A pretty auspicious week for me, my album “Danzig in the Moonlight” is out now. I cannot begin to organize and post all the amazing press we’ve had.
A few highlights — nice interview (in Dutch) and pictures in Dutch media site 3voor12
And so on. More media pieces coming soon. I know there were some nice articles in Sweden last week and there’s some big Dutch pieces coming. But enough about me, let’s talk about ME and what I’ve been doing
I started the week in Istanbul. I truly enjoyed this buzzing, cosmopolitan and trendy city. Tho it’s a huge metropolis with some 16 million people living in and around, the older city center is very much walkable. From Dolmabahce Palace to the winding lanes of Beyoglu to Galata’s steep inclines to the historical area surrounding Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, etc, it’s all walkable (with effort, I’m talking about a few miles here, so screw your replacement kneecaps on tight). Beyoglu to my eyes was like the most happening neighborhoods of Barcelona, with ancient lanes lined with cutting edge bars and restaurants, and young revelers out unmolested til the wee hours. Unlike Paris, I didn’t detect violence or the threat of it, which matches the Barcelona vibe.
The first day, I was met by my local contact, Ahmet, who as an ardent REM fan, was far and above the most helpful soul I encountered in advance of my arrival, and who did the footwork to make my show actually happen. And not long after we were met by two cousins I know from Facebook, Onur and Sinan, who are also big REM fans. Ahmet studies poli sci and Onur and Sinan are physics students. They all live on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, so coming to meet me in Galata every day was a big trip for them, took some effort and that effort was absolutely appreciated by me, I hope my gratitude was apparent.
We hung out on Sunday, had kebab on the Istiklal, the street that you’ll get really tired of if you are in Beyoglu! As it is the inevitable thoroughfare. A huge pedestrian street, well, a huge street filled with ambling pedestrians, it’s the high street of old Istanbul. An old tram runs its length, looking very much like a San Francisco cable car, and occasionally a car is on the street, somehow. But generally it’s miles of shops and cafes and cinemas and what not, and this very very wide avenue, and at any one time, 10-20,000 people walking up and down. We kebabed and therein I discovered Salgam, a drink made from pickled carrot juice, with turnip juice, and spiced with paprika. Everyone said I wouldn’t like it, which is the usual thing people say to gringos when the food is sour, strong, or spicy, and of course, I loved it. It burns a little, esp. the first sip. Evidently it’s often used as a chaser for rika, which is the national liquor of Turkey, a beverage that bears a strong resemblance to ouzo. For me, it was just a refreshing change of pace and a way to have a cool drink that’s not a soft drink or, let’s face it in the case of water, boring.
After stopping for tea, we went to Mojo’s, to see the group led by the woman who was to be my duet partner the next day, Cagil Kaya. Oh, but first, I wanted a coffee. There was “Pen Cafe” advertised on the same alley. Upstairs, tho. Ducked into an alley that branched off the main alley, and followed a couple of handwritten signs that indicated “Pen Cafe” with arrows. Went up the stairs. No markings anywhere. Approached the only doors that could possibly be hiding a cafe behind them, there were a couple of people in the foyer off the grungy old staircase, I guess they were smoking? We entered the cafe, and it was mostly empty. The vibe was, whatever we can do to obfuscate potential customers, we will. Coupla guys watching a big screen in one end. A couple of women at a table. Grabbed a laminated menu and sat down. Coffee was like €8, normally it would be €1 or €2. Reason: coffee came with a tarot reading. Nothing else did. So the guy came and said, I can’t speak English enough to do a reading for this guy. No one wanted to spend 40 minutes translating and it was clear I didn’t need a reading at that moment. Can he order coffee without a reading then? “Sure! That will be €8”. Uh…no thanks. How about a tea then?
