Saturday, May 5, 2012

Songs on Trains (and about them)

Well, I'm in Holland. My home land, I suppose... or my grandparents' home land. I have been to Amsterdam once on a really long layover... I remember a lot of bicycles. BUT I want to start earlier in this story, so lets go back to the night before I left. I was packing, very lightly, and leaving room in my enormous duffle bag for all the CDs I sent in advance. I heard rumors about long customs lines at Heathrow, where I was flying into to the next day, so I was checking how long my connection was to my Berlin flight to be sure I had time. This is when I realized that I bought my Berlin ticket from the wrong airport. Apparently this is a classic mistake that foreigners make in London. Crap. So I tried calling and the airline to change the ticket. In fact, I called them each, respectively, three times. They kept telling me to call the other one because they couldn't help me. In the end, I bought a new ticket leaving from a different airport entirely that left the next day.

I posted on twitter that I needed a place to sleep and a ride to the airport at 4 am. A lovely person named Tiffany offered to help. She has cute dogs, and a boyfriend named Haemish, and made me delicious food, and bought me gluten free cookies, and showed me the woods near her house. It was bloody lovely.

I arrived in Berlin the morning of my first show. The first thing I did was eat falafel. The second thing I did was take a nap. The third thing I did was soundcheck for my show. No one warned me about European outlets! They output twice the voltage and this caused two of my three power cables to fry. All the lights went out and the plugs were quite literally smoking. Angie, the sound person, and I ran to a nearby music store which was already closed. So, I played an acoustic show. The audience was so lovely and attentive though. The room was super full and made me feel pretty damn loved. Apparently people in Berlin go to shows even when they don't know the band playing. Rad. I love Berlin.

Jet lag made it hard to sleep that night. I finally fell asleep at 4 am and didn't wake until 4 pm and was greeted by giant, polka-dotted tonsils.

(As a side note, the other band is sound checking with "Folsom Prison Blues" right now, I bet they don't know how funny that is.)

So I woke up at 4 pm and jumped out of bed because I had to find a music store to buy new power chords before sound check for my second Berlin show. No time to shower... still hadn't showered since Oakland. 5, 600 miles (give or take) of grime. I found one of the cables for 25 euros but the other one was too specific so I had to replace the piece of gear (ugh). All in all 75 euros, just because I didn't have some special voltage converter. Fuck me.

My next show was weird. I was feeling a little crazy after 12 hours of sleep and felt like I was singing past tennis balls in my throat. Also, three interesting characters arrived right on time and at first they were the only people in the room. One was especially eager to help(?) me. One was giving me advice about my career... wait, didn't we just meet each other? Didn't you say you just discovered my music earlier today? Did I ASK YOU what you thought? A few more people filtered in but it was a sparce crowd for sure. Not a super awesome show but at least I got some really valuable advice, right? AND a really helpful tip about not trying to sound like Antony or Coco Rosie when I sing, because "your voice is really good but would be better if you sang like yourself". Cool, thanks. The best part if that these characters were headed to the same neighborhood as me and really wanted to take the train with me, even though they hate how I sing and think I suck at my career. Also two of them were being racist on the ride back and I was trying not to scream (the swollen tonsils helped control the urge).

I didn't sleep that night. I tried. I laid there for a while. But while laying there I realized that my euro rail pass was supposed to have arrived that day. I was leaving for Mannheim the next morning and really needed the pass... like real bad. So I got on the phone with DHL in the US who could not help me and since it was 3 am in Germany, the local office was closed. I set my alarm (which I didn't need because I didn't ever fall asleep) for 7 am so I could call DHL as soon as they opened. Unfortunately, the person who answered spoke no English. So I called someone I had yet to meet in person, at 7 am, to ask if he could call on my behalf. He was up, thankfully, and was happy to help. Turns out I had to take the metro across town to pick it up. I had to get my Mannheim train at 10 am so I lugged my guitar and luggage with me to DHL. Good thing Berlin transit is so kick ass.

I took the train with my friend Josepha ( and we had awkwardly personal conversations about heart break, family drama, and sex. Only awkward because of the other passengers on the train, who were sharing a small cabin with us.  I got to Mannheim to meet Bernd, who helped with DHL (and helped me set up a lot of my shows... he is awesome). He drove me to my hotel where I tried to nap... and failed. Then we headed to the show and the booker was super great and friendly and the bar was western themed. The bartender was wearing a black cowboy hat over his long hair. He looked properly badass and at the end of the show, he bought both my albums. The show was really great altogether.

I ate ice cream before bed, which must have helped finally beat the jet lag. Also I'd been awake for about 30 hours so I slept so well. Today I woke up and took a train to Rotterdam... where I am now. On the train I worked on some songs by inmates at New Folsom. Taking trains to shows is so much better than driving because I can do all sorts of things when I'm not confined to a car seat.

I am playing a cafe called RAAF tonight. Paleo played here a few weeks ago. Our tours aren't overlapping at all... silly. If you have not heard him, do so now.

That pretty much fills you in.



    I still want you to send me the lyrics, and recording you made of that Folsom inmate, blues song.

    - Enjoy The Tour (Bear Hug)

  2. I hope your tonsils are no longer the size of golf balls. That sounds horribly uncomfortable.