Saturday, April 30, 2005

Repent, Walpurgisnacht

Andre and David Nemec, Walpurgisnacht, Prague, 4/30/05

Click to enlarge (hosted by flickr)

April 30th, and the witches' sabbath is upon us, Faustian bargains are being struck on the Harz Mountains in eastern Germany, bonfires are burning all over central Europe and NYC is an appropriately grey sodden mass of shadows...and I just received an email photo hello from David and Andre Nemec, my 2 Czech friends and brothers in arms who figured prominently in an actual Walpurgisnacht nightmare which swept over us outside Prague like inky tentacles, night's black agents, on April 30th 2002...Faust (Richard Mader, see my last posting) was part of this tale as well...but I will leave that story for another time.

One reader of my weblog has commented on the length of some of my postings; apparently it not being typical blog etiquette to wax so copiously in one go, said average blog communiques being more on the terse side. Oh well...I write 'em like I see 'em...just can't seem to write more of them fast enough. So I figure one long posting every week or so beats several shorter posts...any thoughts on that guys?

Philadelphia was an excellent gig for Gods and Monsters, I love taking these guys out of NYC to tread the boards and they just get stronger and stronger, Michael Schoen in particular has really come into his own as a singer and was breaking hearts right and left with his excellent rendition of our new song "Dream of the Wild Horses".

Tomorrow I'm off to the UK for what promises to be a busy week taking in and bringing forth music in London and Aberdeen Scotland...will keep you posted.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there Gary! I'm the owner of the blog Vintage Rock, and I must say I was quite surprised to find a link to my blog on your wonderful site.

I must say, I haven't boughten any Gods and Monsters CDs, but I do own a copy of Song to No One since I'm a huge fan of Jeff Buckley. I found it interesting to learn that you helped compose the music to a lot of his songs, most notably "Grace." You are a phenomenal musician and I'm very happy that you like my blog enough to link it. Rest assured, I'll be linking yours up here shortly and visiting often. I wish I lived in New York so I could see your band perform!

Thanks again!---Kristy Parker, real music lover

5/01/2005 2:12 PM  
Blogger Okir said...

Whether long or short, your reports are always interesting and provocative. I repent.

5/02/2005 12:11 AM  

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Prague-Rock and the Giger Gang Rides Again

Poster for Gary Lucas - "The Golem" performance in Prague, 4/13/05 | poster photo by Arjen Veldt

Gary performs "The Golem" at opening of "HR Giger in Prague" retrospective, National Technical Museum, Prague, 4/13/05 | photo by David Julian

Click on an image to enlarge (images hosted by flickr)

So synchronistic... check my early November blogs relating how Swiss avant-guitar slinger Gerald Zbinden, whom I was visiting in preparation for recording a duo album, sheparded me from his chalet on a mountain near Geneva into the valley (ahoy! ahoy!) of neighboring Gruyere there to visit the creepy Goth mansion museum of monster magus HR Giger, said Usheresque digs housing the vast Giger art oeuvre, a sprawling collection of nightmarish bio-mechanoid alien lifeforms in paint and metal and wood where, after supping one's fill on fresh horrors from the skull of Giger one can nip next door to the Giger Bar for a spot 'o alright (tea in my case).

Fast forward then to NYC's euro-eccentric Gershwin Hotel a couple months later where I was improvising a live soundtrack to Paris-based ex-pat erotic photographer Roy Stuart's latest gaudy gallimaufry, a DVD that comes with his new Taschen coffee table-sized opus "The Fourth Body", featuring elegant unshaven French women cavorting wildly without their clothes on in naughty poses (my music is featured in that DVD by the way)...I start rapping after the show with this intense guy I've seen around NYC on the fringes of other gigs of mine name of Les Barany, a landsman, a mad Hungarian-American Jew who (blammo!) tells me he's HR Giger's business rep...and I eagerly relate my recent escapades in Giger-land, how Gerald Z secreted his camera into the Giger Museum where such activities are strictly verboten to snap the shots of me lounging in front of Giger's cyber-monstrosities which I posted back in November... one thing leads to another, and I am invited shortly thereafter by Les to Prague to perform my original solo guitar soundtrack (co-composed with my childhood friend Walter Horn) to accompany a screening of the 1920 The Golem silent film in honor of the opening of "HR Giger in Prague", a three month installation of the Swiss master's works at the National Technical Museum (turns out that the Golem, the Gustav Meyrink literary variant thereof, is one of Giger's favorite touchstones in his art and sculpture).

