Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fast On the Draw

...and draw we did on this European Fast 'N Bulbous European tour from which I write you perched in a chair at the computer terminal in the lobby of the good old 4 star Hotel Josefshof in dear old Wien (my 4th or 5th stay in this cozy little gem of a hotel, quite near the Opera ring, I first came here in '96 in sub zero degree weather with my then driver Eric Don to play the Porgy and Bess Jazzclub solo, we got lost looking for that joint and picked up a friendly hitchhiker named Norbert who helped us get our bearings and delivered us to the club..wouldn't you know that that same Norbert turned up at our riotous sold-out show at the Amsterdam BimHuis last Friday night replete with the Gary Lucas t-shirt I had given him in thanks for his friendly assist---something I love about this touring life over so many years is running into various characters from various phases/highways and byways of my career--from different epochs almost-- for whom my live shows are primal memories still...primal enough to compel them to seek me out in the corporeal flesh for repeat performances in different guises some years later)...

Gary Lucas in London 11/16/06

Gary Lucas outside London Jazz Festival gig, 11/16/06

Gary playing with Fast 'N' Bulbous, London Jazz Festival, 11/16/06

photos by Vic Singh (legendary Pink Floyd photographer) | Click to enlarge

Suffice to say that our opening gig at Pizza on the Park for the London Jazz Festival was also sold-out and kicked off this tour in a big way for us, audience luminaries included Brian Hopper (Hugh's brother and composer of the Soft Machine classic "Joy of a Toy"--Mike Ratledge's fuzzed-out psycho-organ on this a big influence on Jerry Harrison during his stint in the Modern Lovers, it turns out), also Vic Singh, the genius photographer responsible for the first Pink Floyd album cover, who snapped madly away during our set and then did some solo portraits of me out on the Knightsbridge streets by Hyde Park south; also a bevy of Fireparty people from the crazy word of Beefheart.com; various debs and toffs in evening dress who looked like they had wandered in off the streets direct from the flaming drawing rooms of Belgravia to check out what this "punk-jazz thing" was all about; Caroline's old friend from UEA Scottish madman John Stewart and his missus plus sidekick Alan; Fred Barnes and Max Cross from my UK label Side Salad bearing the gift of my brand new spanking Gods and Monsters album "Coming Clean" with them in its spiffy Universal distributed incarnation (note picture of the 9 year old Gary on the back--hey my album's received 4 star UK reviews in MOJO, Uncut and Record Collector, to date!); ace writer/Beefheart biographer Mike Barnes and friends; Some Bizzare heavyweight Stevo and the lovely Yuliana Galitskaya and their galpal friends, a fetching female punk singer and the tres exotique French/Italian catalog executrix from Warner Jazz Florence Halfon, Caroline and I partied with them afterwards at Stevo´s invite at the exclusive Met Club down the road apiece and then wound up in a coffee bar in Soho at 2am-- very Expresso Bongo) and fans old and new ("I saw yer in 1980 at the Venue! in Penzance! at Royal Festival Hall!") (which time?)...we really kicked hard and heavy-lifted the bandstand and what a splendid venue Pizza on the Park is, a beautiful and elegant watering hole and boisterous boite indeed, special thanks to David Jones, John Cummings and Sarah from Serious for flying us in (and hey our show was listed as the #2 Pick of the week in Time Out London in the Jazz and World category!)...

