Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dear France...

... you are everything I've always wanted you to be. Seriously. 

I've always thought I would live in the South of France, but until now I had never actually been to France. I liked Paris a lot but not for living in. Toulouse, though, is winning my heart. Its so friendly and warm and beautiful here. It might be the prettiest city I've ever seen... well St Petersburg is crazy beautiful but in a different and more impressive way. Toulouse is modestly beautiful. The old architecture, the churches, the Garonne River running through the middle, the parks... its just beautiful without really trying too hard. St Petersburg is covered in gold shimmer and sequins ... which I also enjoy a good deal.

I played a show at my friend jAms' house. It was super great. I am playing another house show tonight at The Persimmon House. Cyril, who runs the shows and a record label called "What A Mess Records", shot a video of me playing a song in the persimmon tree earlier this afternoon. Tomorrow I'm heading to Rennes tomorrow to play LadyFest! Weee! 

I'm feeling inspired to improve my French. I can struggle to have really simple conversation at the moment but its coming back to me quickly. I used to speak this language, you know? I think I might be buying myself some French language tapes for my summer/fall tour. 

Here is my friend jAms. We were having a snack in the park.

A church.

An exploded printer. We decided it must have been dropped from a second story window.

These are across from each other in Grand Rond park. That wolf stole one of her pups!

Jesus, its beautiful here. I went on a hike in the Pyrennees. 

My hike up the mountain to some natural hot springs.

The baths.

...and the way back down.

This one is for sale... I took down the number. Later I blew all the tufts off a dandelion and wished that I would live there sometime in the next five years.

I'm gonna live here... bit of a fixer upper.

This slug has a window.

The train station in the tiny town at the bottom of the mountain. This town has one bar and one little store. When I descended the mountain at 8 pm, the bar was closed. No wine for me.

Back in Toulouse. More churches.

Me with my crazy eye.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


So I woke up at 9:30 the morning I was to fly to Paris, only my flight left at 7. I decided to rent a car and drive there, from Lisbon… which is very very very far away. I was convinced against all odds that I would get there in time for my show… or maybe I'd be forgivably late. The GPS in the rental car told me I'd arrive at 9:00 the next morning, but I thought maybe if I drove really fast… Fucking anxiety dreams!!!

I am writing this from Gate 23 where I am about to board my flight. Its 6:20 am. I woke up at 3 am because my dear new friend Xana was snoring. From time to time I would reach over the space between our beds and touch her arm and she would stop, but it never did last long. On the elevator ride down to the lobby "Living On A Prayer" was playing and I couldn't really take that as a good sign, but then Men At Work accompanied me on my cab ride to the airport, so I figured things were looking up.

Portugal has been wonderful. As always. I love it here. Portuguese people are so friendly and helpful. When I arrived, I was greeted by Xana, my booking agent, who drove me directly (via two gas stations, her son's school, and a grocery store) to her small village in the North of Portugal, outside of Vila Real. Her family is welcoming and her 14 month old son has the sweetest face I've ever seen. Here are pictures of her village.

Afonso and Joao

For washing clothes, of course.

Just natural spring water, no big deal.

For storing grain.

This is right outside Xana's back door.

I played three and a half shows while here. I got to spend some time with two very entertaining ladies, Emmy Curl and Catia. Emmy was also playing the shows. She has a beautiful voice and impressive guitar chops. Catia was our tour manager of sorts. She wears combat boots, smokes like a chimney, drinks more coffee than water and is a total knock out. Seriously, what a babe. Here they are looking at an iphone ap that turned Emmy into a zombie.

On our last day together we went to see a mid-evil village at the top of a mountain outside of Portalegre. I was wondering around this castle and found a mysterious narrow stone staircase that led down into darkness, so of course I followed it. It led to this long cylindrical room that was filled halfway with water. The reverb was like nothing I'd ever heard. So I got out my iphone and started to sing. Here is what it sounded like.

And here is what the castle looks like:

Shortly thereafter Emmy came down and we sang an Italian opera together. There will be a video soon! It was magic. At the end of our show later that night, for my last song, I asked everyone to come very close and sit on the floor around me. It was kind of a bar setting with folks drinking and milling about (and it was 2:30 am) so it took some convincing, but they eventually obliged. I invited Emmy up and we sang the opera again without microphones. It was a sweet ending to the show.

The next day we woke in the afternoon and sauntered over to this venue/community center that just opened and is also someone's house. It was so lovely. We hung out there all day drinking sangria. I played some songs and then we ate dinner together. Our hosts let me know that the meat we were eating was from a pig that was raised on one of their parents' farms and his name was Jonas (the pig, not the parent). Some of the other dinner guests thought they could use this fact to make me feel guilty about eating it… but I'd much prefer to eat an animal that I know the name of than some factory farmed/tortured and nameless slab from the grocery store. Jonas tasted amazing.

This lovely place is called Ficar, which means "stay", so maybe I will.

Telmo cooking.

Jonas takes on many forms.                                                          

Dora and Xana Marie
Telmo with pom poms.

Hours later I played more songs around the fireplace. Dora and Telmo, our hosts, were so lovely and invited me back anytime. I think I might move in.

Now I'm in Paris... I will report on that later.

Here are some cool things:

Mid-evil village... squished stone face.

They know how to do sidewalks in Portugal.
Just for walking on.

From up in the sky they're just.... 
Modern art or ...?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Europe tour, episode 3 - Picture Book

In Berlin wearing my friend Cindy Wonderful's robe.

I've played three shows in Berlin with almost entirely 
different audiences. I love this city. Last night I played at
 Madame Claude's with a band called Nadine And The Prussians.
They were so good.

One more Berlin show left and its tomorrow night! Then off to Portugal!

Last week:

Lily... my Dutch distant cousin.

Noah, Lily's brother. I sang him a bedtime song that night.

A boat called Kim at the harbor in Rotterdam.

Scary red eyed geese with little goslings!

I speak Dutch!!!

I thought my last name was cool until...

Slagroom (whipped cream) with Jasmine after her 
beautiful dance show in Amsterdam.

This man gave me a piece of candy on the u-bahn in Berlin. 
I tried to refuse, but he insisted.

This falafel was so delicious. Like holy shit. 
I might go get some for linner (dunch) right now.
Its right down the street from where I am staying. 
I effing love Berlin.