JUST ANNOUNCED!! dates in Argentina and Chile, see tour page for details
TOOL BOX is now available in the Calexico Store
Have a listen to the first track ‘Above The Branch’
Calexico have certainly not been idle in the days since they have last been on the road. Aside from keeping busy with a number of collaborative projects and working on a very exciting film project, Joey and John found time to drop into Big Block studio above Wavelab to record 14 brand new instrumental tracks just in time for the upcoming European tour! It’s called TOOLBOX, and ye shall find it available from this site very soon OR at any of these live shows this summer in Europe!
The flight to Greece is relatively painless. We have a lot of crap and try to sort it all out before we arrive at the airport to prevent getting hit with outrageous overweight fees on luggage. We manage to escape any major dings thanks to our tour manager Oliver Nielsen and backliner Theo Thorne. The two of them counted and weighed everything the night before even brought a scale to make sure as airlines are getting more strict. We are all dazed from the early morning wake up call as we stumble into the airport, pass security and into the nearest cup of coffee.
Greece proves to be very relaxing and very hot which makes the Tucson contingency slightly homesick as we walk from the hotel to the nearest restaurant sweating as we go. We are on a night off and celebrate with fine Greek fare. The waiter showers us with a steady stream of small plates or Mezedes. Some of our favourites are the octopus, saganaki, and revithia keftdes. After dinner some take a stroll to the beach, Oliver and I head to the hotel’s rooftop lounge for the spectacular view of the ancient sites all lit up at night.
Tuesday July 10th and my day starts a little early as I am taken by car to the Greek State radio and do some interviews. I ask about classic Rebetiko singers and am handed a list of the following names from the 1920′s-60′s; Sotiria Bellou, Marika Ninou, Markos Vamvakaris, Vassilis Tsitsanis. Seems that our band’s music and Greek music share a love for the minor blues, maybe this is why we’ve had so many great concerts here in the past. Our only Greek show this year is held at an olympic baseball field in the suburb of Hellinikon in
Athens with Sophie Salomon, A Hawk and A Hacksaw and Beirut. Like most mediterranean shows the set up time and technical details are relaxed, so we hang out a while soaking up the sun and say hello to friends in AHAHS and Beirut. We ask them if they want to join us for a couple of songs in the encore which proves to be wild and bombastic, just the perfect medicine for this crazed Greek crowd. We end the night with a Les Negresses Vertes cover, “Zobie la Mouche” and an a cappella version of “Take me out to the ballgame.”
The next morning we board the shuttle to the airport with fellow friends in Beirut bidding goodbyes at the check in desk as we head to Darmstadt, Germany. Still waking up by the time we arrive to the club we scramble for a fast sound check as the doors open early tonight. Dinner here is incredible, the cook at the Centralstation venue serves up spicy Indian fare and fine wines. The show that night is a little jarring as we have been playing outdoor festivals in a higher gear. It takes half of a set to adjust to the more subtle dynamic. After the show the rain starts to fall outside as I walk around the town making long distance calls to home.
Our Swiss bus driver Axel from Pilot Reisen Bus Company has been very helpful and has offered to sell tshirts and CDs at a few shows. Normally the bus driver sleeps during the day on the tour bus and drives all night,
but since his drives are short on this tour he has been getting involved with the show. A big thanks to you Axel!
We meet up with longtime Tucson friend and musician Chris Cacavas in Karlsruhe for an open air big tent festival. I had a bit of a cold from all the flying, but feel leagues better after the show and join Chris and the band at the local rock n roll bar called Alte Hackerei. Great big pilsner beers on tap, foosball, birthday partying and an old stained glass window that reads, “wiener in freund”. Hot dog!
By now the band and crew have their sea legs staying up till 3-4am drinking and watching bad movies on the bus, ya know stuff like Claude van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger a month of “final fight scene Friday night specials.”
I wake up the next day, Friday July 13th, to the sound of a massive PA system checking a kick drum, over and over and over until I get up and put my headphones on. There’s no escaping it. The bus is parked alongside several other sleeper coaches in a sprawling outdoor area at Nuke Festival in St Polten Austria. Crazy title. It’s hot and humid today, even the backstage is hot because there is no cooling. No swamp coolers or nothing. Air conditioning is too expensive, so everyone just sweats together. We meet members of the French group Babylon Circus and invite them to play a couple songs with us. We make a party out of the rehearsal backstage, exchanging anecdotes about the festivals in Europe and enjoying some of the local Austrian red wine, which is surprisingly very, very good. The show is a lot of fun, and even more so thanks to our new friends in Babylon Circus.
