Quaint ramblings and occasional reflections of a journeying Aussie musician...

20 September 2006


....so it's 10 to 1 AM on Wednesday, and after virtually walking for four days, I'm sitting at the first easily accessible internet I've found since I got here. It's near the bar, which is near a bunch pool tables. In the middle of these pool tables is piano bass and drums....this is a VENUE! and a reasonably well known one, but it's strangely also pool hall and internet cafe as well. Part of the mystery I suppose of this incredible town....

More soon my loves.

16 September 2006

New York - City of My Dreams....

Kings Cross Station, Saturday morning, 7AM

No Piccadilly line between Kings Cross and Leicester Square. Due to UNplanned engineering works I imagine. A brief heart flutter at the prospect of missing my flight...but no, I can Victoria line it to Green Park and pick it up from there. I suppose the ol' girl wouldn't let me free without some sort of spanner in the works.
But I don't have to put up with that for a while, dear friends! No more old world grubby cramped inefficiency for me this week! No, I'm off to traverse the shining ocean to the west, on a much-needed escape to a mythical city far across the water, with it's tall, shining towers and expansive bridges, where the streets have no name - indeed, the city of my dreams.
Weekend jaunts to the continent have been loads of fun, but this day marked the the first time ever that I would be going to a place I've always really wanted to go. Throughout my years growing up in small town country New South Wales, I remember having four or five separate and distinct dreams, each quite vivid and realistic, about walking those avenues, seeing those buildings (eating those hot dogs!). Back then the Big Apple might as well have been the moon. But not this day.
Recent plaguing doubts of career and future seemed to fade with each tube station passed. And, as the Picadilly line surfaced and I stared out the window at the ol' girl's tired buildings and pervasive grey gloom, the realisation immediately dawned on me that it's not every day you get to fulfil a lifelong dream.....
The flight seemed to vanish in an instant; consequently of course, the bus from the airport seemed to take forever, the promise of that island only intensified by the traffic of the Long Island Expressway. But it shifted, eventually, the brown of Brooklyn cleared and there was that wall of buildings, lining the east side of Manhattan, immediately imposing and welcoming.
An easy meet up with DJ at the fabulous halls of Grand Central Station was followed by my first walk down those grand streets and avenues. Obviously being able to catch a train everywhere, I would have nothing less than to walk the whole way to our hostel near Times Square.
I'd seen pictures, but a real sense of the length and breadth of the streets can't be fathomed until you're there, and you can see all the way up or across the island, all those tall buildings keep your gaze forever skyward. DJ, who had lived on the island for a year, was good to put up with my constant stopping and pointing ("Wow, that's the Chrysler Building!"), and cheesy thumbs-up pics at Times Square ensued.
First stop was the Empire State Building, which took countless security checks and a maelstrom of people to overcome, but the 83rd floor beckoned and it was quite a sight. The stars of a pitch-black sky had fallen upon the lattice of the bridges and the islands towering, glittering domes, with darkened cliffs of the buildings below forming the chasms through which the lava red energy of the avenues poured, raw and relentless into the night.

Compared to how the rest of my week would turn out, we took that first night pretty easy. I think we went to a vegetarian restaurant in Soho (also quite unlike the rest of the food that would end up consuming me) and then some bar just down the road. The girls were all a bit blonde and generic - DJ agreed with me on a certain Essex vibe, and he referred to the local phrase 'bridge and tunnel' (i.e, that's where they all come from for the weekend).
Weary from the day, I drifted off easily to the sounds of constant car horns and sirens, never-ending....

15 September 2006

Cuplla things....

Peace and love to all and sundry,

My most profound apologies to my more avid readers as to the absence of recent entries. This has been due mainly to the turning of a larger portion of my attention towards more pressing matters (i.e, my impending deportation), and henceforth my subsequent neglect and lack of focus upon the written word and its concurrent deliverance to YOU, my humble reader, of that highest quality of semi-factual prose throughout this blog from which you have hopefully come to expect.

Right, now after all that ridiculous wordsmithing, two things:

* - Those of you who wish to follow my adventures on the May tour and hols with my folks, I'm going to start putting the ones I've already done and entering new ones where they actually happened chronologically. That is, you're gonna have to delve back into previous entries to check em out, but I'll put a little note in to tell you where to find them.
I felt that by writing about things that happened four months ago it was lagging behind and shifting against the electrokarma and purpose of the whole blog thing, so there you go.

