Pictures first. Stories second.
Wednesday, April 11th, 2012. Writing from Galway, Ireland.
The show Friday Night was wicked cool. Morgan Friend and Friends, played at Seomra' Spraoi (Pronounced like Shemre Shpree, sort of) it's beautiful anarchist community/ autonomous space. The name translates roughly into something like fun garden. It had a great kitchen, which served delicious soups, meeting room rentals, wifi (that's when I got the last batch of pictures into the cloud), sound equipment, and my favourite part, a fully functional bike shop; complete with monster and freak bikes.
Opening up an evening, especially to a non drunk and activist audience was a bit of a change for Morgan Friend and Friends, but we had fun anyway. The first band that followed was a..... I want to say doom metal band, heavy, a bit slow, very heavy. Groovy almost. Eric, the singer/guitar player was dressed like a farmer and was having a ball.
Everyone was cursing the government for not allowing people to buy alcohol, being good friday. It seems like precious few people are practising Catholics in this country but as Nicola said, the church is in bed with the ruling class. So arcane rules still apply.
The second band was fronted by a nerdily well dressed, short, redhead, hilarious, square framed glasses local man. The other members of the group made beats on a computer, the other scratched. Yes, we were on the same bill as a Irish emo/comedy/protest hip hop band. I couldn't understand much of what he was saying, but he moved in very funny ways. Highly enjoyable.
The fourth act was a local legend, Captain Moonlight. Intelligent and informed about the many social issues, he was a dark, one man hip hop group. Getting the beats going on his lap top, it was well channelled rage and disgust at the world. His first song was a dis song, about his self. “Captainmoon light, f*** off. “Who is this captain moon shite”. Spoke eloquently between songs about various protest actions and issues with the government.
Played a bunch of tunes in the backyard, ate good soup and headed off late.
On the way to the hostel a slightly weird thing happened, I'll make it quick. A well dressed drunk man approached me to play the guitar at a party at his sisters. I strolled along with him, went behind an apartment complex, (which was a bit scary) and knocked on a door. This sister looked through the window and was clearly pissed off, then disappeared. My cue to leave. “No stay” pleaded the drunk. Out came the brother in law. Shaved head, bit muscles, a Ramones t-shirt, angry face. “What the fuck do you think your doing!” he said, in an intense, pissed off but not loud way. I froze for a second, the he said “no disrespect sir, this is my brother in law”. I kept walking. The drunk followed, pleaded for me to stay. Said no way, but he wanted to walk me to the street. The big brother in law followed, “what the fuck do you think your doing, we've got kids in bed” and “no disrespect sir” to me. He grabbed his drunken brother in laws arm and escorted him into the house.
I liked the situation because the big guy was so polite to me.
In the morning worked on the blog. Saturday night was the second dublin gig. This was at Fibber McGeas ( or however that's spelt). It was a fund raise for the shell to sea campaign. Off the northwest coast, a corrupt polition, who's now in jail, basically gave away 54 billion euros worth of oil to the Shell gas company. Police have thrown local farmers in jail for no giving up their land. The fight has been going on for about ten years. But it's still popular and supported by many people in Ireland.
The club was huge. Wicked punk bands playing upstair and killer folky stuff downstars.
We ate a korean restaurent across the street. Got to hang out with Nicola's friend paul who's also an anarchist and a pagan. He said if I'd been gay as well it would have been the trifecta. Sorry Paul! We got along very well, as I do with most gay men I come across. He told me about the deeply pagan nature of Ireland. Catholicism in Ireland has many pagean traditions and does not get along with the vatican at all. Some of the month in Irish (know as Gaelic) are directly from the ancient festival names. And people still worship at the ancient shines around the country, with different maidens, mothers and crones everywhere.
Gypsy Rable Reble did a great job of opening up. Got along well with Tim, the bass player, did some jamming and good things are ahead. Up stairs were the punk bands. I thrashed like I hadn't in ages. It was sweet. We went on around 11. A drunk was standing right in from the stage yelling things and singing Irish tunes. Quite the cultural difference from Canada, where he would have been ejected post haste. He stood perfectly still like a statue for a while, quite amusing. