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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Meet The Band

Oh yes it’s check-in time from Starbucks. I’ve been to Ireland and traversed much of the British Island since I last wrote, only to find myself smack in the same seat, drinking the same bad coffee. One difference this time being I have an NYC original sitting across from me – Mr. Ari Hest. Ari’s been kind enough to visit me here in London, more than I can say for you lot. I made my record company fly him out on account of my terrible loneliness, which you’ve noted in my blogs. Mr. Hest has been my traveling companion the past few days, accompanying me on a karaoke adventure this past Friday, along with the rest of EMI/Angel, my label. It’s gratifying to know no one at my label can sing as well as me, even more assurance I’ll have a job at year’s end. Ari also rode down to Portsmouth last night for my last show on the Amy MacDonald tour, which has been an absolute blast - she’s a gem that Scottish lass! Portsmouth is a funny town, feels like an old seaside resort from 1920’s. I imagined myself strolling down the boardwalk, side by side with beanpole gentleman in striped bathing costumes, twirling their curlicue mustaches. I’ve seen a good bit of the UK this past fortnight: Newcastle, Sheffield, Liverpool, Exeter, Bristol, even Wolverhampton. It’s completely different yet surprisingly similar to touring the States, only with shorter drives. I’ve been in the company of beautiful cavalry, my brand new UK band. Three completely distinct characters I’ve been wandering the British countryside with in a splitter, which I call a van. Let’s meet them:

John Calvert a.k.a. Major Singon Smythe: John is a beautiful lad, proper gentleman, and a bass wizard moonlighting for Roison Murphy and yours truly. He’s London born and raised, skinny like a whip with the metabolism of arachnid. He can eat anything anytime of day and I applaud him for it. He‘s also had the same sneakers for 6 years, which he thinks is a sign of genius. He’s been my guide to British culture, introducing me to it’s many wonders such as Delia Smith and Alan Partridge.

Sam “Blue” Agard: Sam is a curious fellow, member of Corrine Baliey Rae’s band, and a monster of a drummer, or he likes to refer to himself, “head of the percussion department”. He’s obsessed with PSP, Nando’s (a gourmet fast-food chicken joint) and Tango (kind of like Tang). His favorite band is Mint Condition and he insists on putting absurd polyrhythmic fills in my songs. He’s also one of the best drummers I’ve ever played with. Sam brought his two kids to our show last night, Rishon and Kieran. They are the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time, have made me give up my vow of never to speaking to children again, as per my years as a Pre-K Gym teacher.

Francois Pare a.k.a. The Canadian: Francois is the first Canadian I’ve toured with, hopefully not the last. Believe it or not, they are just like Americans. If I can judge by Francois, they also love Burger King, KFC, and the band Toto. Francois is a front of house god, choosing the work me after a year long stint with the Hoosiers. We both agree on a love of Phil Collins and are working to re-create the vibe of “Something In The Air Tonight” for my live show. He refuses to call me buddy, for which I respect him greatly.

So yeah, that’s my crew. Next time yerr at a show, come say hi and share some of these personal details with them. They will welcome you with open arms. They will also beat me later on in the van, er splitter.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

What's a Super Bowl?

Yes ladies and gentleman, I’m in a foreign country all right. This time last year I was downing chicken wings and gulping draft beer on 33rd and 8th with birthday boy Tommy Merrill, eagerly awaiting each mind-blowing commercial. Now I’m writing you from a Starbucks in Queens Park, wearing a scarf and sipping espresso. Times have indeed changed. I know I’ve been bad at keeping in touch, please don’t think I’m one of those lousy boyfriends (even though, in truth, I am). This past month was a hectic one: finishing the record here in London, doing photo shoots, planning a music video, renting an apartment, err… flat, finding a band, and perfecting my Rockstar pout. From all accounts I have arrived. I walk into rehearsal rooms now to find my gear setup. A far cry from lugging 88 keys up 4 flights of stairs, stepping over sleeping derelicts along the way. Some things are the same. I feel as confused and bewildered as ever, maybe even more so. Crossing the street is a dangerous proposition here, pedestrian etiquette nonexistent. People constantly step on your heels in overcrowded bars. And I’ve seen enough asymmetrical haircuts to last a lifetime. Women are pretty much the same – moody, brooding, and way more interesting than men on the whole. But I’ve made mates here for sure, one of which is my fellow Friday night solider Miles Christie: suave Ear/Nose/and Throat man by day, voracious master of ceremonies by night. He’s a great companion to have in London, knows every pub, club, and hotspot like the hair on his chin. I keep telling him to start a series of travel books, setup a nightlife information booth or something. Rolling with Miles is like having a walking, talking copy of Time Out at your side. You should definitely look him up when you come to town, he’s well up for it. Am I having a good time you ask? I guess. It can be rough and lonely, but so can NYC. I’m starting to think I’d be rough and lonely wherever I am, even in friendly places like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis. Plus rough and lonely makes for good songs. God forbid I get settled and satisfied. What the hell would I have to look forward to then?