SuperDee's House

Friday, March 24, 2006

A'dam Hamburg London

Hello friends,

Well, here I am back where I started - in drizzly London. Except this time I've got no luggage anymore. Yup, Ryanair (the Euro equivalent of Southwest with even less frills) has gone and misplaced my wheelie bag somewhere between Hamburg Lubeck and here. So I've got my day bag with my passport, credit cards, my book, my ipod (no speakers or charger), my camera (no charger or usb cord), my journal, and the clothes on my body (hat/coat/scarf included) which I actually have been already wearing for a day or so.

Interestingly, all I needed to do was write that paragraph and now I feel much better about the whole thing. I'm checked back into the St. Giles Hotel (where I was at the beginning of the trip), I'm gonna go look for a store that sells underwear, a toothbrush and that sort of thing (Marks & Spencer will probably be my spot). And I really want to see Mary Poppins so I'll see if there are any tickets available when I'm done here.

Let's recap a bit... Last you heard from me, I was going to the Black Crowes. The show was amazing and loud. The Paradiso was incredible - I want to see every band there! (Scott and Lissy, I was thinking of you guys a lot. Man, I wish I got to see Phish there!!!) They opened with "Wiser Time" one of my faves and encored with The Beatles' "I'm Lonely" which was my omen that going to Hamburg was a good idea (which it was, by the way).

I was quite ready to leave Amsterdam - kind of like that feeling when you've been at JazzFest in NOLA for one day too many. To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about going to Germany. The word "Germany" conjures up a lot of negativity - just a product of lots of stuff that I learned growing up - stuff from the past, of course. I had arranged with my new buds Gabe and Robin to meet for the train and to crash at their hotel room after the show - I had an early flight the next morning (this morning). We found a few Umphreaks on the train and the anxiety was quickly subsiding...

Met this great JamBase fan from Slovenia, Miha, who was telling us about his first experiences with Phish. Amazing that it's really not that much different from ours... He got the hook sunken in at his second show (after he had to go the second day because he didn't believe they'd play a totally different show of stuff he had never heard on the albums) and wound up doing the entire next Euro tour in 1997. I loved listening to his story because it mirrors all of ours and he's on the opposite side of the world.

Hamburg rocks! As soon as we got out of the station, the first person we met, our cab driver, was super cool. He was spewing off all the American music that he loves - White Stripes, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams ("Sr.," he emphasized). We immediately got the sense that Hamburg is a real laid back city. After meeting some more uber-fanatical Umphreaks for some German beers - there were about 10 or so on the entire Euro-Tour - it was time to go to the venue for the show.

The show was good but to be honest, I wasn't paying attention too closely last night. I was enjoying meeting the MANY people that came out to see Das Umph! There really was quite a turnout - mostly 40's german men, likely prog-heads. The song choice was pretty deliberate - technical enough to impress their German fans and enough new songs to sell the new record. I worked the merch table for most of the second set and cds were flying like hotcakes. Good stuff.

I met and talked to a few people who were very impressed with the band and were so happy that we came out to Hamburg. Apparently, for all the American bands that come, Hamburg is their last stop. The few people I talked to knew and loved JamBase. Germany seems to be a pretty rockin country and everyone was saying that Berlin was the spot. All in all, I love Germany and would like to start there next time!

Except...... that somehow, my suitcase got missing. (JK, I had to check it! Euro weight standards!) The Ryanair people seem confident that it will be recovered and they'll send it back to me in SF - this is highly unlikely in my mind. The only thing that is bothering me is that I went to use the WC and the bags were already coming out when I came out and I'm just wondering if someone decided to take two suitcases with them instead of one. The Ryanair ladies tried to assure me that there's no way that would happen - that's the New Yorker in me, I suppose.

Anyway, I've got some of my favorite clothes, some American cash and the keys to my apartment in there but whatever, right? I'm safe, I've got plastic, I've got my camera (thank GOD because I have taken like 600 photos!!!) and I'm in London for one more night! So, if you don't mind terribly, I'm going to run along and have a stroll and see if I can't rummage up some theater tickets for this evening (and maybe a new shirt).

Love to all....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

...winding down - sorta.

Hello again from Amsterdam :) Been a busy couple of days! Jam in the Dam ended last night. The shows were fun but the second night was the best. This kind of felt like one too many to me. I was thinking two longer days with six bands would be great but the logistics would be a nightmare I bet. Anyway, this is a good fest. It will be interesting to see what they cook up for next year. I would definitely consider coming back next year - with a little help from my friends though.

