Okay, first of all,thanks to all of the folks who made this happen: Peter at the Roots and Roses Festival for paying me enough to afford to fly over there in the first place, Robert at Kiss n’ Run for setting up my other shows and letting me stay at his place, Richard for driving my ass around and providing conversation since the radio didn’t work, Michiel for the lending of his banjo, all of the promoters at all the clubs that booked my ass, all the people who fed me, gave me a place to stay, served me drinks, and especially those who came to the shows and even bought records! Big thanks be to ye, fine citizens of the European Union.
With that said, lemme tell y’all about the tour. Well, for one thing, THIS HAPPENED:
That’s a view of the crowd during my set at the Roots and Roses Festival in Lessines, Belgium. That’s probably the most people I’ve ever played for. Also, was the most I’ve ever been paid for a show. AND, they gave me a full bottle of J&B in my dressing room. Good day all around. Great event, great people, great bands.
Didn’t choke when faced with this:
Here’s me with my complimentary bottle of Scotch:
Here’s another shot of me onstage, killin’ it like a fuckin’ boss. But this photo is taken from a different angle, WITH DIFFERENT COLORED LIGHTS, PEOPLE:
Here’s another nice view of the crowd:
Crazy thing about the Roots and Roses festival is that the field where the festival tents are set up is located next to an elementary school, and the school is used as the festival headquarters. This is something that would never go over in America – can you imagine the uproar from angry, uptight parents if a bunch of dirty rock n’ rollers were given free reign in their kid’s school? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! Meanwhile, in Lessines, my “backstage area” was the third grade classroom. Fully stocked with a fridge full of beer, wine, and the aforementioned J&B. Kind of surreal, actually.
They feed all of the bands there, too. Imagine the dudes in Jim Jones Revue sitting down to a pre-show meal in the elementary school cafeteria – hilarious! And the food was great. They made every band crème brûlée for dessert. Seriously. I usually don’t instagram my food like a chump, but I also when I play shows I don’t usually get served food that involves the use of a chef’s torch.
As for my set, I didn’t down the entire bottle of whiskey before I played (only 1/3 or so, remarkable restraint on my part!). If I do say so myself, I think I pulled off a pretty good set, and nobody threw anything at me. Success!
Roots and Roses, of course, was the biggest show of the tour. The rest of the shows were a bit smaller. For example, here’s a pic of me onstage in Hamburg. Now I know how the Beatles, Monks, and Jerry Lee must have felt when they rocked the Reeperbahn:
I played a Queensday festival (for my American readers: yes, the Netherlands has a royal family). My fellow Austinites the Riverboat Gamblers were on the same bill, but I missed them since I left to play a gig in a different city that same night. I’m a workhorse!
Queensday is a big holiday that, as an outside observer, seems to primarily involve getting wasted and wearing orange. They made a cool poster for the festival:
I played at a metal bar in Germany that had this dragon mural on the wall behind the stage. Unfortunately, they covered it up with curtains before the show for sound purposes, so I couldn’t get a picture of me playing in front of it.
I also played a gig with bunch of other one man bands that frankly, was a bit depressing. I mean, not like I invented it or anything, but I’ve been doing the one man band thing a lot longer than most of these other dudes. I actually included “tired” covers like Killin’ Floor and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl on my first record because back then, the one man band thing wasn’t as established, and I felt like I had to show that I could actually play recognizable songs and sound like a real band. Now, it seems it is all about novelty value and less about actual musicianship.
There have always been a few floating around, but the one-man-bandwagon in Europe has gotten overloaded since I last toured there. At one of my shows, the promoter said that when some people found out I was a one man band, they weren’t interested in coming to the show because they had seen too many shitty one man bands and were so over it. My brand has been cheapened!
Thankfully not a one man band, the big headliner for this show was The Pignose Willy’s, who I owe big because they got me on Dutch television for a few seconds. They were influenced by all the blues greats. You know, Son House, Bukka White, John Schooley…
I even got my picture taken with them, which was a huge thrill for these boys since I am such blues royalty in the Netherlands.
The Willy’s are riding a wave of popularity after their recent television appearance in the clip above, but this has yet to trickle down to any increased Schooley awareness in their home country, at least as far as I can tell. Now I know how Furry Lewis felt when he opened for the Rolling Stones!
On the same bill was my Voodoo Rhythm labelmate Michiel Hoving, formerly of the Sixtyniners, now a solo act and great guitarist, and also a talented animator who made this cool video for another Voodoo Rhythm act, Mama Rosin. Michiel was kind enough to let me borrow his banjo for the tour, since I couldn’t pack mine. Thanks, Michiel!
At an earlier show, Michiel played this one song and I was all “What the hell was that?” and Robert was all “That’s Focus! A Dutch classic!” Then muttered something about me being a stupid American. Let me share this with you, dear reader. Now you won’t have to visit the Van Gogh museum when you go to Amsterdam, because this is all the Dutch culture you need right here:
Despite my brutal touring schedule of eight whole shows, it wasn’t all hard work. I also stayed with my booking professional Robert for a few days, taking in the sights and smells of Holland. Robert took me and my tour manager, Richard, to the beach where his family used to go on holiday when he was a kid. Apparently, this trip was to help Robert come to terms with some sort of childhood trauma he suffered there. From what I could tell, it involved him having to carry beach chairs while his dad yelled at him or something. It was pretty cold. In exchange for this hospitality, I introduced Robert to Peep Show, so for the rest of the tour we could argue over who was the Mark and who was Jez of our duo.
We also drove around and saw a bunch of windmills and canals an’ shit. So quaint! In addition, you may be interested to know that there is a Dutch snack called bitterballs.
Look, I could talk about being on tour, but you don’t really want to know. Eugene Chadbourne covered it in this quote from I Hate The Man Who Runs This Bar:
“I find that telling Americans that you go to Europe regularly produces waves of jealousy and people never treat you the same again. Most people are so frustrated in their attempts to see the world that they become incredibly envious of someone who gets paid to travel, no matter what problems they might have as a result. Don’t bother trying to tell anyone about the problems of a traveling lifestyle. They don’t want to hear it. One friend tells me he “lives vicariously” through me. Of course, he would never want to live vicariously through six-hour practice days, canceled gigs of great financial importance, or other business and/or artistic frustrations. Names of foreign cities and comments like, “It was great!” are what these people want to hear.”
And whatever Dr. Chad missed, Spencer P. Jones covered in this song.
I could also post a bunch of pictures of me from these different shows, but they all start to look the same after a while. The only difference is the degree of my sweatiness, or what instrument I’m holding:
You get the idea.
There are also photos of pleasant evenings out, enjoying some drinks with friends:
…but I’m sure you’ve had your own nights like that.
Anyway, I had a good time, I’d do it again. Now I have to go back to work like a fuckin’ square.