Thus refreshed and mildly caffeinated, we headed to Mojo’s. It was still early, soundcheck hadn’t even happened (it was ten at night tho). My friends headed back to the East Side, and I met Cagil and her band–Tamer, her husband, sax player; Eylul, guitarist, Roger Federer stunt double; Baran, bass player; and the drummer…uh…argh! I didn’t take notes. They played a funky, jazzy set that included a wicked abstraction of “Come Together” with modulations and tempo shifts. Before the show, despite being bug eyed with kebab in me, they insisted I try some things at the fish place across the street. Of interest was my introduction to one of the most common sights in Istanbul cuisine–mussels recooked/stuffed with rice and other things. You can find guys setting up and selling mussels everywhere, on the street, on any corner. Of course, it’s basically mussel-ian Roulette. We were also served, and they insisted I try, little anchovies breaded and fried, stuck together in a wheel. Thusly was a second dinner, as small as I could make it but they were very hospitable. Then I watched their show, and at the end of the first set they asked me to get up and sing “Doesn’t It Remind You” with Cagil, she was marvelous, and then I headed to bed. Big day the next day.
Up in the morning and Ahmet, Sinan and Onur were there to greet me. We walked to Taksim square, the theoretical heart of Istanbul. About a mile up the Istiklal from my hotel’s tiny lane. In my head I was sure there was a metro stop closer (these guys are from the other side of Istanbul after all) but I said nothing and we walked on, me shouldering the gig bag with Ahmet’s acoustic guitar. We took the metro into the heart of Istanbul’s financial center, which sports many steel and glass structures, and many more are under construction. Which leads me to ask how long is the slow-growing, debt-burdened, cash-starved EU going to be able to deny Turkey’s entry into the EU, what with Turkey being quite upwardly mobile. We went to the new media complex, walking. Shining new place that houses radio, TV, print and online media. We had a cafe in the food court, and Gulsah, the radio host, met us and ushered us into the studio. I gave her a copy of the CD, and soon we were on the air, we talked, I selected songs from the station’s playlist, like REM and a new Ben Gibbard track (by way of explaining Bellingham) and I played two songs live on air. Fine time was had, then lunch, then we slogged back to the hotel–this time I selected the walking route back, and I selected the metro stop to disembark! A little rest time and fig eating feast in the lobby, then we went walking in Galata. Found the Galata tower (it’s not hard to locate, just hard to get inside–there’s always a queue of about 100 tourists waiting to go up. This is an 14th century Genoese-built lookout, quite attractive looking, and offering a view across to the old city, to the Anatolian side, the Bosporus. You can see it from many places, so…it could have seen you, potential invader of yore. We made our way (“where are going, Ken?” “this way”) down, down, to the waterfront, full of activity. Guys grilling mackerel and slapping it on a bun, the mussel guys, etc. And we walked on to Galata Bridge, which evidently is a drawbridge, but it was down at all times that I could see during my visit. Dozens of men line both sides, fishing in the water below (not the Bosporus but the smaller Golden Horn, which separates Karakoy, downhill from Galata, and the old city). Some guys had two rods, attaching one to the guardrail with a wooden/bungee cable contraption. They were pulling out large sardine like fish, the occasional mackerel, and other assorted species. Now, the water below was plied by ferries taking people hither and yon, there was the visible rainbow pattern of fuel residue on the water’s surface…I had eyed those mackerel sandwiches with some interest but it dawned upon me that it was ill advised to consider.
To get back up the steep hill to Galata, we took the world’s second oldest subway. The Tünel, which means…well, you can figure it out. It’s essentially a cable car as well, which burrows thru and up the side of the hill to a place just a few minutes walk from my hotel. A great saver of effort. Takes about 2 minutes, and it passes the downward cars on the way, of course, they are synchronized. There’s a place for them to swing out at the mid point, so they always pass each other in the same spot and then turn into the center for the last part of the run. The weird thing is, we passed on the left the first time I rode, which I thought would be natural for a system built my her majesty’s (that’d be Victoria, folks) engineers, but on a subsequent trip we passed on the right. Still figuring that one out. Built just after the completion of the London metro, this short commute has been going since the 1870s.
