Shine Out

I have a new record out! The official release date is February 10 2014, for no good reason. The album is called “Shine Out“. It was made relatively quickly (for me); it only took about 6 months! Entirely DIY.

This blog post and potentially some Facebook posts are pretty much the entire publicity campaign. Go on, tell your friends!

off the beaten path…

My last album before this, “All Attractions“, took quite awhile longer. I started it after the release of “Honey” in 2008. An indie label in the US was interested and we began negotiations for releasing a compilation album from all of my previous records and then a new record on its heels, we got so far as going back and forth on a contract and I began recording basic tracks for what became “All Attractions”, and then they backed out suddenly after I had asked a lawyer friend to look over the contract. So I sort of shut down and stopped recording and writing for most of 2009. Maybe it was the whole financial crisis. I ended up having my teaching contracts not renewed in 2009 as well, so I started working full time at Pandora, so that made it more difficult to work on recording as well. Later that year I had a couple of nights at the Fillmore in San Francisco opening for Built To Spill (on Halloween even!) so I began working on the recordings again after that, and eventually even went back to record a few more basics. While at the studio, we had an afternoon free, so we improvised, and when I worked on overdubs for everything, I made these improvisations into pieces, and decided to release both myself as one double CD, All Attractions and Apricot Jam. I did a Kickstarter project to fund it, and in late 2011 this whole process finally ended and I printed up 300 copies and sold them out in 2012. (I printed up another 150 of each recently, separately this time, if you want one! See below…)

So the other fun thing that happened in 2012 was that I got fired from my job at Pandora (long story) and with a 9-month old daughter, the threat of no health insurance, and a wife who had been on maternity leave from being a pre-school teacher for a year, there was no way to make the mortgage. The bank didn’t help, so within a couple months, we made the decision to leave the country. My wife is Swedish and was into moving back anyway, so we did. It’s been tough for me to be an immigrant at my advanced age, but it’s ultimately a good choice, I think.

Anyway, I hadn’t intended to make a new album at all. But since I don’t have a job and spent much of 2013 flying back and forth on tour with Camper Van Beethoven promoting our album “La Costa Perdida” which came out in January 2013, what time I did have in the summer we spent out in the country instead of looking for a job. And I started recording there (when my daughter was napping). So everything was recorded within a two month or so period, we came back to Stockholm in September and I went back to language school and mixed the songs when I could in our new apartment, sent it to my friend Myles Boisen to master it in December and had 150 CDs printed while I was in the US again on tour last month (January 2014.) Voila. Instant record. It’s the quickest one I’ve ever made!

One reason, I guess, is that it was only me working on it. There aren’t any drums (though there is a drum machine on a couple tracks) and I can play a bunch of instruments, so that’s no problem. The songs are not necessarily as pastoral as it might sound, nor as stripped down: I do play some ripping electric guitar on a few tracks! It may be a little more psych-folk than things I’ve done in the past, but I actually took the acoustic guitar out of a few of the mixes. Anyway, there it is, a candid shot of me right now. The pictures on the cover are of the old cabin we lived in in the summer and my little daughter running around (off the path).

It’s really only available on Bandcamp, or from me whenever Camper Van Beethoven is on tour. I have several copies in Sweden if you are in Europe and want to purchase the CD, also there are a bunch at Victor Krummenacher’s house in California and I may be able to convince him to send them within the US. Maybe. Same if you want
“All Attractions”, “Apricot Jam” or “Honey”. Just let me know!

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Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Guitar, Music, Sweden

Autumn

The last entry here happened sometime in early October (2013), and then I was back in school and being a dad all fall. I’m done with the “Swedish as a Second Language Ground level” courses now, as of the beginning of December, so I get to be a house husband for a couple a weeks now before heading out on tour in the US again. I like this house husband job! I drop the child at preschool, come home and clean up a bit, do laundry, dishes, work on some music. Maybe actually listen to music! That’s new. Usually I only get to actually listen to music on my phone while on the subway or an airplane. Then, pick up the kid, and play for a couple hours. Fuck working. Until you get bored and start watching daytime TV and eating yellow pills, I guess.

So in theory, my Swedish is getting better. I am not going to convert this blog to Swedish just yet though. I can read easy-to-read books. I still barely understand the newspaper (but, to be fair, who really understands what the hell is going on in the newspaper?) My adaptation to Sweden is getting a bit better, though marred by a few choice incidents involving post or UPS*. These sorts of things just really piss me off. I actually got out and played a few shows, which were great.

And I finished mixing a new record, tentatively called “Shine Out”, all recorded last summer and mixed this fall. Mastering happening right now.

And I made a digital-only compilation of my “greatest hits” (or misses…) from the past 25 years, called Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.

We’ve been adjusting to finally having our own apartment. Many people are impressed that we have a first-hand contract with Svenska Bostäder, it seems. I was actually sort of surprised that they rented to us as well. But there you have it! We have a place. We bought a bunch of Ikea stuff and then started looking on Blocket for more stuff. We found a nice wooden tall bureau and I got a studio desk, so most of my crap is off the floor. Now it’s in drawers. Or stacked in piles of guitar cases. And now that the temperature has gone to freezing, I got a humidifier finally so the guitars may survive the winter.

Anyway, like I said, besides the school stuff, I actually did some fun ipad drawings of people on the subway on the way to school. I like drawing people when they don’t know it. I’ve posted a bunch on Facebook, people like them, which is cool. I’d love to print them somehow. Larry Farber keeps saying I should have a show at Larry’s Corner (the coolest “shop” in Stockholm. It’s a hangout for weirdos, basically.) And play a set there for the opening. This will happen, somehow.

subway drawing

I played again with the Plastic Pals this fall, the first time also with Chris Cacavas. Chris has been playing as long as I have, back in the ’80s in Green on Red, and playing with Steve Wynn, Giant Sand, on his own… his songs are great. I remember back in 1990 he and I had alternating gigs opening for Robyn Hitchcock, that may have been where I met him first? Or possibly when I was living in LA in the late ’90s and playing with Mike Marrt, as Chris was also in the Long Beach scene then. So the Plastic Pals were his back up band for a tour of Sweden, and I got to sit in with them in Stockholm, twice! Super fun shows, both times, once at the Southside Tavern at the beginning of the week and once at Pet Sounds Bar at the end (which I always hear at Pettson’s Bar, as I am more familiar these days with Pettson and Findus than Pet Sounds.) Chris has been living in Germany for many years now, so it wasn’t too far for him to travel to get to Sweden. I didn’t go with them to Malmö, Gävle and Göteborg due to school. I think the turnouts were generally small, even though there is so much hipster online writing here about the Paisley Underground scene, they seem to forget to actually go out to see a show when somebody comes to play. Regardless, it was a blast to play with these guys and with Chris, and I hope to do it again. Maybe in Germany?

And then a month later, back at Pettson’s, opening for the Pals. They, by the way, are sounding better and better, and this show was their sendoff to go play some shows in New York. I played solo, sang some old and new songs, and even had Håkan Soold accompany on “I Know You Know Me”. This was really my first official gig in Sweden, you know. And done on a twisted ankle, as I had slipped on the apartment stairs carrying the child, and sacrificed my ankle to not drop her. (And this before it even started freezing, and everybody starts slipping on the ice.) Fall is generally muddy, and our building has the dumbest steps that go out the back into the park, then suddenly end in a slope of mud where the park starts, obviously where the border of private and city land is. When someone slips and breaks their head back on the steps, I wonder who would be liable? But they’re not so litigious here as in the States…

Later in November, I had a couple more shows, right in the same week as my finals. Both involved some serious rehearsing, for different reasons. One was with the Great Learning Orchestra, a mishmash of whoever is into the current project, this time doing music of Arnold Dreyblatt. The concert was part of the opening night of Fylkingen’s 80s anniversary week of concerts. Fylkingen is an experimental arts theater, this is where most of the odd modern, improvised or electronic music or dance happens around here. We were the latter half of this evening’s entertainment, after some acoustic improv and electronic music with dance. Our stuff involved several days of rehearsals, starting in October, due to a couple things. One is that the music is entirely written in just intonation, so the notes are named by which harmonic starting from F they are. For example, F is 1, (and 2 and 4), C (+2 cents from equal temperament ) is 3, A (-14 cents) is 5, Eb (-31 cents) is 7, etc. Then there’s the G (+4 cents) that’s the 9th, but also a G (-45 cents) that the 7th of the A (5), being #35 (5 x 7). So, anyway, these notes are one thing to learn to play, then we had to learn them by number also because the score was rhythmic loops with numbers above the staff saying which pitches you could play for that loop. Pretty cool, with all the players, the full ensemble was violin, viola, 2 cello, bass, then saxophones, bass clarinet and flute, a tuned tack piano, 2 electric guitars, 2 drummers and several electrified instruments that were tuned strings hit with mallets.

