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Gary Back in Action on the European and US Fronts

This year Gary's been busier than ever with live shows both here and abroad. Since his breakthrough Paris, LA and London gigs in January, marked by a 4 star rave for his solo show in The Guardian newspaper, the man has toured indefatigably, with a month long European jaunt in March commencing with a headlining solo show in his favorite international venue, the Paradiso in Amsterdam (his 11th appearance there since playing with Captain Beefheart there in 1980!). On this tour, he also sold out a Belgian arts festival devoted to a retrospective of the work of his former associate Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart), held in the St. Niklaas Cultural Center. The month long festival featured a splendid array of rare and beautiful Van Vliet paintings, as well as photos of Don by Anton Corbijn, and Gary's solo gig capped off the exhibition which drew over a thousand visitors from all over the world. The festival was so successful that it will run again in Holland in the city of Diepenheim starting at the end of August, and Gary is scheduled to close that festival as well on September 8th. Other Lucas tour highlights included the two night Almenrauschen Festival collaboration in Berlin with young electronica whizzes DeeQ (Andreas Albrecht and Klaus Janek on acoustic bass and sampler and drum machine respectively—thanks to avant-maven Ingo Bauer for hooking it up), and a blistering midnight solo set at Bikini Test in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. Then it was back home to NYC for some downtown,downhome acoustic picking as Gary was invited to sit in with his childhood heroes the original psychedelic folk legends the Holy Modal Rounders (Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber) at New York's East Village mecca Tonic. This happily coincided with the release of Gary and Peter Stampfel's new album as the Du-Tels, "No Knowledge of Music Required" (Shimmy Disc/Knitting Factory—playing live there in the MainSpace this Saturday on Bloomsday, June 16th), which features plenty of Gary's nimble fingerpicking, and is garnering rave reviews. The live gig at Tonic was liberally laced with Du-Tels songs whenever Weber wandered off to grab a beer. Then it was a quick jaunt (thanks to Craig Chalone) up to great new Club Helsinki in Great Barrington Mass. which led to an extensive review and rave for Gary's solo show by Seth Rogovoy in the Berkshire Eagle newspaper under the headline "Lessons in Musical Humanitarianism". This was followed by a visit to Gary's alma mater Yale University the next day to perform at New Haven's Tune Inn Cafe, a gig which happened to coincide with Yale's 300th anniversary alumni reunion ceremonies—the Old Blues on the street were startled to see the apparition of fellow Old Blue Gary wandering the streets of New Haven, guitars in hand, on the same day as George W.'s address to the alumni at Woolsey Hall (all Gary kept thinking was "How did I get from Here?" The gig was a pick in the New Haven Register, which mentioned Gay's tenure as Music Director of Yale's radio station WYBC-FM in 1971. Then it was back to France for an all stops out solo show in Paris at trendy Parisian club La Maroquinerie, which generated a 4 star pick in Le Monde, and rave previews in Le Figaro, Liberation, and Le Parisien, followed by an afternoon masterclass for young guitarists and an evening concert in Chelles, then 2 smash packed shows in Besancon and resort town Boulogne Sur Mer, all marked with multiple encores as the French took Gary to their collective, uh, bosom. In the middle of this giddy French reception Gary took a journey to one of his favorite cities in the world, the beautiful and mystical city of Prague, to headline solo an all day and night Guitar Festival sponsored by Rock and Pop Magazine, the Czech Rolling Stone. On stage he was joined by underground Czech poet and DG -307 leader Pavel Zaicheck for an impromptu poetry/space guitar improvisation, and Gary dedicated the night to Mala, the sorely missed recently departed leader of his good friends the Plastic People of the Universe. The following night he jammed with the cream of the Czech rock and jazz scene at a party in his honor thrown by his friend and leader of Urfaust, Richard Mader (with whom he recorded the haunting "The Ghosts of Prague" album in 1996) and plans were hatched for a future collaboration wih Vlat Brabanec, the fiery saxist from the Plastic People of the Universe (Gary loves playing in the Czech Republic as his roots are literally Bohemian.) A new film documentary by Jana Chytilova on the saga of the legendary Plastic People (Czech president Vaclav Havel was an early proponent, and the Charter 77 manifesto which ushered in the Prague Spring democracy movement arose out of the harassment and imprisonment of this band) featuring interviews with Havel, Gary and Lou Reed and a clip of Gary jamming with the Plastic People live at Irving Plaza NYC is now playing in cinemas all over the Czech Republic after screening on national Czech tv.