Message to the Web, Friday the 13th, 1998
Tanya has importuned me once again to take typewriter in hand (still computerless and loving it) to say a few words to my loyal friends and the casual web browsers on the subject of my recent sojourns.
Gary Lucas accompanies "The Golem"
in Ljubljana, Slovenia
by Andrej Stular
I got back Monday from a month long solo tour (with a few Golem shows sprinkled into the mix) of Europe which to me was the best batch yet in terms of audiences and critical response. Plus I felt at the height of my powers playing-wise...it kicked off in NYC with a sold-out show of The Golem at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater—my last date there was on John Schaefer's New Sounds Live from Merkin Hall (with special guest Jeff Buckley), that was back in '92, so this was a bit of a homecoming albeit upstairs in the sumptuous space of the Walter Reade playing to an excellent 35mm print of the film—I've probably done this well over 100 times, but this was really special, with a packed house (they turned away over 100 disappointed fans) filled with celebrities such as Kurt Loder from MTV News (and my Mom and Dad!).
Many thanks to Jim Hoberman, the only film critic that matters, for choosing me to kick off the 7th annual New York Jewish Film Festival, and Richard Pena, head of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, who told me he dug my sound and invited me back for a future date (I have another film project in the works, but it's hush-hush for now...).
Then it was on to Europe—I flew out the next day (Jan. 12th) to Vienna where I was met by my new driver, the extremely capable and good-hearted man called Mozart (DJ Mozart when he works at the Turm in Halle), and off we went to Slovenia in the former Yugoslavia, a first for me. We arrived into the beautiful, magical city of Ljubljana, esconced in a 4-star hotel, and then onto another sold-out The Golem gig at the Kinoteka Slovenska under the auspices of of the amazing Miha Zadnikar! What a great gig!
Miha had procured a tinted 35mm print of the film from the Munich Film Archive, with each sequence in exquisite shades of mauve, red, blue, green and yellow, something I had never seen in all my years of performing with the film (9 at last count). Even though I was jet-lagged, I agreed then to an impromptu solo concert which lasted another 2 hours (!) and was broadcast over Radio Student, the city's hip underground station. I probably sold more CDs after that performance than any other concert I've done in 10 years of performing (this is coming on my 10th anniversary of solo shows under my name—the first was June 7th 1988 at the Knitting Factory in NYC). What a fucking great gig! What a lovely audience! Kudos again to Miha for hooking it up! Special thanks to Masa Gedrih for her warm hospitality, I very much appreciated her help.
I didn't much feel like leaving after that...but we hit the highway the next day for Wels, Austria, with another enthusiastic crowd at the Schlacthof, with fans who came back some 5 years after my last gig there (with Gods and Monsters in '93—how gratifying to have people remember your work and come back to see you).
Then onto Budapest, where I played a fantastic solo gig in an old Communist meeting hall in the heart of the city, 4-star hotel again on a little island between Buda and Pest, and a great meeting with the guy who hooked up the gig, the leader of Hungary's premiere artrock outfit The Scientists (Tudodsok), namely the incomparable Dr. Bela Marias. The Scientists opened for me and a mighty racket they made, too. Hope to get more gigs in Hungary and Yugoslavia soon (working on one in Sarajevo right now).
Then off to Bremen, where I participated in a 3 day guitar jamboree at the Kito Club (to be broadcast on Radio Bremen in March, check the web listings) with my friends Marc Ribot and Fred Frith (but as we each got an evening to ourselves, I never saw or heard them, unfortunately)—great gig as well, as was Tubingen at the old Zentrum Zoo, where I ran into more rabid Gods and Monsters freaks who had stayed loyal since the last gig there and demanded to know when the next tour was (it's just on hold right now, but check out the new G&M lineup on the upcoming J.A.M. album (Jewish Alternative Movement) on Knitting Factory Works, out in March.