Saturday is a rough travel and show day. We fly to Finland to play for the first time ever at the Ilosaarirock Festival. Wishing we all had a day to stay, watch more of the local bands and see the sights. The show was a lot of fun and seemed too short. We’d love to return again.
Ahhh another travel day, this time we have a night off in Kassel Germany. Martin and Volker meet up with their girlfriends. The next day we play at a small tent near the River Fulda. Some of the group manage to wake up early to go check out the Documenta Art Exhibit. The show that night is alot of fun, good friends, family and location. This is one of those events that you wish you could invite all of your friends to, it is hard to explain, but there is always a great vibe.
The next day we travel a short distance to Erlangen to help celebrate the E-Werk Kulturzentrum’s 30th anniversary together with Lambchop. Here’s some photos from the show, check out James Murray’s inspiring projections and lighting. At the end of the night we join bands to cover a few Vic Chesnutt songs “When I ran off and left her”, “Maiden” and the signature tune “As Time Goes By” from the classic film Casablanca. If you haven’t seen it, you will thoroughly enjoy it. Then go see Cesar et Rosalie.
I arrive to a cold, wet and rainy europe on July 2nd, a welcomed break from the shake n bake Tucson heat. I hang out at our soundman Jelle Kuiper’s place in Utrecht Holland. We walk around the small canal streets, checking out shops, and visiting his friend Edwin who is an amazing cook and busts out some killer wines most notably a Bordeaux Saint Estephe Grand Cru 2003 from Chateau Cos Labory. We wind up playing acoustically and recording at Edwin’s place with members of Storybox.
July 3rd Jelle and I visit our monitor engineer in Amsterdam, Patrick and Nina Boonstra an their 10 day year old baby boy, Lemmy Joszef Nolan Iggy Rocker. This ‘lil guy is destined for a music career. When we met him he was wearing a t-shirt that read “little monster of rock”. After our visit, Jelle and I ride the tram to the central city to go check out palmguitars.nl and I purchase a Greek Bouzouki and a tenor ukulele. This shop is crammed with amazing instruments from all over the world. A must for any musician looking for that unique instrument.
July 5th we all assemble and meet the rest of the band and crew at the Tivoli Theater for our first concert. We are all a little nervous, but soundcheck and rehearsal goes well for the sold out show. The night opens to some great collaborations with local heroes Storybox. Jacob and I sit in on one of their new tunes, Last Train To Paris, and Nils of Storybox plays banjo on one of ours, The News About William. The crowd were extremely sweet and sweaty. Humidity always makes the best shows.
The next morning July 6th we all load into the airport for an early flight to Alicante Spain. Tonight we play the opening show with Lila Downs for the festival, La Mar de Musicas in the beautiful old Roman outpost city of Cartagena. The open air venue is set right beside an old Roman amphitheater and makes for a unique setting. Everybody there is in good spirits. We invite our Spanish friends Amparo Sanchez and Jairo Zavala to join us who make the evening even more special. I wish we could have stayed longer to enjoy the city and hang out with our friends in Lila Downs band. They even invited a Mariachi group from Barcelona to join Lila for a few rancheras. Beautiful!
Wake up call on July 7th is at 5am. Ouch! Not good, but we manage to de-crustify from our rusty shell-like cocoons. cafe cortados for all my friends and pan de chocolat por favor. I keep dozing off on the plane and finishing my Cormac McCarthy book, The Road, sad and heart wrenching story at the end of the world. Reminds me of my friend Harold Jones’ paintings of atomic mushroom clouds on black velvet. We arrive into Dusseldorf and collect our bags, hop on the bus and drive to Bonn. There we meet up with Lambchop and hunker over some breakfast beers and mostly muesli. They just got here and are doing the jetlag fly n play. They pull off an outstanding and inspiring set. I video tape some of the show and the sprawling crowd of 130,000 at this free outdoor concert. We have a good show and resume partying with the ‘Chop while Die Fantastischen Vier kick the night into bungee jumping frenzy.