Click to enlarge

Amsterdam was something else! PANDEMONIUM TOTALE, happy days toy town vibes reigned 'oer me, Dutch fans mobbed us, so many many old friends including the aforementioned Eric Don and Norbert, the fabulous Co de Kloet who produced a live taping from the show for broadcast soon on NPS national Dutch radio, BimHuis supremo Huub Van Riel who booked us into the spectacular new Movenpick Hotel a hop skip and a jump next door to the new Bim, a hotel so fine that classical music plays 24/7 in the corridors (Debussy´s Sonata for Flute and Harp was billowing forth when I checked into my comfy and well-appointed 17th floor aerie with impeccable view of the Amsterdam harbor), nu musik photographer Arjen Veldt, avant-pop muso Pascal Plantinga, old friends and music lovers Bas Andriessen and Laurent Sprooten, we sold out of our Fast 'n Bulbous cd really quickly during the first set prompting a frantic call during the interval back to Steve Feigenbaum at Cuneiform in the states, who called me back when I was onstage during our second set, cell phone went off just as I was finishing my reading of the Van Vliet poem "Untitled" (whch I read on the last Beefheart tour in 1980, alternating with "One Man Sentence"--this time I alternated our Fast `N Bulbous sets with "Hollow Smoke") and I took the call and relayed our CD-less predicament to Steve telephonically, holding the handy up to the mic to relay his astonished comments while onstage to much merriment and howling from the punters, giving them a naked-lunch view of the avant music biz up close (where you see what`s on the end of every fork)--what a fantastic night!! Sold 27 of my own cds there (beating the group sales by 3)--I LOVE THE DUTCH--and still had some left to flog (caveat emptor!) the next evening in Bern (a great gig courtesy of my old friend Hans Ruprecht, hung with him and his lovely wife Marianne Adank next day for brunch at their art-encrusted manse on the hill, then hooked up with Swiss avant-guitarist Gerald Zbinden who is preparing our duo cd for release soon, and drove out with him to his chalet overlooking Gruyere where his lovely wife cooked my fave spaghetti bolognese...mmmm good, had this 3 times in 2 days this week it is the perfect touring food), hung with fellow avant jazz travelers pianist/composers Anthony Coleman and Matt Shipp, and double bass/guitar whiz Joe Morris who were thee to play Hans's Taktlos Festival with us and then yesterday Phillip, young Jesse, Dave (our newly bearded "Old Man of the Mountains"), Joe, Rob, Richard and I were driven 10 hours yesterday to Wien by our ace driver Christian in a super comfortable van (for a change!) through the fabulous Arlberg mountain range in the Tirol which offered breath-taking alpie, snow-covered vistas, mountains dusted like powdered sugar sprinkles, after which we pulled into Wien and I dined on schnitzel and spaetzele with my friend Viennese graphic designer Martin Teifenhalter), and hey we just got our shipment delivered of more F 'N B CDs from Steve and Cuneiform in the hotel here as I write, more product to push, we play Wien this evening, then Schwaz tomorrow near Innsbruck--and then we crashland in fantastic Ljubljana Slovenia for our last show on Thanksgiving (now be thankful...)

I'll take you there...




Blogger Almbrauser said...

Hello and best wishes from the "short" evening at Schwaz and don´t forget: if u want to try skiing, call the EREMITAGE and the two guys in the corner.

11/26/2006 3:16 PM  
Blogger Gary Lucas said...

thanks almbrauser, i'll definitely take you up on this next time!


11/26/2006 6:22 PM  

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bondy...Egon Bondy (Who--Could IMAGINE???)

"Egon Bondy's Lonely Hearts Club Banned" was the first Plastic People of the Universe album I heard (and the first one they actually recorded) after moving to NYC in the spring of '77, when I was immediately taken with the band's intense, dark atmospheres that drew much upon the music of Beefheart, Zappa, the Velvets and The Fugs, adding a particularly Czech overlay of ironic, mordant humor suitable for these hard case/head case surrealist dissidents in permanent opposition to the prevailing rock orthodoxy of the time (here as well as there, then as well as now). Bondy was a renegade Marxist wordsmith who provided texts for the group and functioned as a kind of totemic figurehead for them for awhile, along with artistic guru Ivan Jirous. And the more I heard the more I liked..when Yardbirds manager/producer/impresario Giorgio Gomelsky invited me to take part in a tribute to the Plastic People in 1989 he furnished me and the other musicians with a lot more music of theirs to dip into... At the tribute we mounted at the Kitchen that fall, I met their longtime saxophonist Vrat Brabenec who was then living in Canada, and also PPU fellow travelers David Nemec (whose mother Dana was one of the original Charter 77 dissidents, along with her friend playwright Vaclav Havel, who both, like the Plastic People, wound up in jail for a spell for their thought crimes)...also the poet Pavel Zaichek, who led a Plastic People offshoot group called DG 307 (the address of a famous interrogation center in Prague under the Russian dominated Communist regime there prior to the Velvet Revolution)...and Bovi, a self-proclaimed "child of the Plastic People" who I ran into wandering the streets of Prague one evening a year or so ago when I was over there performing The Golem at the National Technical Museum...

Anyway all this is preamble to say that last night capped another exhilarating week of music making in NYC as my avant-punk supergroup Gods and Monsters (featuring the full force lineup of Jerry Harrison, Billy Ficca, Ernie Brooks and Jason Candler) were privileged and honored to play before the Plastic People in the Knitting Factory mainspace--and what a great night for music it was!

David Byrne, Gary and Ernie Brooks backstage at the Knitting Factory NYC, Gods and Monsters/Plastic People show, 11/13/06

Vaclav Havel, Jerry Harrison, Gary, David Byrne, and Ernie Brooks, Knitting Factory 11/13/06

