Sunday 30 November 2014

A Guardian Angel Comes To Call

I was exhausted. Frazzled after a breakneck drive to Berlin I had an afternoon radio interview to do and followed by a solo record store appearance. I played seven songs and signed a lot of autographs - I felt like Johnny Leyton on that TV show where he mimes to Johnny Remember Me.
Later on we were setting up the equipment in the Crystal Club when an apparition walked in, a beautiful older man with silver hair and an anorak. I was staring at him, thinking how I knew him from somewhere, then I realised it was Captain Sensible. He'd beamed down from another planet like some strange guardian angel to make sure I was all right.
Actually he was making a guest appearance with a band who were playing in the venue next door. He stuck around for our soundcheck, then lovingly carried my guitar down to the dressing room for me and made us all a cup of tea. It was like having a celebrity valet. He showed me to a grubby off-white vinyl sofa, bought me a cup of tea, sat down and asked me how I was. He admired my guitar, I gave it to him to play and he caressed its curves, complimented the patina and remarked that it was ageing beautifully. We talked about the importance, now that we're both grandfathers, of maintaining a certain amount of onstage dignity (which in his case means keeping his clothes on for the duration of the set).
Then he was gone, off next door to do his gig.
During the show I mentioned how he'd appeared and made us all a cup of tea, how Amy was disappointed because she's spilled her Special Captain Sensible Cup Of Tea, and what a lift it had given me to see him, in the middle of a tour, thousands of miles from home, in a strange land with the mid-tour blues...and so on. I didn't think we'd be seeing each other again because his show exactly coincided with our own.
We finished the set, encore and everything, and were just about to leave the stage when there was a commotion and the Captain was in amongst us, red beret and wraparound shades and all, making a speech about how great I was. I couldn't be doing with that.
'You'll have to give us a song now you're here - let's do Happy Talk!'
For a long time Happy Talk was the Captain's bete noire. A novelty hit that turned him from a borderline clown into a full time joke for a while. A shame because he's an intelligent man and a hugely talented musician. Not that I'd ever tell him that of course. He's recovered from all that now and always seems quite reconciled with the Happy Talk part of the story.
We completely butchered the song and it was magnificent. Someone said it sounded us though we were all playing different songs but it made perfect sense to me. It even had a modulation, or key change (from A to G), due in part (I like to think) to my quick insertion of a mindless progression of jazz chords. Barry had a handle on it, which I found slightly disturbing, and so did Amy - she played the organ like a cabaret hack on a cruise liner. When they start doing punk cruises we'll be first in line for a job.
It was a one-off, I don't think we'll be doing it again. It cheered me up no end though. Some of the audience looked puzzled -I suddenly realised that half of them didn't know who he was, and the other half thought he was a lookalike.
I should have taken photos but I was busy, and everyone else seems to be taking them, though the Germans aren't the shutterbugs that the American's are. Everywhere we play in America big men stand next to me while other big men take our photo, me looking slightly bemused, big man of the moment looking either pleased as punch or super cool. Sometimes they check the photo and get their big man mate to take another, but it's never because I don't look good - and I generally don't - it's all about them, they have to look just right.
Shutterbug... I like this word.
And the German version - Schutterbug.

02 STRASBOURG, La Popartiserie

05 LEON, SPAIN, Purple Weekend Festival – THE LEN BRIGHT COMBO
06 LEON, SPAIN, Purple Weekend Festival – WRECKLESS ERIC solo
10 HULL, New Adelphi TICKETS
14 BRIGHTON, Prince Albert

Monday 24 November 2014

Getting Ready, Mixing With The Stars, Getting Ready To Go Again...

I'm sitting in the overcrowded boarding area in Terminal 5 at JFK airport. This is about the most relaxed I've felt since we got home from the Ian Hunter tour last Tuesday and I realised we'd have to get ready to leave home yet again.
I always feel hopelessly ill-prepared - I make mental lists and try to hold the information in my head until the pressure of trying to remember all this trivial shit becomes too much and I succumb to making an actual list:
glasses...set list...notify the bank...gutters...dodgy volume pot...socks...
Eventually I start crossing this stuff out, either because I've done it, like climbing up a ladder and clearing leaves out of the gutter; or because I can't remember what it was I meant, like socks; or because I'm running out of time, as in dodgy volume pot, which I'll deal with when we get to England if I can locate the UK soldering iron amongst the touring paraphernalia stashed in our friend's attic.
I have to remember where I've put my passport even though I know where I keep my passport, but it seems important to remember where I've put it, so I do, and store the information in my head, and then I convince myself that I might have forgotten, so I rush home with a palpitating heart and check that the passport is where I've put it, which of course it is...
It's a bit like an Edgar Allan Poe story but I can't think which one in particular at the moment.
I've decided which guitar I'm taking - the big green Microfret. I thought of taking the Mexican Telecaster which sounds great but doesn't have quite the character and fucked-up-ness of the Microfret, possibly because the strings are all the same distance apart.

A week goes by in a blur - rounding up equipment, rehearsing, renting a van, loading it with equipment, catching a ferry in the early morning. Cologne, Nijmegan, Utrecht...

And here we are, three shows in, having a day off in Utrecht. Amy and I decided to go off in search of the old town - canals, historic buildings, coffee houses and the ubiquitous coffee shops, which of course we avoided seeing as how we're already spaced out.
We met up with Barry Payne and the three of us spent an afternoon cluttering up cycle lanes, cafes, and at one point even a camping shop, which is a good thing because now we've got the camping bug out of our systems for another year.