* - Tomorrow at midday, I'm flying to NEW YORK CITY! Yep, that's right folks, Big Apple and all that, staying for a week, just for a look see - meeting up with housemate DJ for a bit, but also got a bunch of muso mates over there as well as referrals to a ton of gigs, plus all the (as my French housemate X says) touristIC stuff like Central Park (staying not far from there), Empire State, Brooklyn Bridge yaddah yaddah, plus a cuppla greasy hotdogs, some lox bagels, and the odd cup of CWOHfee....I've been dreaming about this day my whole life, and it's finally happening! WOOHOO! Can't wait....

Brotherly electrohugs to y'all, and more soon, hopefully from Manhattan Island!....

P.S.Third thing I suppose - check some new links on the sidebar over there....

06 September 2006

On Tour - Hamburg

Wednesday 24th May - Hamburg

The venue was in average city type area in the shadow of a giant white telecommunications tower, so once I got past this, an overcast day found me wandring long wide streets bordering on a huge park. Quite contrary to central London, the whole thing had that large spread out feel, perhaps a little reminiscent of Fort Lauderdale (uggh!), and the American vibe would definitely continue with the place I was headed.
Most people I know, when recounting their travels of the continent, speak of endlessly beautiful churches and nice meals and beers set on a gorgeous landscape of rolling green fields, snowcapped alps or hot Mediterranean beaches - the cutesy trappings of the Old World, saturated (sometimes beyond comprehension for us New Worlders) in culture and history....
Screw that man! I'm a touring rock (folky klezmer) star muso, dammit, I got no time for that crap! Nope, after nine nights of sleeping on a bus, playing gigs, drinking myself stupid and living off a scattered array of meat and cheese and egg and chocolate, I'm just wandering the streets in a daze, alone, in that daily window between falling out of the bus and the soundcheck, happy to drop in on whatever I come across while heading for one particular desintation - the Reeperbahn.
Wander the winding lanes of Soho after midnight, floating amongst the flotsam and jetsam of the creatures of the dark, and you'll find a myriad of gay bars and sex shops and toy and video stores and brothels, their colourful circus proudly open for business in the wee small hours, but ne'er to be seen by the garish light of day. No such hidden mentality exists in central Hamburg.
I get to a major intersection, and notice on my left a large cylindrical cluster of trees, at the centre top of which I could just make out the scalp of a stone head. Large human representations aren't something we get much of back home, so I figured that was worth a look on the way back. But for now....
I turn to the right and there it is, the Reeperbahn, in all it's full smutty glory. It must stretch on for a couple of kilometres, four grand lanes. As I strolled down this American style boulevard, lined both sides with massive video stores and live sex shows and cinemas and parlours and such, I was reminded of something someone had said on the bus earlier, about the US military presence after the war and what they'd brought with them. Doors were wide open, and it's Wednesday afternoon.
I was amazed by the sheer unashamed size and length of it. Anything you're looking for, whatever you want, in any combination you want, it's there. Descending the hill, my bodgy tourist map pointed me towards a grittle of side streets on a rise to the left where I would find my second destination - Helenastrasse.
Took a little while but I found it - one short straight street, lined either side with glowing red windows and the madams on their stools. At either end the street was gated with large red iron walls, labeled with a sign forbidding entry to those under 18 and, as is generally known, women. Apparently if you're female and you enter, the prostitutes come out and attack you in the street. There was talk of us all going down and disgusing Soph as a man, but needless to say it never eventuated. She didn't miss much - once again, it's the middle of a weekday, and besides a couple of manufactured saucy glares, it's pretty quiet.
It's time to head back to the gig, and as I wend my way back towards the top of the Reeperbahn, I pass the obligatory rough looking bars with the squads of headshaven blokes with big jackets, sitting in doorways. The red light district in Amsterdam seemed to have some sort of old-world charm - this place was just edgy. Any kind of novelty had completely worn off by now.
Returning to the major intersection, I decided to investigate this mysterious grove of trees which seemed to grow taller and larger as I approached it. While occupying a prominent raised location, there seemed no front entrance to the street, and yet the space inside was obviously quite sizeable, with presumably some large stone statue in the middle. Entering the trees, I found myself clambering up an embankment for quite a way until I got to low circular stone wall.
I looked up and there he was, head bowed, almost staring at me, clenched fists one atop the other meeting at his torso, holding a giant sword with it's tip at his feet, like something straight out of Gotham City. Encircling the statue I found the entrance stairway at the back, and at its base a plaque - Count von Bismarck.
An eerieness pervaded the entire site - closer inspection revealed square stone reliefs of incredibly muscular young men, loinclothed, in various Classical poses (I would later find this sort of thing in a park in Bremen). The place didn't seem to get too many visitors, and consequently a worrying number of spraypainted swastikas (accompanied with what looked like local chapter numbers) were littered throughout...
The gig wasn't much to speak of, the last official date of the tour. On this, the second last night of the trip, our bus driver, ex-army, who up until now had been generally well received amongst the band, dropped a comment openly displaying his opinions of the orientation of our openly gay accordion player. Right there, in the dressing room. I couldn't believe it....love that shit....
Most of the band took hotel rooms for the night except for a couple of us who stayed on the bus to save the money, but as midnight turned I legged it from there to the lobby for some birthday drinks - the guys were really nice about it, they'd bought me an inflatable keyboard for a present and signed a card and everything.
After there we strolled back down the hill, found a Turkish restaurant, and kicked back with a hukkah for about an hour. Never having (or since) smoked a cigarette, I thought it'd make me sick, but instead it gave me this all over body rush that had me stomping my feet on the ground and laughing non-stop for about five minutes. It was nice as well just to chill with these guys, shoot the breeze for a bit, perhaps get to know a little my temporary work colleagues....

