Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Up and Atom in Lisbon and London

We're back from a sybaritic 10 days of v-a-c-a-T-I-O-N in luscious Lisbon, my new favorite watering hole, ironic as Portugal is beset with severe drought right now, but though a haze of smoke from encroaching out of control brush fires was visible in the distance on our last day on the beach at Costa Caparica it did not deter Caroline and I from immersion totale in sun and fun and oceanic rapture there... and in Cascais...and in Guincho...

Fast 'N' Bulbous, Lisbon, August 2005 | Click on an image to enlarge
l-r: Rob Henke, Joe Fiedler, Richard Dworkin, Jesse Krakow, Phillip Johnston, GL, Dave Sewelson | photo by Jason Candler

Gary and Dave Sewelson | photo by Jason Candler

Sound check, Gulbenkian Foundations open-air ampitheatre | photo by Jason Candler

Fast 'N' Bulbous forward march | photo by Jason Candler

Gary and Jason Candler, Cascais

Gary and Caroline, Guincho Beach

(photos hosted by flickr)

Ostensibly I was there to do a gig, closing out Lisbon's annual Jazz Em Agosto Festival with the sound and fury of Fast 'N' Bulbous, but me and the missus piggybacked some well-deserved and needed quality holiday time on the job and hey the whole week was like a non-stop carnivale despite an early snafu when Lufthansa misplaced my guitars during the connection in Munich (air route over was NYC-Munich-Lisbon, go figure--well it was a free ticket) but I kept my sangfroid as this kind of thing has happened before, many times in 15 years of constant touring, with transfers and non-direct flights and obdurate airlines which is why I have my geetars insured for 10 G's each thank you very much...and I've (heh heh) collected...so what me worry, which was exactly the mode 'o day (apologies to R. Crumb) and indeed both my Strat and Tele (both vintage '66 and sea foam green) did eventually turn up at the hotel on the first night when I got back from band rehearsal (we haveta do this--hey it's always a good idea to rehearse anyway unless you overdo it and then it's strictly re/hearse-- because although Jesse Krakow, Joe Fieldler, Rob Henke, Dave Sewelson, Richard Dworkin and I all live in NYC my co-leader Phillip Johnston relocated to Australia last year so we don't get together too much now en masse 'cept right before the gig, same with the Magic Band as we all dwell in far flung corners of these United States)...still the late arrival of my guitars necessitated a substitute Strat for the rehearsal...must say the Festival folks were extremely nice and helpful in providing one and pretty much anything we needed throughout our stay which stretched into 10 glorious sun-drenched days in my case...although they didn't make with the cosmetics for young Jesse who likes to mascara his eyes and rouge his cheeks for our gigs to go with his fetching green fingernail polish and pumpkin orange shorts (very much in the Beeheartian tradition) so Caroline dragged his ass to a mall before our set and purchased a bunch of garish face paint and then made him up while we sipped Sumol the refreshing Portugese softdrink in the lobby (shameless plug, this stuff is gooood) and then we were whisked to the Gulbenkian Art Museum not too far from our hotel to blow our brains out before a large crowd of jazzbos and curious thrill seekers in an outdoor Roman amphitheatre set-up with what looked like pop-art palm trees (real ones though) swaying majestically in rhythm behind us, it was a balmy tropical hot dog night, no lie, a good omen, stars were twinkling the vibe was happening the air was nice and hot and humid but not too much and I wore my white suit onstage which i hadn't donned since the Venice Biennale a couple years ago--

and in the audience were several dear friends who had driven 7 hours down from Grenada Spain to see us: my old pal mixmaster supreme/recording engineer par excellence Harold Burgon, who recorded some of my best sounding Gods and Monsters tracks ("Skin the Rabbit" and "Astronomy Domine") at Elephant Studios in Wapping Wharf in London about 20 odd years ago (very odd years) and who I hadn't laid eyes on since, and who is one of the most fantastic totally optimistic people I know, a mentor and an excellent engineer who's been really revving up my latest Gods and Monsters tracks, he was there along with his new protege Greg Byler, a compelling and fresh young singer/songwriter from Pennsylvania with whom I recently recorded with here in Jack McKeever's studio The Maid's Room on the Lower East Side (hi Jack!)...with them were 2 gorgeous young ladies from Oporto, Maria Joao and Susana Guerra who graced us with their resplendent beauty and vivacious vibes, I also saw fellow New Yawker Kurt Gottschalk from The Squid's Ear website who was covering the festivities for All About Jazz magazine and who gave the group big smiles and the thumb's up sign when we came off stage...