So there I am in magic Prague, just about my favorite city in the world, on very short notice last week as the booking literally came through at the last minute, and I am housed in the ultra-swanky Moevenpick Hotel with a tram car to take you up the side of a hill to your room, the whole process taking anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes each day...but what the was a cool refuge with a magnificent view of Prague, which was very much in Prague Spring mode, 60 some-odd degree sunny days every day of the week I was there. And the exhibition opening drew thousands, posters for Giger were all over the city, and my gig attracted a packed house in the museum's movie theater. MC for the night was quite coincidentally my old friend Halka Tresnakova, an actress/scenemaker/dancer/performance artist of "physical theater" I hadn't seen in years, who once upon a time was part of my act in Prague at the Zelesna Club off Prague's Old Town square; while I played appropriate ethereal guitar fantasias Halka would dangle over my head upside down suspended on a rope and stick out the longest tongue anyone had ever seen at the audience (this is how the NY Times described said appendage when she came to NYC a few years ago with her troupe and performed her infamous rope trick).

The crowd for The Golem was filled with other old friends like saxophonist Vrat Brabanec of the Plastic People (whom I have jammed with many times, you can hear some of our improvs on the Free Flying album), the brothers David and Andrej Nemec and their fantastic mom Dana (a Charter 77 martyr who was jailed twice with Havel before the Russians split from the CR), the Giger Gang posse, a coterie of rabid collectors of the work who journey all over the world to take in various Giger shows (previous one was in Paris last fall), and assorted strangers who came up to me after the gig...which went really really well, got a standing ovation and they were cheering loudly when the film ended...strangers who said stuff like "I saw you play in Oxford at the Jericho Tavern in 1991" and "I booked you playing The Golem in Innsbruck in 1999"...what a great feeling to get feedback like this, to have these kinds of reunions with total strangers who feel they know me because of attending live performances of mine wherever I've performed over the last 15 years or so when I started doing music fulltime for a living...I've performed in about 18 countries to date...there are pieces of me scattered all over the globe, traces of energies from such shows I've given that live on, and once in a while someone comes forward randomly to relate that yes they were on that particular night, yes they remember the gig well, yes they caught the vibe alright-- connecting the dots and re-illuminating peripatetic trails I've blazed in the past, zig zag wanderer that I am...and this a very very good feeling indeed, kind of makes the whole thing worthwhile.

For instance on this trip I ran into Bovi, the self-styled "Child of the Plastic People" who I performed with at the Kitchen here in 1989 at a tribute concert to the Plastics that impresario/producer (Yardbirds et al) Giorgio Gomelsky mounted, and I had last set eyes on Bovi at The Loft in Berlin in '91 where Bovi had traveled from Prague to see me play at the Berlin Independence Days festival. Since then I'd not encountered him, but in the sweaty basement of the Futurum Club in Prague the night before the Giger opening I ran into him for the first time in 14 years, and what a fantastic story he had to tell, since last we met he had gone to jail, found religion, was freed eventually, made a fortune (in real estate!), and was soon to move to the Phillipines...and to reconnect with Bovi if only for a moment was absolutey magical, the kind of mystical experience I have had repeatedly in this particular part of the world, some of which I will relate in a later always feels like homecoming to me to play there as my roots are literally Bohemian (my grand dad on my father's side was born there), my family name was originally Lichtenstein before some immigration functionary at Ellis Island deemed it too foreign sounding and changed it to Lucas, and when I once related this story on the Czech Breakfast with Nova tv program before literally millions the host laughed and said "We've got a Lichtenstein palace here Gary, surely you must be a blue-blood!" I laughed and told him that when I cut myself shaving my blood was indeed red...sorry to disappoint!

That tv show was broadcast during the time I was recording The Ghosts of Prague album with Richard Mader a/k/a Faust. I went to visit Faust one evening in his studio in Dejvicka while I was there this time, and we had a sweet reunion, the guy never stops dreaming of new creative vistas, and I plan to work with him on a project this summer. In his subterranean studio I also met Jaz Coleman, an intense and funny guy, who was there with his Killing Joke band working on a new album. Prague is a hive of industry these days and is attracting the most creative individuals from around the definitely boasts a cultural scene to rival any city now.

