Sunday, March 18, 2007

the home stretch

ere i am
in my home away from home
the studio
we're putting the finishing touches on the record now
after a few weeks off while i've written some music for some video games, and started producing a new bunch of songs for naimee coleman

it's exciting
to see how the new record has developed over the last year of on and off recording
i think yer gonna dig it
there're gonna be 11 brand new songs once it's done
two of them go to the mixer tomorrow (dave trumfio - wilco, ok go)
looking forward to hearing what he does with them

one of the new ones, ride, has been licensed by the new kevin williamson show, "hidden palms," which isn't out yet, but that's a promising sign. we're gonna do a video for that one as well, starring kaitlin olson who's been in all sorts of great stuff. she's a friend, and she rules, and she likes my music, which makes her rule even more.

it's funny. i feel like i'm ready to make a new record. i think i'd do the next one the same way. it's nice to take your time. yet it's only been 2 yrs since i the last one came out. but i guess it'd be good to get the next one out with a little less time in between. this paragraph is totally meaningless. on to the next one.

hope everyone is well. once this record's really done (mid-april?), i'll plan some sort of big cd release bash. where?

oh, and the north la brea all star conquistadors (me, jay nash, adrianne, and garrison starr) are going on a brief tour of the east coast in late may. so look out for that.

ok.

back to protools. gotta sing a few harmonies, re-write the lyrics to a bridge to one of the new ones, and possibly go to bed.

love,
gm

Monday, January 22, 2007

sundance

sundance was dope
had a fabulous time
nice to be in a real cold climate to be reminded of why we live in los angeles...

much much love to the amazing fans who travelled from denver, an 8 hour drive, to see me. i wound up totally changing my planned set cuz it was a slightly raucous club, and that seemed to work, had a great little show and a great great time playing with matty d on bass, marco m on drums, a little jay nash guitar and some katy perry vocals. hanging with the hotel cafe crew is always a party, i'll put up some new pics for you to check out in a minute.

other than that, the hotel was THE BOMB, so thanks to draven & jay & marko for that. and also thanks to brett denney for hooking up a great radio show at kwcr, weber state radio in utah - soon there'll be some video from that when he gets a chance to edit...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

it's the day before my birthday

it's the day before my birthday
and i've got a moment to write
so here i am
with a little update
but don't get me a gift, really, it's fine
most of you probably get my emails, if you don't, go to gabrielmann.com and sign up for my list - so this will have some of the same info, some new

the most important issue at hand is that "go up to go down" is gonna be featured in abc's "what about brian" on monday, jan 22, so that's exciting. i'm not sure exactly where/when it happens, but it plays for like a minute and a half, so that's pretty good. hopefully you'll hear it, or even better, hopefully you're reading this cuz you heard it and you never heard of me before but somehow you figured out how to find me. these tv placements are pretty major, it's like radio for the indie artist, and i certainly have had limited radio play, and i certainly am indie, so there you have it. hopefully my shit is blowing up as we speak.

so here i am...

in other news, the new record is killing. i'm so psyched about it, i can't believe it. we've been making it on and off for about a year, & every time we finish a song i'm like "yeah, that rules," and now that we're nearing the end, we've got all these songs which i think are so great, the album is just gonna be killer. i actually just wrote what probably will be the last one, it's called "this feeling," and maybe it's about love, but it's kindof more about knowing that there's some good thing out there that you're waiting for, and you want it to treat you right. it's kind of a song of love's personification, or something.
but i think the best song is going to be either "slow motion" or "just fine with me." but don't listen to me. you be the judge...

i predict a march-ish release. gotta finish everything within the next couple weeks, then get it mixed, mastered, printed, artwork, etc........

and

i'm going to sundance this weekend with the hotel cafe folks, so hopefully i'll have some time thereafter to write more. i'd like to keep the blog going more regularly than once every 8 months or so. we'll see how that goes. oh, and this saturday while at sundance i'm doing a radio show on kwcr, 11a, 88.1 FM, in ogden, utah (weber state university). a.m. and i are going up together, should be good times, great oldies...

Friday, May 19, 2006

chainstoredevelopmenthell.

where were we?

where are we?

ultimately we arrived in reno, nevada, pretty late, and stayed with joel ackerson (singer/songwriter there) & his housemates julia and mckenzie. passed out pretty quickly, got up for some hardcore basketball in beautiful downtown reno, which really is beautiful, as long as you stay away from virginia st. where the dregs of the universe are trying their luck in the casinos. yikes.
there’s a river going right through downtown, with a city-sponsored kayaking course that seems well-used. beautiful. anyway, as i was saying, played some serious ball, got some serious sunburn, and generally got some good exercise going. back to chez ackerson for r&r, showers, nap.
reno’s basically a desert nestled at the foot of some mountains, on the other side of which sits lake tahoe. apparently paul mccartney’s got a place there where he hangs every once in a while and plays an impromptu show at a local pub. reno show was at a microbrewery, so we had to sample the local stuff, which was fabulous i must say. spurs won by a point to stay alive in the western conference semifinals, which is nice but doesn’t ease any fears about their potential early exit from the nba playoffs. that would be very disappointing... anyway, amber rubarth opened the night, then zack, then me, and i must say, all things considered, a very nice night, lots of good people, much of the reno music scene turned out thanks to amber & joel, lotsa good love in the room, people who care about music enough to not stay at home and watch american idol. i will say that it’s a pleasure, after a many shows of being an unknown entity (which has its own appeal), to have some requests from the audience, people who know my stuff. makes you feel like somewhere somehow somebody cares... awwwwwww.
stayed up late partying at chez ackerson with many of the peeps from the show, got up early and played ball again, now we’re back on the road, but not before a laundry delay, and a near loss of brian’s cell phone. it was in his shoe.
we’re at the top of those mountains now, the ones between reno and tahoe and california, on our way to ukiah this afternoon. show tonight is late, i think i go on at midnight or something. oh, and gas has gone back up in price. just fillederup for $54. oy.

lonesome dove success – stopped outside sacramento and found a target in the middle of a huge chain store development, you know, the kind where they try to make all the stores look different but in so doing they all look the same. anyway, they had lonsesome dove for like $9. SWEET. watched the rest of it over the next couple drives, what a beautiful story, worth checkin’ out if you haven’t seen it.

chain store development - home depot, walmart, petsmart, ross, starbucks, barnes&noble, target, best buy, chilis, linens&things, tgi fridays, sonic, qdoba mexican grill, sleep train, michaels, staples, sprint, chiptole, old navy, hooters. this is one of the amazing things about the united states, and one of the horrible things. homogenization. and yet, look at the bounty you can indulge in within a square mile. this country’s got it all, yet we still complain about our taxes. unbelievable.

the drive to ukiah takes us past clearlake, california, a gorgeous area with houses all along the shore. then up through miles and miles of hills, finally winding into mendocino county (part of the tricounty area with sonoma and napa). ukiah (backwards = haiku) is your basic one horse town, and the ukiah brewing company its main watering hole. met cas lucas there, dealt with lack of p.a. system, ate and got into some good microbrewed beers for the rest of the night, played a few songs here and there, then got to zack’s sister angie’s house to crash for the night. she made us some chicken apple sausage scrambled eggs toast & tea for “breakfast” at about 2p. sweet. love the days with short drives. just have to get to berkeley tonight, about a half hour down the road from fremont.