Funny to watch the budding friendship between da Umph and Bisco - a "merger" if you will. I really enjoyed Sector 9 - great to get a reaffirmation - the smallish room helped. The Duo was a perfect addition to this mix. This lineup works because each of these have pretty hard core followings that would travel so far to just see their band.

Today, after doing the final JamBase writeup I went to wander around and see what kind of trouble I could get into. I found the 420 Cafe - the music et al. was very inviting (thanks, Andy). Also got furthur photographic evidence of the JamBase stickers in the Grey Area (there are 3). This city looks a lot different to me then when I was here 10 years ago. The red light district looked familiar when I walked through there today. I don't remember so much shopping last time I was here - I did window shopping only.

Ok, so now, back to the hotel to rest up before I go meet Dennis Cook at the Paradiso to see the Black Crowes! Tomorrow morning, I train to Hamburg and see Umphrey's for their last show (I couldn't NOT go at this point...) then probably straight to the airport for my morning flight to London. Gotta find a holding pattern spot in London for Friday night and then I fly back to San Francisco Saturday morning. I can't believe it... I feel so far away!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

...and continues...

Things are great here. Last night was awesome. I just did a pretty decent sized write up of day 2 for Kayceman to post today so check it out there. Sickest ever part of the night was seeing Bobby Previte up there. He and Charlie Hunter dropped by and sat with the combo of the Duo and JFJO. Really amazing... Anyway, I think I'm all written out today so check JamBase for the goods today. Night three is rapidly approaching...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Amsterdam continues...

Ok, night 2 of Jam in the Dam is rapidly approaching. Last night was a lot of fun. It's a silly scene here. The bands played well - I just passed a mini-review onto Kayceman for posting with some photos on JamBase. I got two requests from two bands - Bisco played my "Munchkin Invasion" and Umphrey's played my "2x2" for their first song of the fest. Nice! I'll have to cook up some other demands for the rest of the time...

This morning after sleeping in, I got that feeling that I get when I'm far away from my friends, family, and loved ones and was wishing that you were all with me here. This is fun and all but it's nice to share it with some friendlies! So, I called my new buds Robin and Gabe who are staying upstairs from me and we were all simultaneously waking up and thinking about the Van Gogh museum. We found some pancakes (yum!) and walked down to the museum. Thankfully all the informational stuff was in English so I really got to learn about this man who went insane (probably due to a combination of absinthe and epilepsy and unrealized genius), unknowingly created a movement in modern art, and shot himself in the chest and spent two days dying from his wounds. Very intense!

Before I go, I would like to share this one quote from Van Gogh that I read today that spoke to me for whatever reason:

"I exaggerate, I sometimes change a motif, but in the end I don't invent the whole painting. Instead I find it ready-made in nature, though I still have to extract it."

Until tomorrow....

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Amsterdam - it starts...

Figured I'd start a new blog for a new city (even though this is the same internet session)...

Arrived in Amsterdam last night, checked into my hotel which was not good - no bathroom in my room, noisy hallways, the room was like a prison cell with just a bed and a sink - not good. My new friends were staying just a few doors down so in my first 15 minutes there, I avoided any stress, booked a room, and told my hotel that I would be checking out the next day (today). The extra Euros is more than worth it for me to be comfortable for 5 nights - I have needs! So, now I am staying at the American Hotel which is very nice and just 2 blocks from the Melkweg.

Anyway! Went with Gabe and Robin (from San Diego) and Scott and Sasha (from Toronto) to a coffee shop (Dampkring, I believe?) to ease ourselves in and then to dinner at a Thai place. Saturday night in Amsterdam is pretty hoppin! Lots going on all over the place... We went to another coffee shop and I decided I wanted to go see my friends at the Sugar Factory where JFJO was playing that night. I think it was like 1am at this point so when I got there, JFJO had finished their set but it was good to hang with them! Joe Russo and Marc Allan on the scene as well... Brian, Reed and Jason got called up to play with the band that was playing (sorry forgot the name!) and Joe and I had fun getting in Brian's face for a while.

From there, it was bedtime for me... I woke up, changed hotels, and went out in search for an internet cafe and here I am!! My new friends staying in my hotel have laptops so checking in might be easier from this point on... Jam in the Dam tonight! Bisco! Umph! Duo! The 9! Can't wait!

Finally the Internet! Oh Paris...

Hello hello hello! I know it's been a few days since you've all heard from me but Íve been BUSY!! In a good way! Ok, I've got less than an hour on this thing so I'll try to make the most of it...

PARIS!!! I love it!!!! I already can't wait to go back and spend like 2 weeks there to just hang out. I saw a LOT of sites... We might as well start from the beginning (a very good place to start).