So, in the neighborhood of the club, in fact, miraculously just around the corner, we found what Google had promised me that day. The Sensus Wine Bar. Serving exclusively Turkish wine and cheese. Now, I’ve traveled around. I’ve encountered wine from Lebanon, Israel, China, Bolivia, hell, even *Canada* in stores. But Turkish wine was something I hadn’t even considered, I’d never seen a reference to it. Big omission. Turkey’s wine industry, and boutique wine culture, is huge. The reds where Rhone or Bordeaux style blends, as well as single-varietal wines, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, even a Petit Verdot. Not that I catalogued every label in the shop–for Sensus is a shop, a very attractive, stylish wine store, with a large cheese counter, and spread out over two rooms. There’s a small bar at one end, small tables strewn about, and then a back room, darker and more for dining and dating. There are, they say, 350 varieties of wine sold. I have a hard time refuting that. My biggest interest was unique varietals. I found three, in the reds– Bogazkere, Okuzgozu and Kalecik Karasi. And managed to try them all. Bottles I was looking at were about €20, but there were even more expensive bottles to try. Naturally I made this my HQ for the duration of my visit.
Oh, I also played a show! Nardis Jazz Club, which is run by a wonderful couple, is a small place, albeit with a balcony, so some space to spread out, but basically it’s run by regulars for regulars, in the tight community which is modern jazz in Istanbul. They were the most receptive to having me perform, and they provided a small stage, with a piano, and amps for my guys. I had Ahmet playing guitar and mandolin, and his friend Aserim singing, and a bass player whom I didn’t even meet til soundcheck despite the fact the rest of us got together on Sunday at a studio to do some rehearsing. So, in this evening, I played a lot of solo material, but with the guys, we did some REM covers, REM being the context by which they knew me. They also played on “The Lover’s Hymn” which turned into an epic jazz/soul jam, with the owner of the club playing a wicked jazz guitar solo on my axe. And Cagil’s take on the duet was fabulous. As it was a jazz club, after all, I had to do something appropriate so I worked in “Nature Boy”. Nice crowd came out on a Monday to see me–a mix of regulars and my little circle of friends and fans. The regulars were by and large people in their 50s/60s who weren’t prepared for what I was doing, but they loved it–all stayed til the end. Wonderful night.
The next days I was a tourist–walking around the city, seeing the monuments, absorbing the neighborhood, and be sure, spending many an hour in Sensus. There was a party at Babylon Club, very near to me, hosted by Bant Magazine, who’d done a feature on me, so I went there and hung out and met many cool musicians and folks. I also went on my last night in town to see Cagil’s husband Tamer play at Nardis, and was greeted warmly by the owners, who insisted that Cagil and I reprieve our duet, so we did. Tamer had a jazz combo, an excellent one, and in fact his bassist stayed onstage while we did the song and played along expertly (it is only three chords, after all). A wonderful way to end the visit.
Got up early that night. ahaha. By 3am, I was up and after a scary cab ride to the airport, scary not because of the driving but because every bridge and road was blocked for some reason, but we at last found our way to the airport on an unobstructed road. Flew to Paris and by 11am was home. Not for long. I went to my friend Ludo’s to shoot some footage for the upcoming “Doesn’t It Remind You of Something” video. And I worked on some touch ups on mixes for Idaho’s Still Propellors, whose album I’ve been mixing.
