard de Vries.
Look him up.
The Dutch put sprinkles
On everything.
It’s like everyone is a kid
And wants sprinkles.
Even the way the Dutch
Say the word sprinkles
Is endearing.
They get a contented gleam
In their eyes
And the word rolls
Off their tongue
Like little Christmas bells.
Jingling.




BJORN’S HOUSE
11.8.11
Bjorn picks me up.
We roll to his house
Which is near the German border.
I watch the scenery unspool.
The Netherlands.
Autumnal beiges
And the wheat flap.
And the straw barley yapping by
Off the flat track of the land
Spinning off into the distance.
Farmhouses.
Barns.
Windmills.
Canals.
I think of all
The blood and revolutions
Plagues and executions
Cradled in the ancient dirt
Of Europe.




**
Bjorn and I arrive at his house.
Meet his wife and daughter.
Nice family.
Eat a good meal
Composed of rice, sausage
And peanut butter.



GIG: CULTUURHUIS, HEERLEN, HOLLAND
11.8.11
Gig is at a city art’s center.
Community funded.
Nice place. Good sound.
Before gigs,
I try to be quiet and read.
And not talk.
Just to save my voice.
Still dealing with the snot
And scratchy voice.
But for me,
That is near impossible.
I like to talk too much
And vibe with people.
But I need to shut up
And just be quiet.
I find a bathroom
On the other side of the building.
I hide out in it
For awhile,
Sitting on the floor
Reading.
Then I play.
Gig. Good.
Attentive artsy crowd.
Finish up.
Load out.
Roll back to Bjorn’s
Where I sleep on a cot
In the computer room.
It’s actually really comfy.





BELGIUM
11.9.11
WEDNEDAY
I’m playing at a biker bar in Belgium.
Bjorn the Road Manager
Is my minder for this leg of the tour.
Venue is loud and rowdy.
Lot of chatter.
I take note that
The spacey, slide-scape jams
Might not go over too well here.
The attention span is too short
And the focus is on partying.
Fuck it.
I plug in my gear.
The step-down transformer, once again,
Blows the breaker on the venue.
They flip the lights back on
And find a better outlet
To plug it into,
Which usually solves the problem.
I crank into the set.
About 45 min in,
My stomp box breaks.
It is pretty much just a piece of wood
With a pick-up in it.
When you stomp on it,
It sort of sounds like a kick drum.
Nonetheless,
The thing breaks.
Bjorn unplugs it while
I am still playing
And goes to work on it
At the soundboard with
The soundman and another guy.
I segue into
…drumroll…
Space jam, slide-scape.
Fuck it,
I stretch that thing out
For 10-15 mins
While
In the back of the club
I can see my stompbox
Being operated on
Under a flashlight
By Bjorn and the other guys.
I take a 20 min break.
Check in with Bjorn.
They’re in the middle
Of what looks like
Open heart surgery
On my stompbox.
Glue gun.
Solder.
Duct tape.
Miraculously, Bjorn resuscitates it.
It’s alive, again.
Fucking A.
Here’s to you, Bjorn.


    Open-heart surgery on the Stompbox.



      Bjorn Maessen, leg breaker, P/T road manager.

Bjorn is a road warrior.
Over the past 10 yrs,
He’s been a roadie, stagehand,
And road manager
For hundreds of European
And American band tours.
Punk, metal, rock, roots, folk,
Blues, ska.
He’s done them all.
We met six yrs ago.
He was the European road manager
For that CC Adcock tour
I did in 2005.
On the first day we met, I said,
“By the end of this tour, you will hate
Everyone in this band.
And I will be one of your
Good buddies.”
Such was/is the case.
With the stompbox fixed,
I roll back into the set
And crank out another
Hour + of tunes.
We hang for a bit afterward
Then
Load out.
Roll into the night
Weaving through
Skinny
Belgium roads
Roundabouts
Nameless intersections
Miles of highway.
Miles of night
And the theater of stars
Hovering above us.


