Eric's Diary

17 April 2011

Yes, it's over a year since the last diary update. The ease of Facebook posting probably has something to do with this, though I'll be the first to admit I'm not the most forthcoming there either. And the Tweeting... just feels like so much navel-gazing, at least in my case.

But it's been a great day and night. The Hooters opened for Bob Seger at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Center tonight, a last-minute surprise gig which happened to coincide nicely with our pre-Germany rehearsal week here in PA. It was a 40 minute set in which we said all we really neeed to say. It occurred to me that we probably played about five minutes longer than the Beatles did when they played there in 1964, and that, really, if you can't tell your story in 40 minutes then it might not be a story worth telling (no disrespect to Bruce's marathon shows... but he COULD tell his story in 40 minutes if he wanted to which, fortunately, he usually doesn't have to...).

So that was what that was and there's tomorrow on its way... Concerts In The Studio, Freehold, NJ, which sounds like the polar opposite of tonight's show in that it's a small, intimate setting, in which I've got all the time in the world to tell whatever story or stories I wish to tell. And, in truth, given the hectic nature of these past two weeks, I won't know what those stories are until I get there in a few hours. In fact, I'm counting on the audience to help me out with that, a no-holds-barred request situation, me armed with only an acousric guitar, a mandolin and a mandola, and, thank providence, David Uosikkinen and his cajon. With Dave on my side all things are possible and I am immensely grateful that he's agreed to be my And Friends for this show.

Another Record Collector Show is coming up in two weeks, and that's a whole 'nother story which I look forward to telling after tomorrow's all buttoned up.

5 January 2010

Is that really 2010? Really?

David and I started rehearsing for the stripped down show at the Record Collector this Friday. We had a blast being the White Stripes but quickly decided we need a bass player even for this "intimate evening" so Cliff Hillis is hopping aboard, which will give him the jump for the upcoming Sellersville Theater show and beyond.

Be there, bring earplugs and a friend.

18 November 2009

Late 2009 is filled with much activity both Hooters related and monthly trips to Los Angeles involving massive amounts of songwriting with very diverse and talented writers and artists. As a result the next run of solo shows will begin in January 2010. The focus this time will be The Optimist, which we'll be performing in its entirety. There will be various formats, depending on the size of the venue... The Record Collector will most likely be just me and David U. on drums... White Stripes/Black Keys-esque, loud and rude. Dave and I have run through the album like this and it rocks. Sellersville, on the other hand, will be a large band, most likely the same crew as the Tin Angel with the addition of Dave on drums (yes, two drummers... should be a blast) as well as a pair of backing vocalists and my good pal Scott Bradoka on guitar. Dates and details here...

Record Collector, Bordentown, NJ, January 8th, 2010 and

The Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, PA, January 23rd, 2010

On a sad note, it seems that Dollhouse will finish out this season and then recede into TV oblivion. At least we had Paris... Now if we can just get Adam Anders to do And We Danced or All You Zombies on Glee...

12 March 2009

lSolo shows are coming up. As far as I can reckon it's been three years. Being a Hooter has filled my dance card but it's time now to recharge the other batteries and bring some worms back to the nest.

Two shows are on the schedule for now:

Puck, Doylestown, PA, April 17th and

Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA, May 2nd

The band is coming together, I'm keeping it a small unit to fit the stages but it will be a rock band. I'm pulling out some new instruments, of course, and finding new ways to continue abusing the old ones. The repertoire will be representative of existing material from The Optimist and A Very Dull Boy though I'm making a priority of playing new material as another solo record is (finally) taking shape. It's been way too long and there's a lot of gas in the engine.

Otherwise, Rob and I are going to South By Southwest for the first time just to see what's up with that. We're also taking a trip to Germany for this year's Musikmesse, a Trade Show similar to NAMM in the US, courtesy of our good friends at Hohner. We'll also be doing promotion for Both Sides Live which will be "released" (whatever that means in today's music "business") over there in June, as I understand it.

Musically, I've just discovered an amazing record from 1966 by a band called The Action. It's called Rolled Gold (not the pretzel) and it really is.

22 December 2008

Yep, I'm a lousy blogger. It's been ten months. No excuses. Sorry...

The good news is that a lot's happened. The Electric Factory recordings and the Secret Sessions (as the live in-studio acoustic recordings have come to be named) are finished, packaged, and available on the Hooters website. Apparently there will be a more "conventional" distribution as well early in 2009. We did give away a couple of thousand of them to those in attendance at this year's Electric Factory Thanksgiving Eve show.

But the news tonight is about what we did last night... playing Alan Mann's "Christmas On The Block" at the TLA for Bob Beru's Project Home Benefit. For many a year now I've wanted to play that song and when John mentioned it a few days ago I jumped at the opportunity. Watching the old video gave me goosebumps, and with the accordion line it's instantly Hooterized. Simon volunteered to act as children's choir which he did with dignity and grace, learning quickly how hard it is to sing onstage when you can't hear yourself in the monitors.

Here's the video.

So it's almost 2009 and we've got a lot to look forward to. Hopefully we'll be able to quickly go beyond the incompetence and ignorance that has steered our society for the past eight years. I don't know about you, but I'm counting on it. Happy Christmakwaanzukkah to one and all.

29 February 2008

Leap Year Day... a bonus play day.

Last night we recorded the first of our acoustic live-in-the-studio performances at Elm Street. Quite the event, it was. We had 25 or so friends over to visit while we played rock band without electric guitars. Playing acoustically has been a challenge that has forced us (as I'd hoped it would) to reinvent the songs from a compositional aspect. Fortunately, we have the invaluable resource of Ann Marie Calhoun on violin to inspire and open the music up to possiblities beyond those of plucky stringed instruments (guitars, mandolins, mandola, etc.) and keyboards. The one thing I've always missed in our unplugged setting is the presence of an instrument that can play sustained notes and articulate melodies like an electric guitar. Thus, the violin.

The original intent in getting Ann Marie was to take existing electric guitar solos and melodic lines usually played on accordion, hurdy gurdy, or one of Rob's vintage organs, and transcribe them for violin. What has happened, though, as we'd hoped, is that Ann Marie has taken the ideas we've thrown toward her and reinvented them in her own way. It's amazing to hear her, for example, begin the All You Zombies solo with the first phrase from the recorded guitar solo, then launch into something totally original. Apparently I play guitar rather violinistically, so it's a smooth fit. It's also great having a female voice in the mix.

Adding the violin, however, is only the tip of this new iceberg. It's forced us all to take our game up a major notch and I'm delighted with the way everyone has taken a new look at the songs and come up with new and exciting ideas. John in particular has found a new friend in the dobro, which he actually played for the first time while recording his inspired solo in Catch Of The day. It's amazing to see him grow into the instrument with each session. Likewise, David has smoothly transited from full frontal rock drum assault into playing with brushes and all kinds of strange lightweight sticks as well as hand percussion instruments I've certainly never heard of and whose names I can barely pronounce.

Rob's probably the happiest he's ever been performing, the bonus of recording at his studio being the fact that he can finally play a real grand piano, Hammond organ, all those great instruments that will in all likelihood never join us on tour. Fran Smith Jr., as always, can't play a bad note.

As for me, it's a change not getting to shred on the electric, but it's a small sacrifice in light of the greater good. I'm digging in harder and deeper to the mandolas, mandolin, acoustic guitar and, oh, right, the singing, while having Ann Marie to execute and interpret the solos has upped the bar for me as a composer and director as well as a fan of not only hers but of the entire band playing beside me.

And the best news is, we get to do it again tomorrow night.

8 May 2007

Yes, the record is finished, and we like it.  It’s been a long time in the making, as any of you who have followed us know.  We started tracking the album in October of ’06, though there were already some significant pieces of music recorded in various forms which we incorporated into the final tracks, thanks to the miracle of modern recording technology.

Bigger picture, though, it’s been fourteen years in the making, since Out Of Body in 1993.  How do fourteen years simply slip away like this?  Is it simply what John Lennon (is credited as having) said about Life being what happens while we’re making other plans?  This is as good an explanation as any, I suppose, and will suffice for now. We’ll leave further speculation to the Historians, should anyone ever find our story interesting to explore.

Specifics, then… we’ve got a title, Time Stand Still, though we’ve been through many of them, trying to find one which somehow sums up the body of work while having an attitude that stands on its own.  Everything becomes so precious when so much is at stake. At some point it just becomes an attempt to find something that won’t be embarrassing ten years on.  I think we’ll be able to live with this one.