And off we go again. I took Aden to school and then had a cab to take me to the airport soon after. Flew to Gothenburg via Copenhagen, and bused into the city. There I was met by Marcus, founder of the brand new Radio Andra, with whom I will soon be making a weekly program. Also along for the ride were to lads who have a video blog and also help at the station. All hilarious. Marcus hails from Britain but has been living in Sweden for some years. And he’s started a bona fide FM station (on the web too of course) that plays indie music. It launched that week, and I was record of the week. Thank you! He shepherded me over to another station, tho, a big guvmint station, P4. I had a very nice interview there and did two songs live, they were really kind and we had some funny bits. Then I went to soundcheck, at the Folkteatern. Interesting concept: there’s a small foyer in between the main theatre and the lobby bar/restaurant, more or less consisting of wide wooden steps, with a little bit of floor space. These steps become like seats, and by hanging a curtain between two columns, there’s not a stage but a space. There’s even an upright piano that can be rolled into place. My duet partner tonite was Therese Johansson, from the brilliant band Lowood, one of my favorites of the last few years. She has been laying low for a couple of years, moving from Stockholm and raising her son, now 2. But she’s getting back into it, and I couldn’t be more pleased. And of course she did a wonderful job on the song. I really like her a lot, and really hope she puts out a new album soon. My show was definitely a sea-legs getting show. It was so quiet, the atmosphere very much not a bar. So, in theory good, but so good as to be nerve wracking–I mean, I am totally exposed and every move I make being eagerly observed….AGGGGGHHH!!! So of course I spoke about it. I even totally forgot the second verse to “Drop Your Pride”. I did almost every song from the album, plus older songs. It felt good to be back.
Got my train to Malmo, and found that there was no functioning electrical outlet, only one working toilet, and no restaurant car (there was a cart eventually). Also crammed in next to this young lady, which wasn’t as unpleasant as it sounds but hey. Nothing to do but sleep. I was awake for awhile tho, and not long after leaving Gothenburg I passed a field where there were something like a hundred cranes, resting. That was a lucky sight. A blessing that sort of indicated the tour was going to be OK. And also I had some revelations about what I do, after reflecting on my performance in Gothenburg, and thinking about what my mental game needs to be…after all, I’ve never really stopped touring since Soft Commands came out 8 years ago…what’s going to make these shows different? And Malmo was the realisation of this kind of thinking. I had been pursuing the sacrosanct, hushed (haha, yes, thank you, annoying Canadian blogger) tones of indie rock–a kind of holy, ultra serious vibe, as remember, indie rock takes itself very seriously. And I don’t, always, I am not so dogmatic about…anything. I realized that what I do, with its mix of surreal humor and skits, torch songs, guests and ‘let’s put on a show!’ simplicity, is in all reality cabaret. Brechtian, to some degree. But also lowbrow, out of the academic and into the human scale. It’s all of the above. But trying to keep me in the narrow confines of indie rock (which I love, don’t get me wrong) is like trying to tell Da Vinci (no, I am no Da Vinci) to stick with the mechanical drawing. Cabaret, the mental concept I am applying to this tour, pulls tropes from diverse sources, rebrands them in a way that’s theatrical without being theater, or shall we say, it’s a theater piece with no script but a conceptual presentation. Anyway, I mulled this over as I held my pee. Arriving in Malmo I made my way to Debaser, a lovely little collection spaces tied to a big park. Friendly folks there to greet me, and I set up and got to business. My partner today: Cecilia Nordlund, who has a solo project called Cilihili, and a band called Sunshine Rabbits (with Carolina, former drummer of the Pushkins, whose 1997 album I produced). She not only learned the words to the duet, but brought an Omnichord, to strum along. Which inspired me to suggest she learn “Superwise” as well. So, this show was much more up than Goteborg, which was a little church-like by comparison. We opened with Superwise, in fact, with the Omnichord providing a drum machine beat. This show was well populated, full even. As it had been happy hour earlier, I imagined that most people weren’t there for me but in fact they turned out to be, they went from lounging all over the club to standing at the stage…like a real show. So, Ken, are you capable of rising to the occasion and taking your show seriously, and not feel obligated to deconstruct it in front of everyone? Ken, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. A show needs to be a show. So, I treated it as such. I was on a stage, with a mic, and the audience was standing on the floor, down and in front of me. And I kept it that way. Of course, I played a little with the distance from the mic etc but mostly I treated this show ‘normally’. I was weird, funny, nervous, inspired. I played a pretty long time, aware that there were DJs following me and not wanting to abuse my welcome but even they were yelling ‘keep going’ from the back. So, a great, great show. As I explained to someone, when you are in the moment and not thinking about it anymore, even your mistakes sound good. I know the show ended with two encores, the last of which was “Here’s to the Future”, and it was intense. People wanted to hug me afterwards…that’s indie! Cecila’s take on the duet, by the way, was hilarious and wonderful. With a lot of erotic cooing, which made the house put on nervous smiles. Great! Next level stuff.