11.10.11
GIG & RADIO SHOW
THE BUNKER
GEMERT, HOLLAND

The venue is another community arts center.
It’s called The Bunker.
It’s got its own radio station,
Music venue,
And production facility.
And some other stuff.
Not sure what.
Everyone that works here
Seems really cool
With an earthy,
Rather than urban,
Punk rock vibe.
Load in.
Sound check.
Then I do an interview
For a radio show called
“Lost in the Blues”
or maybe
“Hotdogs & Cool Cats.”
Not sure which,
As the bumpers
Are all in Dutch.
The host is named is an interesting guy.
He asks pretty good questions.
He gets it.
It’s not just “blues.”
It’s whatever it is.
Even I don’t know
What it is.
Only time decides
What your shit is.
Nothing else.
Not hype.
Not sales.
Not promo.
Just time.
The gig goes well.
Locals gave me
The amputated leg
of a mannequin.
"Dege leg."

Lost in the Blues Radio Show:
Lost in the Blues Radio Show, Holland, 2011-11-10





11.11.11
GIG: AARSCHOT, BELGIUM
Notes on Theo
Theo picks me up
And we roll
To the next venue
In Belgium.
Notes on Theo.


      Theo: Booker, road manager, good guy.


The guy is total class act.
He is huge music fan.
Turned me on to so much
Stuff I'd never heard of.
It’s obvious from the way
He conducts himself
And how the people
Around treat him,
That he is a well liked
And respected person
In Dutch music circles.
Really good dude.
Totally sober
Devoted to his wife
And he’s not a greed hound.
I thank the gods
For bringing good people
Like Theo
Into my life
And leaving the bastards
At bay.
I don’t need anymore bastards.
Fuck them.

**
The venue
Is a small bar
Run by an interesting
Guy name Jokah.
Like Joker.
But with no R.
Theo splits.
He is spending time
With his wife
In Holland,
So I am on my own.
Before he leaves,
I ask Theo
Where the hell am I
Staying at after the gig?
Theo tells me that
The club has booked
Me a room at a place
Called “The Castle.”
Some kind of hotel.
I guess.
So I’m on my own
In Belgium.
Fuck it.

**
First thing I notice
Upon arrival
At the venue De Loods
Is
There’s no PA.
Just a Marshall combo
And a mic.
Insert: worried face.
Jokah calls a few Belgian guys
Who haul some more small amps
Down to the venue
And we Frankenstein
A makeshift PA together.’
It’s pretty ghetto,
But it works.
And it doesn’t sound too bad.
Fuck it.
The venue,
Which is next to an art gallery,
Fills up quickly.
I meet and talk with
A Belgian music writer
Named Mieke Geukens
Who wrote a nice review
Of my Folk Songs record
And voted it the top album
Of 2010.
Nice!
Nice lady.
I get lucky sometimes.
We shoot some photos
And make arrangements
To do an interview
In the future.

This was her Top Albums of 2010 list:
1. BROTHER DEGE - FOLK SONGS OF THE AMERICAN LONGHAIR
2. MORELAND & ARBUCKLE - FLOOD
3 .COTTON BELLY’S - COTTON BELLY’S
4 .SPIKEDRIVERS - SEVEN
5. MAVIS STAPLES - YOU ARE NOT ALONE
6. LIZZ WRIGHT - FELLOW SHIP
7. NATALIE MERCHANT - LEAVE YOUR SLEEP
8. HT ROBERTS - SPIRIT LEVEL
9. RYAN BINGHAM & THE DEAD HORSES - JUNKY STAR
10. TOM FELDMANN & THE GET-RITES - TRIBUTE - THE GOSPELS SIDES

With slight trepidation
I begin the set
And
Lean into the Frankenstein PA
And kick out the jams.
It works.
Crowd hangs with me
And follows
All the trajectory of the set
And
All the ambient detours.
Nice.
I like it when
I don’t have to be an entertainer
And can just be an artist.
Sure, it sounds indulgent.
But I know I’m not a great entertainer
Nor a virtuosic musician.
I’m an artist
Disguised as a musician.




**
The gig goes well.
Crowd hangs in there till the end.
Play an encore.
I hang out with the locals.
Cool people, Belgians.
I know there’s
A long historical rivalry
Between Belgians and the Dutch,
But both are, in general,
Cool motherfuckers.
I haven’t met one asshole
On this entire tour.
Amazing.
In America,
They’re everywhere.
I wonder if it’s because
I’m a guest in this country
And I can’t recognize
The assholes.



