Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's A G.A.S.

cassette wall innsbruck
Wall of cassettes in Innsbruck
Back home trying to do my taxes and suddenly I'm reliving 2010 - revisiting a Starbucks in Wisconsin Dells, a Sleep Inn near Baton Rouge and a bad Mexican place in Chicago courtesy of an envelope full of receipts - when I'd hoped to be recounting the tour highlights of the past few weeks.

Is it enough to say it was a good trip? I'd always heard that Germany, Austria, and Switzerland were good places to play. Never got there until my late forties and now early fifties but I suppose that's just the way it was meant to be. The audiences are with you each step of the way, whether it's a black rock box or the swinging El Lokal bar/restaurant/club in Zurich or Dachau Cultural Center with the mayor of that infamous town in attendance.

cafe jelinek vienna
Beautiful Cafe Jelinek in Vienna
Maybe it's this widening streak of grey in my hair, or living so far from cultural activity, nightlife and civilization that when I do stick my head up from the verdant trou that is rural France I've aged another year while they keep sending in younger versions of everything else: ultra-modern rest services on the autobahn and soundmen who've gone to school to learn to do sound but lack the requisite people skills and promoters with abundant hair and chic glasses - the gatekeepers or facilitators or whatever you call em are now decades younger and I start to think we're creeping to elder territory, like "look at those cute old people, when they're in motion you wouldn't believe they've been around as long as they have!"

One night in a German hotel there was an arts program on TV with this group called Kitty, Daisy & Lewis - I think we might have played the same festival in the UK in the last year or two so I remembered the name. A guy and two girls with a rockabilly look, sitting around singing and playing. Then it showed them on stage doing a concert and they had an older couple playing upright bass and guitar. I don't speak German but it sounded like they said it was the kids' parents, then they showed a picture of The Raincoats and I thought wait, that woman on bass looks familiar - she's Ingrid, that played drums with the Raincoats! What talented kids she has, and they seem to be doing great, with some help from mom and dad whether they need it or not. Evolution.

Or a couple of times I got all excited in clubs when I heard recordings of my songs played by young women - wait, I didn't know someone covered Knapsack! Then realizing it's only a fifteen-years younger version of...myself.

When we checked into a rather downhome hotel in Mannheim, we got a kick out of the crusty proprietor and his chain-smoking wife with her big glasses, dyed red hair and hacking voice - "did you get a load of those old characters? What a hoot!" until the lovely promoters at Blau said watch-cap-wearing ex-sailor and his broad (who sounded like a German version of one of Marge Simpson's sisters) had phoned to let him know that an elderly musician couple had checked in - us.

We're the older folks now. It's been in the works for a while, but it's finally starting to make some kind of sense. But only if I can get to grips with it as a wonderful opportunity. I kept noticing, on this trip, all the songs where I'm a mother and I think "what will I be next?" What is there, before Crone?

A gig in Berlin gave us the chance to visit our French pals Nico and Sabine, who've opened a nice bar and restaurant, L'Origine Du Monde, there. It was great to see them so excited about their new life, after the sleepiness of Chalus. How brave they are - if you're in Berlin, stop in for a drink or something to eat, or for one of Nico's French film nights!

nina and nico
Nico & his daughter Nina at L'Origine Du Monde, Berlin
We had to share room in the Ford Escort with Keith Richards, I've been reading his autobiography for weeks now and it's one of the best musician books ever. I don't know how they did it but he brought a whole life and world alive - you are there, inside photos you've stared at and records you thought you knew by heart. He's made me laugh and cry and want to pick up the guitar - I honestly never expected it. What a guy, and here I'd always thought he was so cool. He's not! I guess that's what makes him the coolest of all. I'll be sad when it ends and Eric will be out of a job because he's made a near fulltime occupation out of singing the chords to Brown Sugar every time I even reach for "the book".

herr und sandalen
What would Keith do?