The day before the show was my last bit of testing in school, after the written part and book report, where I had to give an oral presentation on a Swede. I chose to talk about a composer named Moses Pergament, who was a from a Jewish family, in Swedish-speaking Finland, born in 1893, studied in Finland and Berlin, but cam to Sweden in 1915 (probably to avoid WW I) and became a Swedish citizen. Wrote some nice post-romantic/post-impressionist music and became a music critic for the newspaper. His editor thought he should just sign his reviews “Pergament” so people would think it was a signature name… or they would guess he was Jewish! Oh no! Well, the composer’s union figured it out and wouldn’t let him in. Between the wars, you know, Europe had some serious issues with “national identity”, and even though Sweden wasn’t Nazi, per se, they were pretty dang racist. That’s still a big issue, these days. One other guy in my class, not exactly sure where he came from, did an oral report on “Jimmy” Åkeson, who is a current politician who came to prominence by being essentially racist. He was recently grilled on BBC, actually, where they asked him to back up his “immigrants cause violence” statistics and he couldn’t, oddly. However, when the other student asked the class how many had heard of this guy, maybe 3 people raised their hands… scary. Anyhow, Pergament is interesting, if only because he was a testy dude, and wouldn’t give in and just do the Mahler thing (convert) so he made a bunch of Jew-music along with other chamber music and things. Strangely very little of it is recorded! Hmmm.. Despite the fact that he is considered one of the top three Swedish Modernist composers, with Hilding Rosenberg and Gösta Nyberg. Being a big fan of string quartets, I really weaned to hear his later ones, 2 from the 50s and one from the 70s (he died in 1977) but I can’t even find the scores.

Well, so I had to back to school the next day, just to get my grade. I didn’t really understand the grading system (C,E, something?) but I would have received a B+ equivalent but the oral report pushed into A territory. So I get to start the actual high school level Swedish as a second language—online—in January. So I left to go to Fylkingen to help set up, we set up the room for our show from 12-2pm or so. It was weird to see the room again, last time I played there was in 2005 with Chaos Butterfly. Some of the same people were in this show, actually, like Lisa Ullén, who played piano with us!

Walked to Larry’s Corner and hung out for a while, bought some kids’ books in English for Marlowe. Eventually got hungry and left, wandered Södermalm looking for something small to eat (I’d kill to find a pizza place that served slices.) When I got back at 5pm it was time for sound check, finally got to hear the full ensemble. The rehearsals had always had bits and pieces. We conflated two pieces into on, so we were doing 3 altogether, after Arnold played a solo piece on his weird upright bass with piano strings. I went to eat some vegetarian food at a cool little buffet restaurant on Hornsgatan with a guy named Girilal Baars who was singing in the ensemble, he is a very interesting dude. Does music that mixes up some old folk tradition with modern electronic music, in fact he’s doing a Ph.D. for a UK University on this. (Though he lives in Sweden.) We made it back a little after the start and missed the first ensemble. The second one was one musician and one dancer, the musician was somebody I had met here years ago who works at EMS (Electronic Music Studios) and he made a feedback drone soundscape while the woman who danced did some sort of butoh-informed movement, which was great. She wore a slightly bemused smile as she wavered around, it was both hilarious and devastating, especially with the huge full spectrum noise onslaught. Very cool.

The next act was an improv ensemble with two acoustic guitars, upright bass and drums. Great players, all of them, some interesting sound and textures. The the changeover, and we drank a beer (they had Nebuchadnezzar, which is one of the best tasting beers I’ve had here, Swedish “ghost brewers” brewing in Belgium.) We changed the sidelines to have the room lengthwise, then Arnold began his piece. He bounced the bow off the strings in a steady rhythm, eliciting harmonics from the strings while creating a steady thump through the amplified bridge of the instrument, and a scrape of the bow. Very hypnotic. The we sat in our orchestra arrangement and played through “Fast Loops”, “Sustain” and “Slow Loops”. I think the pieces went generally well, especially the middle one, which was about 20 sections of arhythmic tremolo, then moving to another 10 of sustained tones, all in these microtonal intoned harmonies. I had to run away afterwards to try to catch a train home, but had to wait at the platform anyway, so it took about an hour to get home. Long day!

This concert was on a Wednesday night, which meant I missed the second rehearsal with Gösta Berlings Saga for a show the following Saturday at Sweden Prog Fest 2013 (!) Luckily, we got together again on the day of the show so I could rehearse the songs again. This music is, in many ways, the opposite of playing with Arnold Dreyblatt, in that it’s tuned normally, but very complicated rhythmically and melodically. I was only playing 3 tunes with them, but I still had to practice the melodies at home for a week beforehand.

We left to the venue at 5pm, and the “Prog Fest” had already begun when we got there, though it was in some sort of very open banquet hall type of room. There were two stages along adjacent walls, the “big” and “small” stages. We were last on the big stage. When we got there, we loaded in and then made our way to dinner elsewhere. Coming back, the promoter’s band (I think) was on. His girlfriend was the singer ( I am guessing) and they all had pointy black guitars. It sounded strangely a bit like Rush. The the small stage was taken over by a highlight of the evening called Necromonkey.

Necromonkey!

Now Necromonkey is really two guys, Mattias Olsson (drums, etc) and David Lundgren (keyboards), who have  along past playing progressive rock music, among other things, but this band seems to have started as a recording project. They played with additional musicians on bass and percussion, and had a stage design with a stack of TVs with oscilloscopes on them and such. The music was intense, almost entirely instrumental except when Åsa Eklund (singer from Mattias’ former band Pineforest Crunch, and coincidentally his wife…) sang in unison with a synthesizer that Mattias played, which was extremely eery. This show was a definite highlight of the evening, and I guess the newspaper reviewers thought so too, as this was the only act that was written about! I picked up the Necromonkey CD, and it’s really cool.

The next couple bands were incredible, though not in any musical way. They were incredible in the exact ways that you would expect to have them be at a “prog fest”. The next main stage band started with a tape of Swedish folk music playing, then they started playing with it, then when they decided that they had shown their credible roots, they launched into chugging electric guitars like Steppenwolf, and the lead singer bounded onto the stage wearing tight white pants and a white suit coat, with no shirt to hide his bulging belly, and grabbed the mic stand with a prosthetic hook-hand! Wow. That was spectacular. These guys would have been the best biker band ever, circa 1973.

And then the next small stage act was semi-acoustic, maybe a broken down version of some bigger band? An acoustic guitar and bassist smarmily singing in harmony with a couple extra guys backing them up. Pretty sounding, and pandering.

So then we got to go last, on the big stage. My wife and her mom had arrived to see us, which was cool. GBS is amazing, they have an incredible way of making music. It’s like every song is based on one root-idea only, but then as it goes around, they change through all the possibilities of chords or melodies that could go with it, with different dynamics and instrumentation. As I said, I joined them on 3 tunes, so I came in after a couple songs into the set, and played one new song (not super well) and one older song (more improvising, this one went well) and then after a few more, came on to play the last song with them. Mattias also sat in on percussion on this one. Here’s a film of it.

This was my last obligation for the fall, so it was time for winter to come, and starting the following week, I got to be house-husband. I did manage to go and visit Mattias Olsson at his studio, Roth Händle, in Sollentuna last week, though. This was a major event for me in many ways. To begin with, Mattias is someone that I was told to look up when I moved here by Victoria Jaschob who was Camper’s very first manager way back in 1985. I don’t really even know how she knew him. But when I got to the studio, Mattias was just tinkering on things, which is my specialty, as you know. The studio has big rooms filled with numerous weird instruments lining the walls, and I mean weird: at least two Mellotrons, a dual keyboard Chamberlin, a few celestas, a pipe organ, bass marimba, vibraphone, numerous odd guitars, etc, etc. Sort of like the Chicago Store in Tucson used to look. I felt right at home immediately. So we went into the control room, and proceeded to futz around with many weird noisemaking pedals, like some Russian-made things with voice synthesis chips made for the Russian phone company… we drank coffee until it was time to drink beer. We discussed the difference in being a lifer musician in Sweden versus California. I think I want to make music with this guy. The only potential bone of contention is that I really like using ProTools and do a lot of composing in it, visually using it like a score, where Mattias like to get everything done before setting it to “tape”, which in his case is an Akai hard disk recorder (he has 3 of them). Nonetheless, it’ll work. When I get home from tour in February, I hope.

at the Julmarknad.

*UPS incident: I had a hard drive case I got from Other World Computing, whom I like, and brought it back with me after the shows in September. Unfortunately the drive controller was missing a dipswitch making it Raid or not-Raid, so it raided a drive that I wanted normal. So I needed the right chipboard for it anyway, and sent them the chipboard (3″x2″ about). When it got sent back, the UPS affiliate charged me 290sek ($45) for customs, which should not happen on warranty replacement parts. Also, this would be customs duty on the entire $110 device. Much arguing, with them and customs. So fucked up. I lost in the end of course, too much bureaucracy to wade through. It’s heavy here, like former Soviet-era style. Additionally, in our new building, the mobile phone don’t work due to thick environmental walls and windows. And there’s no port code to allow entry to delivery services, other than the post (for some reason). So I missed deliveries while I was here. The delivery thing here is really fucked up. Many company subcontract to other private delivery companies. It’s really difficult. Maybe it’s purposeful, to prevent a runaway Amazon/Ebay economy and keep people shopping in stores. I don’t know. Even the post is often not delivered to your mailbox, but is held at a post counter in a local grocery store.

Which leads me to incident two: I got something addressed to Jon Segel. I had to go to the store to pick it up, even though it would have fit in the mailbox. But they wouldn’t let me have it because my ID says Jonathan. I made a scene. They called the post office, who are bound by specific rules due to being  approbate company that has taken over a previously governmental operation! So it’s as serious as passport control, you bet.  In the end somebody at the post office said, ok, let him have it, which begs the question: why didn’t they let me have it in the first place if somebody can just say so? This sort of nonsense really makes me angry.

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Posted in Music, Sweden, Violin

September, Part 2

I took the replacement van back to SFO the next day to turn it in after unloading the gear and putting in the old van’s seats. They were a little unorganized at airport van rentals, but whatever. The people in the office there waiting to rent vans weren’t so into my telling the clerks that I was returning the replacement van from Ontario airport after suffering two rear blowouts! But I did tell them that the previous van was tan and this one was grey, with tan seats so they should change them out with the grey ones they had in their waiting room! Yes, they used van seats in their waiting room.