There are songs, eleven, maybe ten of them, depending on how our one “orphan” song does in the Darwinian survival process.  A couple of them have been heard already… Until You Dare, from The Optimist, which we’ve twisted into a shape that I think does both the song and the band justice.  I’m Alive, which we opened our three shows last June with and which serves now as a statement of both fact and purpose for us in moving forward.  There is a song called Time Stand Still which bears some resemblance to the song of the same title which we were performing on tour in the most recent years though, like all of them, has been held up to the light of truth and honesty in songwriting, and, as such, is barely recognizable in comparison to the previous little ditty about Lads and Ladies and a Be Bop Baby.  We know it’s better and think that all will agree.  Those of you who have a bootleg recording of the other one, cheers to you.  Play it for your friends but not for us, please.

We’re still doing final tweaks on a couple of the mixes, who knows, we’ll probably still be “fixing” it long after its "release".  Our prerogative.  But, once the artwork is done (in days, it seems, from now), it will be shipped out to the CD pressing plant where thousands of round pieces of plastic with our name on it will be created.  Simultaneously, digital copies will be sent to the various purveyors of such, which those of us who live in the 21st Century will be able to legally purchase and download.  Personally, I go for the downloads these days, especially when there’s a digital booklet that comes along with it.  It all ends up on this computer, anyway.  The choice will be yours, however, and we’re so looking forward to finally getting this record out there, hitting the road, and rocking as Nature intended us to.

2 March 2007

Back in the position at Elm Street. Another organ overdub, this time it's Tut, one of Rob's relics of days gone by. I sincerely hope he doesn't decide to tour with this one. It would take a truck of its own to carry it.

We're getting pumped about the Florida gig. This will be our first official duo gig, ever. After the countless guest appearances we've done at radio stations and various events it seems funny now that it's never occurred to us to do this before. Thanks to our buddy Scott Benarde at the JCC for making this happen.

Must pay attention to the goings on now. Cheers.

16 February 2006

I'm sitting in the control room at Elm Street Studios while John Senior is recording Rob overdubbing a Hammond organ on Until You Dare (there... sneak preview into Content of new record). We're deep in the mad rush to completion. We could go on doing this indefinitely, but, in truth, we really are close to the finish line. And it feels like we're winning.

We've been playing this one close to the vest for a while now, as is our way. Not out of secrecy or paranoia, but because things have a tendency to take sharp turns until the very end and we don't want anyone to have the chance to get accustomed to something and then have it disappear.

We're also getting into artwork now that the smoke is beginning to clear on the music and the panic has been replaced by a real sense of excitement.

The Hammond sounds amazing. The King of all keyboards.

19 June 2006

We're all done for now. What a weekend it's been. The Electric Factory was complete Chaos and Ecstasy, 2500 sold out people listening to five well-rehearsed but nervous knights. Two hours and thirty one minutes, they say. New songs well executed and well received.

Atlantic City's Borgata, a completely different thing, sitting crowd, took a while to get them going but it all worked out in the end.

Tonight was Rob Hyman day in Meriden Ct., his hometown. They've been trying to get us for twenty years and it was time. Rob was in great form, brought us all to tears with his dedication of "Boys Of Summer" to his dad (who's been gone these last two years), bringing his mom up on stage, and finally getting to give the Grammy speech he was robbed out of in 1984.

New record to follow.... the next three weeks of recording will be a major time in our history. Just like the last three days. To those of you who were there, thank you. To those of you who weren't, see you soon.

17 June 2006

Who's the luckiest band in the world? I suppose that would be us. Thanks to all of you for giving us the opportunity to come together again in our home town and shine like the sun.

25 December 2005

No excuses for falling behind other than the usual, busy year, lots going on, etc., etc. Mostly, that which happens whilst making other plans, i.e., Life. In a nutshell, though...

Did a great bike ride through the Czech Republic and Austria last August, very different from Moab in that it was a road trip rather than the constant risk of life and limb that is mountain biking. A very different experience, as it had been many a year since I'd been on a bike that wasn't threatening to dismember me at any given turn. As expected, it was an enlightenment, rediscovering the Zen of pumping and spinning endlessly as the world whizzes by. Hats off again to Trek Travel for knowing everything about anything having to do with where we're going and what we're doing there.

Shortly upon my return to the USA I found myself once again on a plane, this time to Los Angeles in the company of the infinitely charming and boundlessly talented Jonatha Brooke, where we found ourselves spending three days apiece with Nick Lachey (no introduction necessary) and JC Chasez (late of N'Sync, he's the one who didn't go out with Britney and never trained to go into outer space with the Russians). Both of them were, each in their own way, delightful to work with. Stay tuned for results and keep fingers crossed.

Otherwise, aside from a brief trip to Nashville (a volume in itself, but not now and, probably, never), it's been day to day with my Evil Twin Rob (how can both of us be the Evil Twin, I don't know...), either working on the apocryphal Hooters record (which I'm not gonna talk about here so don't even ask me) or, after all this time, heading toward the finish line with Shamsi Ruhe and the record which we've been working on, in one way or the other, for five years now.

Then again, there was the matter of the first live Hooters Shows in the USA in many a year. Thanks in major part to Henry Root (best friend from High School, to say the least), we found ourselves at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City this past November with Cyndi Lauper as both opening act and "And Friends" for the VH1 Classics "Decades" series, which will apparently, be airing in part on New Years Eve, the rest to be shown on 27 or 28 January. It was indeed a circus of sorts, being a TV show with a cast of thousands, but it was worth the trouble just to play four songs for a most exuberant audience.

Since David was already going to be in from CA it was pretty much a no-brainer when Hi Fi House called and asked us if we'd be interested in participating in their 50th Anniversary Party at World Cafe Live, to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand several days later. As it turned out, WXPN ended up broadcasting the whole show live as well as streaming it on their site. My apologies for any who missed it due to my negligence in keeping up. Needless to say, a splendid time was had by all, including a certain Philly journalist who, despite himself, had nothing but nice things to say about us in the paper the next day. We played for over two hours, it seems. Time flies.

And now this is Christmas, and that's what we've done.

By the way, thanks, Candi, for the great shot which I'm using for my Home Page without asking. Hope you don't mind... Fröliche Weinacht...

10 July 2005

"Thought the road is winding someday I'll be finding you "

Unkown

And what a tour it was, indeed. There was so much to process I'm not sure I can accurately comment on it yet. Such a range of emotion, from the incomparable exhilaration of performing for the legions of faithful fans night after night to the personal doubts and demons that Road Life throws in our faces.

Needless to say, it was a thrill performing new songs for the first time in so many years. Getting feedback from the audience (mostly positive, thank you so much, even when critical) meant so much to us, and helped us along the way to a new volume of recordings more than month after month listening to endless studio playbacks could have done.

Am I personally convinced about the new songs? Truthfully, I'm running on the faith of our audience more than my own opinions at this point. Me, I'm a tough room, so to speak, as anyone who's spoken with me about the subject would certainly know by now. I'm not looking for more of the same, nor am I looking for novelty for its own sake. No, the reason I do this, the reason I've always done this, is to find some nugget of undeniable truth and some loud and slightly rude way to tell it with words, melody, and crunchy guitars. In other words, good is good, but it's not good enough. I've been in the presence of enough greatness to know that I'm not putting myself out there and away from my home and family for anything less.

I believe it's only fair that, after all this time, we deliver nothing less than this to our fans.

That being said, I think it was a righteous first step and look forward to resuming our Journey Of A Thousand Miles after the summer. In the meanwhile I'll be sharing further reflections on all this and more while reconnecting to whatever source of peace and energy it is I seem to find here in Sweden during the summer months.

To those of you whom I have ignored in the past months (and you now I know you know I know who you are....), my apologies, my gratitude, and, mostly, my continuing affection until I find you again.

31 December 2005

Good riddance to 2004. Heaven protect us from 2005.

Happy New Year.

28 December 2005

"You can manufacture faith out of nothing"

Bob Dylan in Chronicles Volume One

Yes, you sure can. 100,000 people probably died on Beaches Of Paradise today. Manufacture some faith out of that.

Moab, Utah, Day 6 and Grand Junction, CO

The last ride was a chance to rip some chain without risking life and limb. We took the Onion Creek Road, basically a fire road which involved 26 crossings of water. I tried Shannon's trick of using hotel shower caps on the feet, but once they got wet they stayed wet, so off came the caps. The ride itself was a rush, mucho up and down, cardio campaign, but the in and out splashes through rocky creek proved most exhilarating.

Same day put us back in the van back to Colorado. Tim and Jill met us and took us to the Mexican restaurant we should have gone to the first time, though we wouldn't have met our waitress who directed us to the nucleus of Grand Junction's burgeoning rock scene. Alisia, if you see this, Sharon's awaiting your call.