Jerry, David, Gary and Ernie, Knitting Factory 11/13/06

Gods and Monsters get serious at the Knitting Factory, Plastic People show, 11/13/06 (Jerry Harrison, Gary, and Ernie Brooks--not pictured, Jason Candler and Billy Ficca)

photos by John Bentham | Click to enlarge

Vaclav Havel, Jerry (behind Vaclav), David, Gary and Ernie, Knitting Factory 11/13/06

photo by Frederic Foto | Click to enlarge

Backstage at the Knitting Factory, Gods and Monsters/Plastic People show 11/13/06 (Jerry Harrison, David Byrne, Gary, Ernie Brooks)

photo by Davy | Click to enlarge

Gods and Monsters played a high energy set in front of a nearly full house (a blessing, considering it was pouring outside, and a Monday night to boot)--and we left the stage sweaty and satisfied to multiple shouts of "encore!" after letting rip for a full hour...and we were graced by the presence of both former Czech president Vaclav Havel in the audience, who came back to greet us in our dressing room, along the new Czech ambassador to the UN, Martin Palous--and also my friend David Byrne, whom I had dined with at Indochine earlier in the week after hearing him sing beautifully with the cool Brazilian-influenced group Forro in the Dark at Joe's Pub (great band, with Smoky Hormel on guitar--and with Miho Hatori and Bebel Gilberto also sitting in)... Havel looked healthy and vibrant... David always looks fabulous, a super-friendly, super-positive and down-to-earth guy with a great sense of humor... David had jettisoned his customary bicycle at a nearby restaurant when the heavens opened up to make it on foot over to the Knit to see us play, and he was extremely laudatory about our set backstage (and now I'm blushing)...and we cracked each other up trading stories about touring in Russia, and elsewhere...

The Plastic People then played their customarily intense set, and I was invited to join them on the last number "Magic Night" (which we had opened our 1989 Kitchen Tribute with...and which I had performed in DC at the Czech Embassy for a concert of my arrangements of Czech Classical Music a couple years ago--the music of Mala Hlavsa and the Plastic People fits in well alongside Dvorak, Janacek and Smetena!), which was a beautiful moment as I joined acoustic bassist/mgr. Ivan Bierhanzel, Vrat Brabanec, lovely electric bassist Eva and the other guys to whip up a maelstrom of sound onstage, and the people in the audience went mad for it, including Giorgio Gomelsky and playwright Tom Stoppard, who's resident in NYC now and whose play "Rock 'n Roll", which I've written about in earlier blogs, makes the Plastic People central, albeit offstage, protagonists...and web mistress Tanya Weiman and her guy, Iris Manzanares and her guy, Paula Amato and Sarah Hoffman, plus lots of folks who had traveled great distances to make this show (band members as well as many in the audience)--and everyone went home BUZZING :-)

Earlier in the week my old friend Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye and I had put on a tribute to our recently departed friend the writer and cultural iconoclast David Walley at the Bowery Poetry Club...David wrote the first and still definitive biography of Frank Zappa and the early Mothers entitled "No Commercial Potential", as well as a biography of the great tv surrealist Ernie Kovacs, and various other tomes of cultural/musical reportage and commentary, and he was an old friend of Lenny's from their Rutgers days, and of me from my earliest days in NYC...and Lenny and I rocked out on double guitar versions of some choice Zappa songs from his monumental "Freak Out!" album, including "Trouble Comin' Every Day", "Who Are the Brain Police?", and a particularly piquant rendition of "Help, I'm a Rock", where we were joined by Jason Candler on alto sax and several members of the band who went on before us, their pedal steel player offering a brilliant version of the Roy Estrada Pachuco falsetto harmony for our take on the song...Lenny brought some gorilla masks and we also did a choice rendition of the Nairobi Trio's classic "Solfeggio" routine from the Kovacs show (go to Youtube and punch up Nairobi Trio and enjoy the original!)...and David's old friend and former Jazz and Pop editor Patricia Kennealy Morrison (yes the same Patricia Morrison, who had married Jim Morrison in a Wikka ceremony) read some of Jim's unpublished poems...and David's friend editor/literary agent Michael Dorr and NPR journalist and writer Mitch Myers (who was at the Knit last night, hi Mitch!) read poems and paid tribute with reminiscences of David's abundant generosity. warmth of character and particular genius...and his widow Gelli and kids were surprise guests who has come down from Maine for this...this was the first time Lenny and I had actually played together since talking about doing so in 1973 (at the first--and only!--International Rock Writers of the World Convention down in Memphis) and hey, if it took only 33 years to finally accomplish, it was totally worth it--Lenny is a soulful and beautiful guy, and we plan to do more playing together...

