Friday, April 21, 2006

Da Da Da!

Gary, Sasha Cheparukhin and Jim White of the Dirty Three make the nice at Goldenmask Festival, Moscow)

Gary, Jason, Ernie and Billy catch fire at the Goldenmask Festival, Moscow, Russia, 4/15/06 (not shown: Jerry Harrison)

Gary reaches for the sky at Goldenmask Festival, Moscow

Billy Ficca and Ernie Brooks, Gods and Monsters rhythm section supreme, Brestkaya Club, Moscow, 4/13/06

Jerry Harrison, Gary Lucas, Jason Candler, Ernie Brooks (not shown: Billy Ficca) rock out at Brestkaya Club, Moscow

Gary and Jason do the do, Brestkaya Club

photos by Ekaterina | Click to enlarge (hosted by flickr)

So where wuz I, oh yes, holed up in the Youngster's Hotel, a probable youth hostel once upon a mattress, but plenty of grizzled elders were observed being hoisted up the twin Odd and Even elevator banks (you had to go down the lobby first and cross over to the Other elevator bank each and every time if you were on say an Odd numbered floor in order to get to an Even (odder) floor, and vice versa, and versus vice, there was no other way forward my dears), grinning babushkas on the way to some corporate blow-out up in the 2nd floor banquet hall probably--this here hotel with its red white and blue spangled 24 hour Casino adjacent to the lobby on the outskirts of ruble rolling Moscow was where my stellar little big band Gods and Monsters reposed and regrouped each and every night, a bemused Jerry Harrison with spiffy new Nord keyboard rig in tow along with his lovely wife Carole (they'd been to Moscow before on some Green Peace thingy, the other guys in the band were extra virgins to the man) and honestly to recuperate all the mental shards and splinters of frenzied experience accumulated over the last week on this peaceful Sabbath evening taxes my usually pristine powers of recall, I know that we slammed out an incendiary device, an infernal machine of a rockshow every night which was A-OK (Rocky Aoki) by us as nothing binds and holds a group together so much as an enforced playing regimen (and Roto-Sound strings, of course), first one up in Moscow was at the Brestkaya Club where a gaggle of fans who had caught my Moscow Golem gig last summer turned up and went away absolut-ly beaming, my Russian label chief Exotica supremo Andrey Borisov was on hand too plus several Greenwave super-luminaries making sure we had everything we needed to have a good time wid, including big man Big (pronounced Beeg...and he was, oh, about 6 foot 4)...and Yes I said Yes we were Loaded for Bear, and did maken melodiya that sent hands a'clapping and tongues a'wagging and shutters a'snapping and feet a' dancing and finished our set way late and then had a little band party up in my room after hitting a gournet supermarket around 2am, the group stocking up on more goodies and savoury comestibles, all checking the view from my 17th floor aerie in the rosy glow of job well done, a vista looking down on an endless Moebius strip of highway all winking lights and sonorous cars purring and prowling the eternal Muscovite night...

Next day the gang went off to...where, exactly? the Cosmonaut Museum maybe, dunno, me I been there done that to death all over the globe and don't much cotton to touristic rubber-necking anymore thank you very much...(grrrr, crusty old curmudgeon am I, sometimes) (not always) what'd I do to pass the time? Good question.

Kibbitzed in the Russo-faux-Eyetalian hotel restaurant for hours maybe with some of the other yanqui artistes there imported for the big wingding Goldenmask Festival throwdown that was the major festival gig the whole shebang hinged on (more or less), you see we had been imported as part of very special New York Night at the Goldenmask Festival and along for the lig was lovely Nina Nastasia ( exquisite singer/ womanchild, a hint of the dark places surrounds her slightly Barbara Steele-ish visage, one of the late John Peel's favorites in fact) and her very amusing sardonic amanuensis/enabler Kennan Gudjonnson of Socialist Records (great label name)... also, my old buddy harmonicat croaker croaker court bullion Wade Shuman, who I first hooked up with on a Joan Osborne "Relish" session in '93 or '94 where I was press-ganged into arranging Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me" for Joan (and of said song's lyrics, truer words were never spoken..."bring me my night shirt baby, put on your morning gown"...or maybe it's supposed to be "mourning gown"...anyway, I always prefered Junior Wells' version to Sonny Boy's, as heard on "Chicago, The Blues Today! Vol. One" on Vanguard which me and my high school running buddies used to use as an aural adjunct to various crimes and misdemeanors committed cutting classes communing instead in the cemetery classroom north of Nottingham HS..."goodbye old man, good bye..."). Wade blew a fine harp on my Du-Tels album with Peter Stampfel, "No Knowledge of Music Required" (you got that right), and sat in with Gods and Monsters a coupla times in the last decade at least, now he leads next big thingers Hazmat Modine various members of which were also in and out of that little pizza boite throughout the duree...