Monday, May 15, 2006

pomeroy.

pomeroy are not only a supertight band, they’re a bunch of great guys. i sat in with zack on some more tunes to rock it up a bit, then a bunch of pomeronians joined for the last tune for the full rocktential.
hung out for a bit at the granada, a big rock club in the middle of lawrence, kansas, where the university of iowa is. great little town, great club, good people, all in all a great night. drove a few hours (not me – adam, i think, i was in the back crashed out hard) ‘til we arrived somewhere called hays, iowa, where all hotels were full due to graduation from somewhere. continued on another half hour, found a vacant hotel, crashed ‘til 11a this morning, took off.

i felt like driving today, so basically drove from wherever we were in iowa across kansas & through denver, up the hill a little bit towards aspen. unfortunately booking wouldn’t allow a denver show before aspen, so we’re going through denver to aspen (3 hours beyond), then back to denver tomorrow night before shooting across to salt lake city. insanity, but such is tour. the drive was just beautiful, totally serene, adam/zack/brian were reading most of the time, i was kinda in the zone, enjoying the scenery of barns, land, sprinklers, other travelers, and listening to satellite radio. as we approached the outskirts of denver, the rocky mountains began appearing on the horizon.
this made me wonder how it must have felt to be an early settler of this country, heading west across flat flat flat flat flat land for weeks, then slowly beginning to notice the hulking, majestic peaks ahead. oh crap, one might have thought, if one were headed to the west coast or something.

after a short baseball toss at a local gas station (replete with old school spigots with spinning mechanical numbers), we’re back on the road and rising by the minute, passing little ski resorts along the way. so suddently so different, the terrain. there’s still lotsa snow on the ground, but apparently not enough for skiing. pine trees dominate the landscape, with perfect streams/rivers winding along below the roads.

--

the belly up in aspen is a world class venue in one of the most idyllic settings i’ve ever seen. mountains tower over the city of aspen, and we arrived to perfect weather. anyway, the belly up has hosted tons of huge artists.and it was a pleasure to be on such a great stage in such a great place. great dinner, hotel, and plenty of sleep that night before driving to denver.

zack has a friend who works at an incredible restaurant in denver’s lodo (lower downtown), mccormick & schmick’s or something like that. i think it was in like a hundred-something year old hotel, really tall ceilings, seafood shipped in twice daily. incredible. huge meal, totally covered by glauco from m&s. really appreciate it, dude, and thanks for coming to the show, what a great night.

some great old friends came out of the woodwork for the walnut room show in denver, a relatively new venue with great sound, a great soundman, and all in all great vibe. thanks to all of them, and apologies to the rosses, who weren’t allowed entrance with their baby daughter! next time... played with rachel cantu and tyler james, both will be there tonight as well in salt lake city. this was a particularly great show, dunno if i’ve made that clear...
watched an awful movie (or rather, zack and brian did, while adam and i listened from the front seats) on the first leg of our drive this morning, called “kingdom of heaven” with orlando bloom and liam neeson. it’s basically nonstop fight scenes in the crusades. pretty rough, but passed a good couple hours in the car as we went through the wyoming countryside, where it looks like there’s lots of oil drilling going on far off the road. there’re lots of dilapidated trailer parks around, where i’m assuming the employees of these oil companies live.
adam’s trying to keep time between aerosmith’s “walk this way” and the bumps on the road. the scenery is slowly changing as we get into utah, red hills, bigger hills after the rolling short ones in southwest wyoming.
with satellite you hear stuff you don’t hear on normal radio, like billy joel’s “big shot,” which is on now. and lots of phil collins and genesis, which is fascinating. oh, i should mention that one of the trailer parks was called “point of rock,” where i feel like i’ve been headed my whole life, and another “point of entry.” awesome.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

lonesome dove.

madison, wisconsin seems to be one of a particular variety of cities in the u.s., like burlington vermont, austin tx, boulder co, eugene or, one of those types of great college towns with liberal thinkers and a generally youthful vibe. had some great indonesian food when we rolled in (with a full 2 hours before load-in – what an extravagance), then spent some time on the internet, a rare occurence on a tour that’s mostly van-centric.
the cardinal bar is slightly over 100 years old, great tiled flooring, wood paneling, and local “capitol” beer, delicious. apparently otis redding’s plane went down in a lake right outside this club, when he was on his way to a gig in madison sometime around 1967 or so. pretty intense. the cardinal has been host to many famous acts in its time. had a great show there, played a nice long set as zh and i were the only people on the bill, so that was some good fun. much love to kimmie and adam for coming out...
put star wars on the dvd player when we left madison later that night to get to chicago so we could sleep in and not have to drive the day of the chicago show, a plan which turned out to be pretty smart. once the movie was on it was about 15 minutes before i passed out, then we all rolled out of the car and crashed hard at zack’s friend dan’s place somewhere near the venue in chicago.
woke up around noonish, dan, our host, brought us to lunch/brunch at “hot spot,” a good diner. corned beef hash, mmmmmmmmm. bowled a couple games with our hours off, loaded into the elbo room, played a couple short early sets in a nice little venue, grabbed a late dinner at the golden somethingorother diner, now we’re back in the car and headed halfway to lawrence, kansas. just put on the 1st dvd of the lonesome dove miniseries that zack stole back from his father back in omaha. sweet.

crashed in a classic college apartment in iowa city, iowa, home of, i think, the university of iowa hawkeyes. the place was relatively trashed, cuz people had just finished up their last finals and were headed outta town. i hope. oh, and let’s not forget espn’s coverage of the u.s. open of martial arts (not to be confused with marital arts). lotsa tough dudes breaking things with their bare hands and feet, laying on beds of nails, flipping around in the air. that’s good clean fun.
back on the road to get to lawrence for another show with pomeroy, pride of the midwest rock scene. our schedule has entered a new phase, get up around noon, drive a few hours to the next city, play a show, eat late, drive halfway to the next place, crash. so our timing is off by about 5 or 6 hours from the rest of the civilized universe.

holy crap.
finished episode 2 (of 4 i think) of lonesome dove, only to find that somehow the 2nd dvd is missing. aaaaagggggggghhhhhGGGGGGGGHGHHHHHHHHAaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! what a drag. oh, and zack’s wallet is missing, too, so if you find it, let us know.

neck status: still not so good, though functional.
listening: the shins.
trip odometer: 4444.4

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

trucking

bball killed – my neck is all bent outta shape, and sitting in the car for 3 hours to kansas city is NOT the cure. as usual adam was king, hitting from everywhere, and we found a great pairing of adam/me, brian/zack, which we’ll hopefully have an opportunity to utilize as we move along... lotsa green as we leave omaha, sad to go after a great break, kinda wish it’d’ve been a little later in the tour, actually.
looking forward to tonight’s show though, in kansas city, i’ll have some peeps from st. louis in the house i think, so that’ll be nice, seeing some familiar faces out here.
arrived in kc, loaded in, adam and i split a feast from the jerusalem café and headed to the gig. too much to drink as my st. louis posse kept ‘em coming. had a great show last night, fully rockin’, and stayed out late with a few of the guys from pomeroy, found a hotel somewhere and crashed hard.
last night was evidence of myspace at its best, as much of the audience were folks who found both zack and i online, came out to check it out and they turned into real people, people who wouldn’t’ve known about the show without something like myspace. pretty incredible.

oh, here are some trucking stats for you. we stopped at a gas station on the way to kc mo yesterday, and a trucker was paying for gas when i asked him a few questions.

gm: how much gas you getting?
trucker: 99 gallons.
gm: how much’ll that run you?
t: ‘bout 270.
gm: two hundred and seventy.
t: yup.
gm: is that a lot?
t: not really. my tanks hold a lot more.
gm: how much do they hold?
t: each tank holds about 165 gallons.
gm: two tanks?
t: yeah, so if i fill up, you’re talking 330 gallons, $3 a gallon brings it to about $990 to fill up.

wow.

heading north along route 151, the sky’s getting a little bigger, the clouds are looking more like clouds, as opposed to getneral overcast. we’re passing a small airport in the middle of farm country now, a few planes and a short runway. lots of great old farms out here, classic barns painted red, some new and modern, some old and dilapidated. full rivers, thick groves, ranch houses on large pieces of property, and lots of people driving trucks. one begins to see how extensive touring can get old – back and forth across the country, long hours in the minivan become tiresome. i’ve never been out for longer than a month, and when i have the experiences have been a bit more high profile than this tour, so i guess i’ve had it pretty good, relatively speaking. but variety is the spice of life, and i appreciate this opportunity as much as those with the big acts i’ve toured with – we’ve had great shows so far, and it’s good to get back into the swing of playing lots of shows in a row, feeling the push and pull of time within a song between the wurly and the drums and the vocals, getting to a higher plane of live performance. and sharpening my razor wit, of course.
forgot to mention – lots of pro-life propaganda along the highways here. just passed a great old barn, marred only by the “god bless mommy for giving me life” sign handpainted on the side of the barn. yikes.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

nebraska.