It's hard to believe that just two weeks ago I had a show in Huntsville, Alabama, and then we were in Nashville with Ian Hunter. That was a great show to end the tour with. Afterwards, in a dressing room full of people, I met a very enthusiastic fan called Tom who told me how happy he was to see us play, and what a huge fan he was:
'Do you live in Nashville? I asked him, feeling a bit like Prince Charles on a royal visit.
He told me he did.
'And what do you do here?' I asked, inclining my head slightly and putting on an interested expression.
'I'm a bass player'
'That's good! So am I - I play bass sometimes with me and Amy. You got a band or anything?'
'Yes, I've been in the same band for years'
'Must be working out then - what are you called?'
'We're called Cheap Trick'
It took some effort to come back from that but I managed. I told him how I'd opened for Cheap Trick at the Hammersmith Odeon back in 1979, and how impressed we were by their roadies who all looked like Greek gods to us. He told me the band were all huge fans and were quite awed at having me open for them. I told him we'd assumed they were arrogant American rock stars because none of them talked to us, and he said that they'd all been too shy.
I remember that night very well - Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds turned up in just perfect time to miss my set, which was a shame because we'd actually been really good and gone down well. 
I had a halting and almost completely one-sided conversation with Roy Wood who seemed very tall and imperious, though that may have just been an illusion caused by my fan worship of the man.
The stars caroused with one another and I ended up in the corner of the backstage bar with my bass player. 
A seedy looking man, an American with a ratty moustache, beige slacks and an open-necked shirt, the collar of which spanned the width of an impossible tweed jacket turned to me:
'I love your band'
'Thank you' I said
'Caught you last night too, at the Chelsea College Of Art... amazing'
'Thank you,' I said again, and edged slightly down the bar.
'If there was anything I could ever do for you...'
What could this guy ever do for me, I thought. He looked as though he'd just come out of prison and been given some clothes.
I exchanged looks with the bass player and we edged a bit further.
' a little guitar myself' I hear him say '...used to have a band myself out of Detroit, name of the MC5'
We turned and looked. He held out his hand -
'My name's Wayne, Wayne Kramer'

And here I am, thirty six years later, killing time in a hotel on the outskirts of Utrecht, getting ready to drive to Hamburg in the morning.

Thursday 13 November 2014

On Tour With Ian Hunter #5 (the trouser incident)

We stayed in Decatur GA with our friends Shawn Vinson (my art agent) and his wife, the painter Ruth Franklin. Shawn took me and my ailing amplifier to a place called Acorn Amplifiers, run by a couple of young guys - they were probably in their mid-thirties, but they're all young to me. They were into Traynor amps but understood the convenience of using a Vox AC15 and confirmed what I've been thinking, that a well set up Fender Deluxe would be much better.
The Vox starts to crush up to early and sometimes it just isn't quite loud enough. Before I know it my big fat guitar sound has turned into a wasp in a bottle and I can hardly hear it. They got it sorted out but it hasn't been ideal for these shows, next time I'll probably use my forty watt Traynor head with a cabinet.

I imagine I've just lost half my readers - no one wants to hear about amplifiers! You want to hear about clothes, and swanky hotels, and hanging out with the stars.
I could document this tour with conversations I've had with Ian, sitting on dressing room sofas. After our soundcheck at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta I went down into the dressing room and there was Ian, alone, sitting on the ubiquitous sofa.
'Hello Eric, you're looking good today'
'Really? Must be a trick of the light'
'Well, whatever it is it's working for you'
'In that case I'll stand here forever'
'No, don't do that, come and sit down'
We talked for a while about soundchecks - Ian says he has to do them. I said I just want to know that the acoustic guitar's at the right level in the monitor and check my amp's working alright. Apart from that it's really just a question of checking for holes in the stage. We agreed that it's a placebo thing really. He says he's got to do it, if only to check the vibe of the place and decide what shirt to wear. Of course, by the time he gets on the stage the band have soundchecked the whole thing into submission and it's just a question of fine tuning things.
I asked him the other day for advice on taking a band round Europe - it's been a long time and I'm a bit nervous. He said all you need are a few regal gestures and don't go near the stage until the band have finished soundchecking. I can't see that working somehow but it's a nice thought. If any of them read this they'll take the piss out of me for it.
We discussed the importance of playing something with the front of house turned off - you can always here it bouncing off the empty dance floor when the room's empty, and it sounds big and exciting, but as soon as the floor gets covered up by an audience it's like playing into a mattress, and if you're not prepared you'll suddenly find you need three times as much of just about everything in the monitors as you did at the soundcheck.
Then I came up with a great invention - the soundcheck mattress. It's a huge mattress that you wheel in and put in front of you to simulate audience bulk during the soundcheck. Ian was very impressed -
'The roadies could pump it up and deflate it when you've finished!'
'Fuck off' I said, 'I'm not having an inflatable one - I want the full Dunlopillo posture sprung memory foam job, with the reclining feature, just in case anyone wants to read during the soundcheck.'
Ian produced a pair of black jeans: 'We found these lying around, are they yours?'
'I dunno, what size are they?'
'Thirty waist, thirty two leg'
'They might be, that's my size'
'Well, you better take them then, nobody else else wants them, and they're your size'
'Thanks Ian! I didn't even know I'd lost them'

I was glad that my trousers hadn't gone missing because I was planning to wear my hand painted country 'n' western outfit, and that involves the black jeans (which I haven't got round to painting yet).
Dennis, the keyboard player, was impressed that I knew how to iron a shirt. Ian was worried that my shirt might be better than his. I offered to lend it to him when we'd finish but the offer was declined.
I went to get changed.
I found I had two pairs of black jeans.
Ian liked my outfit, particularly the bollo tie which looks like something stolen from a southern European cemetary. Jim Mastro looked worried, he couldn't find his black jeans. It's a funny thing - the whole band seemed to say at once 'Eric's got a spare pair...'
'They're mine! Give them back!'
'I don't know where I've put them' I said, 'you'll just have to go on in your underpants.'
I think I might have been set up. I found out later that on a previous tour they'd been stealing each other's clothes and sending ransom notes.

