Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Getting Ready

I feel I should make a list. A list of what I need to take with me, a list of things I need to do before I set off, a list of things I should be putting on the various lists, a list of lists....

This time feels even more weird than usual – it's not just the countdown to going on tour, it's the countdown to The Donovan Of Trash reissue which comes out next Monday, May 5th - four albums in five months, I love it and I can hardly believe it's happening.

And it's the countdown to being sixty – I don't know how that happened: I've lived for twice as long as I was originally planning to, and now I feel like I used to as a kid watching the approaching end of the summer holiday. I never wanted the summer to end, and now that old age is becoming a not too distant reality I don't want my life to end. I'm not scared of dying which is just as well because it's inevitable, but I'm certainly not ready to leave the party just yet, I'm having too good a time.

Someone's probably reading this and berating me for being morbid but I think that's more their problem than it is mine. Anyway, I'm hoping I've got another twenty or twenty five years of good health and creativity. Anything beyond that may or may not be a bonus.

When I was young I could remember with clarity everything that had happened in my life, sometimes right down to a stain on a cushion cover, a creaking door, the pattern on a floor tile that suggested a waterfall or an express train... As time goes on the experiences and attached memories stack up until looking back is almost overwhelming. And confusing. My life doesn't feel like just one life, more like a mismatched set of mini-lives, a collection of short stories, a succession of tracks that I hope will one day add up to a good album. I can't imagine how I got to where I am now and I'm surprised I've got away with it for so long.

I'd better get back to the list, try and find my passport...

14 BRIGHTON, The Prince Albert
15 BBC 6 MUSIC, Marc Riley Show
17 LONDON, The Lexington
22 HUDDERSFIELD, Vinyl Tap instore
23 LEEDS, Belgrave Music Hall
25 MANCHESTER, The Castle Hotel
26 LIVERPOOL, The Lomax
27 EDINBURGH, Voodoo Rooms
29 PARIS (tbc)

14 ALBANY NY, The Low Beat
15 BUFFALO NY (tbc)
16 DETROIT MI (tbc)
17 COLUMBUS OH (details to follow)
19 MEMPHIS TN, Murphy's
20 KNOXVILLE TN, The Pilot Light
21 COLUMBIA SC, The Conundrum Music Hall
21 RICHMOND VA (tbc)
23 WASHINGTON DC, The Black Cat
24 ASBURY PARK NJ, The Saint www.thesaintnj.com
25 NEW YORK NY, The Mercury Lounge

12 HASTINGS, EAST SUSSEX UK (details to follow)
26 HOLT, NORFOLK UK, The Holt Festival with The Bad Shepherds

Monday, 28 April 2014

Wenchin' 'n' Benchin' with The Schoemer Formation

There was a jazz fusion group on before us. The front man sported a piece of driftwood fashioned over time by mother nature into an approximation of a bass guitar with a battery compartment and an extra wide neck vaulted by six big strings. Amy quite liked them, said she admired their nerdiness. I thought they needed to lose two strings and a ponytail.

The group that came on after us were God awful – drums and a percussionist, chick singer strumming an inaudible baritone ukelele, an abundance of beards, flat caps and shapeless, pseudo-Peruvian clothing. And a three man -sorry, boy - brass section with a dizzying amount of metalwork: tuba, French horn, trumpet, trombone, saxophones... they looked like music students.

The band seemed very pleased with themselves, especially the bass player – disgusting active bass sound, all bonk and doink, very unsexy, no throb. And again the wide neck with the surplus string problem. He'd evidently practised long and hard but he wasn't a player, no soul and no real groove.

Apparently this band are much loved in Albany. I thought they were smug, boring and not as good as they thought they were, though they obviously thought they were hotshots. None of the members of the other bands were particularly friendly towards us so I don't feel bad saying these things.

'I hear this is only your fifth gig,' one of them said to us in a somewhat patronising manner.