WHEN WE ARE ONE HAS REACHED NO. 40 on the pop charts at the IDOL UNDERGROUND website - go listen, and rate it high so it goes up on the charts and i win a few bucks! let's hear it for love songs...


guess what? today we drove. a lot.
last night was a classic college bar, but with a little nebraska personality for something special. great local band, the darts, closed the night. cunninghams journal (name of the bar) has massive $2 beers on tuesdays. it wasnt tuesday, but owner mike hooked us up with drinks all night, so we were all good. zack sat in and played sax on over the world, which was a party, and at the end of his set i contributed some wurly over a long sax solo. nice...
then we slept. a nice, real sleep, at a genuine hotel. so sweet.
oh, and the spurs closed out the kings, which was nice, though i didnt get to see it.
got on the road around 1130a this morning, headed to omaha, dropped off zack/brians suv, picked up sandwiches, celery, & fruit from mr. & mrs. hexum, and now were on the road to cedar falls, iowa, another college town. lakers are about to start playing the suns for their last game of the first round of the playoffs. zacks very excited. he loves them lakers.
these drives are just endless, really. flat. corn. empty fields. dirt. mechanized watering machines. cows. silos, barns, warehouses, horses, tractors, manmade lakes, blue gas/food/lodging signs every few miles. its an incredible thing, really, this country is so vast, so plentiful. you can drive and drive and drive and theres just miles and miles of plenty.
the reverb in cedar falls, iowa, is a classic old school rock club, lots of wood, some pool tables, and a full on stage with big sound. pomeroy is a big band around here, kinda reminds me of 311, but a little more jammy. great guys, got to hang with them for a little bit, and well see them again for a couple more shows on the tour.

its now may 9, were on the other side of a day off in omaha, so ive got a little catching up to do on the blog tip. we spent the night in cedar falls at brians cousins house hes a great visual artist, im gonna try to figure out a way to get something of his sent out to l.a.... anyway, he and his wife have a great place in cedar falls that cost just about nothing as far as housing goes, and theyve filled it with tons of really cool shit. and its got a nice little dungeon adjacent to the basement.
made our way over to omaha, just a 4 hour drive or so, dropped off zack & brian and took the van a few miles over to curtis grubbs house, singer/guitar player from omahas grasshopper takeover (gto). they lived in l.a. for a stint about 6 years ago, and i wound up producing their international dance marathon record, which is one of only a handful of production projects that i remain totally proud of. we became good friends during the course of our working together, and when we realized wed be in omaha, got back in touch. curtis lives with marcie in a great place off a golf course in omaha. basically everybody out here lives in houses (which is a veritable impossibility for lots of los angelenos, like me); they dont know how good theyve got it.
grubb treated us to dinner at a great tapas place right down the street from micks, and we headed there after filling up on way too much good stuff. micks is kinda like a hotel cafe type vibe, low key, singer/songwriter place, which was a nice change from the cedar falls rock club thing, enables a few more intimate tunes and chill moments in the set. the room was pretty well filled up, had a great show there and met some great people. wound up heading back to grubbs with a decent sized group, including bob from gto and a buncha others. began writing a new tune with grubb at his downstairs studio from about 1a 3a, with the party raging around us.

slept in til 1p. what a pleasure. no driving today. rolled outta bed and headed to ms restaurant in the old market of omaha with marcie/adam/grubb, had some really interesting duck salad and water, sweet water, after a night of too much other stuff. then...
golf. grubb and bob are golfers, both living so close to a nice course, so we spent the afternoon on 9 holes. id never been golfing before, and had a great time, began connecting the ball with the driver off the tee and felt that feeling that so many others have felt before me, that pull of man to golf course that you basically cant understand til youve been there. grubb/bob are good, nailing that ball right down the fairway, know what clubs to use for everything, and how to use em. i did ok, bob claims im the best first time golfer hes ever seen, which is probably just enough to get me to come back for more. what a great way to spend a day, out in the brisk nebraska weather, hitting balls up in the air... adam went running in the area and caught up with us on the last couple holes after running through some peoples games.
picked up some very large omaha t-bone steaks and veggies for a barbecue later on, dropped em off at bob/carmens place, and headed to mi3, which was a great way to relax our brains and bodies for a couple hours. then back to bobs where a great night of wine & food began.
let me tell you something you havent eaten steak until youve eaten steak raised in nebraska. it doesnt taste anything like any meat ive ever eaten. its perfectly tender and rich and just perfect, pretty much impossible to describe, but amazing. so yeah. go get yourself some steaks shipped in from wolmans in omaha for your birthday or something, you wont regret it.
all in all, a fantastic day off, much love to grubb/marcie/bob/carmen for showing us a great time. apparently the state motto in nebraska is the good life. totally.

up early today after getting a good nights normal sleep, time to blog and email before we get back on the road this afternoon. i think were even gonna get some bball in with brian and zack before we take off to kansas city.

hexumann tour begins

tour opens with 23 hour drive, l.a. to dallas to meet zach and brian for the first show at bend studio. we didnt end up leaving til like 1230p, as i wound up having to work in the morning, writing some songs for a lifetime movie with my arrested development partner in crime, david schwartz.
finally got the van, loaded it with gear, and headed to kindalikes headquarters downtown to pick up the NEW TSHIRTS, which are really beautiful. maybe well have some left at the end of these few weeks for you l.a. types... basically that drive is long, like really long, like so long its hard to imagine.
ultimately wound up at chris parkers awesome place in dallas, crashed for 3 hours, showered, and headed to the gig, which was at a yoga studio which has slowly become a venue for singer/songwriters passing through. gig was great, well attended, met some great texans and had some sweet sangria and texas beer.
then we DROVE SOME MORE! but not before stopping at zacks buddy brandons place to catch the overtime period of the lakers/suns 6th game. suns won. great game, though. not that i care if the lakers lose dont mean to be rude, but being from san antonio, its clear where my nba loyalties lie.
leaving dallas on the way to oklahoma was a beautiful, tired drive, with the big texas sky lit up by spring lightning in clouds covering everything. listening to lots of sirius satellite radio comedy to make it to our crashpad... crashed at about 5a after a 3 hour drive up to oklahoma city, another friend of zachs who lives right by the state capitol.
why do all state capitols look the same? adam says its cuz theyre all modeled after the capitol building in dc. is that true? seems to lack a little creativity. and state individuality for that matter.
rained a little bit on the drive today up to kearney, ne, through kansas. were caravan-ing at this point, til tomorrow when zack/brian (zacks tour mgr/videographer/photographer) drop off their rental and we pack into ours. quarters will get a little tight. well all get to know each other more than we probably care to...
listening to tom freund at the moment zacks been on the road for a while now, toured with tom for a couple weeks. tonights show promises to be fascinating, were playing at the university of nebraska on the night of their graduation. crazy college bar scene, should be a fun one.
gas has gotten cheaper over the course of the trip so far, at least til we got to texas-ish. all the way down to the 2.60s at some point. kinda sad that thats cheap... but gas in americas still way cheaper than everywhere else in the world, so just relax, everybody. its all gonna run out sometime soon (relative to the age of the universe) anyway, so we better figure something else out. like now. something like not driving so much.
i actually heard a fascinating thing about that some expert somewhere was discussing how driving IS america. its freedom. get in your own car, go where you want, when you want. the chinese are figuring this out now, with the relaxing of certain rules has come the increased use of personal autos and that feeling americans have come to know and love, that unbridled feeling of joy at getting out on the open road. so we gotta figure out some alternative fuels now, renewable fuels (i hear that brazils got it figured out so theyll be self-sufficient in two years) that keep us driving free but dont destroy our home planet. mkay? so lets get on it.
in the meantime, were guzzling gas on the road to play music for people. is that selfish?

we are now 6 miles outside funk, nebraska. for reals. i'll post a picture of the water tower with "funk" on it soon.

in kearney
at the hotel
ordering some midwest bbq brisket/chicken for me...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

thursday may 12, 2005 – WOW this is a long drive, or, things people might discuss on a 13-hour ride from nashville to new jersey

the cows in virginia have it good, at least for a little while. they trot along well-worn cow paths on grass-covered rolling hills, bask in the sun next to large incandescent pools.

adam talked to sprint again, they keep hanging up on him. i think they’re taunting him deliberately.