My first night (Wed?) was mellow. I went to eat at place recommended by Sarah Bean called Gai Moulin. It was very nice - most likely a gay part of town which is no stretch for this San Francisco-ite. Yummy food (I ate a salad with goat cheese and duck AND dessert AND a half bottle of wine) and nice relaxed atmosphere. Went back to my hotel (which was LOVELY - Hotel Home Plaza Marais) and got a great night's sleep - my first full night of sleep since being on this side of the world.

Ok, next day... Woke up, walked around the Marais which was such a great neighborhood to stay in - very local. Everyone was very nice to me - I felt so afraid to even speak English because I thought they were going to hate me for being American but I did not get that at ALL. I guess I'm not an obnoxious American so it's ok... I digress.

Tanner, Emily and their friend Rick (who lives in Paris now) met me at the Picasso Museum which was closed that day for a social movement (more on Picasso Museum later). We decided on plan B and walked down to Notre Dame. INCREDIBLE! So humbling... There really are no words (so I took pictures) for how the gothic structure itself and the amazing stained glass inside made me feel. From there we walked around the Latin quarter a bit - got a crepe and then hopped on the Metro to go up to the Montmartre area. (P.S. the METRO rules!)

We walked up the stairs to Sacre Coure (another church) which had very impressive mosaics - a huge one of Jesus right above the alter. The part that got me the most was the Chapel for Virgin Mary where there was a statue of Mary holding her newborn baby and a mosaic (stained glass?) just above depicting her holding her dead son - very moving. Ran into a few Umphreaks at this point which was kind of surreal. From there we checked out the Dali Museum which was wonderful - some of his art would make great concert posters! They had some really fantasmical sculptures in there as well. We hung out in the square for a bit and watched the artists while eating another crepe (this time with NUTELLA, mmmm!)

With a few hours to still spare until dinner/show, I wanted to go see the Opera Garnier but when we got there, there was a huge student demonstration in the street just out front (pictures later) and we couldn't go in. It was closed anyway. (More on Opera Garnier later.) So we walked through the streets back up to the Montmartre, had some dinner and found Le Boule Noir where the Umphreys show was that night.

Great small room! Funny from going from 4500 people at the Aragon to about 80-100 at this little (but nice) place in PARIS! The show was RIDICULOUS. Definitely the best Umphreys show I can remember seeing in a real long time. The energy was incredible and I think it absolutely has everything to do with where we were. Brendan told me at Notre Dame earlier that afternoon he felt the presence of G-d and something special and spiritual came out in the playing that night. Because I don't have a lot of time here I will just leave you with the 30 minute "Hurt Bird Bath"opener, a sick "Mulches > Tinkles"in the middle, and a "Song Remains the Same" encore after a "We want the Umph!" chant by the crowd which the band so gracefully joined in on with instrument. We will fill in the ridiculous blanks another time... After the show, I hung with the band and crew and hit an Irish pub nearby to ring in St. Patricks Day. After a full night of silly revelry, I made it back to my hotel in the morning - navigating the Metro like a PRO!

Ok, caught a few zzzzz's and then met Tanner and Emily at the Lourve (we are on Friday now). We went straight to the Italian paintings to see Miss Mona Lisa (we realized straight away that we would not get to really see too much depth in the Lourve). She really does have a very nice smile - amazing painting just across from her. Hmm.... Maybe she's smiling because she gets to look at that all day! Wandered the halls of the paintings for a while then went to check out the Venus Di Milo. With more to do, we left the Louve and went for a stroll down the Champ De Elysesses (sp?) to the Arc de Triomphe. From there, to the Eiffel Tower - straight to the top yikes! It took me a while to get my balance but it was a cool thing to do anyway (even though I encountered the reason Americans get such a bad rep). View was hazy but the sunset was cool. We got to the bottom, waited nearby to see the sparkling of the new light installment and then went home. I went back to my neighborhood, got another yummy dinner and half bottle of wine, then a good night's sleep.

Next day (still with me?) was checkout day of Paris :( I loved Paris sooooooooo much! So, I checked my bags downstairs and went straight up to the Opéra Garnier. OH MY GOD! I had a religious experience inside. Walked into the Grand Staircase to see the multiple different kinds of marble used - all different colors. Paintings on the ceilings, chandeliers, balconies... this is just the entry way! The main Foyer was BREATHTAKING. All the paintings depicted good times (as opposed to all the beheadings in the Lourve) all over the ceilings. Honestly, I don't have words for this place... The auditorium just reopened after a rehearsal (Wish I go to see that) and I got to see the red velvety seating/balconies and the Chagal painting on the ceiling. Amazing!