Sunday 9 November 2014

On Tour With Ian Hunter #4

Charlotte was an odd night. A big old barn of a place with a raked floor - probably an old movie theatre - and sadly covered with rows of chairs with a fifteen or twenty foot gap between the first row of chairs and the front of the stage. Not enough room for people to stand in without getting a hard time from the people sitting behind them, especially fo us, the opening act.
I like to play for people so it helps when they're close up, not sitting in rows a large room's width away. The stage sound was weird, my amplifier was playing up and we couldn't somehow settle into it. Afterwards I was privately beating myself up - I felt quite down because I didn't think I'd played well, contrary to what people in the audience were telling me. I don't know if this is because it's sometimes not as bad as I think it is, or because I've got high standards and I'm actually quite good, or because I've got no means of rational evaluation.
I had an interesting talk with Ian the other night. He was raving about the Motorco show in Durham, what a great audience they were, what a great venue it was, and how he definitely wants to go back there. He's just like me, it takes him time to get some kind of perspective. I asked him after the show if he'd enjoyed it the answer was an emphatic no, which surprised me. I reminded him of that and he said 'Oh yeah, of course, the first thought is always a negative one.'
I quite often feel vulnerable after a show, tired, drained and insecure. We always have to head out to the merch stall which can be hard but I like it because the enthusiasm of the people really lifts me back up. I like hearing their stories but I'm baffled as to why they all want to have their photo taken with me. The other night I told a friend that was hanging out that my real job is a male photographic model, I just do the music as a hobby.

After a night in a disgusting La Quinta hotel that reeked of stale cigarette smoke, even though it proudly proclaimed itself a non-smoking facility, we discovered a food hall in downtown Charlotte with a really good coffee place. Amy found it on Chow Hound - she worried about the name which was Not Just Coffee but I rationalised it as not just run of the mill coffee, and not meaning a glut of sticky buns, frozen sandwiches and chemical coffee flavourings, and I was right.
The names of coffee places can be deceptive - we found one in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, called Cofftea and I didn't want to get out of the car, but it turned out to be one of the good ones. I draw the line at Java-Me-Like - it's not possible that someone who calls their place Java-Me-Like is going to know anything about making a decent espresso. The same goes for Once Upon A Coffee Cup, though I haven't yet found anywhere called either of these names.
Right now I'm wondering what Huntsville, Alabama, is going to offer. The place is full of astronauts, rocket scientists and hip kids so it'll probably be good. More later...

Oh dear... the good place was closed because it's Sunday, and this is the south where drinking coffee on the Lord's day is considered by some to be ungodly, so we're in the place with the bottles of coffee flavourings, the sticky buns and the big sandwich menu. And strychnine espresso. Still, after last night I can forgive Huntsville anything.
I played in a micro brewery, in the brewing room, surrounded by stainless steel vats. Great sound and an audience that ranged from old guys in Stiff Records t shirts to the young and beautiful who were an absolute delight. I played two sets - The Downside Of Being A Fuck-up, Birthday Blues, It's A Sick Sick World, Joe Meek, You Sweet Big Thing, Reconnez Cherie, The Sun Is Pouring Down and Several Shades Of Green.
I started the second set with Semi-Porno Statuette, Duvet Fever, Paris In June and If It Makes You Happy, then Amy joined me and we butchered You Can't be A Man Without A Beer In Your Hand on two guitars that were having a tuning disagreement. It was cold in there - something to do with the brewing process I suppose. Having got vaguely in tune we carried on with Don't Break The Heart, Rebel Girl Rebel Girl, Are We Ever Going To Have Sex Again (Amy forgot the last verse and the whole thing broke down so she took another run at it and still couldn't it so I paraphrased it which didn't really help - she's washing up and he comes in and tries to do her from behind while she's watching CNN... It ended in chaos to great applause and we acquited ourselves with a passable Kilburn Lane. I finished the set alone with Someone Must've Nailed Us Together, 33s & 45s, Whole Wide World and True Happiness.
I can't wait to come back again, but hopefully on a day when the good coffee place is open.

I jumped ahead there and missed out Atlanta but perhaps I'll get to that after tonight's Nashville fiasco.

Thursday 6 November 2014

On Tour With Ian Hunter #3

On the way to Charlotte we stopped for barbeque in Lexington. The waitress gave me a big smile:
'We were wondering - are y'all a rock star?'
I gave her my best no I'm just a bloke look but she persisted and I eventually copped to being a musician. I have to admit to being a bit pleased after all those times in France when Amy and I tried to get gigs and failed. 'We're a band' we'd explain to various bar owners who looked at us pityingly with expressions that said no you're not, you're just a deluded middle-aged couple, before explaining to us that ici on a des groupes professionel qui viennent jouer.
Amy went off to the rest room and the waitress sidled up again: 'Come on honey, you can tell me, you're the singer in a big rock group aintcha - is it The Who?'
I started to turn into Hugh Grant, a mixture of being flattered and forbearance for someone who's obviously a simpleton: 'Well I... that is er... yes in a manner of - boyhood dreams and all that...'
'Oh my, I just knew it!'
Next thing the owner's over and we're being offered a tour of the place and samples of everything on the house, and he's telling me how blessed he is to have such a successful barbeque joint, and how Bruce Springstein and Neil Young and John Mellencamp have all stopped by on the way through and what a huge Bowie fan he is, and he's giving us his card for next time y'all come back...
Fortunately we had to leave or we would have been late for the soundcheck. I think it was for the best.