Then onto The Hague in Holland (this tour sure zigged and zagged all over Europe) where the lovely Majel Blonden had arranged a super concert at the Paard, which was swarming with Dutch fans from all over the country as it was my only gig there this tour—including old friends Joep Ver, Bert Wils and my old driver Eric Don. This was undoubtedly the best gig I've ever done in Holland in quite some time (and my last show at the Paradiso in September was no slouch...)—didn't want to get off stage, I was really high on the audience!
Then back to Vienna, where it was another 3 day guitarfest at Porgy and Bess with me, Ribot (our paths kept crisscrossing) and Dave Tronzo, but again, didn't manage to see the other guys. Cool show though, made special by an appearance by the Bad Boys of the Arctic photographer Manfred Rahs (a real surprise, it had been 6 years!) and my man in Vienna Carlos Harrer, who saved Eric Don and myself 3 years ago from a fate worse than...well, not showing up at the gig!
Then back up to Leipzig where I did a Golem show at Moritz University in their great haunted 16th century stone castle, then Mozart had to split for another gig and I was on the Euro-train trip again, which I love except for the transfer part of it! (Imagine running to make a tight connection with 3 guitars in flight cases, merchandise bag, clothing bags and a monster suitcase with all my effects—they call it the "The Monster" in Germany and the "Flying Mary" in Prague—thanks to Mr. Faust here). Almost didn't make the transfer in Munich to Bologna, Italy but managed somehow...
And on to a fantastic gig at Bologna's amazing Link Project, a multi-storied arts lab kind of like the new Knitting Factory with multiple rooms oozing lights, music, atmosphere and wall-to-wall freakazoids—I did a midnight solo concert there preceded by beautiful video fantasias of classic horror films (my specialty) and then 2 hours of guitar pyrotechnics—maybe my best electric playing ever—before I abdicated the stage for the rave onslaught. Bologna is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever encountered, my first gig there and I can't wait to go back. Thanks to Enrico, Linda and Flavia for making me feel so welcome there (and a program for the gig in braille, yet!)—Enrico is an old fan I met in Prague where he was working for the cool Hugo Race group, plus he had seen me in Holland and Germany before...nothing like yr loyal fan network!
Then back to Austria for my premiere gig in Graz, a picture postcard city with a lovely medieval center and a great jazzclub called the Stockwerk where I rocked their stocks off—thanks Othmar Klammer for the hospitality plus. Then training it to Trieste, Italy for another debut there, this in the palatial Teatro Miela doing The Golem to kick off a month long series of performances there under the rubric Fluid Magic. Thanks Rosella for your excellent hospitality and warmth, I loved every minute of my time in this enchanting city not far from Venice and near the Slovenian border (Rosella had come to my Ljubljana gig at the start of the tour and had decided to bring me to Trieste after seeing the show—excellent choice if I may say so). A great way to close the tour in one of the most magnificent settings in Europe, jostling the gorgeous aquamarine Adriatic.
I then returned to Ljubljana for several days of R&R, staying with Miha and his lovely wife Barbara, and the day before I split back to the U.S. he took me to Croatia for an afternoon exploring ancient stone villages and deserted castles in the Istria region, winding down for coffee in the evening on the Slovenian Riviera in the town of Pirano. What a wonderful tour, all in all, to meet so many new friends and greet so many old ones again, I thank God and count my blessings to have you all like my music so much and that I'm able to continue to do this as my life's work...
Up next, my new album for John Zorn's great Tzadik label is out in March worldwide and I certainly believe it's my best album yet. Check out Busy Being Born and please e-mail me your responses! Also, look in April for the release of a vinyl 12" and CD single Gary Lucas @ Paradiso, 2 tracks of multiple guitar mayhem recorded live at the Masterclass I gave in that famous Dutch venue in 1996, finally coming out on Oxygen Music Works worldwide. And I've got more mindboggling music up my sleeve, just you wait and see...to all of you, all the best in '98, it's gonna be a great year for us all, God bless you and hope to see you soon, I'm taking it on the road in the U.S. in April for a cross-country solo tour to wind from Boston to LA and back so please stop by and say hi won't you, I'll be really pissed if you don't!
P.S.—Special Thanks to Tanya Weiman, Steffen Wilde and Maarten Rovers!