It's two weeks back now and Moab is a city hidden in haze, but part of me never left and every time I climb up on my Paragon (finally arrived from Sweden...better than I remembered it, even...) I get a little closer to someplace these two-wheeled flintstones-like contraptions seem to want to take me. I miss our group, the gang of ten that gathered either by design or lucky roll of the dice. I hope Chuck's getting some great rides up in NH, dude, I haven't been able to find any Assos so if you want to send me a jar, go ahead. Kath, I hope you're finding some singeltrack in Michigan to make you feel like you're really riding again. Shannon, Zack, thank you many times over for being so fricking good, Geir, hoppas att du fortsätter som trevliga djävuln du är. Fred, I hope there's enough fire to keep you busy but not enough to burn, and Tom, I'm gonna come visit one of these days. Scott, I've said it all already. And Gary, you ARE the Les Paul of Mountain BIking. Moab is out there and I think I will be going there soon.

"Whoop-dee"

Shannon the Guide

Moab, Utah, Day 5

Medicine rules. No question in my mind about heading up to the Sovereign Singletrack trail with everyone. Kathy's feeling better, too, so we'll all enjoy this last beautiful day together. Nothing but sun today, cool and perfect.

The trail was different from the others in that it's mostly singletrack, i.e. narrow, only enough room for one rider at a time. It seems less technical than Klondike Bluffs and Gemini Bridges, but, as Shannon pointed out, it's probably because I've improved since then. All the guidebooks say Sovereign's harder, so I'm inclined to believe her. Fact is, every day I've crossed another threshold of skills, it seems. Klondike Bluffs and Gemini Bridges taught me that the bike really will fly over almost anything as long as you keep your weight in the right place. Slickrock Trail taught me that if you keep your weight forward and keep pedaling you can climb anything. Today I finally learned the art of standing up on the major inclines, which is how Gary does a good deal of his riding.

The ride was an out-and-back, as opposed to a point-to-point or a loop, which means that you go as far as you can then turn back. Apparently, I'd made it to within 1.6 miles of the trail end when Chuck (it's always Chuck....he's a monster out here, bless him) passed me on the return so I turned around. This time I had Zack watching my back, helping me clean downhills and obstacles I would have walked otherwise. There was one insane drop I closed my eyes for and, funny thing, I'm still alive.

But after the ride we hit the absolute high point of the day. Huckfest, muffa. Don't recall if I mentioned it, but yesterday began the three-day Moab Fat Tire Festival which is exactly what you'd figure it would be. Huckfest is a bunch of maniacs in body armor climbing on their freeride bikes to the tops of various twenty-foot dropoffs and jumping (i.e. hucking) off onto the slickrock below and doing a variety of insane maneuvers below. One guy even did it on a motorcycle.

Mushroom Rock, the huck-off. Photo by Scott B.

Huckerman, Photo by Scott B.

Getting there was a trip in itself. After the Sovereign Ride we drove about twenty minutes to Bartlett Wash, left the car along the road and started following people out and farther out. Some of the group brought their bikes but some of us didn't, thinking it would just be a mile or so along the road and more fun to hike. We could not have been more wrong. It turns out that Bartlett Wash is an endless playground of unmarked slickrock, rolling up and down and on and on for miles. It is the opposite of the Slickrock Trail that was so intimidating.....true, one could very easily pick a line along the rock that would be a shortcut to meeting one's Maker, but prudence could make this a perfect confidence-building entry-level slickrock ride and will most definitely do so next trip to Moab.

Bartlett Wash, Photo by Scott B.

The hike out to Superbowl and Mushroom Rock (the two huck destinations) was like Close Encoounters, hundreds of people coming out of nowhere wandering the wilderness heading to some unknown place for some unknown reason. Freaks we were, young and old, leg-powered bikes, motorcycles, pedestrians, mostly with Camelbaks full of water, beer, whatever, someone pushing a shopping cart holding a generator and major sound system which eventually played exactly the kind of music you'd expect at an event like this.

Like Close Encounters, Photo by Scott B.

The competition itself was pretty brief....suffice it to say that not all of the sixteen potential riders made it off that rock. The ones who did, well, better them than me. There were surprisngly few biffs, most of which were recovered from swiftly and amusingly. Only one was serious, involving, as the story had it, a nasty broken toe. The high point for me was the sixteen year old kid who opted not to huck off the main ledge but, rather, bunny-hopped his bike off the back side and did a ballet-like series of swoops along the face of the bowl.

Mother hucker, Photo by Scott B.

"that which does not kill us just hurts a whole lot"

Unknown

Moab, Utah, Day 4

Being sick sucks. So does the weather. It's raining, cold, cold, and, did I mention, raining? Fortunately the pharmacy here accepted a prescription phoned in from out of state so I've just begun a course of amoxycylin which will kick in by tomorrow, hopefully.

The good news is that I had a good excuse not to join the group up on Porcupine Rim which is, even under the best of conditions, an extremely demanding trail for even the most experienced rider. Kathy's still feeling pretty under the weather, and Scott proved that he has more sense than insanity and decided to hang back here with us. Hell, even Gary himself said that Porcupine Rim is excessively gnarly in the rain.

At lunch we saw the foolhardy returning, not a smile among them. Except for Chuck, of course, who could smile in a Vietnamese snakepit. Turns out it was snowing up there, barely enough visibility to see the next drop on the trail. Crappy as I'm feeling, sometimes it really does all work out for the best.

After the return of the intrepid we moved to our new lodgings, the ultra-luxe Sorrell River Ranch, twenty minutes or so out from downtown (as such).

View from Sorrell River Ranch front door. Photo by Scott B.

Somewhat reminiscent of The Big Sur Inn, the food was great, service was, uh, elegant, I guess, the music made us all want to destroy and kill. Whoever invented Smooth Jazz should really have hot needles inserted under their fingernails and be forced to eat hot coals.

After dinner we made them shut off the abominable sound coming from the speakers and had our long-awaited musical huckfest, in which yours truly took tonal leaps from high and foolish places to the amusement of all. After the preceeding day's inactivity and feelings of uselessness it was a much needed step up to the plate for me. Everyone was intrigued by the mandola, which Shannon has now re-named the Mandalay. I like the name and it will maybe stick.

Coolest thing was singing Nordman along with Geir, who, as it turns out, is a huge fan and knows all the words in Swedish. Well, sort of. It's kind of like singing the Beatles with a Scot, but the spirit was certainly there.

“You DON’T want to get sideways.”

Gary Fisher

Moab, Utah, Day 3

Looks like it might not just be lung cleanout.  Feeling progressively more miserable to the point where it’s affecting my performance on the trail.

This AM we drove over to the Slickrock Trail. The Mecca of mountain biking.  Wild petrified sand mounds with insane up, down, over, under, sideways trails.  The surface provides almost supernatural traction, to the point where you can climb hills at angles unimaginable, as well as traverse the sides of hills at a 45 degree angle without fear of slipping down the side.  Well, much fear, but all in the mind.

That’s right.  The good news is that, as in skiing, the bike and the mountain know how to get you where you’re going just fine.  It’s the body and the brain that conspire against us.  When I sat perched up on the top of the first hill looking down at where I was supposed to be going the only word I could hear was “no”.  I watched the rest of the crew bomb down it safely and somehow managed to get myself going as well.  Made it over the first set of obstacles and even mostly up the first really inhuman climb, pushed the rest of the way to the first real lookout.

Top of the Slickrock, minus EB. Photo by Scott B.

Generally speaking, I’ll go for anything that doesn’t put me in imminent danger of not getting to see my kids grow up.  So, when the instinct that says “turn around while you can” kicks in I listen.  I’m not sure how I would have reacted at this point had I been firing on all cylinders physically, but today was not the day for me to attempt the main loop of the Slickrock Trail in Moab, Utah.  In fact, I was at the point where I might have taken off my biking shoes (it’s rough going pushing on these slopes in biking shoes….they’ve got cleats that attach to the clipless pedals which take away any advantage that the slickrock gives to traction on these insane inclines) and walking the bike back to the trailhead barefoot.

Here I must give thanks to Shannon, one of our two Trek Travel guides, who hung back with me and offered me the choice to either help me walk back to the van or try the practice loop on the slickrock trail.  At this point I was so spooked I might have bombed out entirely, but I figured I’d at least give it a bit of a go at the beginning of the trail with Shannon.

We’d gotten through the first three or four major obstacles when, at the top of the trail, it started raining and blowing insanely.  Once again Shannon offered me the choice to head back to the van and do some mountain biking for mere mortals, when the sun peeked through the cloud cover way in the distance and told me that I was, at least, going to finish the practice loop, which we did.  I even made it all the way back up the incline that I’d bombed out on the first time.