On Tour With Ian Hunter #2

Wednesday 5th November
I'm revising my opinion of the blowhard. You can't rely on anything these days - just when I had him pegged as an all-time, award-winning arsehole he starts being nice to us.
I like the Motorco place in Durham, North Carolina where we played in last night. Amy and I played there a few years ago when it first opened, almost before they'd finished building it. Shame that now it's finished it doesn't have a backstage, just a small room with a bathroom off it, next to the front of the stage. One sofa, one armchair, a small fridge, a tea and coffee station, a big trash can and a table with the ubiquitous curling sandwiches and iceberg lettuce on it. And enough standing room for nearly four people.
Nowhere to put our stuff after the set. I found a corner behind a curtain next to the power amps where they keep the blown monitor wedges and spare mic stands. I told the blowhard I was going to stash the gear in there and he suggested loading straight out - 'peace and love all round, right?'
I pointed out the difficulty of taking the gear through the audience all the way to the loading door which was at the other end of the hall next to where the audience come in. He had a think about that and agreed that it didn't make sense and I felt as though I'd won a small victory.
The set was a lot of fun. I wasn't swamped by Amy's acoustic so I could actually hear what I was playing. Amy told the crowd that I'd become a grandfather twice over since we last played at Motorco. They seemed to like that, shouts of congratulation and someone at the back shouted something about being prolific.
'Prolific? I had nothing to do with it. I mean - I wasn't in on the creation of the grandchildren. I don't know how you people go about it down here, but I wasn't actually there or anything...'
We played for a bit longer this time, all the songs we played last night plus Please Be Nice To Her, Someone Must've Nailed Us Together and Rebel Girl Rebel Girl.
Afterwards I got our stuff off in a timely manner with no interference from the blowhard (I've decided I like him by the way), except that he took our guitars into the already overcrowded dressing room. I expect he did it deliberately in order to discredit us.

photo by Tamara Guo
The place was apparently full of North Carolina rock royalty - Peter Holsapple and Will Rigby from the DBs, Mitch Easter and a host of others but I don't really know what a lot of them look like so I couldn't really say, though I'm doing the best I can to be impressed.
Ian and the Rant Band were great. I love seeing them in real rock venues as opposed to City Winery dinner theatre places. A lot of people in the crowd were visibly moved, hugging each other and crying. Boy was an epic, I suppose it always is but in that place, with that audience, it seemed much more so.
Afterwards I sat on the dressing room sofa with Ian and he talked about David Bowie and Mick Ronson, and about being asked to join Uriah Heap when Mott The Hoople folded up. I'm glad he didn't. The conversation turned to hair care:
' don't have that problem, you're not known for hair, but I do, I'm known for hair...'

Tuesday 4 November 2014

On Tour With Ian Hunter #1

Sunday 2nd November
I’m sitting in the backstage at the Hamilton in Washington DC. Not exactly backstage, more side of kitchen - Ian Hunter and the gang are backstage, except that they’re not because they didn’t want to dine off plates on their knees, so they’re braving the far-flung corners of this venue come outsize restaurant. We wolfed our dinners down in the time-honoured manner of opening acts everywhere, off a coffee table sitting on a giant DFS or Big Lots vinyl sofa.
And now we’re waiting to go on. Ten minutes to showtime and I’m feeling discombobulated, my condition not entirely helped by the large mug of er...espresso that arrived for me accompanied by a jug of steaming milk and a biscotti the size of Illinois.
We have a set list and I’ve got a case of the shakes. I've had a case of the shakes for about two weeks now: pre-tour nerves - pre for the up and coming European tour and now real live and current stage nerves because we’re about to open for one of my biggest heroes and I still feel as though I’m driving a car down I-95 through New Jersey and Delaware.
Time to go on....
photo by Tamara Guo
That went quite well - the room was packed with diners and there was a girl from Worthing at the front. We started with The Downside Of Being A Fuck-up and I was surprised by the volume of Amy’s acoustic guitar. It seemed to be twice as loud as it was at the soundcheck. My Vox AC15 was no match for it, I was playing at almost completely busted up level and I could still hardly hear myself. It was fine once I'd got used to being in an acoustic guitar tornado. We played Don't Break The Heart, Another Drive-in Saturday, Till The Wheels Fall Off, Whole Wide World, Dancing With Joey Ramone, Days Of Jack & Jill and finished with Genovese Bag.
The audience seemed to be full of people who came from relevant places - a girl came from Mount Lebanon in Pittsburgh where Amy grew up. There was a frank exchange on the subject and I related my story of driving round the neighbourhood with Amy's dad:
He pointed out the old family home, was pleased to see it was still painted white. He turned to me - 'do you know why I painted it white?'
And before I could formulate any kind of answer - 'so there'd always be a Republican in the White House!'
I was still only a perspective son-in-law in those days so I was on my best behaviour. ' right too,' I managed.
Some of the audience looked slightly uncomfortable.
Things went better when I got onto the subject of Shoreham-By-Sea before Days Of Jack & Jill.
An English voice from the crowd: 'Don't dare say anything bad about Shoreham.'
'I wasn't going to, but what's it to you?'
The guy came from Shoreham and he could prove it, said he had photos of him sitting on Shoreham beach at an early age, eating pebbles.
'We were poor too' I said, 'I used to eat coal, and my Grandmother's dog's dog biscuits when no one was looking, but of course we had rationing...'
Ian's crew has acquired a new crew boss, an officious blowhard from Brooklyn who apparently worked for Bob Dylan and seems to rub everyone up the wrong way. As I was getting our gear off after the set I asked him if we were in a tearing hurry. I hadn't bargained on getting a lecture on opening act etiquette:
'We are always in a hurry - you need to get your stuff off my stage right now, do not be going in the dressing room until you have moved all your stuff. The thing you have to learn about being a guest is that you have to be a good guest and that means moving your equipment out of our way right now and remaining invisible...'
I've probably been doing this longer than he has. I told him I didn't need his fucking lecture and I couldn't imagine there was anything he could pass on to me concerning good behaviour. I suppose I can expect problems now.
Meanwhile Ian was appalled that we'd been shunted off into a second dressing room.
'You're in with us' he said. 'Always! Make yourselves at home and don't ever think you're in the way!'
I love that man.