Back down to the Marais and found the Picasso Museum again which was great. They had an impressive collection - it was given to France in lieu of his death taxes since he spent so much of his life in Paris. There was a visiting exhibit (I think - everything was in French) of photography of his lover/friend (?) Dora Maar - wonderful photos of Pablo at work and of his works in progress. From there, I was just milking the last bits of Paris in... Walked around, got a sandwich of Camambert on a baguette, got my bags at the hotel and went to meet my new friends Gabe and Robin at the train station to come to Amsterdam...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Show was great - off to Paris...

A quick blog before getting on with the day...

After a cat nap and a shower, Tanner, Emily and I went out to find some dinner. This is a big theater area so there was tons of stuff. We found a yummy Morrocan/Lebanese place across the street from where Mary Poppins was happening.

We arrived at the Mean Fiddler and the floor was already full with kids waiting for Da Umph. I went back to say hello and the show began shortly after. It was somewhat of a slow start but it picked up towards the end of the first set and the crowd was lovin it. Highlights... "Blue Echo" (love the fast part of it that they do now) and an AWESOME "Wife Soup" to open the second set. A big "Glory" in the second set and "Believe the Lie" encore. I'll have to check the setlist again for more goodies.

The crowd was great - very American. I kept wanting to meet some London Umphreaks and kept meeting people from Chicago! Finally met some young heady types from London. They were asking me if I was waiting for Phish to "reform." They have a Euro-Phish message board site that I'll have to check out - Also, they are in a band, of course - I wrote down the name, I'll have to post it later. They were psyched to hear I was from JamBase which made me think that it would be cool if we got to know our Euro-base a little better. They are thirsting for the scene out here! We gotta help 'em!

I also met the album art guru legend Storm Thorgeson who did the cover art to Umphrey's new album, Safety In Numbers. He's done covers for Pink Floyd and a bunch others through the years. He's a lovely man! His first Umph show - so cool he came out. At set break the band was taking pictures with him and people were asking him to sign the cover of the album. I learned that the sheep's name on the cover is "Honey." Cute... Anyway, he was like, "Well, I've got to run along now."

So, my time here on this computer is running out... Show was over pretty early, we were hanging back stage for a while - had to stand in the stairwell because the lights in their dressing room went out for some reason. (I use the words dressing room lightly anyway.) Silliness ensued back at the hotel and then everyone was off to bed... Boys went to Milan this morning and i'm off to paris!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Greetings from London

Hello from London! The flight was great - Virgin Atlantic is definitely the way to go. Good meal, TONS of media on demand, and I ended up with my own row so I was able to stretch out and get a lot of sleep. I woke up and found breakfast ready, coffee being served and an hour to go until we landed.

From Heathrow, I easily found the Underground and took the tube (mind the gap!) on the Picadilly line, switched to the Northern line and landed here at Totten-something something... Forget the name of the stop here! Arrived at the St. Giles Hotel and ran into the Umph-crew - Robbie, Adam, Don, and Kevin - who were getting ready to go load into the venue which is just a block away.

Feeling well rested, I went to poke around SOHO which is so neat. I found some great boutiques and vintage stores. Kept having to remind myself that £40 is not nearly the same as $40 so I've refrained from buying anything... so far. I wandered around, got myself lost and then found again... London feels good! It seems so familiar in many ways - lots of the same stores and everything is in English which is helpful. The streets in this neighborhood are so zig-zaggy-crazy that I don't even notice which side people are driving on. Weather is not terrible - drizzly and gray but whattya expect! Same as SF right now...

Got back to the hotel and Tanner and Emily were just arriving. We went up to the mini-suite which is really not a suite by American standards at all! Back downstairs we ran into the rest of the band getting their acts together and heading over to the venue for soundcheck.

Now I think the trip is catching up to me so I think I'll go chill out for a bit before the evening arrives...

Monday, March 13, 2006

London-Bound in about 7 hours...

Seemed fitting to change the look of SuperDee's House as I head across the country and the bigass pond today. At 4:45pm, I leave San Francisco International Airport, spend I think around 14 hours in the sky (courtesy of Virgin Atlantic) and wake up in London, England on Tuesday morning. I have not been to Europe in 10 years and I'm freaking out! Still need to finish packing...

Over the next week or so, I'll be jumping on and off Umphrey's McGee's first European Tour
highlighted by a three-night festival in Amsterdam - Jam in the Dam. We start in London at the Mean Fiddler tomorrow night...