Okay, I've got to get back to adding up these receipts - here's one for that Premier Travel Inn. Remember that one? It was just like the other ones, only instead of the painting with the two trees, there was one with three trees.


Rosie said...

good luck with your taxes, and well done for the paintbrush has scrubbed up well...

the sandwich life said...

Just like Eric with brown sugar every single time I read a recipe or a grocery list and I open my mouth and mistakenly say 'green onions' Ernie goes....

This getting older thing is indeed odd.....

the fly in the web said...

Getting older is great....I proudly claim 'crone' status!

Wreckless Eric said...

The Brown Sugar thing has nothing to do with getting old - it's more adolesent snottiness - I'm hoping that me singing "Gack Gack, Gack Gack a-Dang Gack" every time she opens the book will work as aversion therapy, she'll get sick of hearing it and pass the book over to me. I should never have agreed to letting Amy read it first, it taking her ages. So Gack Gack, Gack Gack a-Dang Gack and get along with it!

Amy said...

Thank you Rosie - thought of you today as we picked up another wood burner at the flea market...those things are addictive.

I'm seeing a K-Tel-like compilation Cynthia? Just checked in on your blog and saw you had Phil Lee and Tom Mason last night, what a fun time that must've been.

Working my way to full Crone-acceptance, Fly. Like that old American Express ad, I imagine membership has its privileges!

There's a real skill to spelling out musical syllables - I didn't dare try it myself so glad you cleared that up for, Eric. Only 60 pages to go...

Jim S said...

Sheesh - thought I read crane instead of crone - perhaps a reference to some Decemberists fan club? Must change contact lenses.

Katherine said...

I have a friend who is a professional caterer. She turned 70 this year and I made her an apron with that quote "When I grow old I shall wear purple" - but with the "wear purple" part crossed out and "kick your ass" inserted instead.

Wreckless Eric said...

Just to clarify, and not to be at all pedantic from within in the morass of burgeoning middle age etc(though pedantic isn't necessarily the word I would have chosen on this occasion etc...) - I think the correct spelling and punctuation is Gack Gack, Gackgack A-dang Gack. That's final. Glad we've got that sorted out.
When are you going to finish the bloody thing?

Amy said...

Wondering whether there's a male version of crone, Jim? Since men can keep procreating til they die, probably not. (Not that they should!)

I love that Katherine. The "red hat society" thing kinda depresses me (though it probably helps some ladies through a rough patch)

Last few pages Eric! Must admit I started to nod off when Keith began listing all the family pets - think it's about time to say goodbye but it's been a great read.

sprattle said...

Does your familiarity with Ingrid Weiss' appearance imply that you saw the Raincoats in NYC in the 1980s? If so, I'm officially envious. I didn't see them until their brief U.S. tour in 2009.

Amy said...

I won't gloat (not much anyway) but I first saw the Raincoats in the 70's, when they came and played at Tier 3 in NYC. But I'm envious that you got to see them recently!

sprattle said...

No need to be modest. You're a legend who could probably write a fascinating memoir.

The Raincoats show I saw in San Francisco was part of a festival where eight bands played (including Viv Albertine of the Slits). By the time the Raincoats came on, there wasn't a huge crowd left (maybe 100-150 people) but everyone who remained knew all the songs and we're really excited to see them. Mixture of young and formerly young fans too.

The band is a fun blend of personalities too--Gina's got a self-deprecating sense of humor and Ana's more dour. Gina's working on a documentary about them--they were going to interview Palmolive, their first drummer, who's now a born again Christian in New England.

I also saw Gina's band the Hangovers 10 plus years ago. It was the last night of the tour so the merch table consisted of two tee-shirts in odd sizes. (They try to get rid of everything so they don't have to carry it home.) Weirdly enough, they were on the same bill with Linda Perry of Four Non Blondes fame. A lot of the crowd emptied out before the Hangovers came on. (Ah, the perils of being the headliner!)

Mike said...

Somebody *should* cover Knapsack!

-Word verification: refort