When we got back to the parking area we were greeted by Geir, our Norwegian friend, who had taken a couple of nasty falls on the main trail and decided to turn back and enjoy the next three days of riding.  Smart man.  The three of us hung out in the van listening to Shannon’s iPod and had a nice time waiting for the Big Kids to get back.

It was a happy bunch that bombed down the trail exit, notwithstanding the fact that Scott had bitten it big time, ripped up his shin and pulled the sole out of his shoe.  As jealous as I was of the fact that these guys had done the big loop and I hadn’t, I’m immeasurable grateful for the fact that I’ve ridden slickrock successfully and lived to try it again next time.

Scott's got a boo boo. Photo by EB

And, by the way, the Red Sox just won the World Series.  We can hear Chuck cheering in the next building. 

 

“Don’t look where you don’t want to go”

Jill Waugh

Moab Utah, Day 2

Woke up today feeling crappy.  Seems all the gunk and junk of the past months of mostly lazy sloth are being brought up and expectorated by the extreme aerobic exertion of these past couple of days.  I even went out and bought a thermometer to make sure it wasn’t just me being sick.  It wasn’t.

After breakfast we headed out for a morning hike in Arches National Park.

EB and Gary Fisher.  Photo by Scott B.

Yeah, it’s like that.

After lunch we climbed back in the van and drove up to the Gemini Bridges trailhead.  Today’s ride was described to us as “mostly downhill, with a brief climb at the end”.  It was, indeed, very, very downhill.  And, again, the bike and faith in gravity delivered me time and time again through unfathomable stretches of rock and yee hah.

Gemini Bridges is/are, as one might expect, a pair of thin rock formations spanning a large (not sure how wide or deep….I forgot to ask, sorry…..deep enough, trust me) drop into red rock.  Or, as Gary put it so well, “an opening that leads into another universe”.

Gary Fisher on the Bridges.  Photo by Scott B.

From here we hit the major downhill, which was less technical but a lot faster than anything we’d hit so far.  Major fun, even at the end waving at Scott waiting with his camera (picture didn’t work, though….digital cameras suck sometimes) and me wiping out in the red dust.  No harm, lotta laughs.

Dinner was fun, got a lot of mountain biking history from Gary.  Great stories.

Tomorrow we hit the Slickrock Trail.  Disneyland for mountain bikers.  Coming atcha.

"Keep the rubber side down"

Tim Waugh

Moab, Utah

Day 1: We met our group and guides at ten in the lobby of the Adam’s Mark.  No surprises except for the fact that one of the participants in this tour is from Norway, which sure makes it fun.  All in all, our group seems terrific.  Ten in all, including our two guides, Zack and Shannon, as well as the Godfather of mountain biking himself, Mr. Gary Fisher.

Two hours in the van to Moab, a quick check-in at the Gonzo Inn, followed by lunch and bikes.  Turns out mine was a size too large (read: too optimistic.  Theoretically, I should ride a 21” bike, but in extremely technical mountain biking a smaller size offers better control to an “advanced beginner”), which was quickly rectified.  These bikes are magnificent….true 21st Century technology, full suspension, disk brakes, all the bells and whistles that make it possible to bomb down a 30 degree slope of rocky ledges without fear of death.

Our first ride in Moab.  Klondike Bluffs.

You can’t come out here without getting a major lesson in geology.  As it were, this whole part of the world was underwater a couple of hundred million years ago and the ocean above left large salt deposits in what is now the ground beneath our feet (as well as above, VERY above them).  A couple of hundred million years later, once the salt-laden layers of earth were covered with billions of tons of rock and such, the pressure carved enormous canyons and arches into the terrain here, as well as petrified salt formations known these days as redrock, slickrock, and such.  As it turns out, this material is amazing at providing traction to rubber tires on vehicles like motorcycles and bicycles.  Combined with the dramatic geometry the epochs of geological upheaval have created here, what we’ve got is, as Mr. Gary Fisher himself puts it, “Disneyland for mountain bikers”.

Today we did our first ride on slickrock.  The trail is called Klondike Bluffs, though, as far as I can figure out, we were actually riding along Klondike Bluffs.  It’s a seven mile trail, mostly uphill.  The first third was stuff I’m used to, the usual obstacles of rock and cardio-crunching incline.  And then, presto, voila, as promised, our first true contact with slickrock.  As promised, the tires stuck to the surface miraculously as I found my bike sailing up and over with me attached to pedals and seat.

I’d expected to be walking a significant portion of this.  I didn’t.  There were two spots where the man-machine interface couldn’t clear the forces of gravity, but I was ready for a break anyway and didn’t mind walking five or ten meters of insane upgrade.

We all reached the top at our own paces and took some pictures.  Some got there sooner than others, I wasn’t one of the first and I wasn’t the last, but it really didn’t matter to anyone who got where when.  Much water was drunk and energy bars consumed and we hopped back up on our bikes for the downhill trip over the same insanity we’d just ridden up.

This is where I became Luke Skywalker using The Force.  Gravity plus well-adjusted suspension (as well as the occasional judicious use of brakes) adds up to terrestrial aviation in this situation.  The only essential thing to remember is that The Bike and The Body know what to do as long as The Brain is smart enough to stay out of the way.  Yeah, I actually felt like I’d left my body and was watching myself doing the impossible through my own eyes.

And it only gets better from here.

from left: Chuck, Kathy, Gary, Geir, Tom, Fred, Scott, EB.  Photo by Scott B.

 

“You might want to walk this part”

Scott Bradoka

Grand Junction, CO


Scott B, EB, Jill and Tim. Photo by Scott B.


Scott and I arrived yesterday to sun and an unfathomably spectacular view of the mountains.  Tomorrow we leave for Moab, Utah with Gary Fisher and the other lucky souls who will be mountain biking with us for the next six days.

We didn’t arrive until late afternoon so it was too late to ride.  We drove up to Monument, thirteen miles west of here, took a look around and hiked out to Otto’s Overlook, where we met two photographers taking pictures of climbers going up the Monument itself.  They’d started at nine that morning and were still at it.  One group had just reached the summit and the other had just made its way down.  As it turned out, the group at the top was from a high school and was doing fine until on their way down they realized that their rope wasn’t long enough to rappel all the way.  The kids climbed back up to the top while the instructor climbed all the way down freestyle, went and got more rope, then climbed back up to rescue them, as it were.

This morning greeted us with clouds and rain as well as The Weather Channel telling us that we could expect more of the same for the next four days.  Considering the fact that we flew out here a day early to ride today and get acclimated to the altitude, we were more than a little disappointed.

(Interesting and amazing Serendipitous Aside: I played at my high school on Friday night, which is a whole ‘nother story but not for right now.  Thing is, the sixth grade teacher who was there to make sure I was where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there (and thanks greatly for that, Janet) has, as it turned out, a sister and brother-in-law (Jill and Tim, hi, guys…) who not only live here in Grand Junction, but are avid and accomplished mountain bikers.  And, at two o’clock this afternoon, an hour after the rain had stopped, Jill called and told me that word was out that the trails had dried enough and that they were going and were we still up for it.  Hello…….)

The Kokopelli Trail begins two exits west of Grand Junction and continues for a hundred miles into Utah.  We began at the trail head and quickly zipped off to the Rustler’s Canyon loop, 3.8 miles of the most perfect up and down clay and slick rock trail imaginable.  Fortunately, I’ve always had great friends riding ahead of me telling me when it’s time to hop off and walk the bike a bit.

The most amazing thing about riding these days is to approach and clear obstacles like rock ledges and drop offs, logs and branches, other in-and-out stuff that must have names but I’m not aware of yet, and think about how, a year and a half ago, when I first started trying to do this, I could not imagine that I’d ever even attempt, let alone survive and enjoy.  Mountain biking is this year’s version of what the Beatles gave me in 1964.

Stay tuned…

"Oh, THAT laundry... "

Just to clarify...the Itchycoo Tobbe and Mia are NOT the same Tobbe and Mia who live in Visby (Gotland...the island I love between Sweden and Lithuania). They are, however, another illustration of the phenomenon I call Bihomonominosis, the tendency of identical pairs of names to couple. Other examples of this are Bob and Kathy, Judy and Mike, as well as Barbie and Ken. Think about it and you'll know I'm right.

"Laundry? What Laundry?"

Anonymous

Itchycoo came in today. Tobbe and Mia (not you guys in Visby!) from Göteborg, we met in Stockholm and they opened some shows for us in Germany this summer. They can play, they can sing and they're sure cute. Tobbe brought in a title and a riff and we ran with it. A snippet...