Here’s a great review of the show in Swedish: http://ow.ly/ek8aw
Great photos from the show: http://rockfoto.nu/artists/ken-stringfellow/20121007/17966
Duet with Julia from Nord & Syd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSo-lZzfTwU
Well, today’s train kicked butt all over yesterday’s. A cafe, free wifi that worked 99% of the time, and electrical outlets for all. I started kicking my tour manager emails into submission. I’m *almost* caught up with November’s show advances and production specs. Got to Stockholm and made one of those lazy choices, I was already sweating as it was a sunny day, and I had a lot of bags, and heavy coat, and a suit under that, and thought…well, if I take the metro, there’s more stairs going down, and then walking from the metro stop. Ah, I’ll cab it. Bad choice! Only cabs available were the ‘fantasy’ ‘sucker’ cabs, and I spent like fifty bucks going 2 miles. Stooge. Well, no worries. Got to the venue and settled in. Debaser, I’ve played many times–with the Posies, solo, White Flag. Weird tho that I remember it looking and feeling a different, my memory of it is shifted 180 deg somehow. But it’s absolutely unchanged since my first visit ten years ago, entropy notwithstanding. Soon my support band, Nord & Syd (you can figure it out) were there, with their stuff. Only bummer was their piano was just a plastic keys one, not piano keys, but they were so sweet and I like their band so I couldn’t complain. Singer Julia sang with me last year when she joined the Posies for a version of “Licenses to Hide” at Storjoyran Festival in Ostersund. She had a great vibe on “Doesn’t it Remind You”, sometimes looking at me with anger, sometimes love, all in character, she’d be a great actress if she gave that trade a whirl.
After soundcheck I had a lengthy and honest interview with Sonic, Sweden’s best and pickiest music magazine. Known the journo, Anders, for years, and we had a great chat. Went back to the venue for dinner and wifi’d til showtime. I have friends in town, and it’s good to shut the computer down now and then, if only for a few minutes. (Kidding).
Nord & Syd were really nervous when they went on. They only played 6 songs. Really good, they have a weird mix of pure vintage, almost 60s sounds with this 80s Korg string synth (they call it “The Kraut”). All their instruments were sort of small and unrobust, but they played with real power and precision, which sounded small, not in a bad way, but in the way that 60s drums on record don’t sound like Mutt Lange. That’s good, right?
Then I got my thing on. This show ended up being really warm. Took me awhile to get off the stage, but I did, without obligation. Been having some tuning issues with my guitar, so I’m hesitant to rely on it too much, but rely on it I must. I’ll probably switch it out for my other Gretsch after this week. See how that one’s going, anyway. But I crawled on and off the stage, with its awkward barricade designed not to allow you to put a drink on it, and did a long, leisurely show. Two really funny moments–during my set, unamplified etc, I saw a guy wearing earplugs. I could have figured out it was a tinnitus thing but before I did I just saw him and asked, incredulous–you have earplugs in during one of my shows? It’s like the quietest thing ever! He said, simply, “tinnitus”. I felt bad and in sympathy said,”ah, I get it sometimes, when I drink too much the night before (which is true) or really tired (also true) or wear tight pants (not so true)–so, essentially, I have it all the time” Uh, not funny. So later, just before a really quite song, while I’m in the crowd with them all gathered around me, the disco ball’s motor was squeaking. I couldn’t identify the source tho, and asked “What’s that squeaking sound?” Earplug guy without missing a beat: “Tinnitus!” Haha, we all laughed, hard. Awesome. This is what makes my shows. The best lines aren’t mine. It was so good, he had to go after that!