04 DURHAM NC, Motorco Music Hall – Eric & Amy opening for Ian Hunter TICKETS
05 CHARLOTTE NC, Neighborhood Theatre – 
Eric & Amy opening for Ian Hunter TICKETS 
07 ATLANTA GA, Variety Playhouse – 
Eric & Amy opening for Ian Hunter  TICKETS
08 HUNTSVILLE ALABAMA, Yellowhammer Brewery 
Eric solo
09 NASHVILLE TN, City Winery – 
Eric & Amy opening for Ian Hunter  TICKETS
Wreckless Eric European tour with full band:

21 COLOGNE, King Georg 
22 NIJMEGEN, Merleyn 
23 UTRECHT, Le Guess Who 
25 HAMBURG, Hafenklang 
26 BERLIN, Crystal Club 
29 MUNICH, The Atomic Cafe 
02 STRASBOURG, La Popartiserie

05 LEON, SPAIN, Purple Weekend Festival – THE LEN BRIGHT COMBO
06 LEON, SPAIN, Purple Weekend Festival – WRECKLESS ERIC solo
10 HULL, New Adelphi
14 BRIGHTON, Prince Albert

Friday 25 July 2014

An Espresso Jolt Near Holt

Not that I want to start on a negative note but I'm immediately wondering if this is going to be yet another post that never gets posted. I've got quite a collection now, enough to fashion into some sort of redundant post medley. The last one was about Humble Pie – I was listening to their second album, Town & Country – my daughter gave me a copy for my birthday back in May. I was having a great time, lolling about on the sofa, hi-fi high and the lights down low and all that, recalling the time I saw Humble Pie in 1969 on their first ever tour – I seemed to be writing forever but it all feels a bit irrelevent and inconclusive now because so much has happened since and I haven't even written about suddenly being sixty years old yet. So I never posted it. I drove three and half thousand miles instead.

Weird - I was in Memphis the other day.

Now I'm in a place called The Art Cafe in a tiny village called Glandford on the North Norfolk coast. The Art Cafe sells tie dye scarves and landscape paintings, trinkets and hand-crafted teapots, stuff like that; and weirdly enough the best espresso I've ever had anywhere in Norfolk. I'm staying in North Norfolk for the duration of the Holt Festival so I'm in The Art Cafe every morning. Norfolk appears to have been completely taken over by well-heeled couples in late middle-age. The combination of these people, in their shorts, with their alarmingly gnarled legs, and a couple of excellent espressos has me quite confused.

I have to leave here now and go to the BBC in Norwich for a live interview on the afternoon show to plug my appearance tomorrow night at the Holt Festival. After that I have to go on Mustard TV, a prospect I find more than just vaguely terrifying.
I wish I could find the thing I wrote about Humble Pie, but I can't. A shame really because I think it was more interesting than this snippet of nothing, but at least this might get posted...

Monday 5 May 2014

Twats on flights, solid-state amplifiers, nouveau middle-age, and a hotel

I hate this. The airport. Dumb fuck star-for-a day guest-listed fuck-wits, pink stetsons, earbuds, wires trailing from the head, dull-eyes staring at handheld devices, pudgy fingers prodding screens, oversized luggage (it's a hammock...) Why the fuck would you bring a hammock on a flight as hand luggage?

It's a guitar... that's right it's a guitar, it's my job and no, I can't check it because your beefy baggage handlers will drop an over-large suitcase full of bricks on top of it, break it and render it unplayable thereby negating the very reason for my undertaking this hellish trip.

I wish I could make a guitar that folds down into convenience-sized piece of hand luggage. Right now I wish I played the flute. Actually no, I don't – I know a guy who plays the flute and he can't get a girlfriend.

Why do all these people feel the need to travel? I'm sure they'd be happier if they stayed at home. I was thinking that myself at one o'clock this morning, as I unbolted a guitar neck so as to fit it into a suitcase with my ragged scraps of clothing which I'm really only taking with me to pad the effect pedals, microphones and dismantled Telecaster that make up the bulk of my luggage. Sod this, I'd be happier staying at home.