THE ILLUMINATI LODGE
Aarschot, Belgium
After the gig.
I have no idea where
I am sleeping tonight.
Theo is gone.
I was told I had
A room booked
At some place
Called The Castle.
Jokah offers to let me
Crash at his house.
I think about.
But
I’ve spend the past 10 days
Being around other people.
It would be nice to just
Be
Alone.
For a night at least.
I could rest my voice.
Lounge.
Relax.
And
Be alone.
Which is nice sometimes.
If I crash at Jokah’s house
I know I’ll end up drinking,
Smoking cigarettes,
And staying up later
Than I should.
I politely thank Jokah
For the offer
And opt to stay
At The Castle.
I need some alone time.
Thankfully,
No one takes offense.
Arrangements are made
To bring me to the Castle.
We load my gear into
The car of a guy named Jimmy.
Jimmy works at the Castle.
He’s got the keys.
He will drive me.
We roll out
Through the dark
Belgian countryside.
Down skinny winding roads.
30 min later,
Turn a corner
And there,
Lit in the distance
Is The Castle.
It’s a creepy looking place
Place made of the freemason’s stones.
It doesn’t look so much
Like a castle
As some kind of medieval lodge.
We unload my gear,
Walk in,
And strangely,
No one is there.
The whole place is empty.
No staff.
No guests.
No nothing.
It’s like The Shining.
Jimmy leads me upstairs,
Down a long hallway,
And to my room.
Room #9.
He opens the door.
I lug in my gear.
Drop it on the floor.
We say our goodbyes
And Jimmy leaves.
I’m alone in the Castle.
The room is just a regular
Hotel room.
Bed, bathroom, TV, dresser.
Nice, but nothing extravagant.
I shower, relax.
Watch some TV.
It’s 2:40 a.m.
Eventually; I grow bored
I get up to smoke a cigarette outside.
Walk around the place.
Once again,
It’s like I’m in the movie The Shining.
There’s classical statues here and there.
A large ballroom room
And dining area
With a white grand piano
And
Dinner tables covered
With white table clothes.
Spooky.
Once, again.
There’s no one here.
Not a soul.
I find a sculpture
Of an owl
And get the Illuminati creeps.
I get the feeling that
This place is 
Some kind Bohemian Grove-style
Illuminati lodge.
It’s got a dark, aristocratic vibe.
I smok.
Walk around
Space out.
Back in my room.
There’s just eerie silence.
I feel like Scatman Crothers
Is going to walk around the corner
At any minute.

**
MORNING AT THE ILLUMINATI LODGE
After a night
Fighting for sleep
In the Illuminati lodge,
I finally crash into my dreams
And
Lay there till morning.
None of which
I can remember.
I smoke.
Walk about the exterior
Of the lodge.
Discover a lake.
More statues.
Stare into the leaves.
Ground.
Water.
Smoke levitating
In the still air.
And still,
Not a soul around.
How weird.
How strange
That I ended up here.

      Photos of The Illuminati Lodge, Belgium


  
  
   
  


BRUGGE, BELGIUM
At some point
Theo and I drove 
Through an ancient town 
in Belgium
Named Brugge.
It's been arround
Since the middle ages
Maybe longer.
It began as a Gallic-Roman settlement.
It’s pretty amazing.
There’s an actual mote around
The old section of the city.
Much of its ancient architecture
Is still intact.
In America,
We freak out when we see
Something 100 yrs old.
In Europe,
The scale of history
Dwarfs it.





BLAUBLUES, HARINGE, HOLLAND
11.12.11
Theo picks me up at “The Castle.”
He trips out on the place, too.
And decides to take some pictures.
We walk around.
He takes photos.
Then
We load up
And drive to Haringe, Belgium
For the next gig.