Another good moment: I was talking about the new album, and a fan said “best title ever” sort of in the middle of my sentence. Which was no biggie. But, a young guy, looking kinda in that rocker-hipster mode, you know how all the guys in the hipster bar, or Justice, or whatever, are going to be wearing Iron Maiden T’s? This guy had a stylish look, but with a bandana so you thought of like an 80s L.A. rocker, but he was young and,well, cool looking. He had a strange, elaborate manner of speaking which could be signs of either he’s a genius, or slightly on drugs, or has a funny way of speaking English, or all of the above. A character, in any case. So, just after the one guy said “best title ever” this young man, Kalle, interjected and said “yes, except for…” and started to name off some classic blues album titles… this went kinda slow. But it was funny, and we talked about it for awhile. Of course people were just waiting for the next song…and they weren’t going to get it soon. Later, after I described my vinyl voucher situation, Kalle spoke up and said “sorry to interrupt you again” (which was a great line in itself, drawing a kind of ‘here we go again’ titter from the audience) “but I have to ‘fuck tha police’ and get outta here and I wanted to buy one of the vinyls”. Now that was sweet. So, I sold him one, and Melinda from the Pushkins who was there was kind enough to take the address down. He mentioned he was kind of homeless and needed to sort out where he was staying so he had to go. But then he was still there later, and of course he gave me an address to mail the record to. So, he’s a mystery, but a charming one to be sure.
I spent a lot of time talking about the Nord Electro 73, my interpretation being that this was only capable of playing 10CC and Wings songs…and one of my songs morphed into “With a Little Luck” for awhile.
After the show, I had drinks with David Myhr, from the band the Merrymakers. He now has a solo album on Lojinx. Very nice gentleman indeed.
The next day I slept in a bit, and met up with Melinda for lunch. She’s married to Jugglo, who recorded and played drums on Soft Commands, and of course I produced her band’s album years before that. And she let me work from an empty desk at her office in United Stage, a big touring company. Then she guided me to the metro and told me where to get off to get on the ferry to Finland. Saved me a pretty penny tho it was pretty intense hauling my awkward collection of luggage from the metro to the ferry terminal, few hundred (poorly marked) yards of struggle. But, all was forgotten when I got there, checked in, and boarded. Got my little cabin. And went immediately to dinner , big steak and a bottle of Amarone. Of course, one bottle is a lot for one man so there was one of those moments when I woke up at 6 (I put my phone into flight mode so I could control the time zone change so I woke up at the right time) I was feeling thru my jeans trying to find my Swedish krona panicking thinking I lost them all then dimly remembering hitting the bureau de change before bed. It’s an 11 hour trip, which goes by a lot faster than you think. Could have used one more trip like that.
Got off the boat, and soon my man Tomi Palsa was there in his trusty Pugeot to pick me up. Tomi offered to drive me for these Finnish dates, saying he was going anyway, so, I was welcome to join. He’s stayed with friends the night before, and in fact we went back to their place where they had put out a big breakfast spread. Rapa and Minka are lovely, and they were really happy to invite us over. We stayed til they had to leave for work and school, and then hit the road. Now, we were in Turku, that’s where the boat comes in. Tomi told me about the Turku toe-toucher. Evidently there’s a guy on the loose in Turku who apparently has keys to all the apartment buildings, somehow, and he enters in the night and simply stares at people and then just before leaving he touches their toes and runs off. No violence, no robbery/thievery. Yet everyone is terrified. I narrowed it down: either he’s a ghost, or an urban legend, an emanation of mass hysteria.