Nothing is happening
The way you said it would
Your teeth didn't rot and the dog is still alive
In fact he's feeling pretty good
He's feeling pretty fucking good

You said you'd die if I left
You didn't die when I did
You were alive the next day
And you continue to live
And if you're nothing without me
I just don't get
How come you're not dead yet?

©Bazilian/Itchycoo 2004

"The trick is learning to love The Laundry"

EB, 2004

The tour ended in sheer, utter, beautiful chaos. Three gigs in twenty-four hours, climaxing (yeah, baby, yeah) in front of somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 Frankfurters (the citizens, not the sausages) at 2 AM. Indeed we had a gig later the same night in Heilbronn, but, for all intents and purposes, it was the after-tour party.

Parting thoughts? Too soon to tell entirely but it was, indeed, a splendid time for all, even considering the post-honeymoon reality check. Mostly, I've decided that even past the "I'm just happy to be back with my boys" bliss there really is a wealth of talent and potential I'd lost sight of in the past and am most grateful to have the opportunity to participate in and cultivate in hitherto uncontemplated ways.

In other words, yes, Virginia, there will be a new record. A good one, you can quote me on this.

It's summertime now. Sweden, apart from having had the worst June and July weather-wise in 78 years, has suddenly turned exquisite, as it generally does. I got to celebrate my birthday yesterday in a perfect pastoral bit of perfection with perfect family perfectly doing mostly perfectly nothing. Still sore from a bit of mountain biking frivolity the day before, complete with my first really dramatic and complete nasty fall, no broken bones, just a couple of bruises and mostly laughing. Back up to the trail tomorrow. Must train for the big ride in Utah come October.

Life is good. Even the laundry.

Especially the laundry.

 

"Boston....it's not a big college town..."

Ian Faith, Manager, Spinal Tap

They killed Kenny. And they cancelled Berlin. Don't get me started. Shit happens. Upshot is we get four days off in a nice hotel on a beautiful lake in Hannover and me, I've got a brand new pair of Rollerblades. Whoopie.

Good news....we had Pierre out for one magic night. He got to see tens of thousands of Northern Germans losing their minds for his homie boys. Interviewed a bunch of them as well, which I'm sure will be heard on 'MMR in days to come.

Me, I just bought Eamon's record on the Apple Music Store and am listening to it for the third time in a row. Hands down best use of the "F" word in human history. Even though I don't get the warm fuzzy of Real Music played by Real People (a production choice, that's their prerogative) I believe every word this kid sings and sings well. He has a chance to be the Real Thing. Fingers crossed...

All set up in the room here....studio, guitar, bass, a good mic...I feel a song coming on. Or not.....certainly not now, at six AM. Breakfast is done at eleven and it's a good one here.

Anyway....working up a bunch of credit in the laundry department. Might even have a black position in the ecstacy department. We'll just see.....

"First the ecstacy.....then the laundry "

Zen Proverb

9 June 2004, Malmö, Sweden

Rather than play catch up on the first two weeks of the tour I would direct the reader to www.daveuosikkinen.com for his frequent Blogs, very informative. It seems that High-Speed internet access is not as common in German hotels as I'd thought it was and AOL dialup on Mac OSX for some reason doesn't work in Europe. Which is fine because dialup sucks.

First show in Sweden in nine years last night, in Göteborg, which is a beautiful city on the West Coast. Great venue, called Trädgården, which means, litterally, the Garden. Attendance was light but enthusiastic. It was great meeting fans from as far away as Scotland and England who had made the trip just for one night, as well as Swedish fans I've kept email contact with over the years.

Tonight we're at Kulturbolaget in Malmö which was, ironically, the last gig we did before our extended break beginning July 26 1995. Billy Goodman, our friend and drum tech, is opening the show for us tonight, go figure.

After show we overnight in the bus to Stockholm where I will get to spend one night in my own bed while the band overnights yet again back to Hamburg. Me, I take a ninety-minute bus ride to Skavsta for my cheap Ryanair flight to Lübeck outside of Hamburg. Then begins the real fun...travel insanity....stay tuned....

 

"It's a small world....but I'd hate to clean it"

Unknown

13 April 2004

II got an email today, forwarded from Debbi (who gets all my eb.com mail, so be nice) from a woman in Sydney, Australia who is, aside from a committed musician (violin and voice, it seems), of another branch of the Bazilian Tree. Bear in mind...there is only one Bazilian tree and all its roots and branches are nourished from the same soil. The one thing we all seem to have in common is a shortage of information regarding our origins much before the late nineteenth century. The name, for example. It sounds Armenian, doesn't it. I still get mail from the Armenian Students' Association at Penn.We're not Armenian. As far as I know, when my Hebrew Ancestors went forth to populate all the lands of the Earth according to God's directive, Armenia was probably the one oversight on our part. Several theories regarding what the name might have been originally (it seems to have been Bazelan when my Grandfather came into Ellis Island, but, since Lithuanian Jews probably wrote everything in Yiddish, i.e. Hebrew characters, anything is possible) have been tossed around over family dinners, some involving a certain Barzilai, prominently featured in 2nd Kings, some involving wanderings through Babylon, some even speculating on time spent in Armenia (highly unlikely according to History....too bad...I love my Real Armenian friends).

The truth is, none of us know where the name came from or how we ended up in Lithuania (my Grandfather's family) or Russia (my "new" cousin's family, it seems) or anywhere. But the one thing we all seem to have in common is curiousity.

Somehow having been here at the PA Homestead for the past week with my boy and his uncle from Sweden doing Guy Stuff and big bonding seems related to this. The three of us drove directly from Newark Airport to Westchester County, NY to attend Rick Chertoff's Seder, which in itself was a transcendent experience (complete with The Seder Orchestra). Explaining the meaning of it all to my seven-year-old Simon and my Brother-In-Law was deep enough, but seeing them experience and process it was priceless. Having explained the Four Questions to Simon, who had initially decided against taking the opportunity of being the youngest literate human at the ceremony to read them, I was lifted to new heights of Paternal Pride when at the Moment Of Truth he decided that it was his time to step into the Path Of Eternity.

On the drive back to PA the next day we stopped at McDonalds and he refused to eat the leavened bun on his hamburger because he was sympathizing with the Hebrew Slaves fleeing Egypt Back In The Day. That's my boy.

There's something simply awe-inspiring about sitting at a Seder table with American Jews, Catholics, Swedes, Asians, Latin Americans, etc. and realizing that we all own every Story of Human History, no matter what language or color it comes in. Just like I get filled with such pride and joy at sharing my adopted Swedish life with whoever has been willing and able to make the trip.

We are, indeed, a tree of many roots.

Debbie Scholem, here's to all of us everywhere.

 

"whomp bomp a loo-op, a whomp bam boom"

Little Richard, "Tutti Frutti"

16 March 2004

Tired....drained...on the mend, though. This commute continues to push my physical and emotional endurance, but the work has certainly turned a major corner. The Joan Osborne record is shaping up as a work to be proud of for all of us. We've pretty much migrated from my studio to Rob's, which is a good thing....nice getting away from the homestead sometimes. The work Rob put into Elm Street certainly did pay off...it's a world class facility. The gear is fantastic and well-maintained, the facility is comfortable and inspiring.

The fun thing is being able to take me hard drive home at the end of the day and get jiggy with it....experiments that I wouldn't undertake in the presence of my collaborators. Sometimes they even pay off. I've done guitar overdubs lying in bed with the Powerbook next to me and the little Pro Tools Interface on the floor. Fun...

Steel City Coffe House gig....let me preface this by saying that the last time I did this I was visited with an inspired vision the morning of the show, in which it was revealed to me that I was supposed to do an all-request show. I put myself into the hand of fate and it ended up being an amusing and enjoyable experience for everyone. This time I had taken a bit more thought and done some rehearsing with my guests...Scott Bradoka, Graham Perry, Blaize Collard and John Lilley. We all got together one night in my studio and sounded great. I even sat in the dressing room and constructed a set of sorts.

What I did NOT take into account is the phenomenon of Brain Freeze. Starting with a 6/8 reworking of "Gemini Yo Yo" I found myself completely blanking on song lyrics. After stumbling through the first song I got into "Driving In England", a fail-safe standard from the shows. Imagine my surprise at being unable to remember even the first verse.

Thank goodness for friends. As soon as Scott and Blaize came up for "Ella Fitzgerald" the brain decided to begin functioning again. Scott and I accompanied Graham on "When The Stranger Comes", a song which he had just written for Roberta and their Impending Arrival. Graham and I then accompanied Scott on a very inspired acoustic version of his "Black Crayon".

