I’ve spent the last 2-3 weeks in Europe for a tour/vacation of sorts. I first rolled into London which is quickly becoming my euro base since the label I’m on is in the UK and that is where I know some folks. I only spent one night there before flying to Oslo, Norway a country I’ve never been to but always wanted to go.

OSLO- well, I guess sometimes stereotypes are not too far off, I picture Scandinavia as being full of blonde haired, blue-eyed, beautiful norde looking kind of folk, and well, it was…I came into town and walked down the main street Karl Johan I think it was, that was a little bit of America with its McDonalds and other kind of crap, then at the end of the road is a castle where the prince of Norway lives. I always forget that some countries still actually have that monarchy stuff, it just seems so medival…In any case I met my old friends Lars at a fountain in town, a fountain that children were practically swimming in, something you’d never see in the US. Sometimes it’s the small things about foreign countries that are really different, like how everything in public is actually clean and all the girls and boys really do have blonde hair and blue eyes.

I don’t have any wild and crazy Norweigan stories to tell, I just hung out with my friends there, went to a bar one night, beer is really expensive there, actually, everything in Norway is really expensive because they are one of the only two countries in Europe that is not part of the European Union and have their own currency, the “crown” which is far superior to the dollar. The two highlights of my trip were, in order 1) Seeing an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History on “homosexuality in nature”, I kid you not, yes, it was an exhibit on gay animals. I had to go when I read about it, turns out there are over 1500 species of animals, and probably many more with gay tendencies. The only bummer about the exhibit is that even though it was fascinating it wasn’t visually, because animals, unlike people, look the same no matter what gender they are, so in their pictures and stuffed versions of the animals you couldn’t really tell anything was any different, it was like “here are these two lesbian birds who keep a nest together”, and there are just two birds in a nest and you’re like “ok, cool, they look the same”. Regardless, it is good that this kind of research is getting out there so that maybe all the homophobic bigots can realize it’s just nature and shut up about it. 2) I saw “The Scream” by Edward Munch at the National Gallery, wow, that was cool, I always liked that picture and I even used to have cards of it that I’d send out to friends. Otherwise, yeah, Norway is like, clean, and pretty, and fairly homogenous, and most of the chicks walking down the street were blonde with blue eyes and pretty hot so I felt like a little pasty Irish thing but whatevs…

Back to London! I did a show at the Electroacoustic Club in London when I flew back from Norway, I played there on the last tour so it was nice to feel like I knew what to expect. I even went back to the same Asian place for dinner which goes to show that I am ultimately a creature of habit, especially in cities where I just know bits and pieces. Slowly I will learn to love London but it will take me a few more trips I think, it is just so damn big and decentralized which kinda bugs me for some reason. But my friends there are cool, it was really good to see James, Charlie, Will, and Paul and meet some new folks at the club, plus some good bands. Good times london, yah!

Bordeaux, France- So some of you may or may not know that the last time I tried to play in France I missed my damn flight there, this is the only time this has ever happened to me, but it sucked, so this time I made a lot of effort not to be late. I should also mention that I blame my missed flight on London where somehow it takes 2-3 hours to get to some of these airports, because there are 4 of them, and the cheap ones are really far out of the city…Ok, so yeah, this time I got there, and then took a city bus and tram into the center of Bordeaux which is a beautiful old city and just got UNESCO historical status while I was there which is a really big deal for them because it means they will have a lot more tourism and all that. I played a show at El Inca which is a really cool little indie club in the heart of the town. I met Milos and Martin who work there and was treated very well to a good home-cooked diner and peanuts and beer. Not speaking French in France kind of sucks, and I will say that it made me really want to learn the language for future trips there, but people were nice and I hung out with the other two bands who were very fun and young and friendly. I played the show alone and borrowed one of the other bands electric guitar, since my acoustic is so crappy (i mean the one i went on this tour with not my gibson or martin), the guitar I borrowed was a beautiful white Les Paul and I dug it, I also asked the drummer to play with me which was kinda fun. Playing accordion in France feels a little weird, but they seemed to like it anyway, probably because I wasn’t playing traditional French music or anything.

