Just boarded the plane, British Airways this time. What a contrast to American Airlines or United. The Brits have been so very polite making this slight delay ever more acceptable.
Sam and I ended up on the exact same flight which gave us time to swell up like chubby chipmunks on Olympia Nut Mix (the one with chocolate) and catch up on some last-minute preparation and promotion for the upcoming European shows.
Tomorrow we will be in Frankfurt and from there heading straight down to Stuttgart. Strange coincidence – during our stopover in Chicago after SXSW, I sent out a couch request to one host on Couchsurfers in Stuttgart. Back in Toronto, I open my email and it just so happens that Fabian, our to be host, is playing the same concert as us. Of the 1800 Stuttgart hosts, I found him.
It has been a couple of months of chaos, really a full year, but don’t take that as a complaint. I am still in a state of shock.
This last tour birthed so much, namely, The Sweetness.
South by South West was insanity. I have never seen so many people all so enthusiastic about music, heard so much music, partied so much, played so much and best of all, gotten such a strong response from audiences. This Sweetness project sure has a life of its own.
We played 9 showcases in 4 days after a 24 hour super rehearsal followed by a one day live recording session with Gordon Raphael, producer of The Strokes and Regina Spektor.
Sam, Aly and I returned to Austin after our final show of the tour, picked up Douglas, and headed down to San Antonio where we would be recording. As Aly’s sister lives there we planned to rehearse non stop in her condo for 24 hours, until she started getting phone calls from neighbours complaining about the music.
With only one day to prepare for this recording session, our one chance to put together something fabulous to distribute at SXSW and in Europe, we decided to find an empty parking lot to rehearse the night away in.
We packed up the car and settled at a strip mall under an awning. In our pajamas, we rocked the night away, of course taking ourselves very seriously, as usual.
Day 2 of San Antonio, we headed over to Rhapsody Studio and were met by a quirky Gordon, definitely my kind of man, eccentric, goofy and talented.
The studio mimicked his personality – Baywatch, neon zebra, stuffed rat with moveable fingers, tapestries, blankets from Mallorca, and of course amazing equipment.
With a super perceptive ear, Gordon perfected our live sound, moving mics by the millimetre.
In a circle, facing each other, in a spider web of mic stands we shot out 6 songs, each with no more than 3 takes.
Gordon, by the way, actually lives in Berlin and coincidentally, will be there for our shows! He also has an affinity to Mallorca, Spain where I have family and hope to visit this summer.
A tradition in San Antonio is eating at Chacho’s, a jiving, under priced, over sized, disgustingly delicious, Mexican Restaurant with enormous frozen Margarita’s (shouldn’t even be called restaurant, more like corral).
The next day to Austin for our first day of SXSW. We only had 2 shows that day. What a breeze!
To end the night we played at One 2 One, owned by Greg, likely my favourite venue in Austin for many reasons. For one, the sound is incredible – Greg mans the sound and ensures that every artist sounds the way they deserve. Greg is the most caring and supportive venue owner I have EVER met. He and his wife Destiny treat their artists like true friends. Somehow I lucked out and he liked me and my music enough to bring me back again and again, help with my US visa, give me awesome hugs, and let me nap in his office.
Thursday we had off, well almost. Whenever you go to any conference or festival head over to the Canadian sponsored ones. As we have granting programs there is always an abundance of food and alcohol at the Canadian events. We were invited to the Canadian Boat Cruise held by SOCAN. It’s funny seeing so many people you know and strangely comforting.
We left the boat with pockets filled with beer and headed over to see our friends, These United States, play. Those boys are incredible and sure know how to work a crowd. And as for their album, it sounds delicious, produced by the mysterious Duane Lundy of Shangrila Productions, who, on side note, also produced Aly’s album, Things Worth Keeping.
Spent that day and night wandering the streets with the boys and ended up back at the house of most ridiculously talented Gum B of Mastica, or shall we say Mark Williams. A cellist, and bassist with the biggest heart you will ever find, the craziest riffs, a trippy mind-blowing album and wonderland of a home (where we happened to be crashing through SXSW). I LOVE this guy and you should too! He, by the way, is the owner of that beautiful bass Sam was playing throughout our tour. Yes, he trustingly and lovingly lent it to her for one month.
Who the hell does that? Only Gum B!
Of course, no sleep was to be had that evening and of course we had an early show. Balcony TV is an online show that airs performances from artist in the major cities of the world. We played one song and had a short interview with Barbara Rappaport. Her along with Brian Levin are so lovely. I recently got a message from Brian offering to help promote us in any way he could. Awww…
From there we had some time, lost to I don’t know what, perhaps SX traffic and ended our evening at Botticelli’s. This show made us really appreciate the venues with their own sound people. Sadly we spent way too long trying to figure things out. But finally when we did, it was special and we sold plenty cd’s.
Again, a late all – doing what, I don’t know. Don’t take my blurry memory as an indication of my alcohol intake. Believe me, time just warps into one blur during these weird conferences.
Our last and most lucrative day of South By, we played 3 shows and sold 40 cd’s and got lots of tips…YUM!
At our One 2 One gig, we picked up some bookings and felt like rock stars signing cd’s out the window.
Our last show was hilarious but proved our easy-going natures. There were sound issues and the sound guy was unable to fix it so we opted for an acoustic show outside. I believe it turned out better than it otherwise would have. The crowd drew near and circled around us, listening intently, creating an intimate setting.
I’m realizing more and more how airy fairy I sound. Here comes another example. More than a year ago, I met this guy at a cafe in Toronto because he was speaking German. I guess we hit it off. Not so long after I ran into him again at the same place, Tequila Bookworm. We sat together and talked about everything. It just so happens that he is also a musician with a band, Freedom or Death Music. Somehow in Toronto, we ran into each other quite a lot – not so strange when you frequent similar places.
However, what was freaky was that we ended up flying the same flight to Germany last time, then proceeded to the same train to Stuttgart where we chatted for hours. Why does the universe force certain people on us?
Anyway, of course we ran into each other yet again after failing to keep in touch. In NY I was talking to a booker and out of the blue he mentioned Sway’s band, Freedom or Death . I said to Sam that I bet I’d run into him at SX because there is no way to avoid each other. Half joking, but I did. At our very last showcase, he was also playing. Now there must be hundreds of showcases each half hour so it wasn’t likely that we’d meet. But if there is a way in hell we will find it, anywhere!
We were finished, headed to one of my favourite Austinite’s houses for an after party, Scott Andrews, also a musician who goes by the name of Sereph. Hanging out with a group of Norwegians, we raised hell all night and moseyed home at 6 am.
After 2 hours of sleep we packed our bags and left for the airport.
3 days later, rejuvenated from time spent with people I love in Toronto, we are flying again, off for another adventure.
Love you all