BLAU BLUES, GIG
11.12.11
I’m playing in a tent.
It’s a blues festival
In Belgium somewhere.
I’ve got a tent stage.
And a big ass tent PA.
Nice.
All to myself.
The contract calls for 3
30 min sets.
When a band from the venue
Connected to my tent finishes,
I bang through a set.
It’s a good night.
Maybe the best of the tour.
200-300 people fill the tent.
Sounds is great.
Crowd rocks.
The acoustics of the tent
And the sound system
Allow my to feed back
The Dobro
For
Long stretches
Without it being too harsh.
During the last set,
I close with “Battle of New Orleans”
And segue into the section of the song
Where I layer loops and feedback,
Emulating the sound of hurricane.
It usually separates the tourists
From the purists.
It’s noisy, loud,
Rumbling,
And
Not easy listening.
After I fade out the hurricane,
I grind into a Hendrix-inspired version
Of the Star-Spangled Banner,
Played on slide.
They tent crowd calls from one more.
I pull out
“The World’s Longest Hotdog”
And riff on frikandels and shit.
“Hotdog” is probably the most
Serious song I’ve ever written.
I’m joking of course.
James Taylor probably wishes
He wrote that bitch.
It’s moving and emotional.
The song came to me like a dove
And flew into my hands
With its wings gently wafting
On the breeze.
After the show,
A French artist guy
Showed my his sketch book.
He did these while I played:


 


Also,
At this gig,
Who was also playing 
At this festival.
Bob played guitar
in Muddy Water's band
From 1973-80
And even appeared
Muddy taught him
How to play slide.
Bob watched my set 
From the side of the stage.
After we talked shit,
Drank beer.
Of course,
I asked him
A bunch of fanboy questions
About Muddy.
Bob was so chill
Approachable and cool.
Another musician 
Who isn't an asshole.
What a great dude.
So grateful I get
The opportunity 
To meet such good people.




DE BROUWERIJ, ASTEN, HOLLAND
11.13.11
Last gig of the tour.
A guy that makes
Cigar box guitars
Has a display set up.
These things are the rage
Right now.
This guy’s box guitars
Sound really good.
Sound better
Than my fucking Dobro.
Fuck it.
I’ll play cheap shit till
I die.
It still sounds good.
Speaking of which,
I notice my pick-up jack
Is coming loose on my Regal.
Something is always breaking
Or falling apart
Or being reborn
On tour.
Such is life.
Fuck it.
And move on.
And don’t complain too much.
It’s bad form.


**
I tear into the last set.
Try to make it count.
I play two sets.
Close with the layers,
Loops,
Scapes,
And noise.
I walk out
With the Dobro
Leaning against the amp,
Still cycling feedback,
Sending a little mayday transmission
To the dark stars.



    The last note of the tour. (Theo)


11.14.11 – Amsterdam / Rated - PG
I wake early.
Pack my shit.
Say goodbye
To the ghost of Townes.
Wish him luck.
Theo drops me at the train station.
We say our goodbyes.
I thank him.
He’s a total class act, that Theo.
I catch the noon train to Amsterdam.
Then catch a cab to the hotel.
Toss my crap in room.
And walk to the Van Gogh Museum.
I love Van Gogh.

After reading the “Lust for Life” bio
In the 90’s.
I was hooked.
Van Gogh’s story
And art
Will break your heart.
After that,
I cab it to the Anne Frank house,
Which is interesting.
And sad.
It’ll bum you out.
But that’s history.
Fuck it.
Last time I was
On tour here,
We got wasted,
And threw done.
This time around
My shit is totally square.
And PG-13.
Museums, food, books.
I love it.
It’s a different time.
I’m at a different place
In my life.
I like it here.
It’s nice to grow up
And
Act sort of normal.
Fuck it.

**
My Morning Jacket
Paradiso Club
Amsterdam
Damn these dudes are good.
Been a fan
Of My Morning Jacket
Since ’00 or so
But I’d never seen them live.
Seen footage, but not live.
All I have to say is:
Daaaammmmmmnnnnn.
MMJ are so good.
What a great band.
They were so killer,
I couldn’t even be jealous.
They’ve got the great vibe.
Amazing tunes.
Ripping players.
Each of them are just monsters.
Guitarist Carl Broemel is a fiend.
Damn that dude was good.
Working overtime on his shit.
On stage,
They come off
Like good buddies
Just
Rocking together.
Jesus, they were great.
Glad I finally caught them live.
Damn.
Damn.
Damn.
END OF TOUR.