Speaking of soulful guys, my pal Alexei Pliousnine the avant-Russian guitarist was in town and I also did a duo set with him the Bowery Poetry, he was formerly the artistic director of the SKIF Festival in St. Petersburg (please check out my "Russian Fireworks" DVD of solo guitar live at SKIF available at garylucas.com) and now leads to Apositia Festival there, wanted to do more playing with him Lukas Ligeti, Frank London, Daniel Carter at Tonic on Sunday but had to beg off for family reasons...anyway I'm off with Caroline in a couple hours for London with Phillip Johnston and the Fast 'N' Bulbous crew to play the London Jazz Festival both Wed. and Thursday night...then it's Amsterdam at the BimHuis, the Taktlos Festival in Bern Switzerland (hope Marianne Adank and Hans Ruprecht make it to that one, I know my Swiss guitar playing partner Gerald Zbinden is due to show all the way from Gruyere), the Porgy and Bess Club in dear old Vienna, the Eremitage in Schwaz nestled in the lap of the Austrian Alps, not far from Innsbruck...and we finish in fantastic Llubljana Slovenia, one of the most beautiful cities in the world...have to dash...see you soon I hope!



ps. Check out these great new clips of my friend Elli Medeiros live on French tv with her band here.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"To a New World of Gods and Monsters..."

...was the line fruity old Ernest Thesiger (Dr. Praetorius) delivered to a neurasthenic Colin Clive (Baron Frankenstein) in James Whale's 1931 laff-in-the-darker "Bride of Frankenstein" when he proposes joining forces in the giver-of-life "We Can Build You" sweepstakes (clan Thesiger, pronounced Thigh-cigar, a venerable old British aristo brood, Caroline went to school with Kim Thesiger and Wilfred Thesiger's memoirs of early explorations in the mode of Sir Richard Halliburton--an actual distant cousin of Don Van Vliet!-- is a real page-turner/required reading)..."Bride of Frankenstein" s'where I copped the moniker of my longtime band in 1989 when we blew up the PA at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival in Propsect Park at our debut (thanks to Luaka Bop's Yale Evelev for hooking that one up, and in fact, conjuring us up out of the swirling mists of time, as it was at his instigation I put the group together in the first place to play that festival)... Bill Condon's "Gods and Monsters" film (based on an excellent book by Christopher Bram) also went to that cinematic well in their depiction of the last days of the late great James Whale (great flick, Ian McKellen was so good--everytime this runs on cable I give thanks for its ever so useful function in reminding folks of my band--a real momento mori)...but yes I was there first on that Gods and Monsters tip, and over the years forced the band to mutate, beginning as jazz-rocker instrumental aggregate with two basses, then began writing actual songs, brought in singers, rappers, scratchers, poets, poseurs...and Jeff Buckley...kept the thing oiled and functioning and purring over the years and now with our best batch yet lineup of Jerry Harrison, Billy Ficca, Ernie Brooks and Jason Candler this IS the best batch yet...

and we proved it all night at the CMJ Festival last Saturday night, despite a late start due to a technical malfunction (haha) of the Bowery Poetry Club's audio snake (don't ask) the guys plus special guests Felice Rosser on vocals for 2 songs and trombonist Joe Hendel delivered an outstanding set that was recorded by our US label Mighty Quinn for an upcoming DVD and live CD release next year...

really, it was a stellar show, place was PACKED, and we played for an hour 45 and the crowd STAYED AND DEVOURED, Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow was there and he and Carol Harrison cut a mean dirty boogie conspicuously out front to the strains of "One Man's Meat" at the close and then we rocked and socked 'em in the encore at Jerry Roche's behest with 2 choice covers of some of our pedigreed group's dirty laundry in the form of Jerry singing the Modern Lovers "She Cracked" which we melted down nicely and we finished with a ripping rendition of Television's "See No Evil" which sounded kind of Middle Eastern wih Jason making like a snake charmer in a souk and me glass-fingering the fuck out of the main riff (a variant of "Over Under Sideways Down", I always thought...)...there was even a little Syd homage in the form of "Astronomy Domine", the 1992 studio version of which is a bonus cut on the French edition of "Coming Clean" just out over there on Productions Speciales...the UK version on Side Salad/Universal is just out this week too, with some different bonus tracks too from both the French and US versions, seek and ye shall find...lovely Iris Manzanares and her guy Pierre from the French European Union UN office was there, Cineaste editor Richard Porton and Pakistani pistol Shaista Husain were there too (go back a few blogs or 2 to the September 25th post titled "Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" and dig the cool pictures of Gary's gang at various shows, better late than never in getting these pics up), lovely Singaporean Lina Khoo was in the crowd, ace publicist Paula Amato and friend Sarah Hoffman too, Jerry Roche and his posse of 15 iron men (set up a lovely green room beforehand down the street for us where I was filmed playing steel guitar soli), Steve and Ruth Hendel were there loving it, special thanks to Chuck Fishbein of Norah Jones/U2 vid fame and his lovely wife and crew for filming it and also to Liberty Ellman for recording it, to Bob Holman and the BPC for having us. to Matt McDonald and CMJ for booking us into the festival, now I have to split as we're recording at Loho Studios in Loisaida today with Jerry Harrison producing for our next studio album, up next a rilly big shew at the Knitting Factory on Monday with the Plastic People from Prague, I love these guys and have jammed with them before here and in Prague, place should be jam-packed with illluminaries, see ya on Monday night...




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