There has to be a way to simplify this.

I bought an amplifier the other day, a pariah among amplifiers: a Vox Cambridge 30 watt combo with two ten inch speakers. A transistor amplifier, very light, no tubes, no big transformers. I think it sounds really good, hard and defined. Solid state guitar amplifiers have always been frowned upon but Wilko Johnson used one for years - an HH IC100 – I had one myself at one time but I had to stop using it when the circuit boards cracked after it fell down a flight of stairs, a fall which apparently rendered it deadly as well as defunct. I don't know whatever happened to that amp.

Joe Strummer used a Roland Chorus JC120, an extremely unfashionable amplifier with not a valve or tube in sight, but he got a great sound out of it, and so does Amy with her seventy watt version of the same amp. Lightweight, compact, loud and hard-hitting, I'm all for it.

I just have to develop the folding guitar that I can put in the back of the amplifier alongside the fuzz boxes. Modular, compact, easy travel...

It's time to board the plane.


That was like a bad dream. Seven hours in a narrow seat surrounded by demanding passengers. The ever-so-slightly camp steward told the woman next to me: 
'I'll attend to you when I've finish serving tea and coffee, I've only got one pair, if you know what I mean.' 

I knew what he meant.

I like British Airways, as much as it's possible to like an airline. I prefer them to Virgin. British Airways stewardesses always find room for my guitar in the first class wardrobe where it gets to fly with the coats and hats of the rich and famous, and once even with a wedding dress. I sometimes wish I was my guitar - much loved, strummed and cossetted, admired by girls, boys, men and women alike... Travelling in a luxury wardrobe while I suffer the indignities of an economy class seat – a New York City bus offers a higher standard of comfort than the economy class cabin on a transatlantic flight.

I'm in the hotel.

It's one of those modern post-sofa-pub hotel pubs, an aspiring gastro-pub where the white painted saloon bar doubles as the breakfast room. Hand-painted lettering above the fireplace reads: life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's learning to dance in the rain.

A modern day take on middle-age. I look back wistfully to the days when men had comb-overs and women wore stretchy beige slacks. I think I was looking forward to wearing the outfits. But today you've got to let your freak flag fly, get in touch with the real you... middle-aged women of today dye their hair bright purple while the menfolk hang a dream catcher off one ear and fashion any remaining head hair into a ponytail, or worse – a pigtail. And everybody dances like nobody's looking.

Please, don't. I don't want to see that. And yes, I know, that's a sweeping generalisation. But not in Shoreham-by-Sea it isn't.

When I arrived they couldn't find my reservation. The punky older lady manning the desk told me I couldn't have booked on line that afternoon because they were already fully booked. Then they found my reservation just as I was about to show it to them on my laptop. The girl in charge took me to my room which hadn't been made up because the cleaner had left at one o'clock because they weren't expecting anyone to be staying in the room that night (fully booked?). They bought me back downstairs and offered me a drink of my choice on the house while they sorted things out.

I was upgraded at no extra charge to An Even Nicer Room. I didn't even have to tell them I was on my honeymoon, which is a good trick if you're traveling alone. If it's a restaurant of course it helps if you can let it slip that your dying of a very rare contagious disease, but the honeymoon works in hotels, they'll shut the fuck up and leave you alone.

I was quite touched by their repeated apologies for the inconvenience - I really didn't mind - it was nothing compared with the inconvenience of spending the night on a Jumbo 747 or whatever it was. And I was amused by being referred to constantly as this gentleman, and happy to sit back and enjoy my complimentary glass of orange juice.

The manager even carried my suitcase up the stairs which was good because I don't think I could have done it. Surprisingly there were no chocolates on the pillows. I spent the rest of the afternoon moving the largest number of scatter cushions off the sumptuous queen sized bed – it was labour intensive and I was running out of places to put them. And I still didn't find the chocolates.

I pulled back the king sized poly-cotton duvet and found the sumptuous queen-sized bed was really two mattresses zipped together. So I was glad I wasn't actually on my honeymoon. If I'd have told them it was my honeymoon I would have had to have gone downstairs and complained, and I really couldn't be bothered, I just wanted to lie down on my side of the queen-sized single mattress collective and sleep off the jet lag.

And just in case anyone doesn't know why I'm doing all this here's a link to my dates where you'll find links to buy tickets and make some sense of this idiocy: dates

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
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
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 - - wegottickets
25 MANCHESTER, The Castle Hotel
26 LIVERPOOL, The Lomax
14 ALBANY NY, The Low Beat
19 MEMPHIS TN, Murphy's
20 KNOXVILLE TN, The Pilot Light www.thepilotlight.com21 COLUMBIA SC, The Conundrum Music Hall
23 WASHINGTON DC, The Black Cat
24 ASBURY PARK NJ, The Saint
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

Wednesday 26 February 2014

A 1966 Cherry Red Gibson 330

I think I'm in a phase of reinvention. I recently acquired a Fender Telecaster. I've always shied away the popular makes and models of guitars. I traded my 1966 cherry red Gibson 330 for a massive store credit at one of the few remaining civilised and independent music stores, Parkway Music in Clifton Park NY.
The Gibson had been hanging on the wall for two years, gathering dust. In previous years I've used it to create feedback drones that sound vaguely like a French horn. I almost used it on the track 1983 on our last album, A Working Museum. But I didn't because I've got a Guild Star fire that does everything the Gibson can do and a lot more.
When I bought the Gibson I really wanted a Starfire but the Gibson was there, I had the cash, and I needed a decent guitar.
It was London, 1990. The Gibson was hanging in the window of Macari's on Charing Cross Road. It was a Friday morning. They wanted twelve hundred for it. I had seven hundred in my pocket because that's what I'd decided I was going to pay for it. I made the offer which was refused out of hand. I pulled the money out of my pocket and started counting it. The guy in charge told me to put it away but I carried on counting.
Money was scarce in England at the time.
'That's our wages,' I heard one of the assistants say.
The manager told me I was wasting my time but I carried on counting out the money, laying it down on the counter. When I got to five hundred and he said I could have it for nine.
'All I've got's seven hundred,' I said.
I'd got to six hundred and sixty in used twenties by the time he capitulated.
'Alright, seven hundred, cash, you bastard.'
I never much liked Macari's.