Then I made my way to the SFO rental car center (a huge clusterfuck) and rented another car from another company. Yet more driving. I headed out toward Fresno to hang out and begin a new recording project: my friend Steve Cammack from my band in high school, Bürnt Töast. Steve was the other guitar player in our band, and he’s been writing songs ever since, as one does, but has never really recorded things. So he has a huge backlog of tunes that he wants to have a nice recording of. We mostly worked on getting some acoustic tracks down and a few of the vocals, and the sort of overall shape of the project, which may take a while. (Especially as he lives there and I live here.) I think we got a decent start, though. It was weird being in the central valley without going up to Davis, where I (we) grew up, especially as my brother and my dad still live there, but here we were in a suburb of Fresno instead, in a hot, hot September. We barely left the house. Beer was essential.

Me and Steve

I had to split on Wednesday evening in order to have a rehearsal on Thursday with none other than John Hanes learning Camper Van Beethoven songs for the show the following weekend in Bishop, CA at the Millpond festival. Victor has been playing and recording with John for many many years, I have played and recorded with him for most of my past decade’s records and shows also. It’s going to be interesting to play with him in CVB. The rehearsal went really well, John had done his homework. Camper is weirder music than regular old rock n roll, but John plays all kinds of things, and is an extremely creative and free drummer (I love improvising with him), so I had wondered if the exactitude of CVB songs would be a burden for him. But he learned them and learned to like them more, even. We got out of the rehearsal at 10pm or so, and finally ate something: the now-internationally-famous San Francisco Mission-Style burrito. From Can-cun, in fact. Delicious. That’s something you just don’t find in Stockholm.

Friday was my free day, but Victor had a show that evening at the Starry Plough in Berkeley that I intended to get to eventually. I also intended to see Ben Goldberg‘s “Unfold Ordinary Mind” (just buy this album) at a place in Oakland called Duende. I realized much too late, however, that I probably needed tickets in advance, so I called the place and they said that they sold out but would have some tickets at the door. What the fuck do I know? I was able to do a little shopping to bring things back to Sweden (like mirin, for example: being above 3.5% alcohol, it can’t be sold in grocery stores here, and it’s pretty unlikely that the Systembolaget, state run liquor stores, would carry Asian cooking wine.) Then later in the afternoon I began my journey across the bay. I took a rush hour BART ride to downtown Oakland, a place I hadn’t been for a long time. I used to work on 21st and Webster at Pandora, that seems like so long ago now. I got off at the 19th St station and walked over to Duende, on 19th between Broadway and Telegraph. Well, downtown is getting even more upscale these days, it seems. This place is very yuppie. I asked about tickets and they said that the ‘bodega” would have them when they opened at 8pm. I needed to eat something, but I was not going to stay there. Not because it looked like bad food, it did look like good tapas, but it was packed and loud and I don’t like that sort of restaurant. I texted Greg and Kacey to see what they were doing before Victor’s show (Greg was playing with Victor later) but they were already on their way to pizza. So I walked around and found some nice Vietnamese food down near the city government area. A nice little place called Ma Me, where I got to sit alone outside on the sidewalk tables.

Eventually I made my way back to the show and there was a line of other non-ticket holders. When they opened, they had a total of 19 or 20 tickets, and ran out right before I got to the entry. Well, shit. Walking downstairs, I saw that the band were about to eat, so I said hi to Ben and Ches Smith (drummer, played on my Edgy Not Antsy!) and Nels Cline (and Ellery Eskelin, but I don’t know him actually.) Told them I couldn’t get in and I sort of expected some help here, but got none. “Can’t you tell them you’re a famous musician?” …um. Other non-ticket holders were here, and I saw Thomas Scandura, drummer from the Molecules (who recently got back together and toured!) so I went with him and his friends over to Make Westing, which is a relatively new hip bar nearby. I had a nice Sazerac! Which got me quite buzzed, so when they were going to go elsewhere, I decided to go back to Duende to see if anyone was leaving. I ran into Suki O’Kane there, coming from a rehearsal. I’ve worked with Suki on many musical projects, not the least of which was a whole ton of music for Theatre of Yugen, so it was great to catch up with her. Her husband Michael Zelner was already inside recording the show! We waited for a while and I went outside and got high, came back in and the door people finally pitied us and let us in to sit on the floor for the last few songs.

Unfold Ordinary Mind

Unfold Ordinary Mind

Now, I say songs, and they were, which may seem odd for what is essentially a jazz ensemble. Ben plays contra-alto clarinet, and he holds down the bass lines. There is no other bass instrument. Ches on drums, Nels on guitar and then two tenor saxophones, Rob Sudduth and Ellery Eskelin. They had chord progressions (sometimes more implied, of course) and verse/chorus… well, not all the time. Some of songs got pretty noisy. It was a beautiful array of tones, almost made me cry. Between a couple songs Ben very slowly introduced the next tune by saying “this next tune……I was talking with Ellery…..about the state of the world…..” etc.. He described the old days when our ideas of terrorism were people who kidnapped heiresses so that the dads would buy groceries for poor people. The tune was called “I Miss the SLA”. ( I doubt he’s aware of CVB’s song “Tania“) Anyway, when it was over I had to get over to the Starry Plough.

I was in quite a head space, with the absinthe of the Sazerac, etc. As I stood on the BART platform I started thinking about how people only think of their own lives as reality and never consider that they are part of a continuum of people that are alive through time. If people considered their highest goal to make the world or universe better for those that followed, instead of simply trying to make the best of right now, which ends up trashing the future… Was I indeed doing that? Is making music doing good things for the future? I certainly want to think so, but the current reality is that “music” ends up being easily erasable magnetic bytes on a hard drive. In a hundred years, the formats may not even be viable even if the information is still there. We are idiots. Like the current art scene as represented by the kids coming from art schools in the past 20 years, they’re all into digital art. I bet in 50 years, nobody will even have access to its viewing or experience. We look back at art as tangible, this tells us of previous cultures. Posterity will find no culture from this period. When Sanna was in art school here in Stockholm, the teachers essentially looked down on her for wanting to sculpt. Idiocy. What is Swedish art from the early 21st century? Well, we don’t know, it was all transient. What the fuck are we going to do? My friends Cid Pearlman and David King are choreographers. I’ve made music for them for the past 2 decades. David and I have had a long going discussion of the value of art versus the economic value of it, it’s especially significant for dance, an essentially ephemeral art form. Economically, however, to quote David “In an era of declining production costs for almost every consumer good, the live arts in general, and dance in specific, because they are not susceptible to digital or mechanical reproduction, maintain fixed and comparatively inflated costs.” This means that the economy of ephemeral forms is as much borne by the makers and doers, of course, especially in labor-hours! Well, anyway. I made it to Ashby BART and walked to the Starry Plough. Victor and band were already playing, Victor, Greg, John Hanes, and Alison singing some, and a bass player I didn’t know on upright bass. Who was really good! I saw my friends from Big City Orchestra and sat with them and had a beer. Nice way to end a long evening.

Victor had to work a bit and get ready before we could leave the next day to drive to Bishop. We were scheduled to play the Millpond Festival on Sunday at 2pm, it was a long drive. Yet another long drive, I’d been driving a lot lately! Luckily Victor took the first shift. It rained pretty hard in the morning in SF, but passed by quickly, so we didn’t think it would delay us. We drove to Berkeley to pick up John Hanes and Greg (dropping his car at John’s) and finally left town at about 3:30pm. We drove straight across the valley to highway 108, which claimed to be open. Of course as we got to the base of the Sierras, we drove on and discovered it was closed. Fuck. Due to snow. On the first day of autumn. This is weird. So we had to go back to Highway 49 and drive all the way up to South Lake Tahoe. I took over driving at this point, it was about 10pm. So we drove over to Minden, NV, and down Highway 395 in the middle of the night. A very odd experience, in and of itself. The only other cars on the road were cops or those being pulled over. We were supposed to stay at some cabins that the festival had arranged for us nearby up in the mountains, we found the road at maybe 2am, and started driving, but of course immediately lost phone service and had no mapping ability. We drove up the hill a ways, it started snowing, the road was icy… We turned around to go back down and make sure we were in the right place. Ok, that was the right road, but it was 8 miles up it. So again, we drove up and got to the icy road part, kept going and eventually found the lodge and cabins. Or so we thought. We looked around all over but it didn’t look like anybody was there. Bobby supposedly was already there. We eventually found cabin #3, our cabin, but there were only 3 beds and no running water or heat… so about 3am we gave up and drove carefully back down the mountain and into Bishop. Well, I guess a lot of people were stuck due to the passes being closed by snow in September, so it was very hard to find a room. We did, eventually, and finally got to bed about 4am. We were supposed to do a workshop at the festival the following morning, but we slept and David did it by himself, which was fine. He played a few songs and told stories about them, which he had done at his solo shows the previous year, and it made a great show. We finally got up and went to Schat’s Bakkerij for breakfast/lunch and coffee. Made it to the Millpond park for the festival and the weather was beautiful! Hot and clear skies! The mountain ranges lovely behind us.

the Eastern Sierra Nevada

the Eastern Sierra Nevada

at the Millpond Festival!

