Feb 25, 2015 Verviers, Belgium – Spirit of 66
Woke up to another shower and then descended into the sadness of knowing I would be leaving my hotel room. I stayed in there until 1:59pm, with our late checkout arranged for 2:00.
Tonight was our best gig to date. No question. Though it is amusing to us that each gig we do is “the best gig to date.”
Fantastic crowd. Really took us by surprise. I had the observation that the performance wasn't about nostalgia this evening. Meaning, people were 100% with us – inside the moment of this particular music taking place. They were not listening to a memory of Peter Gabriel from their own past. The first thing that tripped off this noticing was that no one was taking any pictures or video. (Well, there was this one guy filming Jerry the entire night. Look for it online if you want to dissect his backbeat.) But aside from “Drummer Documenter”, everyone else seemed more interested in what was unfolding between us rather than spending their energies capturing it for later.
I am continuing to tweak the Fractal Axe. Amazing how much control this thing gives me. David and Michael also implemented a bunch of sound changes today after our listening session on the bus.
I decided to take a few leaps tonight. I felt that I should warn the guys, as not everyone is used to one of the players going left field in the spur of the moment. In truth there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room in this material. But I found some corners to dance new circles around. I changed my second solo in “Family and the Fishing Net” to an entirely different sound. And everyone seemed to agree it was beautimous.
Feb 26, 2015 day off - L'Amalgame, Switzerland – Yverdone
Long drive back to Switzerland. You try your best to make clean, clear and easy routing for a tour. But...then this kind of thing happens. Back and forth across the countries. Oh well.
We spent the night in the bus at the venue. We will be here for about 48 hours. Gig tomorrow.
Feb 27, 2015 L'Amalgame, Switzerland – Yverdone
Nice little venue in a smallish Swiss town. I have never been here before.
Best poster of the tour. At least Brian and I think so.
We cracked today. This should be the day that we all fly home. But, no, there is a still another 10+ days to go. And we felt the cracks opening up this day. Cussing each other out. And More. It is shocking to hear absolute trash come out of your mouth. Even when I could see it coming but tried to intentionally restrain myself. Then two minutes later the bile comes up. Thankfully there is a lot of good will between us.
Regardless, this tour is waayyy toooo fuuuucking looooong. I will never do this again.
Another great show. Brain deadness prevents me from remembering anything about it.
Feb 28, 2015 Villerest, France – Satellite Cafe
Thankfully we have three shows in a row. Much better way to live. Days without shows are torture. Meaningless and suck-worthy (unless you are in Florence with your son!)
This was a kind of a supper club again tonight. Very cool place with great staff and super helpful owner. The place was packed and they were pretty rowdy for dinner folks. People were stuffed right up to the stage and singing along to much of the show. Can this band get any better? Two more performances to go to up our ante.
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In addition to all of my vitamins, one of the secret sustainers of my life on this tour has been the Aikido work that I carry with me. Much of this is in attitude and some of it is basic physical practices. Stretching of the wrists and hands, and some basic hip and arm movements . The attitude one has been working under the covers and only just surfaced to my awareness recently. It goes something like this:
When you take a step you can either trudge forward, pushing against where you are heading, or you can bounce forward attacking each step. Either of these attitudes can be pronounced or very, very subtle. What I have discovered (I think – still working on this), is that when you step forward with the “bouncing into it” attitude you not only get some exercise physically but you gain access to another level of energy. Some kind of reserve of energy on the other side of the effort. It is just sitting there waiting for you. When you trudge, you close yourself off to this “potential” energy. Plus you drain what reserves you have. Once I noticed this I began playing around with it in other areas. Like moving my gear around the stage. Or helping the crew load. Physical work that normally would tire me out became a source of energy. But only if “the trudge” was banished from the action and the “bounce forward” put in its place. I suspect the other part of this equation is that you really need to have an aim in place. Then there is a connected purposed to the bounce. Perhaps it isn't essential, maybe attacking with the forward momentum is enough. But, for me, thinking that I was actually exercising towards my black belt in Aikido and my blue belt in Jui Jitsu grounded me and gave everything a bit more impact.
The other big part of the Aikido equation for me was doing some Jo practice along the way. The Jo is a wooden, fighting staff that we use in partner practice at our dojo. There are also a bunch of kata (solo) practices, though at Tenzan (our dojo) we focus a lot on the partner practices.
Sadly the Jo that I have is 54 inches long, but my guitar case is only 52 inches. This was terribly disturbing to me when I finally got the exact measurements and realized I couldn't take it with me. I had been factoring in taking a weapon on this tour (either a Jo or a Bokkun) for months. And then I remembered. Melissa, one of the senior members at our dojo, had once said something about having a short “inside” Jo that she used with her kids when they were growing up. She let me borrow one and it perfectly fit inside the guitar case. Yes! I wrapped it up in plastic and gaffer taped it to the inside of my case. Many thanks to Melissa. I shall order one of my own shorty, travel Jo's as soon as I get back.
So, I have been pulling out the Jo when the venue was big enough to allow it. Amazing for me. Super affirming and keeps my blood flowing. I have been working through a solo practice that Jimmy Friedman Sensei showed us a few years back:
Sometimes I was lucky enough to work outside. Here, next to a field in the French countryside.
previous tour diaries