13 HOURS ON THE ROAD FROM NASHVILLE TO JERSEY

BEARD PAPA’S - al’s looking forward to beard papa’s, a japanese cream puff joint that’s come to manhattan’s upper west side. from their website, muginohousa.com: “the trademark of our cream puff specialty stores is a ‘beard papa.’ we stuff each crunchy puff with whipped cream custard every time an order is placed. you can watch as they are being created in the store.”
FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS – allen popped in the greatest hits cd and the mocking began. carson recounted a story he had heard, that the singer was hired by the other members of the band after seeing him working out at a gym, or perhaps dancing at a club, but either way, without having ever heard him sing a lick. allen was convinced otherwise, or at least was determined to unearth the truth, still smarting from the “phantom of the park” incident. the truth, according to allen’s treo, is that the other members (steele & cox, formerly of the english beat) recalled hearing roland gift singing in an opening act for them at some point, then sought him out and rediscovered him fronting “the bones,” a cover band. he “looked like sidney poitier and sounded like otis redding,” according to the net.
WHAT IS THE PLURAL OF EWE?
listening to another allen choice, lloyd cole, carson accused cole of rhyming “you” with “you.” allen defended, protesting that you couldn’t assume that the homynym “ewe” was not in fact what cole intended. the context of the lyric would have required a plural, hence the need to find the plural of “ewe.” ewes or ewe, like deer & deer, or fish/fish? the treo says: ewes. hence, carson’s criticism of the lloyd cole lyric stands as originally stated.
ANNA NICOLE SMITH’S LACTATION ISSUE
this came up due to another much more sordid discussion about fluids generated by various forms of excitement. i’ll spare you the details, but the upshot is that allen claimed anna nicole smith had some sort of lactation issue, possibly manifested on live television. several treo searches have found tons of excellent pornography and a madcap story about another woman running into a burger king and utilizing the hand dryer, but no definitive answer about smith’s live tv lactation debacle. PLEASE HELP: if you know the answer (whether this happened, and if so, what happened) and can back it up with sources, reply to this blog with all the pertinent information. first verified response gets a 12” gabriel mann promo-packaging cd. really. legalese: many will enter. one will win. void in new hampshire. simple mathematical test administered to canadians. judges’ decisions are final.
REAL MEN CARRY THEIR WALLETS IN THEIR BACK POCKET
wallets continue to be placed on the chevy tahoe’s credenza-esque storage compartment/armrest unit. allen, stirring up yet another hornets’ nest, asked why adam and i didn’t just have our wallets in our pockets. we answered, essentially, that riding in a car with our wallets in our back pockets is uncomfortable, and that any man who doesn’t use his back pocket for wallet storage isn’t a real man at all. in an unusual twist, carson came to allen’s defense in this case, being a front-pocket loader. after some investigation and jibes from gabe/adam re: manhood, the issue remains unresolved. PLEASE HELP: men – respond to this blog with your vote re: front/back pocket wallet storage. feel free to include references to your wallet’s girth/width.
REAL WOMEN LOOK BEFORE SITTING ON THE TOILET SEAT
this may be tired comedian fare, but as i said, it’s a long drive... there was a consensus in the, albeit entirely male, population of the chevy tahoe that women should stop complaining about men leaving the toilet seat in the “up” position. it’s very simple: look before you sit, and you won’t fall in. men need the seat up, we put it up. women need it down, so put it down. why does the responsibility of toilet seat position lie exclusively with the man? is it an issue of gallantry? PLEASE HELP: women – explain yourselves. isn’t a relationship supposed to be an equal partnership? men put it up. women put it down. isn’t that how it should be?

allen decided to bail on the directions at some point, so we had to pull over and ask for help from a few gas station attendants. ultimately arrived at chez ellen/andrew hoch, our gracious hosts thurs/fri nights, in fabulous south amboy, nj. beautiful place, plenty of room to stretch our weary bones. pizza beer spurs game (we lost – ridiculous – but will ultimately prevail, have no fear) on espn hd (oh, and let there be no doubt, hdtv is for real). and sleep. at some point my cuz bogo arrived and we said our goodbyes to tour manager extraordinaire, allen rindfuss, who bogo took to manhattan for an early flight out of jfk. sleep sleep sleep sleep.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

wednesday may 11, 2005 – used cows, seale’s keyworks & the exit/in

some activity on the castle property in the morning, various workers doing various things to rebuild the house within the castle walls. “used cows” sign on the road back to nashville, not sure exactly what that means.
called bill to find out if he knew of any place in nashville where i could get a wurly reed, he came back a bit later with seale’s keyworks, which turned out to be perhaps the greatest keyboard repair shop in the history of mankind. amidst wurly guts and rhodes under repair, pianos pulled apart and lavishly painted vintage keyboards sits nikki, nashville’s greatest keyboard tech. vintage keyboards, in case you haven’t discovered from the nearly constant maintenance described in this blog, are beasts. finding someone who knows how to fix them in a way that keeps them close to their original state is extremely difficult, as the original companies no longer make them and offer no support.
nikki is one of these people, however, and in addition to knowing everything there is to know about wurlys, rhodes, pianos, hammond organs, clavinets, and every other vintage keyboard, he’s a jovial & energetic dude.
anyway, nikki found me the right reed and tuned it perfectly for me, then showed me a thing or two to make the wurly more road-worthy, namely adding lead weights to the action. wishing there was a place like seale’s in l.a., but at least i’ve got nikki’s number when i’ve got issues...
then on to the exit/in, one of nashville’s famous venues, and our last show with glenn tilbrook and the fluffers. glenn’s regular drummer (he’s been playing with marco for a few weeks while simon was home with a newborn baby) rejoined the band for this show, which featured both marco and simon on double drums for parts of the show. at soundcheck simon went nuts and hit the drums so hard he fell backward into the curtain. with both of them going at it the band sounded like a freight train. our last show with glenn was a great time, steve large, glenn’s keys player joined in for a wicked organ solo on “over the world” which was awesome. somewhere over the course of the evening in nashville i went across the street for a philly steak sandwich made by a moscow native. apparently i had to go around the world and wind up in nashville with a russian cook to get one of the best philly sandwiches i’ve ever had, after having spent four years going to school in philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

tuesday may 10, 2005 – gun mountain amusement park & the castle at lexington

slept nice and late, dragged ourselves to the tahoe for the short (4 hr) drive to lexington. there’s a town in between nashville and lexington called cave town (i think that’s what it’s called, at least). we stopped for lunch in cave town at jerry’s, totally empty save for the nervous waitress. near the restaurant is gun mountain amusement park (one can only imagine what happens there), diamond cavern & mammoth cave, making this town a major tourist attraction.
on the way into lexington we passed by our lodging for the night, a place called the castle. apparently the ex-owner went to europe with his bride, she liked the castles, they came home and he built her one. about a year into construction they divorced, and he sold to a random connection of mine. sometime thereafter the main part of the house within the castle walls burned to the ground. anyway, that’s where we stayed the night after the lexington show, outside the castle walls in the guest quarters, which are currently used as construction headquarters. found glenn and the fluffers having a pint outside the dame, the only real venue in lexington, near the university of kentucky. lexington’s a really quaint town of about 225000 or so, perfect main street and city hall, with a hat shop, pool hall, and the dame just across the road.
load in, soundcheck, show (broke reed #30 on the wurly , glenn show, check for internet upstairs at the club and run into vicous wireless internet guard dogs, head back downstairs & next door to check on the spurs game at the pool hall, witness spurs destruction of seattle supersonics, load out, hit the pita pit for late night falafel, and off to the castle.
we discussed the castle with some lexington locals who basically couldn’t believe we were staying there, it’s so interred in lexington lore that the concept of people actually being on the property must have been totally foreign. the reality of lodging at the castle’s guest quarters was unremarkable, other than the fact that carson awoke to discover a roll of toilet paper, a crowbar, and a machete next to his bed...