Anyway there was a big cock-up about the drivers who were supposed to come early to the hotel and fetch us to the fabled Goldenmask Theater for our soundcheck (one can only recall Don Van Vliet's surly riposte to repeated imprecations to hustle him out of whatever hotel bar or coffeeshop he was cosily situated in in order to perform this venerable rock ritual: "I DON"T NEED MY SOUND CHECKED!")...but alas, they did not show, for hours...were instead "caught in traffic"...or "involved in a 4-car accident, well, it happened right in front of them so they will be delayed another half hour" (good one!)...well in any case we made it over to the theatre several hours late, group on my back as it cut into valuable sight-seeing time waiting for hours in that "Exterminating Angel" set of a lobby, I was particularly steamed about this too (the nerve!) but did it matter in the end? It did not. After chilling out on some splendid borscht and palmeni (with lots of dill, much to Carol's peril as turns out she's allergic to this particular herbe dangereuse) at the behest of lovely Golden Masquers Masha and Dasha we hit the stage flying and the audience went BONKERS...a bevy of Russian beauties (sharpdressed boys and girls) sprawled and lounging before us on divans and chairs and on the floor in this largish bedecked and bedizened theater space were importuned to get off their luxuriant butts and shake 'em, and so they did (yeah!)--and we kicked it up another notch BAM! and Jason my dear Jason who I would dub the mascot of the band in so far as he's the youngest embodying the very essence of what I'm trying to get across musically (das energi flying through a field of psychodaisies) was soulfully soaring on sax from the get-go, getting mucho applause probably as much for his soulful look (Russian-Jewish heritage will out) as his playing, Ernie was well into his patented why man-esque come-hither bass strut, Billy was pummelling the skins with arms a blur and sticks a flyin', Jerry was shooting out shimmering rays of penetrating Nordic-Celtic hypno-beams... and me, I was totally in the vortex, the calm epicenter of the hurricane, riding the whirlwind ...(or something).

We came we played we triumphed and then we beat it on down to the downstairs bar for vodka swilling pastry scarfing convivial meet 'n greet, after which I sold a whole bunch of cds to the volk upstairs, made a good new friend of big-hearted sensitivo percusssionist Jim Black of The Dirty Three who was playing with Nina (Jim's a transplanted Aussie who lives now in Williamsburg, his group frequently work-out with my man and early-on collaborateur Nick "The Stripper" Cave), signed autographs aplenty and schmoozed with the fans (sounds like fun, but as The Streets put it in the title of their new disc, "The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living"--believe it)...repeated this operation on the morrow at the funky dirty sweet Chinese Pilot club (best gig of the tour by a long chalk), Sasha C. showed up to emcee (did a fine job of this too at the Goldenmasker- raid, situating our band on the cusp of punk and psychedelia which is not too far afield from the Truth, pace JB) and partied down lamf as did Andrey B. and his radiant wife Irina (a director of Ren-TV, one of the major Russki tv networks) and we made a whole bunch of new friends that night (special shout-out to Olga and Katerina and their crew and especially Greenwaver Kate Ivanova who was so helpful and sweet throughout, Dad's a major pop music producer there with quite a studio complex housed in an old theater), Nikita Kalashnikoff showed, gave us his blessing and his patented Kalashnikoff spiel, we tried out some new numbers on the crowd ( lots of repeat fans armed with Sharpies, and new instrumental "Chinese Auto-Pilot" proved a real toe-tapper) then we went off to a party at Goldenmask Theater director major domo Edward's pad, a lavishly upholstered joint oozing kultur, wealth and taste, an afterhours affair with such a heady atmosphere as to render one fully operational once more into the breach dear friends, and an actual wedding occurred mid-soiree, a hitching of Sasha's pal Valodya to his Thai sweetie (well, a ring exchange around 5am more precisely), totally catered and congenial it was, and awe and on till the break of dawn Moscow's peepers be tight shut wan sunlight streaming through plate grass windows and so it was Sunday and we careened out of there in our van, driver'd been cooling it for hours waiting for us while we rooted about upstairs unfair I know should have caught brought him some grub Larry David style coulda shoulda caught some shut-eye too but no peace for the witty and so we rallied and rolled out into that good night one mo' time and I mean ROLLED and ruled the roost at an even dirtier sweeter joint called the OGI Club where they danced to our tunes like crazed marionettes with the strings cut Petroushka-style and we didn't stop partying till a few minutes before we had to catch our flights back home musta been around 10am we hit Sheremytova Airport no more black caviar on sale at the duty free no more dammit all fished out apparently 'cept for the Red eggs, and my ears are still ringing needles pinging angels singing love's old sweet song the song of the dawn a song of Mother Russia (the far side of para-dice) and mama, we're all crazee


(cue Paradise...)


xxxLove and Sputniks



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