I stayed that night with my friend Bruno and his family. I ended up staying with them for the rest of the weekend and they were incredible hosts, extremely nice and generous. They took me into Bordeaux and showed me around the little streets, the river front, and even this really weird part of town where they tore down all the slums and made it into a futuristic/bad 70’s kind of look, basically the complete opposite of the rest of the town which you can really tell has a long history with small narrow streets and buildings that have been there for ages. The city is beautiful though, they have a new tram, and never river front, and is a great place to walk around and hang out. Bruno and Crystal are two really amazing people who live there with their daughter Anna right outside the main part of Bordeaux. They took me for Chinese food one night which was great, and the next day we went into the open market where there was lots of fresh vegetables, meets, cheese, wine, flowers, and everything really. I had dinner with them and their friends who they get together every sunday, which reminded me of the times I used to have dinner with a group of my friends (Bernard, Eric, Jerome…) at least once a week, which was always really fun for us and is a great way to sort of grow together I think, I hope to do that sort of thing again when I’m in the same place for more than one day.

So then on Monday, Martin, the bartender at El Inca, drove me to Paris, it was a fun trip, because he is a really cool dude. He’s from Peru but has been living abroad a while, and in France for four years, we went into the centre of Paris and met up with his friends Christophe who was a funny French dude. We went up to the streets that go up to Monmarte and had dinner at this little cafe on the hill. It was such a cute, small place and I had duck and salade and we ate and had some red wine and in the corner across the room there were these girls smoking cigarettes, drinking their wine, and laughing and I thought “yes, dammit, I am in Paris!” Of course my Paris stereotype is highly based on Joni Mitchell lyrics “sitting in dark cafes”, “walking down the Chaneleze”, “he cooked good omelletes and stews”…Anyway, that night at the cafe was great and fun and I really felt glad to be there in the heart of Paris. That night I stayed with my good friend Laura who I met in Boston when she was working as an au pair for my friends. She’s in school now working really hard at business and Chinese but made me welcome in her apartment. The funny thing was her housemates didn’t really know English so it was a bit of a challenge, since my French is almost non-existant even though I had a book and tried my damndest. So her housemate Julian and I used this program on google which translates in order to communcate, that was kinda funny. He watches that show “malcolm” or whatever it’s called, but overdubbed in French.

The next day I met back up with Martin and we just walked around Paris all day, we had some Peruvian food and just walked down the river and on the two islands where Notre Dame is all kinds of beautiful places. And that is just it, Paris is SO BEAUTIFUL! I love it there so much, it was like a love at first sight situation, I’m sure many other people feel the same way about that city, and maybe this is why there’s the myth that you fall in love in Paris with a man or woman as well, that didn’t happen of course, but yeah, I fell hard for Paris, I kept thinking of how I would learn French and come back and live or just spend more time. It’s not just the Eiffel Tower, or the Louvre, or the Seine, or whatever, it’s just the whole deal is so beautiful, it really just pulls you in and you want to be there and nowhere else. That night we went over to a place Martin used to work called The Frog, we just sort of hung out in that area and later on sat out on the benches with Christophe just talking about politics, I learned a lot about French politics in particular which was very interesting for me.

I had two shows in Paris, the first one was at La Fleche D’or (the Golden Arrow) which is Paris’ premiere indie rock club. It’s in an old train station and is a beautiful club and building in general. The format is pretty awesome too, there is no cover charge, they make all their money from charging a little bit extra for the drinks and food, but the atmosphere is definitely the center of the Paris hipster indie scene, I’m very sure, and it was packed. The food and drinks and atmosphere were great. Of course a lot of the hipsters were a bit off-standish, as they are back home as well, but I didn’t give a damn because I had some friends there and it was just a fun place to play to a lot of people. Of course playing on your own kinda sucks, especially when you are at a huge indie rock club (it’s like the middle east or knitting factory or whatever…) and they probably want to hear some drums, so of course I asked the drummer from one of the bands to come play “vampire blues” with me and at least that kinda rocked. Otherwise I just ploughed through my set best I could and I think people appreciated it even though I couldn’t rock their faces off, maybe next time I will bring my loop station and makes beats, but that just always seems so cliche or something…

We had a really good time after my set just hanging out talking with Laura and her friends, the other bands were interesting, there were two French bands, one sort of odd rock with sax and synth kinda thing, and the other more indie portishead kinda vibe. Then last there was a band from Japan but to be honest I didn’t really hear them, it was pretty crowded and nuts there so I had to bust out towards the end to take the metro home. The next day I did some more walking around up to Monmarte and the cathedral as well as the hill where all the painters are, it is a very touristy yet beautiful part of the city. Julian took me in his car around Paris and I also was able to see that big famous tower with the rotary around it (name I forgot), the Chandeleze (or whatever that famous road is with the trees), the Concord, the Capital building, and other goverment type looking places, and of course the Louvre, which is soo big I decided I could only handle a little bit and will do the rest the next time. I then met up with my friend Pat who lives in Paris and Normandy. We had coffee at a cafe and walked around town and it was really nice to see her and talk about how great Paris is.