Brain Freeze did show itself again as I attempted to perform "Here Comes The Sun", which Graham and Roberta had requested. I did fine with the words, but my repeated attempts to execute the nifty little musical adaptation I had landed on for the "Sun, sun, sun" part were, at best, an embarrassment. The fact that I was playing on the mandola, an instrument which I had just gotten and had never used onstage before, was, at best, a stretch of an excuse.

John Lilley has never been to one of my solo shows. The fact that he had come not only to see the show but to join me onstage meant a lot to me. The fact that as soon as he walked up I and the entire room came ablaze meant even more....further proof of how lucky/blessed I and all the Hooters are to have reunited and given the chance to tour again.

I had asked John to sing a song and he suggested a blues. "Candyman" seemed a pretty appropriate choice. Hats off to John for singing in public for the second time in his life (the first time ever when he wasn't disguised in an Anapolis Cadet's Uniform) and bringing down the house. At this point I realized that John was my lifeline to sanity at this point so I kept him up for the entire show. I think we ended up playing two and a half hours. All's well, as they say.

Anyway...again, my deepest thanks to my dear friends for raising me up that night and to everyone in the audience for smiling and laughing at the right times.

Finally...who decided that American Idol deserves to knock 24 and The O.C. off the air for the three weeks that I happen to be here? Life just ain't fair.

 

"Bilden av en tid som var ska visa sig igen
och ge liv till drömmarna och allt som kommer sen"

Py Bäckman, Nordmann, 1994

Yeesh....somehow the front page ('splash", I believe it's called among those in the HTML-know) has become a substitute for these periodic writings. Roberta and Graham are working on getting me a separate page for ongoing photographic entries, so that when I do decide to take down something as beautiful as Ayshwaria Rai or as PC as Stockholms Tunnelbana adverts you'll still be able to access them.

All that aside...the commute is getting heavy. Not that I'm complaining...getting to spend two weeks at a time in our home in PA with nothing but a studio and two precious (three including Romy and Michelle, but we'll deal with that later...) projects is mostly paradisical. Splitting one's life between two Continents, however, is only disorienting, especially to someone who so completely throws themself into The Moment. Working on it, though...the good news is that the work is going exceedingly well. The Hooters thing is, as always, exciting but slow, except when it's fast, over which we have no control. The Joan project has taken on new dimensions of Wonderfulness both musically and interpersonally. It seems that years apart really has given space for all four of us to evolve into far better versions of what we'd thought we maybe were.

And so this is Christmas. Sweden's lovely, cozy, currently warmer than Philadelphia (by a few degrees), though, of course, darker. I walk Simon to school at 8AM in the very first stirrings of Sunrise, pick him up at 4PM in full Evening Darkness. I suppose that's why they (we) get the summers they (we) get over here.

As Walter Cronkite would say, "and that's the way it is".

"Here I am...rock you like a Hurricane..."

Another week in Scorpion-ville. Although being a Hooter and a Joan-ite and a newly-created Playwright (more on this later) have rendered me incapable of making the necessary committment to being the Grunt to produce this Scorpions album, Circumstance has smiled upon me and brought me back into the fold to play Song Doctor, as well as getting to play some guitars and mandolins with Erwin, a most capable Producer/Engineer, in the Hot Seat.

I do so love Rock and Roll. What would life be without the loudest and crunchiest of guitars playing the most rude and beautiful of noises? And, as much as I cherish the time I get to spend working with God-touched female voices like Joan's (and Amanda's, and Cyndi's, etc.), it's a rare treat to have a pure and classic Male instrument like Klaus' to express through.

Even got to spend all last night working one one one with Matthias, the Scorps' resident Guitar God. What a pleasure....he plays like I would had I not shifted my attention at fifteen from Guitar Divinity to songwriting and multi-instrumentality. It was fun being Noel Redding to his Jimi. Or, more accurately, John Paul Jones to his Jimmy Page.

The new Front Page photo is what a Hotel bar looks like in Germany at 4AM on a Saturday/Sunday. Big fun, everything, all the time.

Ten AM flight back to Stockholm. Almost done chilling enough to sleep. Halloween party at 4 this afternoon for twenty five Swedish six and seven year olds who've never been Trick Or Treating. Mostly, though, for one six year old Swedish/American boy who has and wants to show his friends.

Life rocks, mostly...

"Trust in The Force, Luke..."

This Mayoral race in Philadelphia is unbelievable. If I lived in the city I'd vote for fricking Gary Coleman rather than either of these bozos.

Is it that the people who get paid to run these campaigns and do these commercials have no CLUE as to how despicable the work they do is? Or, worse, is it that they know that, despite the fact that people know what crock of excrement it all is, it actually works and affects the way they vote.

Friday night I went to the Taddeus Kosciusko club in Conshohocken, PA, to see Sean Ardoin And Zydecool perform. Once a month there's a club that does a Zydeco Dance Night there with a live authentic band. My next door neighbor and his wife have been going there for two years and I can not believe that I haven't made it until now. Ten minutes from my house. An evening not to be forgotten. I even reluctantly accepted an ivitation to dance, and recieved a quicky Zydeco Dance Primer from a very patient woman. Check out Sean at www.zydecool.com.

17 October, blah, blah, blah

Went to see Matt Nathanson at the Point last night. Gotta say, I haven't been as captivated by a lone Boy And His Guitar on a coffee house stage in a long time. He does this tragic smile thing that totally transforms even the most Artsy Fartsy Smarty Pants Poopy Face Navel Contemplating song into a grand new take on Life. Go, guy. He didn't do Laid, which was a shame, because Matt Fish, his cellist, wasn't there to do his nifty string lines.

Matt's a seriously good soul, though, and I wish him all the good of the world. Check him out...

Matt Nathanson

16 October, '03

The girl was Aishwarya Rai. Apperently she was Miss World in '94. If you're curious go find a copy of "Devdas" to rent. You'd put her on your website, too.

This week has been even more productive and exciting as the previous one. Rob, Joan, Rick and I are absolutely on the top of our game and no one has anything to prove. We even hit a wall, of sorts, today....everyone got kind of gnarly and impatient for a minute, but we took a deep breath and had a laugh about It All. Then I got to play a Sax solo. Life's good.

Went to see Matt Nathanson tonight at The Point, with Debbi, Scott and Blaize. Gotta say I was moved. He's got this twisted sort of smile he does especially when singing the most introspective and bleak lyrics....gives them the necessary balance of humor and irony. I haven't had a chance to listen to his new record yet, but what I DO know is that if given the opportunity I would make his next album a live recording of new material in a space like tonight, surrounded by fans who know every word to every song, even the unreleased ones. Kind of like a Hooters show in Germany...

Ah, sleep...

14 October, '03

Read two books yesterday....Balzac And The Chinese Seamstress on the flight to London and most of Zadie Smith's "Autograph Man" sitting at Heathrow waiting for my delayed flight to PHL and between seeing "Pirates Of The Carribean" and "Charlie's Angels II" from my, yes, Workd Traveller Plus seat. Didn't even have to pay for it this time....seems the flight was way overbooked in Monkey Class so they were bound to put some folks up there anyway. It's already lost its glamour, though....still sucks trying to either sleep or stay awake in those seats.

"Autograph Man" is great, though....I just finished "White Teeth" last week, taking the recommendation of my ever-evolving eldest wonder of a daughter. Highly recommended. Bodadem.

My trusty TItanium Powerbook bit the dust....the hinge seized up, ripping a major connection out of the screen. According to my local Mac Guru, Everett, Apple Care will cover it, but what a perfect excuse to indulge in the unthinkable....yes, I'm typing this on a virgin seventeen-inch Powerbook. Hell, like someone said, life's too short to drink cheap wine or use anything but the most recent technology. This thing rocks....like I didn't already love my computer too much...

One thing about Economy, Business, or First Class...the most comfy seat in the world won't fool your body into thinking you haven't just travelled through six time zones. Thus it is nearly 8AM and I'm going back to bed, finally....to dream...perchance to sleep.

I kind of like this rapid update situation. How about "you"?

Cheers, then...

9 October, 03

Just checking in....it's getting cold here. Pretty nice, though. I do so hope to get in one good bike ride before Sunday. Got some emails about the last entry....at least there are one or two sould out there who are actually paying attention...