The problem with owning a 1966 cherry red Gibson 330 in perfect condition (with chrome pick-up covers) was that crowds gathered round it. Fat blokes, blokes with beards, checked shirts, shapeless brown corduroys; balding blues players, blowhards, nerds and manual readers. I thought the Gibson was going to be a chick magnet but I was disappointed.
It sounded pretty good, especially when I discovered the front pick-up. I played it through a fifteen watt Ampeg Jet combo amp. It put out a fierce signal, distorted the pre-amp stage, horrified sound engineers in th more sedate venues.
 In 1991 I played it with The Pretty Things. Dick Taylor turned to me between Midnight To Six and Don't Bring Me Down – 'I can't believe the sound you're getting out of that guitar.'
It was one of the greatest moments in my musical career.
But still the guitar had to go.
The last time I used it live was on The Rutles tour in 2004. Since then it's hung around, waiting to be of used, and making me feel guilty as I churned out tracks using less valuable, less sought after guitars. I tried to put it out of sight but never relegated it to its case – I would have felt even more guilty knowing that such an asset was stored beyond potential and effortless use. 
And anyway, I was using the case for one of my other guitars, one that I could smash into the front of my amplifier in a wailing cacophony of distressed wood, metal and plastic.
You'd never do that to a 1966 cherry red Gibson 330.
The Gibson made me a better guitar player, mostly because it gave me confidence. I no longer suffered the disdainful looks that real musicians reserved for the young men and boys who gamely scrubbed away behind lesser instruments, with their questionable intonation and bow and arrow action.
I would get my axe out, and once I'd learned the swagger, the assuredness of one who has invested money in their calling, those fuckers knew I meant business.
But there was no fun in it.

So finally I took it along to the music store and we thrashed out a deal that made us all happy. The 330 went to a collector in Japan where I'm sure it'll adored and fawned over in a manner that suits it – that guitar was always a bit of a Prima Donna so I'm sure it's having a great time.
As for me, I've had a load of equipment repaired, I've got a Tascam 38 1/2” eight track machine with Teac heads in practically perfect condition, and a Mexican Telecaster. Stuff I can use! And I've still got store credit.
I spent a long afternoon trying out every Telecaster in the store. The ones made in Mexico are good but the pick-ups are shit. There's no point even plugging them in. The trick is to find one that feels good and has a good acoustic sound.
I found a second-hand one with all the tags and guarantees still attached. Plugged into an amplifier it sounded disgusting but it felt good so I took it. I sanded the lacquer of the back of the neck, changed the bridge saddles for brass ones, lowered the action, replaced the pick-ups, rewired it and changed the tone control capacitor. Now it sounds great – my first Telecaster!
I used it the other night at Atwood's in Cambridge, Massachusetts. People told me afterwards how good I sounded, but nobody commented on the guitar. I finished the show with a full five minutes of intense feedback and ended up swinging the guitar between the amp and the mic stand in a whirl of oscillating feedback.
You wouldn't do that with a 1966 cherry red Gibson 330. You could, but you wouldn't.
It might not be a chick magnet but I obviously mean business with my customised Mexican Telecaster. I've already chipped the paint in a couple of places. I was going to sand off the metallic red finish but I think it might just take care of itself in time. It'll end up looking like the big green Microfret.
I'll tell you about that one another time.