We played on the provided amps (I had one from Linda Ronstadt’s band, or so it was stenciled…) to a small crowd with several seaweed dancers on either side of the lawn area. We saw Bruce Licher of Independent Project Press (and Records, who had put out the very first Camper Van Beethoven album.) His press is around there and he had a booth at the festival. (Picked up a little royalty check, in fact!) After the show we all immediately packed up and drove away. Victor had to get back to work the following morning and he wasn’t gonna fuck around. I drove with Bobby in a rental car back to Los Angeles, back to a much better airport hotel this time. On the way we listened to Refused, which was really cool for me. They’re a legendary Swedish hardcore band (my wife saw them back in the 1990s) who broke up years ago (on tour in America, the opposite of CVB) but then suddenly had a resurgence of popularity a few years back and are back together now. Bobby was a huge fan and thought he’d never get to see them, then suddenly last year he got to work with a band that was playing with them. They’re intensely creative, especially for hardcore music. Their vocal style has transcended hardcore as well, for example, the singer from Meshuggah, one of Sweden’s foremost metal acts, sounds similar in his approach. We made it back to LA by about 9pm, my flight wasn’t actually until the following evening, so I slept late and went with Bobby and his (now-) wife (they got married the following week) to a local pub to watch football and eat pizza and drink beer. Not really my thing, but I didn’t have to be at the airport until 8pm or so. A night flight to London on Virgin Atlantic, which was interesting if only to see who the people are that fly from LAX to London. Unfortunately this time I had to switch from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 (which I hate) and it was no less painful this time: my duty free bottle of wine had had the receipt taken out by the guy that gave it to me at the plane in LAX, so they wouldn’t let it past security for Terminal 5. Fuck them. Terminal 5 is a mess of queues for everything, the whole of Heathrow is like an industrial park leading you into a shopping mall. Lots of missed flight or huge layovers, one or the other. So I waited around, ate dinner, eventually got on a plane back to Stockholm, which was delayed, got in at 1am to Arlanda and got a taxi home by 2am. Wiped.

___________________________

Back in Stockholm, it was time to actually move. It had also turned to autumn here, a nice crisp cool in the air. Sanna had luckily (for me) done a LOT of work prior to my coming home, so we had new Ikea furniture in the apartment and a bunch of our stuff from her parent’s apartment and our storage room. Our place is very new, it’s a new building, everything is very modern and white and clean. I’m a little frightened of that. Plus, I have to say, I don’t like living in apartments. I know people do it their whole lives and love it, and here in Stockholm pretty much everybody lives in apartments, but I have always felt claustrophobic in them. I grew up in a house in Davis, CA, lived in houses in Santa Cruz, and a shared house in San Francisco, then spent a decade in SF and LA in apartments… I never felt confident about practicing violin, for example, or recording. That’s maybe why I’ve been doing all my recording out in Grecksnäs in the summers, nobody is around at all.

We had a house in Oakland for 10 years… I told that story on this blog before… it’s gone now. And all that stuff is now trying to be put into an apartment. All that stuff I mourn that is gone must be replaced: studio stuff that was 120v, stereo, television… furniture, bookshelves, bed…yard. I went to Ikea with Sanna once before I left on tour to look and choose things and I realized suddenly why Ikea exists. We went to the original store, built sort of like the Guggenheim, circles of displays, then the furniture on the inner area. But here, everybody lives in apartments. Apartments, for me, imply impermanence. So the furniture fits that exactly. You don’t use old solid wood furniture anywhere but in a house. Most of the Ikea stuff is essentially disposable (and unsellable, as we found with what we had of it in oakland, there is no resale value to it.) So this whole thing made me sad, and now coming back, I was unhappy to have to physically move tons of shit. But move it we did, with the help of being able to borrow Sanna’s dad’s car and our friend Hanna and her truck (she’s a contractor.) The we drilled holes to mount shelves and lights, searched for other things on Blocket (the equivalent of Craigslist, but it costs money. It sort of sucks, but everybody uses it instead of Craigslist, which exists here also, but… well… it’s conditioning I guess.) I found a studio desk, then found a used version for cheap. Found a TV. Bought a new receiver. There are so many things we need.

Setting up the apartment is insane, and we had a ton of things to do before we could actually sleep there. So we stayed at Sanna’s parents’ apartment until even after the end of the month… it became sort of a Stockholm Syndrome (ha ha) situation where we were maybe scared to leave. I had bought tickets for a show at the Södra Teater, a place I had played with Victor and Eugene Chadbourne back in February of 2000… coincidentally also the second time I met Sanna… and the first time we actually talked, we went out afterwards and had a drink. Well, actually neither of us drank at the time. But we wanted to hang out… Anyway, this show had Gösta Berlings Saga headlining, with My Brother the Wind and Switchblade. Switchblade were heavy and slow, keyboards, guitar and drums with a projected backdrop of nuclear tests and insects and things. My Brother The Wind were spacey, improvised rock, one 45 minute piece, with more colorful projected films of lava and palm trees and mandalas. GBS, however, kicked ass as soon as they hit the stage. They sound amazing, odd chord progressions making angular melodic line, incredible players all around (I especially love the guitarist, Einar Baldursson. On a Gretsch with a Fender Twin Reverb.) The bassist plays a Rickenbacker and also bass pedals, a great combo to my ears. Fantastic keyboards and drumming that could split diamonds. Plus they had an extra guy who played Mellotron on a few tunes. Sanna had the second ticket, but Marlowe ran around like a maniac for too long and Sanna conked out and never made it to the show.

Gösta Berlings Saga at Södra Teatern

In the same week, Built To Spill were finishing up four weeks of European touring by playing Stockholm and then Helsinki. We hadn’t seen them since we moved, so we made sure to get some grandparents babysitting and went out for a night on the town. It was great to see them, we got there at soundcheck and hung out with Doug and Brett and Jason for a while, talking about life and ex-patriotism and child rearing. Then Sanna and I actually got to go to a restaurant together without child and then back to the show. A friend of hers who is a doctor now joined us, she said she came with many other doctors who were impressed that she knew someone who knew the band! She loved the show, was somewhat aware of the band previously, but I bet was going home to dig out the music again. I watched her enjoy the show and wondered what it must be like to see Built To Spill play not knowing the songs… I mean, I know them inside out by now, I’ve been listening to the band for almost 2 decades. Weird. Does it sound like guitars? Songs? Their amazing orchestration of tone is very evident in the live context, the three guitars never interfere with one another. But would a new listener notice? So then I joined them for the encore, we played a “new” song that I apparently recorded with them years ago in Austin, TX (I didn’t really remember it) and then covers of “How Soon Is Now” and “Cowgirl in the Sand”. Sadly, I think the Dagens Nyheter reviewer had left by then. Sad for me, that is, because I need some press in this town!

Built To Spill (etc.) at Debaser Strand.

Built To Spill (etc.) at Debaser Strand.

The we hung out for a while backstage, and talked about our jobs and families, which was the absolute most normal experience for me as that’s pretty much half my life, hanging out backstage, but it was great to know I’m not alone in having small children and touring and the issues with that. But was super funny when shy Swedish fans came backstage to talk and we were involved in breast feeding conversations… they backed off…we had to go and get them to say, sorry, we didn’t mean to ignore you! Also, being BTS, they were smoking pot backstage, which of course is as normal as eating. But not in Sweden. I had just read an article about Jimi Hendrix where Noel Reading was saying how even then, when touring in Sweden they were grouchy as there were no drugs. Sweden thinks of pot as a drug. Still! It’s classified as a narcotic. So the bartender came backstage to tell us not to smoke as they could lose their license, and then an “Ordningsvakt”, security guard guy who is authorized to use force apparently, came to get us to cut it out. He said it was dangerous and illegal and “even Justin Bieber’s crew got arrested when they were here” (implying, and you’re no Justin Bieber…) It’s incomprehensible to us Americans, especially us band guys, but whatever. Don’t want to end the tour being hauled off to jail! It was a fun ride back on the subway to the old apartment, and the next day we actually finally had enough things in the new apartment to live there, so we moved. The little one is taking it well, but it must have been a little shocking for her. She likes the environment in the apartment, it has a long hallway from living room to bedroom that she can run back and forth in. And now most of her toys and books are here. We’re only on the second floor, but I still am scared of her on the balcony.

OK, I have to go pick her up at preschool now. And then later head off to a rehearsal: I have two things coming up. One is that I’m playing with the Plastic Pals and Chris Cacavas this week, and the other is being part of a small Orkester playing music of Arnold Dreyblatt. And I need to try to get back into the language school so I can actually try to learn to speak more Swedish at my advanced age….

new apartment, new playspace.

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Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Music, Sweden, Touring, Uncategorized, Violin

September, the transitional month…Part 1

I’m repeating myself here from the previous post a bit, but so be it.

I’ve been meaning to catch up on blog-writing—my monthly entry!—to describe the last bits of touring for the year and the state of things in Stockholm.

I actually had some time off after Camper Van Beethoven played at Outside Lands in San Francisco in August, and spent almost all of it out in the country in Grecksnäs where my wife’s family has an old 16th century farmhouse near a lake. It’s my favorite place to be. My daughter is now 2, and she likes it there, but misses having other children around. This means a lot of playing has to happen… well, a lot of playing has to happen with Marlowe in general. So a lot of my time is spent with her, which is amazing. I always hear so much about how parental bonding needs more dad-time in general, and I’ve been out of work (except when gone on tour) since she was about 9 months old, so I’m an essential playmate for her. It’s incredible. Of course she gets mad and sad when I have to go on tour. And punishes me a little when I get back. But that’s the breaks.

Marlowe at play.

Marlowe at play.

