Friday, 20 January 2012

day 09 :: dornstadt, DE :: solo tour, november 2011

20th november 2011 :: dornstadt, DE :: obstwiesenfestival tanke solo with charlie barnes

as i was leaving yellowstone this morning, i got a phone call from timo to ask how everything was going. its with the help and hard work of timo and julian that i am on tour this month. i left the studio before anyone else arrived with a sadness that it'll be gone before i pass back through and a note to offer my engineering skills, if they ever need them!

- the broken beats -

the sun took me away this morning... it was blindingly beautiful as i drove to the ulm hbf stopping only for fried potatoes and veggies. with wallis, we always stop at the big rasthauses, this time, i'm stopping at lay-bys and smaller, more independant truckstops - so far, i've been pleasantly surprised and have even saved some pennies - every little helps :)

today, i was picking up charlie barnes. charlie is a live sampeling songwriter and pianist from leeds. he is going to be playing a set on the next three shows and joining me in the car.

- 31 knots -

its an industrial part of germany... factories billowing smoke sit next to windfarms - how long will it be before someone writes a horror movie about aoleans?! brilliant and inspired but scarily imposing!

- the miserable rich -

the last time i was in ulm, was for the ulmer zelt festival with wallis last year. it was the first show after my friend, denis, had died and it was a crazy show... the storm outside building to a volume greater than our gig during measuring cities, so we joined in and got louder and louder until it started to subside - we sat around a campfire in the backstage after the show and sheilded ourselves from the cold... a guitar was being passed around - it was a funny vibe, nice but i was distracted - my head still in the storm from earlier!

i can't remember why, but i wrote "thees uhlmann" in my notebook with no explination! charlie is a lovely guy. i can tell that we're going to have a good laugh! he films his days on shitty low quality digital cameras - watching them must be like the oft-hazy memories i have!

as we arrive at the dornstadt exit, we are directed to a very abandoned looking hotel and truckstop. in the carpark there are a few parked trucks and weeds pushing up through the tarmac. we parked and walked around the various buildings and outhouses, kind of looking for the venue, but mostly exploring! we were early, so it was a nice diversion :)

the venue turned out to be the petrol station - one of the wierdest and nicest venues i've played in - great team, great sound, great audience! we hung out with them after the show and had cake. charlie and i spent most of the evening saying "brilliant brlliant brilliaant"... it was brilliant!

on the drive to the hotel in ulm, we took backroads and realised that in this fine fancy car, i can see the stars while i drive!

we got locked out of the hotel... it's one of those little-bit-fancy, cheap, modern, horrible hotel chains that have replaced the receptionist with a computer and the key with an 8-digit code! i had written it into my notebook, but it turned out that what i had written down was my booking reference and not the door code - soooo many numbers :(

charlie eventually negociated with a guest to let him in so he could try and get the room open to get the code we need to open the carpark... the only problem being that the code he would need to open the bedroom, was in the bedroom! during his corridor wandering, i managed to coax the computer into giving me the door code, so i got in!

i went straight to bed and as charlie was getting into bed he mentioned that he likes to sleep with the curtains open to allow the morning light in - me too!!


Saturday, 7 January 2012

day 08 :: frankfurt, DE :: solo tour, november 2011

19th november 2011 :: frankfurt, DE :: occupy frankfurt demonstration solo

i must have looked odd to the many truckers wandering around the carpark, struggling to get my pants on in the back seat of a shaking car as the sun came up.

i woke up at about 8am and went for a quick walk to allow the morning air to wake me up properly. the dew hung beautifully on the autumn landscape, dressing her in faded foggy colours, but it was not a very interesting place here, so i decided to drive a bit and find somewhere more interesting to stop for breakfast.

- blah - a compilation i made (see "mixtape" blog from oct 2011 -

i continued where i had left off last night. talking with claudia and ilo (2 ladies at last night's show), they asked me where i was going next.
- "i don't know! maybe mainz maybe frankfurt, somewhere around there anyway!"
i have a car, a sleepingbag, no plans and a radio full of friends!

i pulled over at a charming truckstop at sessenhausen for breakfast - there are few of these in germany, most are now horrible overpriced sanifare... all those 50cent pieces going down the toilet. this one was in the middle of a woodland set enough back from the motorway that i could sit outside over my croissant and coffee listening to the birds sing the day in, it was a lovely diversion!

on the next streatch i got flashed coming into a 100kmh zone - balls! i rarely break the limit, but here was one of those moments where i didn't slow down quickly enough! the last time i remember getting caught speeding was in hamburg, driving 45 in a 30 zone!

i arrived into mainz and parked by a lovely park out near the university for a quick walk before meeting marcus for lunch. marcus is a great friend and the soundengineer who is currently mixing my studio album and who also mixed the live and sans souci album last year.

mainz seems pretty. i went for a walk to town through the park in the low autumn sunlight... narrow streets winding down the tram tracks to the old city. i found myself in an internet café to catch up with online stuff. on the radio was elevator versions of my heart will go on and other classy hits!

i drove to the other side of town to meet marcus for lunch, so i could get straight on the road afterwards. i got stuck on the bridge at the hbf and every time i tried to get under it i was on top of it again... marcus was waiting underneath! round and around i went, until i finally gave up and phoned marcus to come and find me!!

we found a restaurant and geeked it up about wallis' and my albums, mics and preamps and general geekery - i am a geek at heart!

it was a short 30 minute trip to frankfurt. this evening, i play on the stage at the occupy frankfurt protest. willybrandtplatz, the square surrounded by enormous concrete and glass buildings housing europe's biggest banks, was taken over with tents and animations. dotted around between tents are information points some with poems and art, others with texts explaining various different banking scenarios and systems... unfortunatly there was a large percentage of drunken people - more than i like to see at this sort of event, but i suppose when you take into account that they've been camping here for two freezing cold months, the thirst can be forgiven. but still, this should be taken seriously and i had the impression that everyone i spoke had a different idea of what they were trying to accomplish - not a good start :(

i was greeted by isaac, a lovely gent who was also filming a load of stuff to put together a representative documentary of what's going on and the changes that need to come about.

i played for about an hour, with a random drummer joining me about halfway through the set!!! it was fun and ended in a long discussion about the distribution of wealth over a cup of tea, before hitting the road for hazelwood studios, wherein lies my bed for the night.

yellowstone studios is in a warehouse space converted in 1996 to this wonderful recording space. the live room is generous with a stage at one end - i was to do a show here, but unfortunatly, the studio is having financial difficulties at the moment... it's such a shame that bands don't realise the benefit of recording in a nice sounding room anymore... this struggling haven, and then you have the guy who, only last week, closes down a business with an annual profit of 4 million dollars, leaving all its workers unemployed because he feels like it - distribution of wealth, yeah? - he doesn't sell it, or pass it on, or get someone to look after it for him - he closes it down!

the hazelwood label, yellowstone's house label, is the home of daniel johnston. the guys that greet me are really lovely and take me on a tour of the studio explaining different acts that have passed through these rooms and giving me a few albums to check out... while i wish that this gig had gone ahead, i had a very interesting day... order of the evening? dinner and a beer, a shower and then bed ^_^