'Yes, that's right, we're newcomers to all this, unlike your goodselves. We'd always planned to buy a mobile home when we retired but I said to my wife, "You know, I've always dreamed of being in a rock band," and to to my astonishment my wife said "well, that's a coincidence because so have I." So we put the mobile home on the back burner and bought a backline instead. We've got a lot to learn but do you know what? We're absolutely loving it! Living the dream!'

In Olden Tymes, long before even my time, bands would finish the show and while their roadies cleared up the debris the band members would be off looning and wenching. At least this is the mythology that has been handed down. Karen Schoemer comes to the business of being a rock group vocalist a little late in life but she's a keen student and eager to learn everything she can from load-in to after-show party. So I'm doing my best to school her in the ways of rock.

'What do we do now?' she asked after our first show, a packed-out affair at The Spotty Dog in Hudson. I didn't want to disappoint her so I told her we'd be off a-wenching.

I was worried that there was something sexist about that idea but she seemed to like it, so off we went, me, Amy and Karen, a-wenching as best we could. Amy had a glass of whisky that she couldn't finish while Karen and I each enjoyed a ginger ale with a cocktail cherry. As far as I'm aware those were the only cherries that were popped that night. I don't think The Schoemer Formation are very good at wenching.

In order to bring wenching up to date a female equivalent had to be invented. I thought long and hard for nearly five minutes and came up with benching, as in nice muscles – how much do you bench?
And even though we're not very good at it I'm thinking it's an odds on bet that we could out wench and bench any of the bands we played with the other night in Albany.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Hanging Out In Public Places

We've just spent two nights in succession at the BSP Lounge in Kingston, down the road from us here in Catskill where according to Mojo magazine we live in bohemian squalor. They pulled that from a biography piece I wrote and somehow the word splendour got translated to squalor. So just for the record we live in Catskill NY in bohemian splendour.
Except when we're practically moving into the BSP Lounge.
We went down on Thursday night to see Laura Cantrell. A captivating set – just Laura and an acoustic guitar player who's name escapes me for the moment. Two acoustic guitars, a harmony vocal and a bit of acoustic lap steel. They started with Amy's song Don't Break The Heart and ended with an Amy Allison song – a mesmorising set book-ended by Amys!
I only wish the people at the back hadn't been talking – it was like a bus station in there. I don't think people realise sometimes how loud they're being, and I think they forget why they're there. They meet their friends, get excited and the evening turns into a social occasion with music in the background.
One has to be forgiving, they don't mean any harm, but I wish they'd shut the fuck up.
We didn't have that problem last night when The Schoemer Formation opened for Purple K'nif. I think there may have been as many as ten people in the audience and most of them were a dancing Jane Scarpantoni. Jane is a great cello player, and one of my favourite people to hang out with.
I'm writing this in my preferred coffee place, Swallow on Warren Street in Hudson. It's not the ideal place to be writing on a Saturday morning. I'm getting increasingly annoyed by a rich, middle-aged, house-hunting gay couple at the next table. One of them keeps reading stuff out loud from a magazine that must be called Sumptuous Homes or some such drivel.
I'm going to have another espresso – it's a two espresso day.
The Sumptuous Homes out loud reading guy seems to have put a sock in it, he could probably hear what I was writing. They're leaving so I'll drop it, except to say that there's got to be a cut-off age and weight for wearing a candy striped blazer - he looks like all of The Troggs poured into one garment.
It's not a pretty sight, unlike the young hipster couple making out at one of the other tables. Oh to be young again.
We're playing with The Schoemer Formation tonight at The Low Beat in Albany NY. For anyone who doesn't know - which is almost everybody in the entire world - The Schoemer Formation is the writer Karen Schoemer delivering poetry and spoken word, backed up by Amy on keyboards and electric guitar, and me on the bass guitar, fuzz boxes and echo units. According to our bio which we wrote ourselves we're a three piece in the tradition of The Doors, Suicide and Two Lone Swordsmen.
Here's a link for a new Wreckless Eric Radio Show – I really should have played The Doors, Suicide and Two Lone Swordsmen so that everyone could have admired the synchronicity and integration of my act, but I hadn't thought of it then so I didn't and haven't.