I managed to continue recording a bunch of songs/music while out there… mostly during naptime. I guess I need to mix it this fall, but I see no hurry as I don’t have any label or anything to release it, and what’s more digital files in the world anyway. I’m ambivalent. I have always worked hard on recording music, I feel like it is a different art form than playing live and I see it more like spatial sculpting in time. I love doing it, and I make music that is as good as I can make it and in a way that I want it to sound. I guess I always wished that that would be enough, but of course when it’s finished I want everybody to hear it and appreciate it like I do, but I find that of course that is not the case necessarily. There is that “small circle of friends” who are interested. That is great by itself, but makes the process financially unsustainable. So here I am, yet another hobbyist musician, availing myself of the home recording technology! The home recording industry is booming! I guess that’s where we’re at these days. I hope you enjoy it when I’m done, I assume it’ll be at http://music.jsegel.com!

And I admit to feeling lost still in the real world as much as in the music world! I live in a country where I don’t speak the language very well and don’t quite fit in at all. And if you’ve read any previous posts about Sweden, you might catch the drift that we’ve been living with Sanna’s parents since we moved, which is slightly debilitating. It’s really hard to find a place to live in Stockholm, for many reasons. One is that everybody moves to here from everywhere else in Sweden, now there’s 2.2 million people, which the city can’t quite hold. They’re building up a storm everywhere. But, more than that, the last 6 years have had a right wing government who has privatized a lot of things, including most of the state-owned rental apartments. That means that they offered the apartments for sale, initially to the renters… who mostly couldn’t afford to buy them. So who bought all the apartments? Private companies. And do they rent the apartments out? Well, sometimes, but mostly they are trying to sell them for more money. So if you can buy, you’re ok. If you can’t, well, maybe you should go back to fucking Åmål. (See previous post)

There’s a queue system for getting apartments in the housing agency. You sign up and as the years go by, you get higher on the list. Then when apartments come available, if you’re up there on the list, you may have a chance if the people ahead of you decline or can’t afford it or don’t qualify or whatever. We’ve been pretty set of staying in Blackeberg where Sanna grew up, for several reasons. One is that there are about 10 preschools here, tons of kids, it’s a great place for kids. There’s also a lot of nature around, parks and also nature reserves, forest and lake. It’s pretty! Also, Sanna’s parents are here, so that’s great for Marlowe to have grandparents nearby as well. (Plus of course, most of John Ajvide Lindqvist‘s books take place here. We even tried to get the actual apartment that Oskar lived in in “Let the Right One In” but weren’t high enough on the list.) While out in Grecksnäs, we came into the top ten for an apartment in a new building in Blackeberg, and by hook and crook made it to the top few and waiting patiently (not) we called as soon as the top of the list was offered the apartment and their time to respond ran out and we took it! So our move in was supposed to be Oct 1, but the previous tenants moved by mid-month, so we actually got keys on September 16th.

It’s kind of expensive. I mean, for a big city, it’s not, I guess, but for us it is. It’s one bedroom, big living room and bathroom, medium sized kitchen, all in a line along the side of the building so Marlowe can run the length of the apartment back and forth. It’s new, which is weird (for me) but that means it’s a super efficient building, a passive-construction house where the heat is recycled. Many Swedes are used to the overheated winter indoors, I personally like a cooler interior in the winter; I grew up in California, you know, where we don’t really heat our homes well.

But I had to leave on tour again! Camper had to play our 9th annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-Out Festival (and I got to too) and then we had an additional festival in Bishop, CA on the 22nd of September. So I flown the Wednesday before the Thursday-Saturday Camp-Out, a strange flight on Virgin Atlantic, whom I hadn’t been on since actually being on Virgin Records in 1988 or so. A short hop to Heathrow, one of my most hated airports, with a layover in terminal 3, which is at least better than terminal 5, then a long 11 hours to LAX. I got in in the evening and had a horrid hotel near the airport, which took too long to get to as they had no actual shuttle. A tiny and weird room, so I walked down Sepulveda to a Ralph’s supermarket and bought some beer and then went to get some Mexican food. The next day when I got up, our tour manager Bobby came to get me. I had to drive the rental van with a bunch of gear out to the desert, as Bobby had to go fetch a second drum set and other gear. I very much enjoyed this. I lived in Los Angeles for a few years in the late 1990s and learned to love its incredible urban expanse. Driving out to the desert on a Thursday afternoon was pleasant! I stopped at the outlet mall in Cabazon and bought some slippers and some shorts. I got to the hotel in Yucca Valley, and strangely wasn’t allowed in until our manager got there with the actual, physical credit card. That was a little weird since probably 75% of their bookings that weekend were due to us having our festival in Pioneertown… But they eventually let me in and I had a huge suite all to myself. I could have totally partied.

David as Captain America

I made my way up to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace a little later that afternoon, again a lovely drive. The weather was amazing, clear and not too hot. I love Pappy and

Harriet’s also, what a weird place. The “town” was built as cowboy movie sets. The opening evening had acoustic acts indoors, or mostly acoustic. Johnny Hickman played first in a duo with Jim Dalton, whom he’d been recording with. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers played with drums and electric guitars as well… they seem to have brought their own crowd, people following them from Las Vegas on their way to San Diego. They arrived in a big black old bus. I’d never heard them before, but their fans were very excited to see them in a small venue like this, and they sounded good, sort of Tom Petty meets Allman Brothers. Some neat little pop songs and some major key jams. After them Johnny and David Lowery played an acoustic set. I certainly hope the Roger Clyne fans stayed, as it was pretty incredible. The sound quality was great, and their voices sounded low and strong, David played either classical guitar or a six-string banjo, Johnny played into Victor’s Vibroverb amp. Really lovely and intimate versions of the Cracker songs and a couple other tunes.

The theme for people to have dress-up fun this year was very odd. Friday was “Mexico versus Canada” and Saturday was Hawaii. I can’t explain that. Nonetheless, the next day was Camper’s night to headline the outdoor stage and people were dressed up in all sorts of ways, from looking like calaveras to mounties. Gram Rabbit opened the outdoor part (as always?), I missed them this year as I was getting ready. Camper played a decent set, though our drummer Frank Funaro has bad tennis elbow and was suffering. David dressed in American flags to offset the Canada and Mexico theme (I wore a red and white Adidas shirt and tried to get my hair into a soccer mullet.) In the indoor part, the Dangers played, then after the outdoor bands, Chris Shifflitt and then Victor Krummenacher closed the show with a rocking psychedelic countrified bluesy set with Chris Miller and Greg Lisher guesting on guitar, along with his normal rhythm section of John Hanes and Paul Olguin.

Victor Krummenacher band

After the show, Victor and Greg and I all hung out at the hotel talking with John and Paul at the hotel till they had to go because they had to catch planes the next morning.

Saturday, we got to wear Hawaiian shirts, which is always fun. We had our meet-n-greet signing at 5pm, after which I had a quick dinner ( I like the food there) before I had to play a set at 7:30. I have mentioned before that I have pretty much abandoned the idea of playing songs at this event due to the impossibility of rehearsal, so for the past few years I’ve just played sets of improvisation, guitar/bass/drums space rock stuff. Frank, however, didn’t want to play due to his elbow, but Cracker had a ringer there, Ben Mize, who had played with them a few times before (coming from the Counting Crows, I believe.) So I asked Ben if he wanted to jam! He was into warming up before the Cracker set, so we played a cool set for the dinner crowd there on the inside stage. It encompassed some interesting moments, we even veered off into a surf-rock area!

jam session.

After us, the bands started outside and the first was Jackshit, which is Davey Faragher’s band (original bassist for Cracker) with Pete Thomas and Val McCallum, some pretty renowned and amazing players ( I mean, Davey and Pete play with Elvis Costello!) They played country songs, for the most part, or rock songs in a country style. Incredible guitar playing, and singing and, well, everything. Also super tongue-in-cheek funny.

Cracker played their Hawaii set, opening with the Hawaii 5-0 theme song, Johnny as Jack Lord, David as… um. A thin Hurley? A surfer dude?It was extremely realistic, regardless. I could swear the hair looked like his own. They switched drummers from Frank to Ben and brought in Davey to play some bass. At this point I became mesmerized, and had a certain epiphany: seeing 3/4 of the original band playing things like “Low” and “Movie Star” in the very place where they had written and recorded the album (yes, they did that in Pioneertown!) had such an amazing historical resonance that the songs suddenly made sense in a way that they hadn’t for me since maybe 1995. It was like seeing through time! All in all, yet another great concert.

After them, Leland Sundries played inside, a folk-rock set, and then the end of the festival had Frank Funaro doing something all by himself.

When he got set up, he had a giant bass amp stack and he came out with a low slung bass and said “I’m going to play the entire Ramones first album, it should take about 28 minutes.” And then he stepped on the fuzz box and off he went. He played and sang then entire Ramones album from start to finish. Incredible! At the end he said, “that was a little easier playing it in my room.”

Well, despite a series of late nights (I mean, I was so jetlagged I had no idea what time was what) we had to get up early to play a noon show in North Hollywood. This was going to be an important thing, actually, a show at some place that was a gathering of Sound Supervisors from Hollywood. The idea is that, if they like what they hear, they would be more inclined to speak our name in the meeting with whomever decides above them that our music might be in some TV show or film. Supposedly. I mean who knows, but it’s definitely worth not sleeping much to do, as pretty much the only way a songwriter can make money anymore is by sync fees for film or television.

So once again, I was driving the gear van, everybody else in various cars or things. I never made it.

I left early and got coffee in Yucca Valley, got on the road. I made it as far as the rise leaving the valley past Palm Springs when the right rear tire lost its tread and the sidewall blew out.