05 September 2006

On Tour - Heidelberg and Frankfurt

Saturday 20th May - Heidelberg

...This part of the tour gets a bit hazy, not the least because there was actually a mistake in the organisation of the dates. Our first gig in Bonn was fine, but it was originally meant to be Frankfurt and then Heidelberg, but it was only because of Soph looking at the poster on an in-store gig in Bonn that she noticed that the venues were advertised as the other way around!
Some frantic calls I'm sure thus ensued, but a slight change of plan was all that was needed.
Our venue was the old train station, a large but cute house shaped building sitting right next to the railway as it tunneled into the hillside, a short walk from the old town. Looking like a well-worn tourist stop, old Heidelberg is classic oldey worldey Europe (Gothic architecture, jewelery and chocolate stores ad nauseam) sitting in the middle of a narrow valley at the edge of the modern city, overlooked by a giant 17th century castle still relatively well preserved, visible from every street.
The daily window between brunch and soundcheck opened up, and after umming and arring and mooching around I figured I may never be here again, so dashing up the back lanes of the village and up the steep slope, I found some random staircases that led past absolutely gorgeous old period homes, buried in trees.
Scaling the top of all that, it levelled out above the castle ruins, and the tourist entrance appeared. With limited time I spedwalked through, ogling as much as I could. Strangely, in one of those vague moments that seem to happen to me too often, where I know I should've done something plainly obvious but didn't for some inexplicable reason, I had left my camera behind.
Incredible! A hazelnut brown wall of four or five storeys of almost perfectly preserved windows, stone sills and frames, stood high and alone into the air above maybe what used to be the moat? A carpet of green led ones gaze to a tower at the corner. Strangely reminiscent of some sort of expensive nut-filled chocolate, a major chunk a couple of stories high had fallen off the tower, revealing a cross section within of how the wall was built. The entire vista, castle, valley, town, was glazed in a perfect sunset.
And that's about all I had time for.
After the gig we met up with this audience member who took us to the nightlife, a cavernous dive not far from the bus, where he then proceeded to crack on to everyone in the band! After he got the vibe and left, some drunken mayhem dancing ensued before the wander back, before the speed off into the black, the next autobahn, the next town....

Sun 21st May - Frankfurt.

Not too much to report here I'm afraid. Suburban gig, like Bonn. Miles from town. Rainy day. Scrabble. End of Story.
No, hang on, there was one funny thing...after the gig, there was a DJ and this open free dancing session, where single middle aged people presumably from the nearby neighbourhood leeched out of the woodwork to come and let themselves go, to 'freely interpret' the sounds, while of course standing the regulatory couple of metres away from each other. Trying to stifle our laughter, the band couldn't resist joining in - I think D the guitarist grabbed a tablecloth as a cape or something before being told off by a regular....fruity!....