    R.I.P. BIG DOYLE BRAMHALL



Near the end of the tour
I learned via text message,
From CC,
That my ex-band mate and friend
Had passed away in Texas.
Sad, sad news.
I played with him for two years
During my short tenure
In CC Adcock’s band.
It was good time.
He was a great dude.
Total sweetheart.
Full of soul.
Talented as fuck.
Kind.
Gentle.
Soft spoken.
And
Most importantly
Always humble.
If you’re not familiar
With Doyle,
Just Google him.
He wrote and played
With a lot of legendary musicians
Over the years
Most notably Stevie Ray Vaughan,
But there are so many others.
He resume is like a who’s who
List of American rock & roll
And roots music.
In addition,
Big Doyle,
Along with many others,
Aided in making Austin, TX
The creative mecca
That it is today.
Six years ago,
In spring 2005,
I toured Europe with Big Doyle
In CC’s band.
We traveled by van.
Nothing fancy.
Pretty lean by most standards.
Doyle hung in there
Better than dudes
Half his age.
Few, if any, complaints.
And he played great
Every night.
He’d been completely sober
For decades by then.
By I took notice
Of how he carried himself.
Kept it low to the ground.
He was one of the guys
That showed me
That you could
Make music
Tour
And have a family
Without having to completely
Succumb to the rock & roll
Lifestyle.
That it was possible
To be successful
With being a total ass.
Here’s to you, buddy.
Wherever you are out there.


Interview with Legendary Texas Musician & Songwriter, Doyle Bramhall Sr.
Airport. Hamburg, Germany
5.11.05
While on tour in 2005, Doyle and I, as well as the rest of CC Adcock’s band,
were stick in Hamburg, Germany on 2-3 hour layover. Just to kill time, and to pick his brain, I asked Doyle if he’d mind if I taped our conversation while we shot the shit.

This is that conversation / interview.

Tell me some cool stories about touring in the sixties.
Well, for one, we used to have a bass player who slept with his eyes open…and snored at the same time.

That’s weird.
Yeh, kind of creepy.

How did ya’ll get around back then? You have van?
I was playing in the Chessmen (Legendary Texas Psy/Rock Band) and we traveled around in a hearse.

A hearse?
Well, in those days you didn’t have as many vans and stuff like now, so most of the bands used hearses to haul their equipment around in. It was one of the only things that would hold all the gear and stuff.

Nice.
Yeh, it was funny to see—a bunch of rock & roll bands—kids really—driving around during the peace and love sixties in hearses.

In Texas, no less.
I know. We used to get a lot of funny looks from rednecks and families. And we were the first band that I know of to get one. Within a year, everybody had a hearse.

That’s badass. I can see it.
We eventually upgraded to an old school bus…to fit all our stuff, the roadie, and ourselves. Our first gig in it was at a car convention in New Orleans where the Bat Mobile was the main attraction. So anyway…we took off down I-10, all excited about our new, used bus and the gig and all.

Ready to rock.
Everything went smooth. It ran well. Then we got to that big bridge in Baton Rouge.

The Mississippi River Bridge.
Yeh…that big, steep bridge. Well, the driver didn’t take into consideration that we might need to get going really fast to get over the incline…so we got about two-thirds up the bridge…and the bus started struggling and popping out of gear. Fucker wouldn’t stay in gear but a few seconds, then it’d pop out. We kept grinding our way up, gradually losing more and more speed…until all of a sudden…we began rolling backwards…wrong way down the bridge. We were all screaming and freaking out, thinking we were gonna die. There were cars passing us, honking and cussing. So we all ran to the front of the bus and started grabbing the gearshift, trying to help the driver shove it back in gear. And it kept popping back out and grinding. Finally, one of the guys took off his belt and lashed it around the gearshift to the emergency brake—to hold it in place—and somehow, it worked. Kept it in gear. And we made it over that fucking bridge, over the hill, and into New Orleans. Played the gig. Had a good time. But on the way back, you can bet your ass we got that bus moving at a good clip on our approach to that bridge so we wouldn’t have a replay of the day before. And we made it over all right and back to Texas. But then—wouldn’t you know it—we were 5mins outside of Dallas and it died on us—just quit on us, completely. And we never took that piece of shit out again. Our “new bus” lasted exactly one gig.

Great story. What year was that?
1967.

Then it was back to the hearses.
Yep.

So those things ran pretty good? Who made them?
Cadillac. I think we ended up getting a ’59, I think. Around that same time—for another gig—we hired this guy to drive for us. We had a gig in Houston. Made it there. We played the gig. It was a good show, but we were pretty tired, so we decided to drive back to Dallas that night after the gig. So the guy that was hired to drive us and load the equipment got behind the wheel and we headed home. About an hour outside of Houston, we all crashed out, except, the guy driving.