Monday, May 09, 2005

monday may 9, 2005 – meat & 3, bill & the bluebird in nashville

up late, bbq @ datson’s for “meat & three,” a main course of some sort of meat product and 3 sides (greens, corn, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stewed apples, tomatoes, cornbread, biscuits, etc). this was an incredible meal, al adam and i had fried chicken, absolutely delicious. meander into nashville for some starbucks drinks on credit – nate, who was at all the texas shows, works for starbucks corporate in some capacity and hooked us up with a book full of coupons. at some point during the day adam got on the phone with sprint customer service for a day of frustration as he tried to get them to understand that his text messaging wasn’t working properly or something.
headed over to the bluebird café to try to get on one of the most famous open mic nights in the country, but to no avail – found out too late that we had a connection there and probably could’ve gotten ourselves on. the bluebird has a fascinating system for organizing their nights, involving baskets filled with names, stamps, first 1st and 2nd timers. suffice it to say, i was a first timer, relegated to the audience, watching crazy bird lady and hog man do the south proud.
bill janis, our good friend from the jamie cullum tour last year, met us at the bluebird and took us out for beers at bosco’s. bill is one of the rare people in the world who instantly is at home with almost anyone, and who makes others at home just as quickly with him. he goes out of his way to help me out when i come through town with my parade of rockers, and this time was no different, as he took us out on the town, then furnished us with a place to crash, his girlfriend shannon’s house. to shannon’s, then a random sports bar (at which we were 3 of 5 patrons) to watch phoenix/dallas to check on the san antonio spurs next opponent.
then off to the greasiest of greasy spoons, the hermitage café, classic diner to end all diners with the cheapest menu i’ve ever seen.
of course, the day couldn’t just have been that easy. upon returning to shannon’s apartment (she left it to us and stayed with bill) allen realized that he no longer had the key. frantic searching revealed nothing, so adam went up to the landing and stretched to remove the screen from the kitchen window on the 3rd floor. the indianajonesesque leap and grab from the landing to the window looked a bit too dangerous, however, even with carson/allen as spotters down below. wanting to keep our drummer with all arms and legs intact, we searched for other options, and after an hour and a half of exploring and climbing and bending credit cards and searching for paperclips and neighbors making strange moaning sounds to alert us to their presence we decided to break down and call a locksmith and/or bill. as allen dialed the number adam said “oh, here it is,” bent down in the gravel driveway and picked it up about 5 feet from where we’d all been standing for the majority of the hour and a half. incredible.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

sunday may 8, 2005 – kiss meets the phantom of the park & oman’s farm of spooks

we had theoretically planned to get up around 730a and get on the road for our 13 hour trek to nashville. actual departure time around 1030a after a nice breakfast a la agelia mcgowan. carson spent most of the drive reading the squeeze biography they’re selling at the shows, i mostly caught up on email replies, and at some point we watched some of the tenacious d dvd while allen drove. louisiana featured the most picturesque driving over low bridges through bayous. nasty lunch at an arctic arby’s, they can’t all be home-cooked bbq unfortunately. belabored discussion about the questionable “horsey” sauce and its ingredients.
CONVERSATION TOPICS ON THE ROAD TO NASHVILLE
- the KISS movie bet – carson wins two arby’s roast beeef sandwiches in a thrilling victory over allen about the title of the movie. allen claimed it was “kiss meets the phantom of the theme park,” whereas carson was confident in the actual title, “kiss meets the phantom of the park” (no theme). (areas not to bet against carson – kiss, pastaroni, michael jackson, lionel richie & atari 2600)
- kentucky fried chicken in kentucky (carson was on a quest to discover whether there was something unique about eating the fast food chain’s fare in its home state); still haven’t been there, but there could be a chance on the way to nyc from nashville
- ABC, the band, not the network. allen has a cd of their greatest hits, which are more numerous than you might recall. poison arrow, the look of love, how to be a millionaire, be near me, when smokey sings
- sweet emotion & “the rabbit done died.” allen explained that this a reference to a woman getting pregnant. an old way of testing for pregnancy utilized rabbits in some way, but we couldn’t figure out exactly what they would do the rabbit for the testing, and what might lead to rabbit death. quoth allen from some snopes.com. “claim: in the days when the ‘rabbit test’ was used to determine if a woman was pregnant, the rabbit’s death was an indicator of positive result. status: FALSE. true story: in the olden days, they used to inject the urine of a woman into a rabbit. if the rabbit died, the woman was definitely pregnant. if the rabbit lived, she was not.” in case you’re confused, it is true that this used to happen, but it is not true that inserting urine into a rabbit is a determinant of pregnancy.

arrived outside nashville around 1130p, where we stayed with college friends of allen’s on a 70 acre farm in a small town called franklin, site of a civil war battleground that’s under some controversy. developers want to build a golf course or something. the property we were staying on has several homes on it, a pool, and a large paddock for the horses. totally dark when we arrived, making the huge house totally spooky. we did some exploring, lots of beautiful old furniture, 4 fireplaces, 69 chairs (according to carson, excluding sofas and hassocks) and tons of nooks and crannies where ghosts hang out. oman’s (al’s friend) mom lives in the house we were staying in, he and his wife and kids live in another home on the property, and his brother in yet another. father of oman is an ex-football player and jazz pianist, bought the property in the early 70s, developed a small portion and kept the rest for the family. why do we live in l.a. again?
watched the crappy remake of the 60s film “the thomas crown affair” with pierce brosnan and rene russo, just awful. went to bed late night.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

saturday may 7, 2005 – early morning ball, engine room & chez mcgowan

up at 830a for a 915a ball game with a lineup of allen/adam/gm/brent/ryan. carson bailed after a game of chance with adam, who was trying to convince him that bball was in order after 5 hours sleep. met up with brent adair, austin singer/songwriter for 2 on 2 + a sub, constantly interrupted by some scary frisbee dog dude’s (with a voice like the evil dude in silence of the lambs)
dogs who kept bringing their frisbees over in hopes of a toss. brent’s excellent, got a great shot and good moves, but the power duo was adam and ryan – ryan’s like a bull underneath, and adam pretty much can’t miss from anywhere on the court. after the game we all relived the time-honored teenage texas tradition of post-game carbonated beverages in massive plastic tanks from the corner store. back to the house, shower, bagel/fruit, wait for allen who disappeared (possible he forgot we had to go to houston - wait, did i have something to do today?) at some point.
finally on the road to houston, stop in bastrop for more good bbq (cartwright’s) – not quite as good as vitek’s, but solid. drop stuff at chez mcgowan in fabulous houston, texas, arrive at engine room to find a sign for glenn of “the sqeeze” (sic) and no gm on the marquee. classic... more wurly surgery, i’m getting pretty decent at it at this point – pop the hood, put in the new #37 reed, file off enough solder until it’s in tune. this takes FOREVER, but it works. your basic nightmare of an instrument to fix and tune, probably not the best idea to take it on the road, but it does sound great...
sack dinner courtesy mcgowan, our own personal catering for the evening, replete with 1/4 lb. cookie. there was a bank of video games in the back of the engine room, and after soundcheck we found glenn playing the twilight zone pinball machine and working it for all it was worth. houston friends jodi & michelle arrived backstage before the show, then justine a bit later... pleasure to see some friendly faces in the audience. during our set carson thinks he blew a speaker on his amp, haven’t checked to be sure at this point. added alan parsons project’s “eye in the sky” to the set to rave reviews, love playing that song. at some point i was at pico bowl in santa monica, ca & heard this playing, hadn’t thought of it in so long and loved it so much, so we learned it soon thereafter and play it every once in a while. we’re playing a slightly longer set on this tour, about 45 min, so we get to stretch out a little bit so it feels more like a satisfying show. allen wrote the set list with wish this love away on it twice, so we had to improvise toward the end... he’s losin’ it! soon he’ll snap. actually, he may be getting sick, so we’re trying to stay far away... glenn gave us a very public thank you during his set, that was nice, but a very serious fan of his (wasted) kept harassing carson, saying that he (glenn) wouldn’t stop until we paid attention (not sure what that meant, and neither did carson, but she was quite adamant). at some point during the evening i had my go at ms. pacman, high score.

