Yesterday offered up a whole host of musical riches.
I have a confession to make. I was meant to be playing at an impromptu cafe concert at Bora Bora alongside Gustaf Llunggren, Tony Garnier, Grant Lee Phillips, Sylvie Simmons, Jim White, M Ward and a lovely nameless Swedish singer. Such was the wealth of talent and so underprepared was I (no guitar for starters) that I bottled it and reduced myself to the role of saving seats for Folmer and babysitting the lovely nameless Swedish singer's 5 year old; a charming little fella apparently named 'Move On'. Anyway, I can't tell you how much of a chump I feel this morning for missing out on the opportunity of sharing the stage with those warm and wonderful folk. The highlights, amongst many, were Gustaf's introductory guitar pieces - it was great to see this brilliant accompanist finally taking centre stage - Jim White's two atmospheric contributions which conjured up a Wim Wender's world somewhere between Paris, Texas and Florida, (where he was ably vocally assisted by the sirens: Sylvie and Jim's lovely fiancé Megan). I also swooned a little at Sylvie's delicate presentation of a future classic that I remember only as 'Dancing'.
Every picture tells a story:
I had dinner with Sylvie where she entertained with tales of her colorful rock 'n' roll past. Fascinating first hand stories of Springsteen, Cohen and the pantheon; the struggles that she had getting her Serge Gainsborough Biog published, a biog that she's now so reluctant for Amazon to exclusively host that she's mischievously tweeting the book daily as a riposte. She also talked about her book of short stories 'Too Weird For Iggy' that Iggy Pop forced her to retitle because he thought it 'too weird'. Then as she walked me back to my show she quoted me verbatim, extracts from her new short stories that she's hoping Howe Gelb might put music. I love the lady; she's a coiled spring, a feisty nugget of benevolent nervous energy who has so many strings to her bow that I'm not surprised that she's chosen to focus and simplify her musicality on the 4 strings of her (not so beloved) uke.
I then legged it down to the Voxhall where Howe Gelb 'The Godfather of Alt Country' was presenting 'Way Too Much Light'. Howe's musical curiosity knows no bounds; he's famous for his cantankerous approach to performance; throwing wild cards and curve balls at his band to see how they pass muster. I was intrigued to see how he would extend this questionable courtesy to his venerable guests: Grant Lee Phillips, Allan Olsen, Sylvie Simmons, Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, Yasmin Hamdan and M Ward. Howe's house band were his own Giant Sand who also form local band, the brilliant De Soto Caucus. I'd had a drink with the band's leader Anders the previous night after 'rehearsals' for the show. I could see that he was exhausted and just a little frustrated at having to arrange and coordinate a structured day for the performers, overseen by this mischievous Prospero (Mr Howe) who famously sees rehearsal as 'the enemy'.
I missed the encore of Cohen's '1,000 Kisses Deep' believing Howe when he promised the previous offering as the last of the night. I'll leave it to Sylvie to sum up the evening:
"What a great night. Looking at the clock, this must have been just before we went onstage for the first half. We ended three hours later at 12.30 am and stayed up another three hours afterwards and yes, there was alcohol, so I have a sore head this morning. 'Bewildering brilliant'? I'd say that was the perfect description. And no-one - no-one! - could top the encore version of Thousand Kisses Deep in bewildering goodness. How many people were on the stage? I was clamped between a viola and a mandolin and could barely move my head to see who was making those glorious sounds behind and around me. Guess I'll have to wait for the video!"