Of course.
It was a long drive. I was sound asleep—I don’t know for how long—but then, for some reason, I woke up…looked out the window…and we were in mid-air.

What the fuck happened?
Well, it turns out the guy had fallen asleep behind the wheel, crossed the median, crossed the other lane, and blew down into a deep ravine. We came out of that ravine with all that speed and launched ourselves about 20 feet in the air, through a fence, and into a dead stop in a farmer’s field. We came to a dead stop in the middle of this field. Middle of the night. And remember, I’d just woken up…and I look over…and there’s goddamn cow just standing there looking at me.

Eye to eye with that cow.
10 feet away…just standing there chewing on some grass. He didn’t even flinch. 

What was it like playing with Lightnin’ Hopkins?
It was great. Loved it, but it could be tough, because Lightnin’ kind of played at his own tempo and time. Never knew when he was going to change. He used to say, “Lightnin’ change when he wanna change.” So he was always throwing the band off with the changes. A lot stops and breaks, here and there. It was always different all the time.

That’s tough to follow.
And the house was always packed for his gigs and if you didn’t hit the change right, he’d stop the show…and point you out to the crowd. And then he’d say something like, “Me and the bass player gotta get it together” or “Me and the guitar player gotta get it together” or whoever.

Did he ever call you out?
No, fortunately he didn’t. I guess I passed the test.

What was he like off stage?
He was kind of ornery. You didn’t want to piss him off. He was a great storyteller and he was just great to play with, but he kind of an ornery guy.

Did ya’ll ever play “Give Me Back Wig” or “Wig Wearing Woman” or whatever that song’s called? I love that song.
No, that was Hound Dog Taylor.

The guy with six fingers?
Yeh, that’s him. Stevie did a version of that.

How was it?
Great. It was never released, but it was recorded.

How much unreleased Stevie Ray Vaughan material is there?
Probably not a lot of recordings, but there’s a bunch of video footage.

Stuff that’s yet to be compiled for DVD?
Yeh. I’m sure there’s enough stuff out there to where, every year, something could be released.

How was it that you and Jimmie and Stevie all met?
I was already in the Chessmen…I’d joined at the end of 1964. And in 1966, one of the founding members, Robert Patton, drowned…at a lake in Dallas, in a hazing accident—really a shame…just stupid stuff—a waste of life. But anyway, we ended up holding auditions at this club in Dallas and we had several guitar players come in and play. And one of them was recommended by our other guitar player. He said, “I know this 15 year old kid from Oak Cliff named Jimmie Vaughan that’s really good. We ought to try him out.” So Jimmie came out to the club the next day just blew everybody away and we hired him immediately. And as most people know, Stevie was Jimmie’s little brother. After Jimmie joined the band, Stevie started hanging out as well.

Ya’ll were just kids at time?
Yeh, we were young. I was 17. Jimmie was 15. And Stevie was a few years younger.

That must’ve been an awesome experience, being that young and playing in a gigging band in the 60s.
Yeh, it was great. I’ll never forget that time as long as I live. And believe it or not, we were making a lot of money.

Seriously?
Yeh, I was 17, driving a brand new GTO and had a song on the radio. I remember driving up to school and my song would be playing on the radio. It was good time. The disc jockey in Dallas knew I was still in high school and asked me what time I got to school in the morning. I told him I usually get there about 7:45 a.m. in the morning. So for about two weeks, at about that time in the morning, he’d play our song.

I bet that did wonders for your self-esteem.
Ah, man, it was great. After about the fifth day of that, everyone in the parking lot would be standing out there jamming it on their car radios with me. I ended up dating the head cheerleader. After that, that football team hated my fucking guts!

What was Austin like in the sixties?
It wasn’t as big as it is now, but it was still a lot of fun. You know, Farrah Fawcett went to UT? She’d come to our gigs, party, and having a good time.

Was she hot back then, too?
Oh, she was real hot. Farrah and her gang would come out to the shows a lot. University of Texas in the sixties was beautiful.

Summer of Love.
Yes, it was.

Rest in Peace
Doyle Bramhall Sr.
1949-2011

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