Well, this rental van had some sort of coverage where they were supposed to send out somebody. So a few phone calls later, Bobby got the roadside assistance number to me, but when I called they couldn’t put together the VIN from the van with our rental contract (Ok….) So I finally figured out where the jack was and how to get the spare from below so I changed the damn tire there in the 95º desert. Which actually only helped for a little while, because after I stopped to make sure the air pressure was good for all tires, I got back on the road and a little while later, near San Bernardino, the left rear sidewall burst like a popping balloon! Well, now I was well and truly fucked, there was no way I was gonna make the gig. It was about 11am, and the show was over an hour away. So this time, I had no spare left and had to wait for somebody to come help. Bobby eventually got through to the van rental place and they claimed to send somebody out. I waited a while there in the heat, told the CHP officer that I was fine, he said “we don’t want you sweating to death out here.” Eventually I gave up and walked to the nearest exit. Got lunch and sat at a Starbucks to read a book. Eventually a guy called and said he was nearby with a new van, so he came to pick me up and we drove over to the broken van, where I had to load out all the gear, and put it into the new van (he wasn’t so keen on helping.) Then a tow truck arrived and then David and Velena arrived on their way back from the gig, they saw us from the other side of the 210. David said it went well, and that maybe my being missing was more interesting for the people there who all seemed to be interested in the idea of the violinist being broken down by the side of the road. It would have been truly funny if I had been on my way to a classical concert, or better yet, dressed as Mozart, while I walked by the side of the highway in the midday sun.

Anyway, now it was like 5 in the afternoon, and I had to go to El Segundo to once again unload and load gear (Bobby’s car had the gig gear, we had to switch so I could drive the San Francisco gear back to San Francisco.) Slightly after 6pm, I set off out of Los Angeles and drove until midnight to Victor’s house. I did not unload the van when I got there.

bummer.

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Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Music, Sweden, Touring

I like to kick! And stretch. And Kick!

Last year I wrote a blog about aging rock musicians. I was turning 49. Today I turn 50! Like good wine, they say, you know… it turns to vinegar if it’s not kept well. I always get depressed on my birthday! Something about the end of summer…

One other note that I have to add to the perspective on last year’s entry was made later in an article about Pandora and the internet-versus-”content creators” problems, and which is inherent to our current cultural climate, which is that the music scene is skewed toward the adulation of youth and bands make their entire careers happen in 5 or so years, before they realize that they can’t afford to continue, so they have to stop and the public focuses on the next upcoming thing. As David Graeber rightly states, this gives rise to a society of bullshit jobs, where we can’t support another poet-musician, but we can support another corporate lawyer.

Frustrating! I don’t even have a bullshit job right now! I’ve been spending the last year either on tour or being a stay-home dad, going to language school in Stockholm. The summer was great, we were out in the country (when I wasn’t on tour, see previous entries!) where my wife’s family has an old farmhouse, (lot of work actually…) but I got to avoid life for a while and actually recorded another dozen or so songs/pieces of music while the little one was taking a nap. I feel most useful as a human being when I am working on music. And I love recording, I love the sculptural process of recorded music. It is so unlike live music. Unfortunately, it has no value anymore, no exchange rate for food or rent.

So what am I going to do with the recorded music? I don’t know exactly. I’ll finish mixing stuff this fall. Maybe put it on Bandcamp, all of my other music is there: jsegel.bandcamp.com. 25 years of music! (my first “solo” release, Storytelling, came out in November of 1988!) I intended to make a compilation/”greatest hits” (or misses) album but apparently I can’t use tracks twice on two different albums, so I would have to upload again. Dumb bandcamp. I may still do this at some point.

As well, I’ve been playing with Camper Van Beethoven for 30 years now. We put out a new record last January, La Costa Perdida, and toured quite a bit in the US and Europe (see previous posts!) Nonetheless, my adopted country of Sweden, despite having loved the band previously and having many reviews in the daily papers even for our greatest hits records, passed on releasing this record. Nobody gave a shit. Not a good way for me to gain a foothold here as a professional musician. The truth of the matter is that, as Phil Ochs said, “outside of a small circle of friends”, nobody really gives a shit. The album sold poorly, apparently. And it’s really good! The label isn’t going to put out the next one, which we are nearly done recording. We recorded a few more tracks last month. It should be done by the end of the year. We’re not sure what to do about it, nor how to pay for it, nor if anybody will put it out. What a life!

So, aside from that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?

Here’s an upswing: after a year and a few month, we finally get to move into our own apartment this month. We get the keys in the middle of the month, though I’ll be in California with Camper Van Beethoven until the 24th or so. Anyway, that will be great, most of my stuff is in storage or closets or out in the farmhouse, it will be good to have all my instruments available and all my books. It’s really hard to get a place to live in Stockholm, 60000 people move here every year, from all over Sweden and the world. Also all these people are looking for work. I’m not thrilled about that part, I’m very afraid of the bullshit job scenario. In our 20s or 30s, those of us that live in San Francisco noted well the idea of having a dumb job so you could afford to continue to live in the city and party it up or whatever. That’s true here also, many, many young people are in the city to be cool. Luckily, they mostly haven’t discovered the west side of the city where we live. We live in Blackeberg, where my wife grew up. This used to be a very fucked up part of town, druggies and alcoholics, etc. But they closed the local state-run booze shop and cleaned shit up, and now lots of families have been moving in (which is one of the reasons why it was hard to get a place also. [*see below]) We have incredible big parks and forests and a short walk to the Mäler Lake. That and about 10 preschools. This is also where John Arvide Lindquist’s books take place, notably “Let the Right One In“.   In fact, our new place is right next to the bridge under which Eli the vampire hides in the leaves to ambush a drunk. Lindquist grew up here in the 80s, as did my wife Sanna, and the environment in his books is very familiar to her, of course. The preschool where our daughter is going is where the pool formerly was, famous for the last horrific scenes in the book and movie.

*Other reasons why it’s so hard to find a place to live here: besides the numbers of people and the quality of the environment, the current Swedish government is what they call “moderate”. This means right wing. One of their big things in the past 6 years has been to privatize the shit outta things. This is wreaking havoc on the postal service and the medical facilities, of course. Yay! People in Sweden are just starting to figure this out. They actually trusted that the government had their best interests at heart and would look out for them, and it’s only recently that people have realized that going to, for example, the emergency ward at a hospital is not going to get you treated right away anymore. What’s really funny about that, to me, is that people in the US always think that socialist medicine would create long lines and lack of service, but in fact the opposite is true: the wards must run according to profit margin, so the jobs of the staff are to turn people away if the ward is full now, not allow any more patients in! They can’t afford to hire more doctors to cover the amount of patients!

Similarly, the postal service has been taken over by private companies, and what do they do? They can’t actually afford to deliver the mail, so they close facilities and consolidate them to a larger local one, and mail takes longer to get there, or gets lost. In our area of Stockholm (the Bromma area) there had been a 3 week delay of mail last year. This is no big deal for most of the are which has a lot of immigrants, but also in Bromma there are a few rich communities, and boy were they mad. I had a discussion with a republican in California that I know, who thought that privatization of services like the post would lead to incentivization of service. Of course, the incentive to have quality service is second for any private company to their bottom line, that’s the reality. The quality of service suffers due to need to profit.

(A side note, there were recently articles in the paper about the discrepancy of wealth between Blackeberg and Södra Ängby, which is across one street from us. The average income here was about 228,000SEK per year, and there it was 680,000SEK. But, when they went to talk to the people about it, they couldn’t find anybody there to talk to, as they were all at work, only the people working on their houses. Here, they talked with people hanging out in the park, who loved Blackeberg. So there!)

So, to get to the point, in many parts of the city, the state owned and rented dwellings were all put up for sale… ostensibly to their occupants. Many people did in fact buy out their rental agreement. Most couldn’t, of course, so what happened? Private companies bought the real estate. And now they have control over rent, over rental units. And for the most part, they aren’t renting, they are selling. So the number of rental apartments dropped precipitously. When you want to live in Stockholm, you join a list made by the city, and you get in line. As the years pass, you go upwards in the line. Sanna was on it for 8 years I think, and we were in fact 11th in line for this apartment, but the people ahead of us dropped out, didn’t respond or couldn’t afford it, or didn’t qualify. I have no idea how we qualified. Nor how we are going to afford it, actually, it’s like 8200SEK per month (which isn’t that much by global urban area standards, like $1300.) I sent them some royalty statements and got a letter from Camper’s accountant about how much money I’ve made on tour this year, which is a few thousand dollars. Maybe they converted wrong. Sanna is a full time student right now, she started her semester today in fact. She gets money from the state for that at least.

Anyway, the new place is super modern and clean. It’s a passive building, it takes almost no energy to heat it. This makes it a bit cooler in the winter, which is fine by me, I’m used to Bay Area winter houses, where it’s fucking cold indoors. I think the overheating of indoors here when it’s super cold outside is weird. And it’s apparently very sound proof! On the other hand, it’s only 65m2, one bedroom, a big living room and a kitchen and bathroom. We’ll see. I hope to adapt. I never have liked living in apartments much, I can’t stand the other people around me. I feel very self conscious about practicing violin, for example. I loved having a house in Oakland, with a back yard and a garage. And all the stuff that we had, that somehow we have to acquire again, like furniture and a TV and stereo. And studio gear. So much money… I gave so much away when we left…

OK, OK, so I’m old. And a bit lost in the midlife crisis with no Ferrari to play with. It’s a nice day, and I’m going to go pick up my daughter from Pre-School and we’re going to play in the park for a couple hours. Then we go inside and Sanna claims she is going to make a slow cooked chicken for tacos. And I have a few bottles of PangPang Hökarängen IPA, which is possibly the best local beer around here.

Marlowe and I in the park. Sweden ain’t all snow and ice. At least not for a few months.

Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Music, Sweden

Post-tour driving.