30 September, ’03


The thing about Transatlantic flights is this: a bad one makes it impossible to accomplish all the “I’ll take care of it later” tasks like Diary Entries because of uncomfortable seats, bad food and white-knuckle turbulence, while a good one makes it highly improbable due to a comfortable seat, good food, good conversation with flight attendants and neighboring passengers, as well as unlimited choice of and access to all those recent movies you never got to see.
In my recent case it was the latter situation…having arrived in a funk at Philadelphia International Airport because all my (as well as Debbi and Chris’) efforts to upgrade either honestly or dishonestly had failed, I discovered British Air’s recent stroke of brilliance: World Traveler Plus. But first, an aside:

BUSINESS CLASS

Life is too short to drink bad wine. As much as I pride myself on my ability to endure hardship, even to choose it as a matter of Principle when appropriate, I love pampering myself now and again. The odd bottle of Brunello, 25 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, the ’58 Gold Top Les Paul, Taxi instead of Train to/from the airport, Limo instead of Taxi, etc., etc. Not as routine, but taken as needed…
Add to this…. I hate flying coach. Even for a midget the seats are too small, the food, when you get any, sucks, and the flight attendants assigned to too many of us resent us as much as we resent them for not seeing how uncomfortable we are and suggesting we move to all the empty seats in the forward cabins. Not to mention the bathroom lines….


To pay for a Business Class Flight oneself, however, goes beyond all reason. For example: last May, after a fabulously fruitful and enjoyable week with the Scorpions, I arrived, sleepless, at the airport in Hanover, Germany for my return flight to the USA only to discover that my Passport had made other plans and remained in Schwarmstedt. The next flight on Air France (their choice, not mine….don’t get me started…) was the next day. As I’d already postponed my return once I decided that any price was trivial in comparison to the (well-deserved) Doghouse my family would exile me to, so I immediately inquired about last-minute fares. Here’s what I came up with: Business Class One Way would cost me 2700 Euros. Ouch. Ah, but, wait….”we have a special”…Round Trip Business Class would cost 2400 Euros. A bargain, of course…jeez, one could barely feed an entire village in a Third World country for that. Such was my desperation that I began contemplating the possible rationalizations before me. But, wait, no, yes, “we also have a special in Coach…”. Thus I ended up spending 750 Euros to avoid years of future psychotherapy for my children, and I have a return ticket to Hanover, should I need to get there from Philadelphia in the next seven months.


Of course, even 750 Euros is a lot compared to a respectable Coach ticket booked two weeks in advance…at the time it was in the neighborhood of $600 (525 Euros). Do the math, then. Easy….the difference is over $2000. That translates to 40 bottles of Brunello, a nice ’58 Les Paul reissue, and more Limo rides to and from the airport than one is likely to ever need. Not enough for an entire village in that Third World nation, but certainly enough for several families.
Want me to fly to Wherever to write with and/or produce your Major Label Artist? Business Class, please. Otherwise, I’ll deal with the indignity. I’ll smile nice and try to upgrade, I’ll complain about it when I get there, but I’ll deal with it.


That’s how I feel about flying.


British Air has now made their Business Class seats into beds, basically, like they did with First Class some years ago. And, rather than throw out the old nicely-reclining seats with footrests, they’ve made yet a fourth cabin with these, calling it “World Traveler Plus”. The deal is, as far as I can make out, when you get to the airport (in, usually, a most vulnerable state) you can pay $250 and sit in a seat that used to cost ten times that. Granted, the food is still Coach, but you’ve got all those movies, five times as many bathrooms per capita, and power in the seat for your laptop, not to mention that little bag with earplugs, blindfold, and the socks.


Thus ended my hopes of updating this Journal at that time. Seven hours of uninterrupted Me By Myself, getting to see Holes, finally, as well as Rugrats Go Wild, not to mention unlimited cocktails, iPod, and Super Collapse II, please, you’d have done the same.


What was it I was going to say now?


Ah, yes….that was four days ago, the 26th of September, 2003. The end of three weeks spent as a visitor, of sorts, in my own home in Pennsylvania. Read my lips, then: last winter, when I suggested to my wife that this might be a fine year to spend in Sweden (her country of origin and my summer home these past then years), the was no talk whatsoever regarding a Hooters Tour or a Hooters record, and Joan Osborne was a Past with no concept of a Future.


But, like the movie, Things Change. Promises do not, however, nor do twelve-month leases on houses or temporary withdrawals from in-demand Private Schools. Thus have I become, it seems, a commuter in a very grand sense.


The good news…it’s good to know who your friends are. It’s good to know you were right all along. Two weeks with Rob brought me back (brought us both back, I dare say) to why I (we) started doing this in the first place. As much as we continue to butt heads on the specifics at times, we’re both that much more squarely situated together on the team. There is no one else on earth who can come up with the Next Chord Change or the Elegant but Not Too Clever wrap-up for the verse the way My Buddy can.
Pleasant Surprise of the trip: John Lilley came over one night just to hang out and play some guitar. This wouldn’t seem like anything unusual for the two guitarists in a band, but, mea culpa, this was perhaps the third time in twenty years. My bad, very bad. Aside from just having a good old time doing not much of anything, we went out to my studio and started playing. He came up with a sweet little melody on the mandolin, I picked up and acoustic guitar, and recorded ten minutes of variations on the theme. John went home, I listened, and, by sunup, there was a song. A good one, too. Played it that day for Rob, who agreed that it was good, and made it even better, as is his way. I’m hoping for many more moments like this not only with John, but with David and Fran. It’s a new day, isn’t it…


Now it’s Sweden. This is personal stuff, and I won’t get too specific, but I’m loving it here. A completely different tempo….the stress level is negligible compared to the land of Coke vs. Pepsi and “I never had sex with that woman”. Here, nobody cares if anybody had sex with that woman. Unless, of course, they happen to be that man or that woman’s spouse…


I only hope I get to spend enough time here to get past making up Lost Time to my family and do some work with my incredibly talented and inspiring friends Over Here. They’re all waiting on me. But they all know I am now, and have always been, a Hooter First.
And that’s the way it seems to be right about now.

5 August 2003

It seems I was extremely redundant in my last entry, rehashing all of the Scorpions experience as well as Matt Nathanson and the American Wedding Soundtrack. Guess I should keep track of what I’ve already written….

The tour, then…three weeks after the fact it has become such a part of my ordinary World View that the Hooters are a living, breathing organism that has, like the Phoenix, risen up out of its ashes. The shows in Germany were, even in Flensburg (where they warned us that the audience would be, initially, "reserved"), by far the most inspired and transcendent times that the band has ever had, either on or off stage. Those two-hours-plus every night were the best hours I’ve had in a long time, and I think the rest of the band would agree.

This certainly does not mean that my enthusiasm for solo/band performing has lessened any…in fact, I can attribute my own evolution as a Hooter to the fact that I’ve become so much more "myself" these past years….so much more secure in who I "am" than ever before. I’ve got nothing to prove, no medals to win, no crosses to bear or to let go of. I keep thinking of Four Way Street….those guys have such a powerfully unified presence together on stage, while they all forge ahead with their solo careers. I hope that all of us in the band can continue to draw on our individual strength.

We’re up here in Järvsö, Sweden, now, the family and me. Sarah and the two youngest met me in Hamm, last show of the tour, and we all went and spent three days in Amsterdam as a way of transiting back to "normal" life. A splendid time was had by all. We rented bikes one day, Maia in a seat on the back of Sarah’s, Simon had his own. Someday I’ll tell him about the time we rode past all the beautiful Malaysian prostitutes and Porn Shops in the Red Light District while he was too occupied with keeping himself upright on his bike, thank heaven. I can’t imagine how I would have answered the questions he would have had, had he actually seen what was going on around him!

From Amsterdam we flew to Stockholm, drove up north, spent a few days, then headed down to Gotland, an island between Sweden and Lithuania, my favorite place on Earth. In deciding where I wanted to spend this recent "significant" birthday, there was a very small Short List, and, as there are still no commercial flights to the Moon or Mars, this seemed the place. Scott Bradoka and his Kris came to join us, bless their hearts. Though I’ve only really gotten to know Scott in the past three years or so, it feels like he’s been Family forever. Kris, too. Anyone who can keep all three of my kids interested in anything for more than ten seconds is a winner in my book…

Gotta admit….the transition between decades got off to a weird start. The twenty-four hours before the Dreaded Twenty-First were, simply put, Me Being Crazy. Even now I can’t put my finger on exactly why or what for, but there was definitely something Rotten In My State Of Denmark.