I do really regret not being able to perform at the DG 307 concert my pal Pavel Zaichek was giving on Sunday, we go back many years (to the Plastic People tribute at the Kitchen in fact, where he jumped through a paper emblazoned with a Yonic symbol) but I did have to get home after all the revelries in order to rehearse my band as Gods and Monsters are playing in Philadelphia tomorrow at World Cafe Live...

And yes I did get to hang with Giger a bit at the Swiss Ambassador's house at a reception one sunny afternoon on a terrace of the embassy, with liveried butlers pouring drinks and offering canapes incessantly, Giger was there with an entourage from Switzerland and looking very much the eminence gris, but a charming smiling one with a twinkle in his eye, a guttural growl of a voice that fit the rude imagery of many of his paintings, and a certain shyness...and we spoke of Meyrink whom I also adore (I recommend strongly you check out The Green Face, my favorite book of Meyrink's after The Golem) and also my pal the Swiss artist Henry Meyer whom I have written of before, in fact a sculpted totem-bedecked chair of his resides in the Giger Museum in Gruyere on the top floor which houses Giger's own private collection of artists' work he collects. I liked Giger in the flesh very much (his beautiful willowy companion Carmen is also very cool), it is hard to reconcile the eldritch science fiction phantasms and howling bestial creatures red in both tooth and claw spewed forth from his dark psyche now haunting the Prague National Technical Museum with the kindly and charming demeanor of this world famous reclusive artist whose designs have mapped new landscapes of heaven and hell so intensely. Kudos to organizers Ivan Mecl, Alesh Suk and Katerina Reilly for their magnificent efforts in literally duplicating much of the contents of the Giger Museum in Gruyere in Prague thanks to loaners from many private collectors, and also thanks to the Prague museum's Jiri Zeman for helping promote the event so effectively. I was honored to be part of this dark carnival, it was quite awe-inspiring to perform in Prague again, to retrace and revisit my old stomping grounds and summon forth the spirit of the Golem once more there, a Prague homeboy if ever there was one.

Thank you Les Barany (and the sponsoring angel Dr. Zdenek Kaufmann) for making this dream a reality.


ps D Cals, a masked and anonymous member of the Beefheart Fireparty posse came up with correct answers to my last quiz (Street of Lost Brothers and Du-Tels for Mahzel and Ling Ting Tong respectively--though actually me and Stampfel never got around to committing Ling Ting Tong to a record, oh well, it was/is a staple of our live show) and for his quick response he receives a copy of my new Golem DVD.


Anonymous lodging in prague said...

Nice article,I enjoyed reading it...

8/16/2009 10:26 PM  

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Prouve It All Night

Was up at Yale, my alma mahler I mean mater, on Monday night, to see my old friend and former classmate Bob "Rocket" Rubin deliver a lecture and slide presentation on Jean Prouve (accent ecru), the modernist French architect and associate of Le Corbeau I mean Le Corbusier, hitherto uncharted mental terrain for most of us earthlings no doubt, Prouve (pronounced Proo-VAY, no accent mark on this computer) is not exactly a household word unless you hang yr hat in the stippled cement halls of the Yale Art and Architecture Building which is where Bob's lecture took place (well in the airless basement, Hastings Hall, to be exact--where I remember seeing Robert Mitchum and Dick Cavett in actual corporeal reality 30 some odd years ago at a Yale Law School Film Society Robert Mitchum retrospective, whose centerpiece was a screening of Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter, a great oddball scary experiment in expressionist Americana, that one). And Bob (Rubin, not Mitchum, who prouved to be the strong silent type) gave a superb talk, low-key but punchy nonetheless with a strong element of iconoclastic humor which he further leavened with lots of slides of French gas stations designed by JP, a Tin Tin cartoon showing the little tow-headed Belgeois sitting on a Prouve (rhymes with duvet) designed chair, and much more, while upstairs in the main gallery resplendent one could marvel at the miracle of an intact actual Jean Prouve pre-fab metal house, the Prouve objet trouve, nearly fully assembled which Bob, leading the revival in all things Prouvey and groovy, plucked from its Congolese home in dusty downtown Brazzaville, where it sat for many a year in utter desuetude, a neo-colonial artefact bereft of a benevolent caretaker...until my boy Bob stepped in. Now thanks to Bob's restoration efforts (he shipped the "house in the jungle" off to Paris for some grinding and polishing that swapped the grime of the tropics for some politesse francaise) one can behold the thing-in-itself, in all its holy glory-- one of only 3 Prouve houses ever constructed!--and can gawk at its shiny metallic purple armor I mean splendor and eye-popping facets (multiple porthole-like windows f'rinstance, not that far afield from the facade of NYC's trendy Maritime Hotel). The whole shebang should be fully assembled and out on the greensward abutting the Yale A&A Building in a few weeks time to coincide with the start of New Haven's famed tropical hot dog night (or perhaps it was the Vernal Equinox)--so sayeth Master of Ceremonies Dean Robert Stern, no small shakes as a master builder himself, and it was he who personally introduced my friend Bob to the packed, sweltering throngs (the temperature in the hall was appropriately tropical, yet Bob kept his cool throughout, a born bon vivant who by the way was wearing an incredible bespeckled bespoke silk shirt with polka polka polka dots, the absolut objective correlative to Prouve's poker-chip po-mo design). Oy vey (rhymes with Prouve), objective correlatives indeed (Yale English Lit Dept. jargon which I thought I had jettisoned 30 years ago comes 'a creeping back).