Friday, May 06, 2005

friday may 6, 2005 – the vitek gut pak, austin’s famous antone’s, & kerbey queso

slowly but surely arise in the mansion, all take luxurious showers in the oversized bathroom, tour the outdoor bbq scenario, pool, jacuzzi, dining room with oversized wine glasses, chevy tahoe tetris and head to austin.

at about 2p on our way down, we hit vitek’s bbq in waco at duncan clowe’s (another alamo heights high school san antonio native) recommendation. he suggested the gut pack, which none of us actually got, but its contents are fascinating:
THE VITEK BBQ GUT PAK (WACO, TX)
fritos
cheese
chop bbq
beans
bread
optional sausage, pickles, onions, jalapeño peppers
essentially a frito pie. mr. vitek had recently been to l.a. and brought us the business card from the hotel california, where he and his wife stayed for the kitsch factor, as proof.

back on the road, passed right by the dr. pepper museum, where allen’s been several times, mostly for the shop, with lots of good dp shirts and blow up plastic dp floaties and such.
arrived in austin through some texas traffic, straight to antone’s on 5th, just down the street from the one-2-one bar where i had joined a bunch of l.a. singer/songwriters during sxsw in march. tried to tune up the wurly a bit, wound up breaking the out of tune note during soundcheck – a few phone calls to music stores in austin led me to the resident wurly expert in town, bob overton. ryan & katha melton, our hosts, picked up the requisite #37 reed from mr. overton, though i wouldn’t have time to replace it before the show, so barry (monitors at antone’s) supplied tape so avoid the offending key during the show.
great sound, thanks to barry and steve (everyone on this tour’s named steve – glenn’s keyboard player & merch guy as well). nice to play for friendly faces in austin, threw in artichoke by request and remembered why we used to play it all the time. gogo dancers appeared from out of nowhere– one blew a kiss to the stage, & i thought i recognized her, but tried to concentrate on other things.
spoke with ilse the swedish merch lady about our eurotour with alanis which made her long for stockholm. chevy tahoe tetris with the gear yet again, then out to kerbey lane, an austin tradition (packed into the clown car, 6 people & all our gear), where the skipping cd player began to slowly drive us nuts, kerbey’s menu is incredible, and they’re open 24 hours, which is ideal for austin’s student crowd.
allen: queso (this elicited taunts of “freak” from one of kerbey lane’s more emotive staff)
gm: kerbey scramble
adam: hummus taco
carson: hummus & pita
shasta (al’s girlfriend): some other scramble with some sort of meat product
ryan: blueberry pancakes
after sufficient sustenance at about 3a, collapsed at chez ryan/katha somewhere near san marcos, tx

Thursday, May 05, 2005

thursday may 5, 2005 – 1st tilbrook show in dallas at the gypsy tea rooms, lodging at the parker mansion

on to the next tour – 5 shows in the u.s. (dallas, austin, houston, lexington, nashville) with glenn tilbrook of squeeze, then 2 on our own at new york city’s living room (stomping grounds of norah jones) & my alma mater, the university of pennsylvania alumni weekend extravaganza in philly.
plane to dallas via salt lake city, where a lovely woman reminded us, repeatedly, to purchase snacks in the airport ‘cause they don’t serve food on the planes anymore.
rejoined allen after our brief 5 day pause in l.a. for a short break and the cd release show at the key club (great time for all, lots of friends and a good show featuring our friend steve mazur guesting on guitar, in spite of massive jetlag having arrived the previous night from frankfurt and, of course, an honor to hear sara bareilles open the evening). allen late to the dallas airport, used his mom as an excuse. box of cds exploded in baggage claim, taped up by a slightly overzealous airport attendant, many thanks to him...

packed up the tour vehicle (a life-size game of tetris), allen’s dad’s chevy tahoe, filled to the absolute rim with a wurly, full drums, bass rig, boxes of cds and all our suitcases, leaving just enough room for 4 to sit semi-comfortably. headed directly to the parker mansion, where chris parker, a friend of allen’s and mine from alamo heights high school (yes, that’s really what it’s called) in san antonio, texas, lives. massive house, many bedrooms, huge beds, bathroom the size of many people’s bedrooms, pool, jacuzzi, wine cellar, you get the idea. oh, but the kicker – massive flat screen tvs everywhere, including one tilted downward to face you as you max and relax in the tub.
“tin star” for lunch, kind of a gourmet taco place with cheap/excellent margaritas. then off to the venue, dallas’ gypsy tea rooms, where we met glenn for the first time (what a nice guy, very chill, indicated that they run a relaxed ship - quite a change from the alanis tour’s layers of administration). muse and the stereophonics were playing there the night before in the two-room venue, and actually played just before us at antone’s in austin as well (they’re a day or two ahead of us on the texas circuit it seems).

glenn tilbrook, for those of you who don’t know, was one half of the pop phenomenon, squeeze. chris difford wrote the lyrics, and glenn wrote the music to songs like tempted, black coffee in bed, up the junction, pulling mussels from a shell, goodbye girl, etc. they basically made it big by the time they were 20, having been writing and playing together since the age of 15. elvis costello produced one of their records, which included tempted, perhaps their biggest hit. anyway, it’s a wonderful thing to see him out playing old squeeze songs and lots of new solo material each night, really enjoying himself out on the road after so many years doing it. more on that later...

glenn’s drummer marco & adam negotiated sharing the drum kit on the gypsy tea room’s small stage, and carson the same with lucy, glenn’s bass player of the fluffers, his backing band. spongified furniture in the dressing room (easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth in case of unusually moist activities), soundcheck, hang for a bit, then play our show to a throng of texas squeeze fans. wurly reed on its way out, massively flat note indicating reed #37 (a above middle c) would soon be history...
glenn tilbrook and the fluffers play long double sets every night, sprinkled with squeeze’s greatest hits, and an occasional nancy sinatra cover & keyboard/vocoder solo. 2nd set finds glenn and the fluffers standing on the bar doing acoustic versions of black coffee in bed and goodbye girl to the delight of the crowd – lucy (bass) plays a pineapple maraca for these songs, and steve (keys) plays melodica solos.
chris parker funneled jack/cokes my way all night, leading to my certain demise halfway through glenn’s 2nd set. at autograph timeafter the show i’m lying supine on the aforementioned plastic furniture. pack up the gear and hit café brazil courtesy of chris (bring me that coffee!/adam drinks salsa through a straw/gabe naps a bit), & back to the mansion late late night.
SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS AT THE PARKER MANSION
carson – freddy krueger room just off the oversized bathroom
adam – king size overlooking the pool/jacuzzi
allen – guest suite with 4 post bed
gabe – mattress on floor, passed out instantly

Thursday, April 28, 2005

april 28 – homeward bound

on the plane now, somewhere over the atlantic on our way into chicago o’hare where we’ll split with allen (meeting him next week as we begin tour 2, u.s. with glenn tilbrook & some solo shows) and head off to l.a. and our beds. looking forward to the cd release show (tomorrow night) and seeing & playing for our friends back in los angeles.

hoping things just keep going this way for a while – touring, making new friends and fans, bringing the music to the people, singing songs every night. feels like it’s been a long while coming, and i look forward to whatever’s next.

many thanks to my band, adam and carson, who i rely on every night and who consistently push me musically. allen, who took care of us and put up with us... alanis, and her band and crew, who treated us so well and gave us such an amazing opportunity with this tour. and the people and places littered throughout this blog who gave us shelter and sustenance along the way. we owe you big time, and can’t thank you enough for showing us such wonderful european hospitality.