My other Paris show was at this club called Pop In which is in Oberkampf, a somewhat trendy part of town I’ve been told. It is a great bar which is small but with four different rooms, I played a good show though and people seemed to pay attention and like it, in general it was much more intimate than the show at La Fleche D’or because it is so much smaller. The folks there all seemed to know each other and the guy who works there was just an awesome dude and I was treated very well and had a great time there. I had to rush out of the club before the metro closed, and unfortunately Paris is like London and Boston and closes the metro early at like 12:30am, so I was running to find the metro and asked this dude on the street. He was like “yeah, well, it closes soon and you know,.. maybe you will miss it,… but where do youl need to go anyway”, and I was in such a hurry I was just like “what direction is it, please!” so he hestitantly pointed and I ran off, I was rushing down the street and found the station and was about to go down the steps into the metro and the guy comes back up to me and says “hey, you know you don’t need to go, you can come home with me, I’ll make you an omelette…” I am totally serious, this means that Joni Mitchell lyrics actually have the ability to come true in real life, she was right on, except or the part where I skipped the omelette and got on the damn metro…

In general both shows were great and I loved Paris so much I just can’t wait to go back!!

I flew to Geneva from Paris very early the next morning. My trip to Switzerland was specifically to go to the wedding of my friend Bernard. I’ve known Bernard for about seven years and met him in San Francisco when I was living there for a summer in college, we’ve been good friends ever since as he lived in Boston for most of the time I was there. We had lots of dinners together with my ex Jerome, Eric, Alia, Lecia, and some other friends of mine. This group of friends was very special to me as they were a bit of a Euro club of sorts and as an American I really enjoyed being apart of that. In any case to go to deep into the details of this wedding might get too weird and complicated, but let’s just say that I thought I was going to Switzerland for a pleasant little wedding and in fact there was a little more to it. Namely, from the minute I got to Gstaad where the wedding was I started to get a weird vibe from the bride (who I have known for about 3 odd years and had many many dinners and meetings with Bernard & her). Then at dinner her parents started acting kind of rude towards me, the mother said a very cold “hi” when I went up to her and then ran off, the father said nothing to me. It was a bit shocking because not only have I known the bride since she met her husband (who I knew long before her) but I’ve had her and her parents over to my house when Jerome and I were living together at least 2-3 times. So yeah it was strange. But then after the ceremony this American couple that knew the bride’s family came up to me and said “we have a question for you, are you the ex girlfriend?” and I thought to myself that I wasn’t sure what they meant so I said “maybe, why?” and they of course proceeded to tell me that they had heard from the bride’s family that Bernard had invited his ex girlfriend and her family and they were very upset about it. Well, truth is I did date Bernard but for about one month, which in my mind doesn’t even really count, especially when you know someone for 7 years, one month is nothing, and we’ve always been friends regardless. The other strange thing is that the bride, Flavia, has known me for 3 or more years and for most of that time I was with Jerome, my ex who I was with for 3.5 years, and so she never really knew me as anything else but his girlfriend. And I never even spoke to her about this brief month I dated Bernard.

Anyway, the story is much longer than this but the end result is that there was a weird vibe, which kinda sucked considering I came all the way to Switzerland to this wedding, and, I was invited and never had a clue that it was an issue. In many ways people just mystify me, their insecurities, their complete narcissism and disregard for other people and a reality outside of their own. So in short, my experience in Switzerland was very hindered by these odd politics. Otherwise it is a beautiful place, the mountains and Swiss alps are very beautiful and the lake is lovely as well. I actually am in Switzerland outside Geneva right now on the lake and I love just looking out the window, I leave tonite to head back to London and then tomorrow will make my way back to the US. So there it is I guess, this has been an incredible trip all in all, I am really glad I came and I certainly wouldn’t let a few petty people spoil my time in Europe, which is just an incredible place in general. Viva la Paris and Europe!