Blog Archive

Blog Archive 2005

February 18, 2005

We've been a little lazy about doing this thing for a while. But, the only reason we're doing again is that we're tired of having to answer all of the fan's emails about it. We know that you can't go on this long again, and we're sorry. So here you go you little cry-babies...

We are in Spain right now in between Bilbao and A Coruna. The last time we were in A Coruna, Konrad hadn't had much experience with the Spanish fish dishes. It was kind of a trial by fire, but nothing that a little Cardinal Mendoza couldn't fix right up. The Cardinal is a fine Brandy that is served in a warm snifter after your meal. Sure to erase any doubts about pretty much anything you may have said or done in the previous few hours. Getting back to the pescado scene- hey, this reminds me of a story...

I was at a restaurant when a woman ordered a fish dish and it came out whole. It was cooked and everything, but the head was still on it. The woman turned to her husband and let out a "I'm not going to eat anything that is looking at me!" To this, the husband responded by turning the plate around and stating "Now it's looking at me." Simple and elegant. Where were we, ahhh yes, Spain.

Konrad, not used to eating much from the sea, and the rest of the boys get heaping piles of creatures. Crab, soup made from crab parts that you normally would look at then throw away after catching a little bit of puke in your mouth (that is then put back in the crab carcass..yummy), little lobsters, and.....barnacles. Yes, the things that you see on whales, docks, the sides of ships. Hey, lets eat those things! Konrad got used to eating some weird things on that trip, but does not regret a bit of it. It was all good.

March 12, 2005

Let me tell you my friend, Spain is a wonderful place. It's a state of mind where the night begins at the stroke of midnight and doesn't wind down till the sun god has risen. Music is an elixir of the spirit. Food is eaten at a table full of conversation and good wine and through many courses.

Kudos to our brilliant tour enablers at Love To Art—Juan, David, Marisa, Thomas and Rams.

Bilbao—Gorgeous city, great club, amazing soundman, nice crowd with some dancing up front. Unbelievable hotel. Why can't we stay two nights in the hotel with the spa?!?

A Coruna—More barnacles! They eat them here. along with the most delicious octopus this side of heaven. Great venue, The Playa Club is right on the beach, crowd packed up front jumping up and down with fists in the air. Big fun late night with Oscar and friends.

Madrid—Lovely club, El Sol.

Castellon—Not just a club, but a lifestyle, Rico Amor!

Total fiasco at Madrid airport with too much weight. KLM airlines demand 700 Euros!! We have to leave duffel of t-shirts with Love To Art.

Deutschland! Where the trains run on time and the heating systems are strictly controlled! We are met by our new best friend and German tourmanager, Thomas. He drives to every venue and hotel in the country without any aid from maps. He is also the sweetest and most responsible tourmanager this side of heaven.

Kassel—Very familial scene at the Schlachthof and nice dinner afterward. "Montag is Nudeltag!" Drew says, "Everyday is Nudeltag!" First Steffen Paulus sighting.

Hamburg—The new Knust is much more comfortable than the old Knust. Norbert proclaims "Susan Across The Ocean" the second best love song of all time. Number one: "I've Been Loving You Too Long" by Otis Redding. Way too much jawing at Mutter Bar late into the night.

Dortmund—Boy do we miss the Pumps! We proclaim "Pussy Fog" to be the best girl rawk song ever!

Hannover—First show with The Saints. "Ladies and Gentlemen and Jailbait, Jailbait, Jailbait! I'll be back with you my brother Kenyata!" Chris Bailey is a riot, so is Marty Wilson-Piper.

Schwerin—Second show with The Saints. Great sounding club, Die Speicher. Beautiful Schloss on the lake. We get a load of the 18th century Meissner porcelain. Konrad is very proud.

Nordersted—Our hosts Wolfgang and Andrea are the greatest. His record store is amazing. We play a kind of house concert in the extra room at the store. Very appreciative crowd, especially the patron from Riga. Whiskey and Ouzo late into the night with Wolfie and Andrea.

Cologne—Big city on a Monday night gig. Great to see Stephan Werner from Normal Records.

Heilbronn—Terrifc gig in a kind of Wine cellar/Bomb shelter venue. Really fun, loud crowd. Lots of Weissebier with Edgar from our German label, Blue Rose Records. We raid his warehouse the next morning. The T-shirts fail to arrive adding another chapter to the T-shirt fiasco.

Frankfurt—Crazy Emma was very high doing the lights at the Sinkasten. Steffen Paulus sighting #2.

Halle—Possibly the coolest venue in Germany, the Objekt 5. Jahn did a superb job at the mixing console and made a great recording. Great homemade dinner, great gig, nice folks. Der Goldene Plan (our opening band for most of the tour) did their finest work thus far.