And then we all repaired to the bar in the hotel for some ex-post-festival partying after our set, which was greeted rapturously by the large crowd thronging the sloping sides of the amphitheatre, all except for the mainstream jazz critic from the local paper who apparently recused himself from reviewing us a couple days later in his festival wrap-up on the grounds that he didn't really understand this sort of thing and thus couldn't write about it fairly...sounds like a gracious exit strategy to me...

Our agent Karin Kreisl looked radiant and happy that we had sandblasted our set so grandiloquently and in truth, we blowed things up reeeeeal good onstage there, oceans of skronk especially from newly married Dave Sewelson in full fuzzy wuzzy facial regalia and Joe Feidler in blow-me-down tailgate trombone mode and Rob Henke honking like a bugle boy at a Hawaiian luau... Dickie kept things rhythmically off-kilter in his usual manic way and Phillip was Mr. Cool as usual despite a 28 hour flight from Melbourne and stomach virus. Verily much hilarity of onstage hijinx and musical pranksterism run riot...

Then the boys flew home and Caroline and I spent another week in a happy haze of sun-dazzled white sand beaches, mountains of surf (I love to swim in the sea), fresh sea food dinners at midnight in the old funky Bario Alto district of Lisboa, and non-stop grins... would that we could have stayed another week there...one day we hired a driver and made it out to Sintra and then the beach at Cascais with Jason Candler my buddy/guitar tech/sound recordist/auxilliary sax player in Gods and Monsters, who had stayed over an extra day with us--checked the castle nestled high up in the verdant mountains (no sign of drought here), we got lost and found and then chowed down with gusto at the Cafe de Paris in the heart of the medieval village (the food throughout our stay in Lisbon was never less than first rate), then Jason split to Malta--

and enter the incredible Susana Cavalho Guerra, Portugese tv producer and all around beautiful person who graces 4 channels there with shows on ecology and public service issues, and seems to know everybody... Susana took Caroline and I under her wing and became our guide and chauffeur and drove us and her 2 sons all over the place for the remainder of our stay in a whirl of dazzling FUN, we went out to the countryside with her friends Costinha and Shusha one day to view a derelict 16th century medieval village Shusa is renovating, took a trip another cloudless sunny afternoon (weather was perfecto throughout) to the magnificent Oceanaria museum to see the most compelling habitat of aquatic life (beats the one in Honolulu by a long chalk), gave us a tour of Belem and the old city by night--in total, she really made our stay, which was magical enough to begin with, even more magical and mysterious, what a great spirit she exudes, totally life affirming, the whole week there was like a prolonged dream and I am still flashing on it, it was sooooooo nice...

Then we sadly had to say our goodbyes and split to London as it was Caroline's dad's 93rd birthday...and we took her father Henry out shortly after we arrived to an excellent kosher-Chinese restaurant in Hendon called Kaifeng (after the ancient mainland Chinese Jewish community, yes there was such a thing, look it up o you non-believers)....an excellent joint too, but don't order the spare-ribs!...and then we spent a week chilling in London (which after Lisbon we found a tad cooler weatherwise), checking the Frida Kahlo exhibit at Tate Modern (go!), seeing films (the Israeli film "Walk on Water" was excellent) and theater ("As You Like It", so-so West End production, Sienna Miller not as bad as the critics say), and seeing old and new friends including Caroline's old school chum mad Scotsman John Stewart; had dinner another night at our favorite restaurant Arabesque in Swiss Cottage with former Propaganda singer Claudia Brucken, with whom I'm working on a new album project with her partner Paul Humphreys (OMD) and their group Onetwo; hung out with the lovely Yuliana Galitskaya and Alex Kan, my 2 Russian friends both living in London, Yuliana cooked us a delicious dinner and we met her new boyfriend (who loves The Move like I do, he's alright!) and Alex Kan, who works for BBC Russia and is an expert on avant-garde music having booked the SKIF Festival for some years (Sergei Kuryokhin International Festival, which was a beautiful thing indeed when I played there last year) ; and on our final night we hooked up with my pal Garry Cobain from Future Sound of London and his girlfriend the artist Dian Harris for a terrific Indian meal at Eriki, which is also a Magic Band favorite hangout in Swiss Cottage, having been discovered by Michael "Swampmonk" Traylor last summer...

I'm playing with Garry in his Amorphous Androgynous live psychedelic band project in late November and early December at several massive outdoor rave festivals in Australia as part of the Earthcore Global Carnival, we did a great gig last year on the banks of the Moscow River as a kind of warmup (see my website for pics) , the music sounds massive and psychedelic and definitely "atomic wise" (pace "Beat of the Traps") and atom heart motherish... I am very much looking forward to playing with Gaz and sitarist Baluji Shrivastav and the brothers Rowe again...

gotta go now, more later sooner Gracer




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