THANKS FOR LISTENING

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

april 27 – sleep sleep sleep eat shop sleep walk shop eat drink pack sleep

sleep late. gradually slide out of the apartment around 230p into a gorgeous frankfurt afternoon, grab a weird lunch at an indian place that was supposed to be closed, incite argument between hostess and chef, head to antique shop and pick up random stuff, back to the apartment for phone calls, then walk towards merianplatz & dinner. beautiful walk through sunny frankfurt, through old neighborhoods, over bridge/river, through town fair, ultimately meeting matt peterson (my friend from l.a., living/working in frankfurt) and his girlfriend fritzi (german native), & george (al’s old friend from san antonio – at some point i was involved in a high school motion picture production of “old man and the sea” featuring george as the old man & al & i as supporting cast) at flipper’s for dinner & german bier. a real day off, rest/recovery before our flight.

Monday, April 25, 2005

april 25/26 – frankfurt’s jahrhunderthalle, & final show in fürth feat. the a-team

april 25 found us meeting more fabulous hosts in frankfurt. axel, christina, and zacharias schneiderhahn (more old friends of al’s) basically moved out of their apartment so we’d have a place to stay, so generous. spent a little time walking around their beautiful neighborhood before heading to the jahrhunderthalle on the outskirts of town, near a chemical plant (where apparently your car will change colors if parked nearby for too long). beautiful venue, interesting layout.
of note at the frankfurt show was jason orme, one of alanis’ guitarists, joining us for “over the world” at the end of the set... nice to indulge in a big guitar solo during our set, something noticably absent in a keyboard-based band...
after the show we met the band & skeely (in charge of the band) at their hotel (nice) in the kaiserplatz, closer to central frankfurt, but not before a little trek (nightmare) through the middle of nowhere from the venue to the s-bahn stop. nothing can ever just be easy... local residents treated to a cappella renditions of michael macdonald songs as we made our way.
drinks all around at the hotel, where the concierge had given us the once over while we asked him where our friends might be... found them ultimately in the bar and hung out for a bit trading random bits of gossip about the l.a. music scene, a time-honored pastime. all off to bed for a bit of sleep before next day’s fürth show.

apparently frankfurt is the only city in all of germany with skyscrapers, not sure exactly why that is, some sort of law. but there’re 82 million residents in the country, spread out all over, and on the train from frankfurt to fürth the next day (april 26) we got our first glimpse of the quaint german towns that dot the countryside in the south of the country. each town has its own church right in the center, and many germans who work in the larger cities commute out from these perfect little towns. the train takes you from town to town, through rolling hills and eventually down the austrian alps.
off at fürth, a small town just near the larger nürembürg. our hotel screwed up our reservation, so we kept walking down the road to the venue (stadhalle, about 1800-seater, smallest of the tour) and planned on taking a late-night train back up to frankfurt.
walking up to the venue some fans recognized us on our way in, i guess they’d seen the shows elsewhere in germany, so we spent a few minutes signing stuff, gave me the feeling we’ve gotten somewhere after so much time in germany.
soundcheck featured alanis’ full band joining us this time, with drummer blair and keyboardist zac switching instruments, cedric doubling carson on bass, and both guitarists (dave & jason) in full rock mode, taking “over the world” slightly over the top...

dinner, some last-minute internetting, and adam & i went down to catering for a pre-show aperitif, where we met ryan reynolds (alanis’ fiancé) who apparently caught the frankfurt show and expressed his compliments. we spoke a little about the ideal method of drinking jameson’s whisky (he likes it out of the bottle, i prefer ice & a soft drink with mine, adam’s just ice) & we were off to find carson & do the final show of the tour.
tried my best to take this one in, knowing it’ll be the last big show for a little while. the audience was excellent, featuring a gaggle of what looked like our first full on german fans singing along to much of the set. we gave chris, who’d attended all the germany shows in the front frow, a cd from the stage before the last song, and launched into our final “over the world” where the a-team joined us on stage in a free-for-all.

somewhere after the 1st verse i heard a roar coming out from the crowd, turned to my left and there was alanis, tambourine in hand and big smile on, joining the party on stage. what a trip... at the point we usually put in a breakdown, dave levita took a guitar solo way out, and i used the opportunity to give alanis a big hug, thank her for everything, and generally get out of my customary seated position. apparently adam knew this was gonna happen, as blair (drummer) had come over to grab the tambourine early in the song, and from adam’s vantage point he could see alanis/ryan/band waiting in the wings, listening to “overflow” as we neared the end of the set. anyway it was a great surprise, and a wonderful way to end the tour. pretty sure we’ve got good video of the whole thing, so hopefully you’ll be able to see it soon (that is, if you didn’t happen to be in fürth the other night).

we took some video of alanis’ band as they headed to the stage, got a nice alanis pout into the camera & a shot of ryan offering his skillz as a triangle-player when the need arises (something i’m sure we’ll take him up on at some point).
as carson and i waited upstairs at the end of the show for the last song and the imminent rush of cd buyers & autograph seekers, adam was apparently down at the stage and was invited out to play some tamb of his own for the last song in alanis’ set... he was ultimately forced to the front of the stage by the a-team for requisite rock & roll tambourine stomp. so bummed to have missed that, but i guess we can’t complain about the night in general. got more than we all bargained for.

extended goodbyes, address/email exchanges, and a short walk back to the train station headed to frankfurt. nightmare of a final train ride back to frankfurt, 2 transfers in the middle of the night, finally arriving at the apartment at about 5a. there was some sort of key/lock issue in the hallway outside the apartment, so i took the opportunity for a nap on the landing. finally in and crash.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

al’s guest entry (in all lower case because—look at me!—i am so cool and such a rule-breaker)

part i, a sylvan fable
as we step off the motorcoach into the idyllic sylvan setting, we are greeted warmly by gnomes and wood creatures, who—chittering and chattering—usher us toward the theater, pressing a variety of homemade items into our hands for alanis to sign and return to them. “we’ll do our best,” we promise, secretly knowing that our best isn’t likely to be good enough. “we’d like to, but we hardly know her,” we say. the woods go silent and stay that way for a while. “but...” the stunned woods creatures eventually protest, “if i were she...” we smile wistfully at them. “we’ll do our best.”

part ii, a day in the life
forest national, we are told, is the largest and most prestigious theater in all of belgium. absent any compelling evidence to the contrary, we choose to believe this. once inside, we begin a tightly choreographed and time-tested routine that goes something like this:

instead of allowing me to lead the way, asking carefully worded questions of the appropriate people, adam barrels ahead with carson in tow. they pass gabriel and me several times going different directions, complaining wanly about my not having phoned ahead to determine the exact locations of everything they want. carson occasionally stops to read signs and other literature that piques his interest, like ingredient labels.
eventually, whether by process of elimination or inquiry, we all arrive at the dressing room, at which point the bands bags are spread in an elaborate obstacle course on the floor and attentions are quickly re-focused.
“i am so g-d hungry.” “al, where is catering?” i am asked, without any particular regard for the answer. speed is more important than accuracy when it comes time to quell the band’s primal needs. i maneuver to cut them off, with the vain hope of asking permission to eat the left-overs before they start main-lining them. tam’s buckwheat vegetable soup pleases them greatly.
once sated, they hunt down their equipment and begin the assembly process. if we are lucky, my post-show instructions have been followed and no one has adjusted the altitudes or angles of adam’s drum stands.