Nurnberg—The K4 has an amazing atmosphere, vaulted ceilings, huge columns, very medieval. The before show consisted of several games of Bohnanza with Kilian and Sabine. Kilian emerged victorious and emitted many exuberant cackles. Tati and friends opened to cheers and looked fine in her vintage cowboy shirt. Zattl was on hand video taping. Thomas Hartmann from Normal Records in the old days was also on hand. We had our biggest and boisterous show so far. There was even a senorita from Venezuela requesting all the Spanish numbers. Really great time.

Gopppingen—Our old friends the Steinbachs were our hosts this evening. The venue was an old power sub-station, gorgeously renovated. Rosaria treated us to a beautiful spread of antipasto and cappuccinos. We received many, many hugs from Frieder and got some hang time with Flavio and Fabrizio. Third Steffen Paulus sighting. The T-shirts finally arrive, possibly ending the T-shirt fiasco. The hotel bar had beautiful, delicate miniature trains running on tracks in miniature environments under glass inside the tables, really incredible.

Vienna—Another Bomb shelter/Wine Cellar venue, perfect for a freezing cold Sunday night. Great hosts, great crowd, plenty of Gulash for dinner, amazing hotel straight out of Hotel New Hampshire.

Salzburg—The venue is actually called The Rockhouse. It is also a former wine cellar!! Very picturesque town. We get treated like royalty yet again.

March 15, 2005

Munich—The most beautiful hotel with 18th century high ceilings, plaster crown moldings and medallions, the smell of old wood, gilded mirrors, period furniture. The snowflakes were huge and falling so slowly, they just hung in the air reflecting the light from the streetlamps. The gig at the Atomic Café was good also, but the dinner at La Bouche was phenomenal, amazing truffle ravioli and perfect filet.

Brussels—Another fun time with The Saints at the L'Orangerie inside le Botanique. We get to check out Rogue Wave, a pretty cool band from Oakland, who are playing in the Rotonde. Turns out they are fans of The Vulgar Boatmen and we have several friends common. Wayne Shorter and Brian Blade are hanging out in the lobby of our hotel. Konrad manages to get a couple comps to there show in Amsterdam tomorrow.

Day off in Amsterdam—One of the world's great cities. A terrific Thai meal and we get to see The Wayne Shorter Quartet in an 18th century symphonic space, like Carnegie Hall but nicer. The music is very contemporary, it never returns to familiar ground, just keeps moving forward. The musicianship is absolutely brilliant and Brian Blade's drumming is simply supernatural. Afterwards we down some delicious Belgian ale at Melo Meloe while Drew jams with the band.

Wezel—Sleepy little German town near the Dutch border. It's Matthias' hometown and he brings out a big crowd. The JZ Caro is packed and he and Heinz get some serious love. We rock out furiously and have a terrific time.

Assen—Back to The Netherlands for our final gig. The Witte Bal is a cozy and charming venue. The evening is a bridge back to our normal US gigs. There's a lot of drinking and smoking and we play 2 sets.

We get virtually no sleep and off to the Amsterdam airport where we say goodbye to Thomas for 2 days. We will see him in Austin after our day off in NYC. Yes that's right, one day to do laundry and it's off to the nonstop party we like to call South by Southwest.

Sept 4, 2005

We have a lot of ground to cover, both in miles today and in months in this journal. We're on our way home from a 3 night trip over labor day weekend. Our first gig Thursday night was in Vienna, Virginia which is a suburb of Washington, DC. We played at Jammin Java which despite it's awful name is a very nice venue run by some very cool folks. The main deal is we are trying out new songs before going into the studio to record a new album. We played 3 new songs, "Keeping Score", "Come On Like The Fast Lane" and "Tell Me You Love Me" as well as a complete rewrite of an old WSH solo song called "I Won You Won". Friday night after a beautiful drive through the mountains of West Virginia, we played Uncle Pleasant's in Louisville. Paul K and The Weathermen opened—great guitar tones and songs. We played loud and hard, the new songs are coming together. It was Jeffrey Lee Puckett's birthday so many beers were hoisted, bourbon shots downed, and toasts to Jeffrey's continued good health were heard throughout the bar. Saturday, after a brutal drive all the way down to Raleigh, NC we played an outdoor fest in a gorgeous park in the middle of downtown. All our Raleigh friends were there, and though a little crispy, we played hard. Following dinner with friends we returned to the fest for the featured act, Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was actually Ed King and Artemus Pyle with 2 of the original back-up singers and a bunch a new guys, but they played all the songs you would want to hear, Ed's solo on "Sweet Home Alabama" being particularly fine. After a poignant speech by Artemus eulogizing those who have died in Hurricane Katrina, the first notes of "Freebird" were heard. The lighters came out and we must report it was pretty special.