In summation, miss this exhibit at your peril! Definitely worth schlepping up to New Haven for!! Kudos to Bob for throwing light on such obscurantist architectonic treasure, an aesthetic impulse I share in lovingly recuperating musical diamonds-in-the-rough like The Five Keys' "Ling Ting Tong" (and come to think of it, it was Rubin who first hipped me to this early paean to reefer! "I smokum boo-dai-ay"... well, not no more) and The Ravens' (Les Corbeaux) fabulous "Mahzel Means Good Luck" (quiztime, boys 'n grrrrrrls: which ensemble I play with covers the former and on which Lucas album does yr truly cover the latter of these sacred touchstones of the living tongue-jive? First one to email the correct answer to wins an expensive hand-tooled day-glo copy of my new Golem DVD).

And boy was there some party afterwards at Dean Stern's magnifico loft overlooking the New Haven Green and the ramparts of the Old Campus (Free Bobby Seale!) A convivial concatenation of architects, art historians, academics, aesthetes and artistes (my old friend Don Shambroom, one of the finest painters of my g-g-g-g-generation was there, alongside Mark Lyon, a photographer/chronicler of la belle femme parisienne who has been my go-to guy in Paris for some years, and another ami ancien who I hadn't seen in awhile, Fred Iseman, an intellectual tummler of Falstaffian proportions, with his lovely companion Kate). Jean Prouve's daughter was there too, looking absolutely radiant now that her papa's legacy was on the ascendant thanks to my friend Bob Rubin. And I met some fascinating folks and made some new friends. Food was good too.

Now I gotta go play the guitar...


ps. forgot to mention ex post facto that in the crowd surrounding Gods at Monsters at SXSW in Texas a couple weeks ago was Big Mike, the benign major domo of Complete Music Services, my favorite rehearsal space in NYC, which I was first introduced to by Lou Reed,,,and also Pat Fulgoni, superb vocalist and leader of the UK band Kava Kava who sang "Procuress from Karmelitska Street" and another toe-tapper on my Ghosts of Prague album, recorded with my friend Richard "Faust" Mader in the Czech Republic mid-90's. Sorry guys!

also, just got some great pics of our SXSW gig taken by Julia "Ice Cream for" Crowe and will relay them over to webmistress Tanya who should boot them up in no time, keep watching this space... [Done, see the photos below! --Tanya]

lastly--I am soon to embark on a journey to London to clock the Cream reunion at Royal Albert Hall, also Van Der Graaf Generator's reunion at Royal Festival Hall later that week (met Peter Hammill on my first trip to London in '73); also to perform solo acoustic in London and Scotland; and also to meet with a couple of my favorite singers (a man and a woman, guess who) who individually fronted two of the greatest art-rock-dance bands of all times, and who collectively now lead a formidable new music project...

Gods and Monsters Rock SXSW, The Drink, Austin Texas, 3/19/05
Click on a photo to enlarge | (photos hosted by flickr)

photos above by Julia Crowe

more photos from SXSW...

Gary, Michael, Jason, Joey, and Ernie (Billy not visible)

Gary, Jason, Ami, Joey, Billy and Ernie

Gary, Jason, Ami, Joey and Ernie

Gary, Ami, Billy and Jason discuss the meaning of life overlooking 6th Street, Austin Texas


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