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Spring '99 Updates:
Gary Back From Most Successful European Tour Ever
In the Studio For Sissel
Back to the Front in France and Israel

Gary just returned from an 18 show, month-long tour of Europe that broke new ground and attendance records for him—selling out shows in Germany (Leipzig and Marburg, disappointed fans being turned away at the door as the venues couldn't contain all the Lucas' supporters) and traveling for the first time to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Luxembourg.

Gary also returned to consolidate his burgeoning fan-base in Brussells (a special Golem gig at the beautiful theater in the round called Botanique), Berlin (a packed house at the Insel, the incredible East Berlin club that looks like a set out of the Golem—plus rave reviews in the national paper Der Tagespiegel—see below, and Zitty Magazine), and Budapest (an incendiary solo show where he was joined by avant-Hungarian luminaries The Scientists for a free-form blow-out).

He also made many new Austrian and German fans (including 250 alone in the university town of Luneberg for The Golem). A mix of solo shows and Golem concerts, Gary also played mini solo sets at the end of his Golem dates to treat the fans with new material from his just released Oxygen Music Works EP "Gary Lucas@Paradiso".

All in all, Gary visited 7 countries in a month, racking up countless kilometers on the autobahn with his trusty driver Eric Don, taking many ferries up to Scandinavia and back (Oslo's Mars Club the scene of a very memorable Golem show), beginning the tour in Dresden, one of his favorite cities, with a triumphant 2 hour solo show at the famed Star Club on February 24 and finishing up with a stellar gig in Goppingen's Odeon venue on March 20 organzied by old friend Rosaria Steinbach and crew. A splendid time was had by all, and Gary managed to sell an obscene number of his 6 solo CDs on the tour, breaking all previous records.

Then it was a fast jet back to homebase NYC where the very next day Gary was invited to perform in the studio on the upcoming new album from Scandinavian superstar Sissel (you can hear her now on the "Titanic" soundtrack album). At the helm was legendary producer Rick Chertoff (Joan Osborne, Cyndi Lauper, Hooters and much more) assisted by Hooter Rob Hyman (ace keyboardist) and engineering whiz William Wittman. Stay tuned for further developments on this project!

Meanwhile Gary is set to leave for Europe once again on April 18 for 5 dates with his band Gods and Monsters in France (his first time playing there since 1991). Gigs include Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, Tours and a show in Ajaccio Corsica (see the Calendar for more info), with Gary accompanied by Ernie Brooks on bass and longtime percussionist Jonathan Kane.

From Strasbourg he flies on April 28 to Tel Aviv, Israel (his debut performance there) to play The Golem solo at the Next Festival alongside such diverse international acts as Austrian trip-hop artist Kruder and Dorfmeister and Gong leader Daevid Allen (see the Calendar for more details). Gary considers it quite an honor to be invited to play in Israel and is eagerly awaiting both his Tel Aviv and French appearances.

Meanwhile, here is the text of his writeup in Der Tagespiegel, the national German newspaper, from March 14, 1999:

Baptism In German/Jewish History:
The U.S. guitarist Gary Lucas accompanies the silent film "The Golem"

When New York guitarist Gary Lucas comes to Berlin, it is always a little bit like he's coming home. He began his career as a solo musician at the Berlin JazzFest more than 10 years ago, but it is not merely this milestone in his career that ties this guitarist with passionate tone to the German capitol. Gary Lucas lost a large part of his family under the Nazis and he now tries to construct bridges from the Jewish side outwards. So he uses each opportunity to search out evidences of German/Jewish history, and he knows how to tell the kind of stories about this history that even native Berliners don't know.

In Captain Beefheart's band, which he still refers to as "Beefheart University", Lucas studied the psychoacoustical laws of music. From the beginning, he transcended the borders of genre and he lets out at the moment of playing whatever immediately moves him. His debut album "Skeleton at the Feast" belongs to the classics of modern guitar performance, and with 5 further albums he's been able to knit together a thick net of classic folk song, progressive rock, free jazz and beyond, heavy metal, and classical music. Even before John Zorn, Lucas concerned himself with Jewish themes and crossed over to the opposite aesthetic shore..."As a Jew, to perform the wonderful music of the anti-semite Richard Wagner right here for the German public is for me a challenge and a calling."

With his Golem project—another foray into joining the German and Jewish worlds—he played live accompanying the silent film as one of the first musicians in recent times, and helped start a worldwide trend. As the composer of Jeff Buckley's hits "Mojo Pin" and "Grace" he was able to add 2 further jewels of pop music into his account. Nothing however compares to the experience of his live performance. He not only melds himself together with his instrument such that you can't even tell where skin and flesh end and wood and string begin, but he also becomes one with his melodies. His sound is like an enchanted forest in which one only finds oneself only going deeper and deeper without however feeling any desire to leave. It doesn't matter whether he's playing the acoustic or electric guitar or if he pulls out his dobro. Lucas gives his audience the feeling of sharing in a secret from which normal mortals are excluded. On his most recent album "Busy Being Born", a collection of old and new Jewish children's songs, he lets fairies and monsters spring from his strings. Lucas reveals himself as a boogey man, with Mephistophelian joy he rubs his hands together. "I like to frighten people. Even as a child I enjoyed being frightened myself. Nothing else can really shake us awake." It is not possible to predict where one might find oneself being led at the solo performance of this manic sound scientist. It is certain however that he will get deep under the skin of every listener with his guitar injections.

—Wolf Kampmann