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This is june.
Just one show this month. Me alone. No choir. No band. So solo.
The festival I have been invited too is hosted by an Austrian band called RADIAN. They are from Vienna and play a kind of molecular music. It sounds like the space in between music. The sounds are large and deep and tumble with a joyous flow. You might call it noise, but it is a great form of rock. It just seems molecular to me. Like you get a very close-up view of the sounds between sounds. But they totally rock. They are a 3 piece. Bass, drums and otherness.
Martin plays drums and is hypnotic to watch. John plays bass and is the glam rocker caught in an alternate universe. Stephan is on the keyboard machine and guitar and reminds me of john parish a bit.
They invited 5 other of their favorite bands to play this 2 night celebration here in mozartâ€™s home town, which in itself is hosting his 250th year birthday party.
The bands here are; shnee, a most excellent 2 piece that also delve into the molecules in between music, but then book end each adventurous spans with cover staples such as â€˜song sung blueâ€™
â€¦cause everybody knows one.
And a fellow named Christian who is a one man symphonia and the loudest chunk of music I had heard in many a mile.
My set was sandwiched in between these 2 sets. They both had their fists full of mac lap tops. I was more organic with just guitar and piano. But you know, I toss in the dead batteries on the piano strings, and then I begin to figure out why I am here. I play the guitar through my xp 300 space station and I can feel a few molecular moments there as well.
The next night radian started off the evening. They were sensational. The most inspiring music I have heard in a long time. I remembered then that I had recorded an albumâ€™s worth of material with them over the last year or two. And I could feel that we need to tour together somewhere up in the future.
And then pan american played, an american duo from chicago, again with similar molecular music and a live drummer. Thatâ€™s been the beauty of these â€˜noiseâ€™ bands. They have live drummers instead of drum machines, and they usually do not form chords with their music. Like you were to hear only the undertones of such chords, but the chord itself has been removed. No chords and no melody. Fantastic.
And then for the final set was a completely organic band from australia called â€˜the nextâ€™. Stand up bass, drums and piano. They played one song for an hour that was executed similarly to how an escher lithograph might look. Again, fantastic and hypnotic.
That was june.
And I got a new song from the hotel room there too;
â€˜stranded pearlâ€™, inspired by isobel campbellâ€™s last record.
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Now, the singe of july.
It is summer now.
Still living in denmark.
I fly to Seville, spain, for a solo show.
It is scalding hot and boiling moist.
We eat across the river from where flamenco was born.
The venue I play at will be a monastery from the 1400s.
Inside is insanely beautiful. I play outside.
Ferdinando from Cordoba has brought me a gift of a beloved old flamenco record from the 70s: lole y manuel.
The cover alone looks fantastic, the players looking so fine.
And it has a picture of the bridge by where we ate dinner.
Very eager to hear it.
When the set is over, I realize the record has been stolen.
Very mysterious. Only the security guards were there in that space
Next day I fly to Valencia to meet up with the â€˜sno angel posse to play at the huge festival, benacasim. They can only get away for a weekend in order to get back in time for their day jobs on Monday.
So, so many details again.
The brain shuts off many times setting these things up.
Their plane had gotten grounded over new york state due to severe weather. They now arrive the day of the big show. It is barking hot.
An old friend from 25 years ago shows up. Dichoy dong; nomad.
A Canadian of asian ancestory that rainer and I met in Tucson back in the 70s when he would live in an old datsun he traveled the world in.
No time to rehearse.
More then 20,000 people are there.
Our set time is 1:00 in the morning.
Just after tom verlaine, and right before the scissor sisters.
We get through our set, but it sounds to me like what a first set of a tour sounds like. Not great, but not bad at all and I am just very happy to be wrapped in this sound again.
Then we board the mystery bus at 4 in the morning.
In order to save a few thousand euros, our trusty non-agent agent secures a bus normally used by footballers for travel.
All the seats fold down to make a two tier lying surface for everyone to fit on. â€¦. hopefully.
I have no idea if everyone will fit. Dichoy hitches a ride, desperate to get out of spain because of the difficulty to hitch here.
Up in basque country, we will be only a short distance from the French border for him to escape. But for now he can sense my uneasiness with trying to fit everyone on board this thing, and just hoping it will be comfortable enough for these people I have fallen in love with.
The bus is lost on some small roads.
Dave draves, album producer, has also brought his wife and freshly born baby on the bus. Family involvement out here on the road is always good luck.
Itâ€™s a beautiful day.
Arriving in san sebastion, we are warmly greeted by the hosts of the festival. It appears to be a jazz festival.
Dr. john will be following us tonight.
The stage is actually on the beach.
The contrast of daily touring involvement always tingles up the imagination. It is a stunning scene. Dylan played here last week to 20,000 people on the beach.
Tonight they think there will be about 5,000 or so.
The set tonight is very good and all gets filmed again.
I catch flack from loved ones for wearing flip flops and shorts.
Later, the doctor cures my ills with his ivory hoo doo.
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After the show, dichoy disappears into the night, at home on the road, happily hitching back to france.
Been so good to see him again.
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Early in the morning there is a flight to catch to Portugal.
Then more sleep for good luck.
We play just before sunset on the sweltering docks.
Its an amazingly fun, soulful set.
I am astounded by how great we sounded.
No one is there to film or record.
After our set is isobell Campbell and her band.
A sweet slice of coincidence.
They sound very good and record like.
No mark lanagen though.
Later that evening the dirty pretty things, not all that great, and the strokes, sounding good to me, finish the night.
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The evening ends back at the hotel for me, I do not go to the after party with the strokes. There is some incredible music leaking out of a hallway off the lobby. It is a serious tango scene. The women are draped across their partners. The men shove there hearts around the room. No one is smiling. They are all lost in a severe swirling embrace. I am stuck to my seat and cannot leave.
Astonished and held fast.
A good way to end the day.
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The Canadians all take their leave.
I am flying off to Newcastle, England, to play with giant sand.
The danes will be waiting for me there.
When I hit the stage I am dizzy from the 3 different incarnations of this tour. The set is a ramble and I like it.
But I love Newcastle. I have played here in each of the 3 different incarnations in the last 4 months.
Dwight yoakum is headlining tonight.
That makes shared stages with the scissor sisters, dr. john, the strokes and dwight.
Somehow this sums up nicely the sound of the summer we live in.
Back to denmark with the boys the next day.
A good full run.
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August has become italian for us.
Been invited for the last several years to play a small festival in a town called modigliana, set up by â€˜sea of cortezâ€™ band leader, antonio. The mayor there is a luthier and makes grappa.
The whole family comes with and we stay 2 weeks for good luck.
I fill up my weekend with robyn hitchcock, and isobell campbell with the rest of the giant sand posse and henriette and nils from under byen. With isobell I had to sing all the mark lanegan parts from their last record and that was a fun thing to try and pull off.
Days later I am flying up to my last gig of the summer, solo, in Sweden and mark lanegan was there singing with the twilight singers just after my set.
Heâ€™s a good man with a sly smile.
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