OK, now let's back up 6 months to the end of our magnificent European tour and the end of our last journal entry. We were back in New York for a couple days then flew into Austin and straight to the Hole In The Wall for the 10th Annual running of The Swollen Circus on March 15. The performers were Jon Nolan, Hitchhike, Michelle Anthony, Michael Hall and the Woodpeckers, The Silos, Marlee McCloud, Steve Wynn and The Miracle Three, Paul the Girl, Spottiswoode and His Enemies, Last Train Home and The High Strung. A total blast and an amazing testament to the endurance of The Swollen Circus, I can't believe it's been 10 years running. For the rest of SXSW we turned into The Who meets Scarface, "Say hello to my little friend". The highlights were a blistering set a the Guitartown party and the nuclear meltdown of The Guided By Voices Hoot Night where joined by Jon Dee Graham, The Silos distilled the energy of an entire set into a surrealistic 10 minute miasma of melody, noise and poetry that was the song "As We Go Up We Go Down". 

There was no rest for the weary, after SXSW we traveled north playing at Dan's in Denton, TX with the lovely Nora O'Connor, put in another fine night of quieter yet just an intense music at The Blue Door in OK City, then another night with Nora at Davie's in Kansas City. We had a somewhat unexpectedly amazing time in Omaha. It was a last minute booking at O'Leaver's, which is the local musician's hang. We hadn't played in Omaha in 15 years and the crowd was super appreciative. A truly great vibe, and thank you Neil Azevedo for cooking us an amazing Italian feast and putting us up in your beautiful loft. We then made the long drive to Gil's Café in Milwaukee and saw all our old friends there as all well as the next night at Schuba's in Chicago. We ended the run on March 26 in St Paul at The Turf Club. On the bill with us was Slim Dunlap, maybe the nicest guy in showbiz. It was the end of an era for us, we would take a month off, and also for The Turf Club. It was being sold and it's future as the coolest music venue in the twin cities was in question.

After a month at home we played The Iota in DC on April 22 with the excellent Tim Bracken opening and the next day drove to our own Hudson Valley to perform at The Falcon in Marlboro, NY. Tony Falco, impresario extrordinaire, has built a small concert hall/art gallery in his backyard from the recycled pieces of a church. It's one of the most special music scenes we know of. We've seen some amazing concerts there—Al Foster, Brad Mehldau, John Ambercrombie—and we were honored to be asked to perform. Thank you Tony!

Another month off and we headed to the Midwest. On May 19 we played Radio Radio with our friends The High Strung. The singer has a falsetto reminiscent of The Darkness and they wear great homemade outfits too! We got to hang with old friends Dale from The Vulgar Boatmen and Janas from The Maryjanes. Then a warm showing at The Comet in Cincy. Great vibe, super nice folks. The following day we heraded to Louisville and played on one of the best public radio stations in the country, WFPK. They have an amazing facility, very posh studios and they sponsor free concerts in a park on the Ohio River where we performed later that day. Perfroming with us was Danelia Cotton with our old buddy Kevin Salem on guitar. We know Kevin going way back to his years in Dumptruck and Walter co-wrote a song with him called "It's Only Life" which appears on Danelia's new album. Our set was extremely good fun, it was a big stage, a big crowd, and there were lots of kids up front dancing. What more can you ask for? After show, Jeffrey Lee Pucket, Louisville's premiere rock writer, took us on a tour of Louisville's finest hangouts and Kentucky's finest bourbons. Next day we struggled down to Nashville for a show at The Basement. It's a beautiful venue below Nashville's finest independent record store, Grimey's. Then off to Knoxville to Patrick Sullivan's in the city oldest district. The place was a hotel/bar/bordello in the late 1800's an most of it is just as it was. We ran into Tim Lee from the Windbreakers and Swimming Pool Q's. Saturday we played outdoors at the Summer on Trade Street Festival in Winston-Salem. We played for what seemed like hours, literally playing every song we know for an eclectic crowd of suburbanites, downtowners, buttondowns and misfits. There was plenty of wild dancing, partying and some very excellent BBQ. Afterward we went round the corner to The Garage and saw Anders Parker and Richard Buckner put in great sets. We finished the week on Sunday, May 30 at The Windjammer on the beach near Charleston, SC opening for the Drive-by Truckers. Total insanity—by far the most alcohol consumed by any crowd I've ever seen. We played a tight well-received high energy rock set. The Truckers are super nice people and great fun to watch perform. Three lead singers, what seems like millions of good songs and the leaders of a 2 and a half hour Southern Rock mega party.

Walter spent the summer writing songs for the next album. Drew worked as the stage manager at Central Park Summmerstage overseeing the likes of Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Dinosaur Jr, The Killers, Louis IV, Lyle Lovett, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, etc, etc, etc. Konrad had the best summer of all, his son Maximillian was born on June 14.

Drew's quote of the day:

Walter: "Hey guys, you ready to rock?" (spoken only in the most sarcastic way possible after getting 2 hours of sleep and waking up at 6am to start a 10 hour drive with the only break being a pedestrian meal at the Sagebrush Steakhouse with a waitress who was about as charming as a cottonmouth)

Drew: "Right about now I could use 2 or 3 days in the hospital for some rehydration and a blood swap!"