By now the lack of sleep and jetlag are setting in, on the drive to Liege Belgium I finally get some serious sleep. Today is July 8th and it’s Paul Niehaus’ birthday. I think we’ve celebrated the last four or five of his birthdays on the road. In Amsterdam I bought him some of the latest Joe Sacco comic novels. Paul loves his stuff. We all do. Today’s show at Les Ardentes Festival goes swimmingly despite the occasional bursts of rain. We of course are loving every drop and try to explain this to the crowd. We meet up with many good friends and get introduced to some new friends as well; Neneh Cherry who now lives in Stockholm, Les Rita Mitsouko and Olivia Ruiz. Very French, very nice. We all have some champagne and celebrate Paul’s birthday and the final day of this amazing festival. Congrats Fabrice and merci le Soir for inviting me to play on their ukulele video session. All in all an excellent first string of dates. Time for a day off and travel to warm and laid back Athens Greece.
After an incredible time at New Orleans Jazz Fest we returned home inspired and wanting to make some new music. John and I went into Tucson’s Big Block Studio with engineer Mike Prado to record some new instrumentals for a tour cd we call “Tool Box”. The songs were written while tossing ideas around for a three day stretch and after we finished John suggesting asking Victor Gastelum if we could use one if his earlier works. So we called up Victor who said yes and also offered to help set the typography for the album artwork. The figure kind of has a tool box head which seems to fit our state of mind these days.
The instrumentation on the album features a wide range of instruments John and I have collected over the years including acoustic/electric guitars, drums, upright bass, cello, vibes, accordion, glockenspiel, cuatro, banjo and a new addition to the guitar collection, a waylacho from Mexico. For the recording process John and I ping-ponged parts and popped out the album in three days. We wanted to go back to basics and see what we could do with just a handful of instruments played between the two of us. It was fun and sounds good with lots of soundtrack worthy material and headphone friendly sounds for those who never leave home without their music bubble.
After recording we mixed the batch of tunes the next week with Craig Schumacher at Wavelab and mastered with Jim Blackwood at KUAT, all in all a speedy Tucson creation with much thanks to our Chicago pals Adam Reach and David Babbitt at Touch and Go Records.
We also ordered new calenders for 2008 and hope they’ll arrive before New Year’s Eve.
Tucson’s been beautiful. It’s great to be home and see the slow turning of Spring into Summer. We’ve been busy recording with a few friends both local and out of town as well as working on music for the Todd Haynes’ film “I’m Not There” about Bob Dylan. So far what we’ve seen of the film is really good, especially the parts featuring Cate Blanchett. A big thanks goes to music supervisor Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar for connecting us with the film.
Last week we played a benefit as a three piece (John, Jacob Valenzuela and I) for a local school, Gentle Hands, who help support families and kids in need of long term commitment and heartfelt care. An inspiring evening of good food and drinks, fancy dressed folks, and perfect summer evening temperature made this one of our favorite shows in a longtime not to mention the occasional horn blasts from the Santa Fe train in the distance.
We have a few weeks off before the European Summer tour begins. Time to work on some more new material and find some new cover songs for the tour. We’re all really looking forward to the trip since we’ve had a relaxing break at home. Hope to see you on tour.
Calexico’s song Minas de Cobre was featured in the most recent episode of HBO’s The Sopranos! Check your local listings for re-airings of the show.
Calexico announce their upcoming tour dates for 2008!
20 June – Southside Festival
22 June – Hurricane Festival
5 July – Comerica City Fest – Detroit, MI
6 July – The Mod Club – Toronto, ON
7 July – Le National – Montreal, QUE
9 July – Ottawa Blues Festival – Ottawa, ON
11 July – Winnipeg Folk Festival – Winnipeg, MB
27 July – Robert Hawkins Amphitheatre – Reno, NV
3 August – Newport Folk Festival – Newport, RI
10 September – Tripod – Dublin, Ireland
11 September – Queens Hall – Edinburgh, UK
12 September – Carling Academy – Oxford, UK
13 September – Leadmill – Sheffield, UK
14 September – End Of The Road Festival – Dorset, UK
25 September – World Music Festival 2008 – Chicago, IL
11 October – Forum – London, UK
Friday, May 23rd
A benefit for Mariachi AztlÃ¡n and their trip to Washington DC on July 4 to represent Arizona in the National Independence Day Parade.
Advance tickets at Rialto Box Office or see links below.
$15 advance : $17 day of : $10 students
7pm doors, 8pm showtime
Jazz fest is coming. Just spoke with writer and pianist, Noah Bonaparte Pias from the Gambit Weekly who was filling me in on the massive party that is Jazz fest. I counted 11 stages on the Jazz and Heritage website and was pleased to see a wide diversity of talent and music. Love the fact that it all started in 1970 when Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington among others were returning to the city of New Orleans. I think everyone should return this city to pay respect and continue the most rare and richest treasures our country has to offer, music for the soul.