Camper’s last show on this Southwest tour was in Dallas, and I got to drive Victor’s car back to SF. Victor’s Ford Escape was used on the tour as a second vehicle: the primary vehicle was David’s Chevy Suburban with a trailer full of gear. We don’t have a van currently. So I got to drive for 3 days by myself, about 1800 miles. Halfway across the USA.

I actually enjoy driving, especially by myself and especially when I don’t have specific deadlines. My goal was to make it to Las Vegas by the second night, and then SF the third. I drove out of DFW area at about 9am, after filling the car with gas and myself with Starbucks coffee and oatmeal. Out of the metroplex area, I headed to Amarillo on a two lane highway, and from there hit Interstate 40 which is the old Route 66. I usually drive pretty fast, but Texas scares me so I kept it at 80mph or so. I managed to get out of Texas as quickly as I could and head on through New Mexico.

I really like northern New Mexico and Arizona. If you have read this weblog diary recently, you will know that I lived in Tucson for a year in about 1975, but that wasn’t the beginning of the SouthWest obsession: my mom was really into it. I believe that before I was born she and my dad went camping around this area and bought various things (for example, I have a Navajo rug from then) and then when we were little, we went on long car camping trips every summer in the VW camper van, and at least twice camped all over northern Arizona and all over New Mexico, seeing Canyon De Chelly, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Four Points, Ship Rock, A zillion mesa and rock formations, even going into Utah to see Zion and Arches. And, being the early 1970s, my mom bought a bunch of silver and turquoise jewelry, which she wore ever after. I think my brother has it all now, but to be frank I don’t know anyone who would want to wear such stuff now! Also, I got a tiny Kachina of Lightning, which I kept around for most of my life. I think it broke in the move to Sweden. So I like this area. I like deserts. And rocks.

Indian City (not)

So I drove and drove, remaining fairly satisfied from a cup of coffee and oatmeal, ate some popcorn and drank massive amounts of water (I grabbed about 10 bottles from backstage before we left) and only stopped to pee. Since I intended to drive about 12 hours this day, I tried a “5 hour energy” drink at about 4pm. I read recently that this company was started by a Buddhist monk (!?) and they wanted to call it “5 hour Focus” but somehow the FDA wouldn’t allow that.

The Ford Escape is a hybrid, it takes about 10 gallons of gas to drive about 300 miles, so after Amarillo I needed to fill the tank again in Albuquerque. And I decided to eat there. First off, 5 hour energy seems fairly focusing. So long as you stay in the car. When you get out, everything gets very jittery. Or I was hungry. After getting gas, where the clerks were tattooed boys and girls straight out of Jesse’s parties in “Breaking Bad”, I went across the street to Taco Cabana and got a nice burrito. From more meth heads. Or post meth heads, who knows. I see why they based the show there in Albuquerque, a city we had always referred to as “the Mile-High Fresno”.

While eating, however, the storm caught up with me, and it poured rain. I made it back to the car and out onto the highway, and like any good desert storm, it dissipated once I got a few miles west of town. Unfortunately for me, it caught up we me again as it got dark, around Gallup, so I decided to stop, about 9pm, far enough, and got a really cheap-ass motel on the west side of Gallup.

Up fairly early the next day, I continued west into Arizona, after eating a big breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Let’s see how this compares to the previous day’s oatmeal. (Results: oatmeal wins.) I stopped at some roadside trinket stores, but did end up avoiding the big signed ones in favor of the small signs who were actually Navajo. In fact, in Indian Store they played the subdued Native American drums, while in the cool little store, they rocked the tremolo guitar jams, so I bought some things for my daughter there, and a small Kachina of SunFace for my in-laws. Sun Face seems like an appropriate Kachina for the Swedish winter.

Onwards to the next gas stop, Flagstaff. Flagstaff is a beautiful place, despite being in Arizona, it’s up in the mountains. In fact, the whole of Northern NM and AZ is pretty high altitude, and I wasn’t bothered by this (usually don’t have a problem with heat or altitude) so I don’t know what my problem was down in West Texas, where I felt logy and bitchy. The mountains here gets over 7000′/2100m, and the flora obviously changes massively from the deserts on either side.

Dash-cam!

Dash-cam!

Back into the desert, I cut north at Kingman and headed to Las Vegas. This is another nice two lane highway, but fairly crowded by people going to or coming from Lake Mead (water sports enthusiasts) or Las Vegas. Upon entering Las Vegas, I was trying to figure out which way on the highway loop to go to get to the exact opposite side, when I saw the cops coming to stop traffic going west, so I went north on the east side of town. The cops blocked the highways for a cop funeral procession that was literally several miles long. Very surreal to see the entire length of oncoming traffic with flashing lights. I went around toward North LV and got off to pee and head into town, and being that far north of the strip (where I was staying), I went over to Cowtown Guitars to check it out. I ended up staying there for about an hour playing an old Electro-Harmonix POG pedal, which they were selling for $300 (I did not buy it.)

I drove to the Luxor, where I had secured a room on Hotels.com for $34. Now, I’m not a gambler, nor am I into Las Vegas as a tourist destination, but I knew that for the price of a night in Gallup NM, I would get much higher quality rooms and food. Plus there is the fascination factor. Las Vegas is horrific, in many ways. It’s the most absolutely fake city on the planet, in fact it could be on the moon or Mars just as easily, and I find that fascinating.

I have been haunted by the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where the astronaut is on the space station and steps into a phone booth and has a video phone call with his daughter, on her birthday. I feel like that whenever I video chat with my family while I’m on tour, and here I was on another planet, a planet where the outside temperatures could only be sustained by humans for a short time before entering the airlock and going indoors.

Many people seem to like Las Vegas for its history as a mob-or-Howard-Hughes based casino resort. There is definitely nothing real like that anymore. In Baudrillard’s books after “The Precession of Simulacra”, he really takes on America’s obsession with mitigated reality, such as Disneyland. I think Las Vegas may be the best example of simulacra in our culture. The creation of simulacra precedes like this: you have something real, a thing or an event, which is limited in its presence, so a makeshift version of it stands in for it. After time, in the culture or society, the emotional and semantic weight of the thing or event is transferred to the stand-in, and subsequently the stand-in takes all of the meaning and becomes its own thing. Common examples include ritualized sacrifice, which is replaced by some ritual that alludes to it, whereupon the ritual become more important than the thing it stood for, whereupon the thing it stood for is forgotten entirely. Jaques Attali believes that all music comes into human culture this way!

So in Las Vegas, they expand the city and kill off the desert animals’ environments, and then make statues of the lost animals to represent the city. But this comes to be because the culture has normalized this route into itself so intrinsically: they have already built the casinos to mimic some other thing which people will go to to experience that thing (Mandalay Bay, New York, The Luxor, Circus Circus, etc.) It’s similar to the jungle cruise ride in Disneyland, for example: we once played at the House of Blues in Disneyland in Anaheim and were given ride vouchers, and on this ride I saw a mishmash of statuary and environmental iconography from place on the planet that I had actually previously been to, such as Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Borobodur, etc. Here it was as an entirely mediated experience, remolded for you without the actual environment, danger or sensation inherent to the actual place.

This time, I stayed at the Luxor because it’s a pyramid. It’s hard to find pyramids to stay in! Plus Sanna and I had stayed there once before about 8 years ago, so that seemed good.

Camper Van Beethoven has played many times in Las Vegas, starting back in the mid 1980s (See David Lowery’s notes on this here…) The first time there, we were on acid. I figured that was appropriate. It may still be. Recently we played the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay with Built to Spill (30 minutes! No longer than that!) and then at the Hard Rock Hotel and their Cafe. The Hard Rock really nails it with the Las Vegas sentiment, it’s like a mausoleum: this is where rock music came to die. They have holy relics on display in cases, the pants Mick Jagger wore in some concert in 1972, the shirt Jimi Hendrix wore in 1970. Some instruments famous musicians played at some point, etc. So, playing there, were we revenants or penitents?

Being in Las Vegas alone is much easier, I think. When you are with another person or people, you sort of feel obligated to have fun. Alone, I felt no such obligation and could just stare at people. Who are these people that come here? Nowadays there are whole families vacationing there, even in the heat of summer. Why? Why would they ever go here? Some families a reconciled that the adults simply want to get drunk in public (apparently you can carry drinks around wherever you go) some seem to be looking for some amusement park-style fun (there are roller coasters!) But it’s so incredibly fake! What on earth do the children take away from this experience?

I am a little anxious about gambling. I know that one chooses an amount of money to pay for entertainment, perhaps, and have done this in the past (Sanna and I actually won a couple hundred dollars at Roulette once) but for the most part I’d be more interested in just playing the longest odds available so that if I won it would be the greatest amount and I wouldn’t have to sit there playing cards or whatever. I never gambled this time. I did watch a guy play craps for a while, which was interesting, and I talked with an 87 year old man who explained how the game worked. Then he played and lost, and was unhappy, but I told him hell, he was 87, he’d already won!

I ate some so-so Italian food, I never found the good food I really wanted (previously I had eaten amazing Creole food with Victor and Alison at some place, and Sanna and I had had some great food at a French place… I think…) and then later found a new bar that was sort of a steam-punk place which actually had decent IPA, and I ate some oysters there. They had numerous single malts, but I haven’t really been into hard liquor much lately. My room in the Luxor was amazingly comfortable (they upgraded me to a suite for whatever reason, maybe cuz I had a zillion guitars to have the bell staff bring up to me) and definitely a good deal at $34.