Sunday 9 February 2014

This Thing Called Sparky

The other week I drove from Catskill to JFK in the worst hire car I've ever driven. A compact car, a Ford Focus or equivalent. A squat, ugly, black plastic and metalic silver object. I never found out what make it was – there was some sort of logo in the middle of the steering wheel but no company name like Chevrolet or Renault or whatever. On the back it had some silly model name – I think it might have been Sparky but I put it out of my mind as soon as I saw it because I found it vaguely depressing. I was standing in the pissing rain in a parking lot at the time. I'd just been to TJ Max where I'd failed to find a pair of tenable socks. (I'm sure I once bought some really good socks at TJ Max but it might have been in England at TK Max.)
To start with I thought the car was a two door model because the handles for the back door were concealed in the space where another manufacturer might have put a quarter light or a bit more window. The thing was little more than a buggy, though buggy suggests an element of fun - like a Citroen 2CV or one of those Smart Car things that Kensington estate agents zip about in.
At least I think they zip about in them – you see them cluttering up trendy and up and coming London boroughs, similarly ugly to this thing I hired but with the jollifying addition of estate agents decals plaster all over the sides.
Having said that it occurs to me that I haven't seen one for a long time. But that might be because I haven't been looking, or because I haven't really been frequenting trendy or up and coming London boroughs of late.
Anyway, the Sparky, if that's what it was called, certainly didn't live up to its name. We've got a secondhand lawnmowers with more zest than this thing. It seemed to freeze at forty five miles an hour and the only way to get it to go any faster was to floor the accelerator and keep it there until the rev counter went off the dial and the motor sounded as though it might blow up. Then you could get sixty out of it. I managed seventy on the New York State Thruway. It was a terrifying experience. At that speed it became apparent that the thing didn't really have any shock absorbers.
If the Ford Motor Company was aware that this aberration of a vehicle was being touted as a Ford Focus equivalent they'd surely bring a lawsuit against whatever company made the thing. I was happy to leave it behind at the Hertz drop-off place.
I say happy but...
It was all very unclear – car rental returns was in a list along with
terminal 1 passenger drop-off
long-term parking
terminal 2 arrivals
terminal five departures
dangerous animal drop-off point
short-term parking
mid-life crisis
airport trauma counselling service
assisted suicide center
It was like reading a telephone directory.
When I finally got there through the rain and fog a recorded announcement kept saying Take a note of your mileage and leave your keys at the control point. Several other people were dropping cars off and none of them knew where or what the control point was either.
I left the keys in the car – I'm not sure that I even turned the motor off. I may have left a door or two open as well. As I wheeled my trolley stacked with cases and guitars through the Hertz control point that miraculously appeared when I followed the signs for Shuttle To Terminals some wag behind the desk suggested I might stop and play him a tune. I told him to fuck off. It was quarter past five in the morning.
Here's a tale from last December that I didn't get round to posting:

I'm in a Welcome Break, on the M42. It appears to be full of old people eating sandwiches. Old people going places, wearing body warmers, sensible anoraks, fleeces. I'm drinking Starbucks espresso. It tastes sour, quite disgusting. I think Costa espresso is better but it's a desperate choice.
This is what it's come to – I'm sitting here at a big pine table facing the window, looking at people standing around outside smoking cigarettes, and at the car park beyond. I feel I should get a sandwich to fit in. Or start smoking again. I don't want to eat an ice-cold sandwich, the thought of it has me on the edge of tears.
I'm adrift on a sea of bland.
I'm going to Waitrose now. So much choice. Back in the days of pie, chips and beans we didn't know how lucky we were. The Blue Boar, Watford Gap, before it became a fast food multiplex. Stick a 10p piece in the jukebox, get in quick with Alice Cooper or Mott the Hoople before Sugar Baby Love by The Rubettes chalked up yet another airing.
I wish I could hear Sugar Baby Love right now.
All I can hear is the chatter of hundreds of travellers, it rattles around the metal rafters like demented baritone birdsong.
I need to leave.
I need to eat.
I'm going to Waitrose.

I wrote that a few hours before I arrived where I was going and had eleven hours sleep. I felt better after that. As I left Waitrose, feeling thoroughly dejected, I realised I've developed a phobia against chilled sandwiches.
I just thought I'd mention that.

I wrote this as well, just before driving to Glasgow to start my UK solo tourette. Though in fact I'd already started with a somewhat under-attended show in Worcester a few days before. It could only get better after that one - the gig in Worcester showed me that I need to think it out a bit before I stroll onto the stage. I usually have a better handle on the set but I was exhausted from dealing with my bank in America and with car hire firms in England.
I stumbled into an airport car hire place – Hertz Car Rental at Heathrow. I'd forgotten which car hire company I had a reservation with so I had to go round them all and find out by process of elimination.
The woman at Europcar was very nice so I asked her for a quote just out of interest. It came in at six hundred pounds for the three weeks I'm here. I thought it sounded a bit expensive but you know, I'm slightly out of the loop. It included a free upgrade to a bigger car so I said I'd think about it.
I eventually used a disgusting computer with a keyboard that was gummed-up with a decades worth of fecal matter and snot (I think that's what it was) and found out that I was with Hertz. 
I caught the shuttle bus, a risky business – those things always fill up with big people who've just got off long haul flights from far-flung places where you can go back packing with a surf board and four enormous suitcases which they'll later use to try and break the necks off guitars belonging to other passengers.
The man at the Hertz desk was an oily boy racer grown old – greasy tendril hair-do with a hint of faux-hawk and a stubbly beard. He found my reservation by clacking at a worn out keyboard, sucked air in through his teeth and went dut dut dut as he tapped a pencil against the side of the computer screen. Then he asked me to bear with him and got out mobile phone that he may or may not have been using as a calculator. I say that because it's quite possible that he was texting a friend – we've got a right cunt here... 
After much screen prodding, dut dut dutting, sucking in of air through teeth, and a couple of bear with me's, he came up with a final price for three weeks car hire of one thousand eight hundred pounds. I was a little taken aback even though he pointed out that this included an upgrade at no extra cost to your good self sir.
I'd had a much better offer from Europcar.
I stumbled out across tarmac and rubble, climbed over a fence with all my luggage and arrived at completely the wrong car hire company. I'd got Europcar and Enterprise mixed up. I caught a shuttle bus back to the terminal and went to see my friend at the Europcar desk.
I got an electric blue Skoda Octavia. The interior was heavy with the scent of cleaning products, illicit cigarettes and takeaway food.
What with the car hire fiasco it took almost as long to get out of the airport as it did to fly across the Atlantic.

There's more – there's always more, but this is going to have to do for the moment. It's probably badly written, disjointed and vaguely uninteresting, but you have to do what you can.

And just before I go, if you live in New York State you can see us on Saturday 22nd February at our own venue, The Homemade Aeroplane, in Catskill NY. 
Here's a link, you can read all about it here and book a seat: