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.