Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Ost, the Ghost, the Most Holy Owed

Come Sunday and just back from Osterreich to what seems the endless summer in NYC, weather also fair and blue-scryed throughout while on tour last week and on holiday before that, as it's been most of the summer ('cept for the chill of Bruxelles in July--and what's the new maryjane/latest alarum 'bout the threatened break-up of the ancien regime du Republique Belgeois?), balmy beneficent blue skies following you wherever one rambles or foreboding shape 'o things to come hovering 'oer the land Independence Day stylee in the sunshine daydream form of global warming/warning (the other side, the clarion call siren song of "the ice caps are melting"--literally an area 9 times the size of California evaporated slid off and died apparently over the summer at the Arctic Circle , a rather sobering wake-up statistic encountered way back 'o page one last week, somewhere)...anyway I always wondered what the lyric "enjoy yourself, it's later than you think" really, really meant--first encountered as a happy bromide on a piece of barked shingle in someone's basement rec room in the early 60's, replete with cartoon image of un-Coppertoned half-naked beach bathers frying painfully in the noonday sun... later as the hook of the mighty pop song--sentiment meant innocently/cheerfully enough in the Doris Day version, could also connote fiddling while Rome burns on the dark flipside under the lens of ironic scrutiny, yin-yangish bittersweet symphony that's life...

Was over there firstly to play at my pal Martin Tiefenthaler's 50th birthday wing ding at the Atelier Tiefenthaler, an incredible complex of disused factory buildings he and some 30 artist friends of his bought for a pittance back in the 70's and converted into a gated domicile in the suburbs of Wien, complete with central courtyard, garden, large roomed apartments and studios, even an indoor archery range atop one of the buildings where Martin's cousin the painter Fritz Ruprecheter works out his zen archery moves...Martin is a longtime fan of my work since the Beefheart days and first contacted me a couple years ago about the possibility of playing his party, so here I was marveling at the size range and space of his quartier (really nice guest quarters with a bucolic view of an old church and country environs down the road), max'n and relax'n the first day enjoying the fine friendly company of his wife and daughter and friends, sleeping the jetlag away and then giving it my all last Saturday evening around 9ish after a feast of lapin and thai soup and wurstl (actually I passed on the rabbit and went for the sauscisson, as always, on request--but really, as it was pointed out, what's the difference?) I played an intense solo set, then schnapps and sacher torte and fine convivial banter amongst the guests and so to bed...only to awaken relatively early and drive into central Vienna with Gipolinna Martin's step-daughter to the Porgy and Bess Jazzclub, where I played the European premiere of my "Sounds of the Surreal" silent film project in Europe--first commissioned by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 2000-- to a very warm reception from a surprisingly well-attended house, surprising as it was Sunday afternoon and like summer outside, "Monsters from the Id" followed and went over very well too (a PG version--hey, this was a Sunday matinee), Klaus Totzler from ORF was there who filmed a portion of playing to and reanimating the ghostly wraiths writhing on-screen (Rene Clair's "En'Tracte" and Fernand Leger's "Ballet Mecanique" both from 1924, and Starewicz's "The Cameraman's Revenge" from 1912 in the first half, clips from Polanski, Bava, Harryhausen and much more in the second) and conducted an interview too for broadcast the next day on national Austrian tv which plugged my Wels gig...some fans had industriously downloaded and burned photos off my website for autographing, got lots of nice positive feedback from the audience afterwards, and felt really happy about my 2 weekend shows...

Hung later with Austrian record impresario Christoph Moser and his girlfriend Birgit Baldauf outside the incredible Hotel Furstenhof (Vienna's Chelsea) where I was ensconced for 2 days r and r thanks to the Porgy's Christoph Huber...over which time I attended a listening party at Mathias Ruegg's sumptuous flat on the invite of my old friend Eva Salfellner, Matthias is the leader of the legendary Vienna Art Orchestra, a swinging accomplished neo big-band, who just recorded an album of jet-propelled Strauss Waltzes which sounded immaculately amazine, met avant-reeds man Wolfgang Pusching in the kitchen there as well who was once married to avant-vocalist Linda Sharrock (Sonny's beautiful ex as well, check the cover of "Black Woman"), and a bunch of nice time Birgit and I went back to Porgy and Bess to catch Dienstag, the new ensemble of Christoph Dienz, bassonist, zither player, sound organizer, composer, and the former leader of Die Knoedel the Austrian volkisch avant gardeners--really cool concert, the whole week was such a lovely musically uplifting experience and friendly time (dinner with Klaus Totzler and his family on the last night as well, what a great cook)...did an interview on my last day there with Alexander Mclean, a far-sighted and sensitive journalist and creative designer who is working on a book of interviews with a wide range of musicians entitled "Under Your Skin"...

then it was off to Wels on the train, I've always love that mode of transport best in Europe...and a concert that night at the Wels Stadt Cinema with my 2 film projects, and a solo acoustic set at the end...beautiful setting, I love to play in old cinemas as you longtime blog readers well know! And this space was spectacular, from the 1920's but plus and somewhat refurbished...Warm crowd, beautiful reunion with the organizers from the Alter Schlachthof, my friends Peter and Wolfgang who've been operating this cultural hotbed of Wels for years, I've played there 3 or 4 times over the years and always have a ball playing there, special thanks to Christian Danzl and Marieke Pieters for hooking it I do everytime I play anywhere in Austria for that matter (and I'm planning to crack open that Sacher torte I got as a departing gift from Martin with some champers any day now to rekindkle the gemutlich...)

then it was home again, finished the Library of America's Kerouac anthology on the Lufthansa flight home--what a great book, the perfect tome to initiate readers into Kerouac's splendid weltanschaung/word-jazz...just getting over my jetlag, Caroline a definite sight for my sore eyes, and about to start another spate of rehearsals and recording and writing and performing and...and...


"That's my life..."



ps first reader who sends me the correct answer to the following question wins a personally inscribed copy of my Tzadik album "Street of Lost Brothers" (from whence "That's My Life" can be found):

Who plays guitar on Little Walter's classic single "Roller Coaster"?

Answers to


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