The things I missed out on were apparently that in LV’s Chinatown are amazing restaurants, and the Neon Museum, which I would like to see. I am a little fascinated by the history, as represented in, for example, James Ellroy books, but I’m no mob history buff. I am more interested in googie architecture and the load of modernism that came with the post dustbowl exodus of Okies toward California. The LV neon is right up that alley. I love the confluence of modernism and jet-age into signs and architecture, it presents itself as a cultural irony to my eye. I wrote about this in a song long ago called “Strange New Fruit” about how the deviant artists create things that taste funny at first but as you get used to them, they become incorporated (ok, mediated, simulacra as well) into culture and you learn to like the flavor. Mondrian on cocktail napkins, Kandinsky in Ren and Stimpy….

The next morning, up and at ‘em, got the guitars into the car and headed out. This was July 30th, my daughter’s 2nd birthday. But they are 9 hours ahead of me, so it’s tough to get them online! I drove to Baker and stopped for gas in the Mojave Desert and tried to find wi-fi, to no avail. Drove on to Barstow, finally got a Starbucks, and called from the space station. It was 107ºF/42ºC outside on Mars there. We had an ok connection, not great but enough to talk to them! It’s so weird.

Then onwards, toward Tehachapi. We hit Tonopah (AZ, not the real Tonopah, NV) on the way out, then Tucson, and on the way through New Mexico I went through Tucumcari, so I felt it only right to hit Tehachapi on the way to complete the “Willin’ ” trucker’s route. On to Bakersfield, to the 5, then straight up California to the 580, and just like coming back home (when I used to live there), through Oakland and over the Bay Bridge. Back in San Francisco before evening. Then I had to give Victor his car back!

Altamont Pass and the Bay Bridge!

Altamont Pass and the Bay Bridge!

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Posted in etc., Touring

And the rest of the Southwest Tour!

And then… we left Tucson. The show was not as spectacular as it could have been, maybe the rest of the potential audience were across the street at the Rialto Theater seeing Rancid, who knows. Or, our audience’s kids were there and our audience had to go when it let out to drive the kids home. One cool thing was seeing some old San Francisco friends at the show, people I hadn’t seen in years. People that I bartended with in SF in the 1990s. Hey, also another co-worker from the same bar was at the show in Phoenix… is there something going on in Arizona that these folks are there now? Anyway, we had one more night at the Hotel Congress and then set off toward New Mexico. The next gig was in Pinos Altos, which is in the mountains above Silver City. We had tried to get a show in Las Cruces and ended up at the Pinos Altos Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House.

The Buckhorn Opera House!

What an amazing place! I guess they don’t get a ton of acts up here, but it was a beautiful old “opera house” with a saloon and restaurant attached. Silver City had a bus that shuttled people up and back so they didn’t have to drive, which was probably a very good idea. The stage was small, but sounded fine, tiny little PA. It was funny to play that close to one another. I noticed David stepping on his pedals at different times changing up sounds for his guitar much more than I had previously! The only problem with this gig was that we had to drive afterwards all the way to Deming, and the monsoon came. That was one hell of a drive. Very tough and late and we were all tired. I was starting to feel very out of it, by this point in the tour, tired in a way that wasn’t just lack of sleep. Maybe altitude, heat, fatigue.. I started getting a sore throat. The next day’s drive was another long hot one, all the way to Marfa.

I’ve never gone below Balmorhea into the Big Bend area, this was really the excursion that gave this tour the name “No Tour for Old Men”. I just couldn’t seem to wake up all day that day, and then we were sort of stuck at the bar when we finally got there. We were actually going to be staying in Alpine, 30 miles away.

This was part of the Viva Big Bend festival, which happened at many cities (Alpine, Marfa, Marathon and another…) simultaneously. I think it might have been better for us to play in Alpine, as most of the audience that came to see us came from there, actually (and were teachers at the college there… we’re still a college band!) After waiting around for a while for sound check (with the very cool sound man playing Jobriath!) I split and went into town for food. I met up with David walking around also, and we found a place called Food Shark or something like that? But the food was great, vegetarian bowl of beans and quinoa with avocado. But when we made it back we had sort of missed soundcheck. I saw many of the Judd Foundation galleries, but none were open. What a weird town: ranchers and art galleries. One rancher had made a fake Prada store next to the desolate highway into town, as a jab at the folks that come to Marfa for the art scene. We played with an Austin band called “Quiet Company” who were good, if somewhat generic. They had many songs that sounded *almost like* other cool songs, like Neutral Milk Hotel or things like that, but done way more slickly. The festival had all sorts of sponsors who were mostly weird alcohol purveyors, and we got a burlap sack with bottles of “Cinnamon whiskey” and “Cognac infused Vodka” and “Triple Leche Cream Liqueur”… which we all left in the back room.

One other thing to note is that this is where the character in the New Roman Times story comes from, as he says “Living in a town in Big Rio Bend”, and playing that song itself there gave me chills…

trying to find coffee in Alpine, TX.

Then we drove to Alpine, passing a still-very-happening venue right next to our hotel. The next day we attempted to find coffee and failed, drove back up to Interstate 10, then cut off through central Texas toward Austin. This is a very interesting area, there are German towns here with streets still named “zentrum strasse” and such. I wonder how they pronounce it there? Also Lyndon Johnson’s ranch is along that route, and Johnson City. It’s pretty, nice hill country. I took the wheel after Victor, but I guess I was still sort of out of it, as when we entered Austin, I cut off somebody in a very dangerous lane changing maneuver and everybody in the car thought I was going to kill us all. We were heading into town to play an instore at Waterloo Records, so it was David, Victor, Greg and I. We made it in time to set up and head over the the flagship Whole Foods store across the intersection for food. It’s quite a store, if you’re into Whole Foods. I’m not, really, due to the owner’s weird libertarianism, but I will shop there once and a while. Most of the food is good, I think?

We played a nice little instore show, Waterloo has been around for 30 years and so have we, we’ve played there since 1985! Our compensation for playing was a tshirt (yes, it’s a tshirt based economy!) and 25% off. I actually only got one CD, (Mind Spiders) I never remember what I want when I’m in the store. We signed things for people, they sold the new CVB CD for $9.99 (some sort of beer sponsorship going on here for the store to get reimbursed…) Then we drove over to the Mohawk Theatre, and outdoor venue on Red River. I’d actually seen things here before during SxSW a couple years back (I think I saw First Aid Kit here, strangely; strange as they are from Sweden.) The stage sound was excellent, I assume the mains were too. The sound guys were very top notch. I felt like shit when we got there, though and lay down on the couch in the “back stage” (an upper bar area) for a while. We played fairly early, 8:30 or 9, and the Camper show was a good one, I thought, with an enthusiastic crowd all around us, and on balconies beside and in front of us. Cracker’s set started well, but the clouds came and a storm was brewing! By the time they were about toward the end of the set list, lightning was starting, so they stopped and then the rain started for real. That was a very interesting breakdown and load out, a lot of waiting involved. When we finally got everything loaded, we were wet and drove over to the “Extended Stay America” over on 6th. I had actually stayed here before once with the Theatre of Yugen when we were workshopping some Noh plays that we eventually did as a cycle on 7/7/07 in San Francisco, so I thought it would be an OK place… but! They gave us rooms on the 4th floor, which was a smoking floor. In fact, it reeked. Not only did the hallway reek as soon as the elevator opened, but the room I was in (405, by the way) reeked in a way that I have never experienced a hotel room smell before. I went to see if I could change it, but no, we had purchased them via price line, so we were shit outta luck. When I say this roomed smelled bad, it was almost indescribable, like some weird mix of cigars and rotting vegetable. Such a reek, that although one’s nose can get used to many smells over time, mine never accustomed to it. Every time I would take a breath I was disgusted. I covered my head with a pillow and when it would fall off, I would be disgusted. I barely opened my luggage for fear of having things acquire the smell. Yuck!

Well, the next day, to make up for this, we went to an amazing cafe recommended by the sound guys from the previous night. Really good (vegetarian) food, I had sweet potato/pecan tamales and eggs, and their coffee was a mood enhancing drug. So off we happily went to Dallas, despite never having had a good experience in Dallas before.

awesome Austin food.

This next show, however, changed all that. We played the Granada Theater, and these guys knew how to run a venue. A crew of older dudes met us outside in back and were nice and helpful from the get-go. I know how you maintain a nice venue: you are nice to the bands. Then you have mutate respect. So this place was incredible, great sound, great crew, great lights. And one of the guys took pictures and sent them to us. They also provided us with BBQ chicken for dinner!

All in all an excellent end to the tour, the best show we’ve ever played in Dallas! Then Victor and I drove off toward DFW airport, where he got on a plane the next morning and I started driving his car all the way back to San Francisco.

Camper Van Beethoven rocking in Dallas

Camper Van Beethoven rocking in Dallas

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Touring
about.me
Jonathan Segel

Jonathan Segel

musician and composer

Jonathan Segel started playing guitar when he was about 7 years old. At about 10 he had a crush on a girl who played violin, so he thought he'd try that too.

Unfortunately he sucked at it.

That did not stop him, however, from later playing the violin in rock bands when everybody else played guitar. Sometime around 1983, while carrying a violin across the quad at Porter College at UC Santa Cruz, he was approached by some kids who had moved their band up from Redlands, CA. This turned out to be Camper Van Beethoven and the Border Patrol.

Well, what we didn't know then is that this association was apparently for life, as Camper Van Beethoven has now made records/CDs for the past ~30 or so years, and is still playing.

Through all the ups and downs of that band, Jonathan has continued to make his own records (../CDs/tapes/whatever... probably a billion of them so far) in a variety of genres ranging from guitar-based rock music to way-avant-garde electronic music and many other places in between..​.

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