We drove on towards Tampere, but stopped in Tomi’s hometown, Forssa, for a cafe (more internet), for lunch (very nice salmon at Kooki, the nicest joint in town), a few photo ops around Tomi’s childhood home, and of course we paid a visit to his mom who works in a stationery shop. Then on to Tampere and I checked into my hostel. Soon I had an interview and photo shoot, then it was time to head to the venue. Telakka, which evidently means ‘the dock’ and is nowhere near any water of any kind, is a beloved cultural landmark–for the music that takes place in the cafe, and the theatre upstairs. it was founded and run for many years by Markku Peltola actor known from Kaurismaki films for example. Unf. he passed away rather young from cancer or similar. The cafe reminded me of something you’d find in Bellingham, maybe. There was even a very hippy style young lady at the show, who could have easily been from Bellingham but with a Finnish accent of course. I set up my things and soundchecked. Now, that morning in Turku we we heard a band on the local radio called Pintandwefall, and Tomi remarked that one of the girls in that band was his next door neighbor in Tampere. Next thing we know, Ninni has been volunteered by Tomi to sing “Doesn’t It Remind YOu” — she had the afternoon to learn it and she managed to memorize it. Wow.I should mention that not only is her band brilliant but her upcoming solo album, Ninni Forever, is incredible.
This was a mighty, epic show. Coming after a day off, of course, everything was awkward and I was all thumbs to start out with but I stuck with it. It was a far out, awkward, passionate, two-and-a-half-hour show that had strong elements of jazz, as I would go off on piano tangents with fearsome, stacked chords. I played almost everything on the album and then some. Ninni was outstanding. There was a hilarious, howling version of “Thirteen” by Big Star with Tommy from Cry Bar, the opening band. Requests were made for “Sparrow” and “Lover’s Hymns”, and they were honored. I really enjoyed this show. There were lots of drunken interjections, totally inappropriate–like, just after a quiet song “Rock and ROLL” from some drunken patron. When I was walking my guitar out to the audience, I bumped things and generally struggled and this big bear of a man said “are you *trying* to be annoying?”. haha, what do you say to that? Yes!
He turned out to be Pauli, who is evidently a great cartoonist, and is one of several vocalists//percussionists for “TTBB” the Tani Tanninen Big Band, an avant jazz ensemble. He was hanging out after the show at the merch table, looking a bit like Moondog, wild hair and big beard, big belly and wearing sweatbands on his wrists for some reason. We talked about music and art, and he bought an vinyl, bless him.
I can’t tell you all the jokes, all the great moments, but it was a wonderful show and I honestly thought I’d played an hour. The club was supposed to have been long closed but they were enjoying it too. In the dressing room after the show, Tommy from Cry Bar pointed out that I never played “Any Love” so he and his bandmate got an exclusive performance on Tommy’s acoustic. Then we went to Klubi, where I’ve performed many times, and hung out for awhile. The night ended at local singer Nora, ‘s place, where I drank tea and played covers and the guitar was passed to every one.
Could have used more sleep but we did have a a drive of six-plus hours. Mostly I slept, but Tomi and I had lunch at a classic diner, both talking the smoked reindeer soup. I never saw much of Joensuu, but awoke as we hit town, so saw the downtown. It’s miles from anywhere. Quite a tidy and modern downtown. We were in the latest incarnation of Kerubi, a club that existed in one place in the 90s, as a cafe in the 00s, and is now installed in a pretty big building in a park. Restaurant upstairs and a big showroom downstairs. My musical partner and support act tonite was Villi Harkonen. He’d learned some Posies and solo songs, which came in handy. Kind of a quiet show as the late night and long show the night before but a little strain on my voice, and this was a big venue with not a ton of people, who were all sitting down, and many of them not close. I spent more time at the piano, etc. With Villi, who played the part on “Doesnt It Remind You” which was hilarious, we did elec gutiar/acoustic guitar and vocal versions of “Down Like Me”, “Precious Moments”, “Please Return It” and an impromptu version of…well, it was the music from “The One I Love” by REM but the melody and lyrics of “Ontario”. Don’t worry, I’ll post it soon.
Sold a lot of merch at this show, but no vinyl, oddly, but what seemed like a kind of confused and passive audience were actually just listening…people really dug it. Gotta remember the likelihood of an emotional outburst in Finland is relatively low. So, don’t get intimidated.
Now we’re on the road to Helsinki, big drives ahead.
in the Pugeot, somewhere in Finland