while they situate themselves, i deliver the guest list—on this occasion, filled with the names of our couchsurfing.com hosts and some friends of lenny and tjerk (see april 17-20) — to the production office and take the piece of paper destined to become the night’s set list. i also like to check in with the evening’s merchandising machine, whose wheels jeff skellon (alanis’ merch guy and irreplaceable friend to the band in their efforts to maintain financial solvency) has usually already greased. little signs are made indicating that autographs will be signed by the burgeoning rock stars after their show and alanis’.
when i return to the stage area, the band and sound crew are usually taunting each other over the sound system. when they have exhausted their repertoires, they launch into an impassioned-if-somehow-incomplete tour through Toto IV. i have, after all, arranged for them to be professionally filmed tonight by alanis’ video crew; so, why on earth would they be practicing their own material? paul, alanis’ assistant sound engineer, comments on the quality of the selections and i assure him that they are carefully chosen in order to irritate others and pre-screened on unfortunate train passengers.
i deftly switch to my documentarian mode and begin photographing and filming these magical moments—moments we are sure to look back on (possibly in the bonus material of some retrospective dvd), surrounded by commemorative triple-platinum records and oxygen tanks. for my efforts, i am chastized about my unsteady hand, likely trembling from lack of sleep or consistent malnutrition and/or fear of reprisal.
back in the dressing room, it isn’t long before it occurs to the group to eat again. when our mouths are full, we have discovered, we do not have to talk/listen to one another. and, as has previously been observed, the catering on this tour is worth the price of admission. if i leave this tour with a small collection of recipes that includes treacle pudding and custard sauce, i will consider myself a wealthy man.
our final pre-show trip to the dressing room sees adam “warming up” on his practice pad while gabriel and i walk through the night’s set-list. after teasing me with the possibility for weeks, the band has finally agreed to play “overflow,” which is my favorite song. we drop it in in place of “wish this love away.” copies are made and topical notes are added for gabriel and the video and lighting guys. carson heads out to the stage EARLY for his pre-show tuning ritual and i head out to drop the lists and the cd-r off in their various spots. then, i lose myself in the floor audience and prepare for filming.

the set looks and sounds good and the crowd seems to be into it, but the guys leave the stage a little disappointed in themselves—gabriel’s voice had started to give a bit mid-way through among other things. although, as i’ve occasionally reminded them when they become too self-critical, it’s far more important to have fun on stage than it is to play a seamless set. when the audience sees you having fun, they’ll forgive a lot. anyway, the hardest workin’ band in show business helps me and the stage crew clear their equipment and heads off, sharpies in hand, to sign some discs.
while they are away, basking among the glowing embers of stardom, i hurriedly pack up their equipment—with varying degrees of help and enthusiasm from the local backstage crew—before alanis hits the stage. for my entertainment, my employers sometimes hide the cases in different spots around the venue, leaving me to a sweaty easter egg hunt in the dark.
near the end of the up-packing, the band usually passes by to check on my progress, sometimes stopping to teach me some finer points about the disassembly and care of their instruments. they are doing their best to turn me into a true renaissance man, and i express my appreciation, laced with snide back-talk.
once alanis makes it to the stage without tripping over a pile of instruments, most of my evening responsibilities have been fulfilled and i am free to take in some of her stage show with the band. for my money, you can’t beat the song with all the jumping in it. jumping is infectious. i like to watch it; i like to do it. who knows? maybe i am doing it now.
towards the end of miss morissette’s set, i put on my game face and head to the promoter’s office to collect the nightly fee. no, we does not want it in kroner/euro/whatever, we wants it in dollars, baby. that’s what we use back home to buy the super big gulps and all-you-can-eat buffets, see?
i wrap the money in the little receipt it comes with, sort of like a fish monger, and place it alongside other, similar packages in an elaborate and exacting accounting system from which i perform currency exchanges, pay for all band expenses, and (please don’t tell gabe) bet on the ponies.
a post-show trip to the cd/merch table, during which cds move much more briskly and the fellas are often mobbed by lovely autograph-seekers, is the high note on which our evenings tend to end. i lurk in the shadows, shooting footage of the frenzy.
afterwards, the band heads for the dressing room for organized looting, filling their bags to the bursting point with a healthy array of chips, chocolates, wine, beer and soda, while i collect a second pile of cash-ola from the vendors, less the taxes europeans use to finance silly things...like healthcare, daycare, and education. talk about a priority problem!

part iii, denoument
as our night ends, we discover that our hosts have tired themselves out the previous night and will be unable to take us out for a night on the town. and it’s likely just as well. after the siren-song of the sprite-light girls distracts us just long enough to miss a cab, we find our way back at the apartment in time to sleep for, oh, maybe THREE hours before the cab i’ve scheduled arrives at 5:30am—my absolute favorite time of day. going to sleep under those circumstances with as much at stake as there is here makes me a nervous wreck with signs of OCD. on/off. on/off. on/off. no snooze button on this baby.

april 24 – rock stars in brussels, no sleep ‘til frankfurt

slept late, awoke to light streaking in through carson’s makeshift styrofoam shutters. breakfast arranged in the kitchen by our hosts. their dining room overlooked the city, a great view from the top floor of the apartment.
straight to the venue, tram to bus, in theory. allen and carson decided it would be nice to take a little stroll instead of waiting for the bus. began the walk past some beautiful cherry blossoms, bus zooms past. apparently there was some sort of misunderstanding we run up a path with heavy loads about 500m to catch it at the next stop and board totally winded, carson’s jacket flowing like a cape, kind of a double-time sound of music moment.
few stops later arrive at the venue, forest national in brussels.

before we get to allen’s guest entry, allow me to describe the biggest rock-star moment of the tour thus far. after selling our wares in the interim between gm/alanis sets, we looked for our way to the backstage area, but found nothing discrete. so we entered the venue proper, near the stage, and made our way down through the audience – someone took notice, however, and soon the entire floor was looking our way, & the venue erupted in applause.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

april 23 – through the woods & over the river to mainland europe, passover in brussels

spent much of the next train ride signing cds for the band and crew. allen went up and down looking for somebody with a sony cybershot so we could weez on a power supply (which i left somewhere in rotterdam i think), but to no avail.
this train from manchester to london was filled with a bunch of randy nurses drinking mimosas, as evidenced below:
allen (retrieving luggage): do you mind if we slide by?
nurse (striking similarity to flo from mel’s diner, but with glasses): you can slide by me anytime.
allen: ok, we’ll do it real slow.
(adam runs over her foot with his bag.)
nurse: oh, i didn’t know it was gonna be a toe job!
stopped at london euston, scanned the papers for show reviews, tube to waterloo, adam got a tuna paste sandwich, there was some sort of bagel fight about bagel love (living proof we’ve been on the road – tensions running high over bagels – as we discuss it now seems totally ridiculous), then onto the chunnel train (eurostar) to brussels. before i move on, might be worth mentioning that the entire eurostar area of waterloo station had no trash can. carson cased the joint. no trash, so we just left ours on the table. sorry london...
finally found a passenger with a cybershot, he let us borrow his power supply and we juiced up our digital camera. breathed sigh of recharge relief.

lodging in brussels was with couchsurfer.com host #2, sarah verhees (not vorhees like friday the 13th), who was sick and basically out of commission, but her boyfriend fabian (french dude, former couchsurfer as well), brother johannes, two belgian cousins jeroen & thomas, & nico the italian visitor made us feel totally at home in their spacious apartment (replete with pool table/game room) above the car wash where jeroen & thomas work.
i ran out for a bouquet of flowers, as i would be attending a passover seder with an american diplomat somewhere near the brussels forest. i left everyone thereafter and headed off to the seder, while they spent the evening enjoying a multiple-course italian feast prepared by nico. farfalle with little shrimps & cream sauce, cucumber salad & meatballs. large portions and authentic italian. jeroen (or maybe thomas) apparently tried to make margaritas with lemon juice and 6 cubes of ice, but which were mostly tequila, making for a hefty night...
i got a ride to the seder, drove through the brussels forest (apparently reserved originally for the king to have some place to ride his horses in the city). seder was very nice, jonathan & sandy bensky, american diplomat hosts, a few other diplomats living in brussels, and other civilian english speakers. four questions were performed by mo, in japanese, and myself in hebrew. much thanks to the benskys for opening their home to me, a warm home away from home.
allen at some point blew up the bed, causing quite a stir upon turning in. fixed it once, fell through a 2nd time, then jerked the mattress off and put the frame up against the wall. carson felt this would be a good time to assemble a styrofoam puzzle to block out the morning’s sun. i must have been online downstairs at this point, but returned to what i thought was a normal scene...