The Interloping Interlocutor
Bonjour, mes amis! Greetings from Brussels, Belgium. This month’s column is a field report. I am writing to you from my comfortable seat in a diesel sprinter van. I am currently on tour with my old pal, Josh Rouse. Marc Pisapia, my rhythm section partner of the last three decades is on drums, and Xema Fuertes is on la guitarra.
This morning (that’s what the clock says, I’m not so certain) we are en route to the little town of Eeklo just outside Brussels for our first gig. Cities we will be visiting over the next two weeks include, Paris, Amsterdam, Bristol, London, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin. Today is Friday. My previously extended deadline is Monday. On Sunday, I will be drinking coffee in Amsterdam. If I am still astutely observing by then, my observations may take on something of an elevated tone. Let’s just say, legally speaking, I am not afraid of hights. Is that a word? It is today. Did I say that out loud? Or, was I just thinking it?
Marc and I arrived in Brussels and went straight to rehearsal. I don’t know about you, friends, but 90 minutes of airplane sleep and a six-hour time difference make for interesting music. While nodding off during a breakdown verse, I dreamt I was the star of my very own Hollywood movie. No, I didn’t, that was Eric Burdon’s dream. I dreamt I was on a tropical fishing trip. I caught a shark! It was a baby shark, and I threw it back. Does that mean something? What would Freud say? How about Carl Jung or Herman Melville? Ahab-esque, perhaps? They might say that sleep deprivation is hallucinogenic, and I would most assuredly agree.
Belgium is a beautiful country, and Brussels is a city filled with old-world European charm. Cobblestone and gilt work, friendly people, sculpture, music, and art fill the wide boulevards and narrow alleyways. The chocolate and bier are also top notch, as is le café. I recommend these in general and in concert as an aid in staying awake to reset the circadian rhythm. Can you dig that, friends? Ça va?
Saturday: Il est Record Store Day! — Paris France. Tonight’s gig is on the Seine River. We are on the scene at the Seine, if you will. C’est Bon! In keeping with the European tradition of no ice or air conditioning, the four-hour ride from Eeklo to Paris was a bit of a shvitz as was the load-in down a quaint and narrow Parisian staircase. C’est la vie. I am a sweaty mess. Rock & roll is glamorous. On the up side, the green room is stocked with refrigerated Heineken. Inexplicably, the beverages remain just shy of tepid. Oh well. Salute! Cin cin! Santé! Cheers!
Sunday: Breakfast at the Grand Tulip hotel on the outskirts of Paris is indeed continental. As you may know, I am a bit of a baker. I must tell you that le pain de Paris c’est magnifique! If you’ve got the time, they’ve got le beurre. On to Amsterdam.
Dank je! My one Dutch phrase. Well, that and cancer whore, which I am told is the vilest insult one can hurl at a Dutchman. Would that be a Flying Dutchman? No, I don’t think so. I can’t be sure. In any case, I’ve got profanity and thank you in my linguistic hip pocket should the need arise.
Monday: Today is deadline day. Fortunately, the sixhour time difference allows me to be punctual in my astute delivery. This morning, I broke from the pack. I got out of the boat. I booked an easyJet flight from Amsterdam to Bristol. One hour in the air versus 10 in the Sprinter. One short taxi ride later, and I was checked in to the hotel in Bristol’s city center. I must say, I was delighted to find a queen-sized bed waiting for me. A big-boy bed! All across Europe, I have encountered twin-sized slumber. A quick walk to the Marks & Spencer over the road and my Euros become Pounds Sterling and a U.K.-to-U.S. power adapter is secured. Oh, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed a healthy baby son. They are safely home from hospital back at Kensington Palace. BBC News is covering the royal blessed event minute by minute. The infant is fifth in line to the throne. This Red Coat business has me riveted! See you in a week, East Nashville!