And before I go a ticket link for my 60th birthday bash in London on May 17th: TICKETS!
And here come the tour dates:

14 BRIGHTON, The Prince Albert www.wegottickets.com/event/267391
15 BBC 6 MUSIC, Marc Riley Show, session with band
17 LONDON, The Lexington – Eric’s 60th Birthday TICKETS all star band spectacular!
23 LEEDS, Belgrave Music Hall - jumborecords.co.uk/tickets - wegottickets
25 MANCHESTER, The Castle Hotel
26 LIVERPOOL, The Lomax
14 ALBANY NY, The Low Beat thelowbeat.com
19 MEMPHIS TN, Murphy's
20 KNOXVILLE TN, The Pilot Light www.thepilotlight.com21 COLUMBIA SC, The Conundrum Music Hall http://conundrum.us/calendar
23 WASHINGTON DC, The Black Cat www.blackcatdc.com
24 ASBURY PARK NJ, The Saint www.thesaintnj.com
25 NEW YORK NY, The Mercury Lounge

26 HOLT, NORFOLK UK, The Holt Festival with The Bad Shepherds TICKET LINK

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Getting Ready To Go On Tour

How do you get ready to go on tour? If I put a capital letter at the beginning of every word in the title perhaps it'll assume some kind of importance and I'll be galvanised into action. The day of departure always seems a long way off but then it's suddenly looming up like a brick wall in a car crash. I'm a deer frozen in the glare of headlights. I'm anticipating the point of impact, airbag white then near silence, just the ghastly tick of distressed metal trying to settle itself... I like these car related similes. Better than the para-military ones so beloved of mediocre rock writers -  the first song is an opening salvo, with their first album the group stick there heads above the parapet, and by the tenth album they're weary battle-hardened veterans, casualties of active service... and so on.

I didn't do anything much to prepare for battle today. I phoned Andre Barreau and told him Barry Payne will be joining us for the band shows at The Prince Albert in Brighton and The Lexington in London. Barry played the bass guitar on my first album when he was fifteen. He still plays the same bass, a Mosrite copy that he bought for twenty one pounds in Woolworths in 1972. And I bet it still sounds great. I hope it does - he got other bass guitarsbut he's using that one for old times sake. And because it sounds great. Here's a photo of it that Barry posted on Facebook:

I talked with Andre, posted a boastful Facebook post on about an article that arrived today in the magazine Uncut, and sent a tentative email to the manager of the one special guest I want for the Eric60 / Fire30 birthday show on May 17th.

Then I drove up to Troy to meet my friend Jim who runs the River Street Beat Club, one of upstate New York's best record shops. Jim called me because one of Troy's pawn shops is shutting down and selling everything off cheap. They didn't have much, the usual collection of crappy, solid state, budget guitar amps. Controls that crackle and cut out, cheap rattling speakers, broken knobs, built-in dermatitis...

We had lunch at an old Troy luncheonette that's about to close down. We found an amplifier for Jim's son in a guitar shop I never been in before. We went back to the record shop where Jim gave me an Artie Shaw album for Amy and I bought a Wet Willie album that may or may not be any good.

I left a few copies of the latest Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby album, A Working Museum, vinyl and CD, and drove home.

Brian Dewan called. Laura Cantrell's playing at the BSP Lounge down in Kingston tonight. We're going in the Buick, picking up Brian on the way.

I'm no closer to being ready to go on tour than I was this morning.

Not that I'm bragging or boasting or letting success go to my head but here's the Uncut review. If you want to actually read it I expect you can click on it and blow it up to life-size but you don't have to because I've already learned it by heart:

And if you got that far here's a ticket link for the Lexington show on May 17th: Ticket Link

And one for Leeds on May 25th (I know I'm pushing it): Leeds Ticket Link