Thank god for Scott and my brother-in-law Pelle. At 10 PM on the night of the 20th we somehow got ourselves a Hall Pass and drove into Visby, the Medieval Capital of Gotland (and, by the way, seat of the Hanseatic League about a thousand years ago…), where we went to bars, drank, talked, laughed, drank (me and Pelle….Scott, bless his heart, just never found the interest…), laughed, and, magically, at 11:57, everything was okay. We ended up from 2 to 4 AM hanging out at the Harbor talking to the Iraqui hot dog guy who had more stories than I would ever have the time to hear. Pelle ended up selling Lakrits (i.e. many-flavored liquorice candy) at the adjacent unattended stall, while I tried to chat up potential objects of his shy but worthy attention.

4 AM we all ended up back on the balcony of the heinous apartment we’d rented in a beach resort two miles north of the city, Scott and Pelle on beach chairs, me hugging cushions cast off from the sofa where Kris had given up waiting for Scott’s return and fallen asleep. Bear in mind, the sun had been fully risen for nearly an hour at this point, and by 4:05 the three of us were completely consumed in uncontrollable and irrational fits of laughter.

By the way….the heinous apartment only claimed one sleepless night of our lives. That night in Visby I’d decided that my first instinct had been to spend my birthday at the Hotell Wisby, where we’d stayed on our first trip to Gotland (with the Hooters is ’94), so the whole gang moved, lock stock and barrel, the next morning.

Four more days, three more nights. Dinner on the 21st was at Donners Brunn, certainly one of the finest restaurants ever ignored by Michelin. Lordy, they even had Banfi’s Brunello Di Montalcino, Nectar Of The Gods if there ever was one, we drank two bottles.

This is not a Travellogue, though….I could write volumes about all we did, saw, drank, and ate those five days, but I won’t. Somehow we ended up back here in the Idyllically Pastoral (or is it Pastorally Idyllic?) town of Järvsö, where Yours Truly is recharging his batteries, getting more sleep than usual (though still less than most Mortals), toying with musical ideas up at the barn, and trying to figure out why AOL won’t connect using OSX in Sweden.

1 August 2003

The good thing about a diary: Keeping a daily chronicle of one’s whereabouts, activities, thoughts, feelings, insights is a good way to look back on one’s life and gain perspective.

The bad thing about a diary: No one else can keep it for you. One day slips by, two, a week, a month, suddenly it’s August and a week in Germany with the Scorpions, the second gig in the hometown in nine years, producing the first single and featured trailer cut from a major motion picture, and four weeks of touring Germany for the first time in eight years goes by without a word of documentation from the Star Of The Show, i.e., Number One, i.e., me.

So….cut to present moment…TV room at my in-laws’ house in Järvsö, Sweden, as pastoral and perfect a summer place as one can imagine…."Jackie Brown" on the TV with Swedish subtitles. My son in the next room with the door open as my mother-in-law tries to succeed where all others have failed this evening….to get him to sleep. Downstairs lies my wife beside my baby daughter having, hopefully, gotten her to give up the fight and close her eyes. My eldest daughter is probably on her way back to Pennsylvania from Newark Airport, having flown there this morning after I dropped her off at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport.

The good thing about memory….one can reach back and retrieve the bits of history that lift their heads above the Grey Goop of oblivion.

The week in Germany with the Scorpions….My Expectations: to have fun with a band that’s been together even longer than the Hooters, write a couple of songs, and drink some of the best beer in the world. My Reward: Writing five great songs with a band that has truly earned its Place In Eternity, eating the best asparagus in the universe, drinking, yes, the best beer in the world, and making some friends for life. Not to mention the leather jacket that Rudolf himself gave me for our foray into Hamburg for the Tennis Masters’ party with Boris Becker, and the Flying V guitar built by Boris Dommenget that I lucked into because none of the Scorps had yet claimed it as their own. By the end of the visit we were all talking as if we had started making the next record and I’m producing, which would be a total thrill, I know that we could make the Scorpions album to end all Scorpions albums together, but, as I’ve learned these past few years, one plus one rarely equals two, so anything can happen. I’m keeping fingers crossed but counting no chickens.

The Philly Gig…aside from the reality of cold and impending heavenly downpour, the rain stopped a half hour before we went onstage. The crowd was, shall we say, modest but enthusiastic, a result of said environmental challenge. The band, on the other hand, was transcendent. Loose, tight, easy, tough, even the "Deliver Me" epic, which I’d dreaded in front of an American crowd, held the audience rapt. We all went home happy and panting for the upcoming tour.

The soundtrack thing…long story short…an artist named Matt Nathanson was asked by his record company to record a demo of a song called "Laid", by the English band James, for the upcoming American Pie 3 soundtrack. Having spent a couple of days with me at my studio he told them he’d be happy to record the song, but rather than wasting time doing a demo, he’d just as soon come down my way on his one day off from his tour, and cut the song "for real" with me at Red Door.

"Demo Budget" approved by said Label, my wonder of an Engineer, Saint Don Rodenbach, came down on a Sunday evening, and we put together a basic track for Matt to sing to. Don miked up the drums, I played in my own charmingly naïve way, a couple of acoustic guitars and bass, ready for Monday.

Matt came down from New York with Matt Fish, who plays cello on his tour. I was thrilled with the possibilities, having never recorded a cello at Red Door before.

His vocal came quickly and easily. We spent some hours playing with cello ideas, eventually landing on a nifty little melodic line to lift the whole thing up way above the original recording. We spent some hours later with Matt #1 getting his vocal to sound LESS like the original recording, as, it seems, his voice by nature sounds remarkably like the singer from James.

Much serendipity followed…while Matt was with us I mentioned to him that Jonatha Brooke had been working with me at Red Door some days before, and was coming back the day after he was leaving. I’d forgotten that Matt, like Jonatha, is a Boston-area native, and, like Jonatha, a Sensitive Singer Songwriter. Turns out he’s got a major Younger Guy thing for her, can’t say I blame him.

When she arrived the next day I mentioned all the above to her for her amusement. Her response was to offer to sing background vocals on the track along with Don and I, which she did, magnificently, nine Jonathas creating a choir of Lascivious Angels lifting the track even further that it had been. Matt, needless to say, nearly shat himself.

Just to prove that the world is an even smaller place than we’d imagined, I once asked Jonatha if she knew yet another Boston-area refugee, Mindy Jostyn. Turns out Mindy was Jonatha’s counselor at summer camp. Go figure. How perfectly poetic, then, to bring Mindy down two days later to beef up the cellos with some violins, again, nine tracks of them. Mostly, a great excuse to see her for the first time in years.

Don and I finished off the track with some backing vocals of our own before heading to Rob’s most amazing Elmstreet Studios to mix. Next thing I hear is that they’re playing it in movie theaters as part of the trailer and it sounds great.

Long story not so short….which leaves, it seems, no battery in this Powerbook for the real deal….yes, that….The Tour. Stay tuned, then, O, ye Faithful. Rest assured, it rocked my world more than any of the many thousands who shared the Amazement with us.

11 PM 20May’03

It seems that me.com has gone live in my absence. Very cool….the concept of getting those more qualified than oneself to do things that one has neither the time nor skill to do is becoming increasingly comfortable these days….very good for both efficiency and sleep.

So, Dear Diary….here’s what’s up these days:

Three or four weeks ago I got a phone call from Matt Nathanson, an artist on Universal Records who I’d spent a couple of fun days working with a while back, regarding the possibility of spending one day in my studio recording a cover of the James song "Laid" for the American Pie 3 soundtrack. The plan was to cut a "demo" for the Studio Dweebs, but get it right the first time, which was fine with me….I don’t do demos. Two days and many hours later we got the major thumbs up from both record company and film authorities, three days later we had a final mix approved and ready to go. It amazes me when things actually work.

A week ago Saturday I got on a plane for Hannover, Germany, via Paris, to work with the Scorpions. We’d been trying to arrange this for some months now, but this was the only time that worked for all of us. I had expected to drink some good beer, eat some fattening food, and maybe write a song or two. I ended up with four songs written and recorded, two more in progress, a leather jacket, a new guitar (a Flying V!!!), and five new friends. We’re trying to work out my return right now. God, it’s good to rock like that. I can’t say enough about those guys…I got to work with each one individually as well as together and I was absolutely blown away by them all. There’s a reason they’ve been together since 1965. I’d go back tomorrow but it’s something about rehearsals for Hooters shows and a family I’ve got…hopefully they won’t forget about me by the end of the German tour so I can just stay on there for a week or two and lock them in. It had never occurred to me that I’d want to produce a hard rock band (I did say no to Van Halen once), but it seems like a real good thing right about now.

Today was the third day of Hooters rehearsals. So far it’s just been Rob, Fran and I, going through the vocals and such. Tomorrow Davey and John join us, which will rock immensely. It’s supposed to rain on Saturday, which sucks, but we’re also doing this for the three weeks in Germany.

Life’s pretty good about now, I suppose…..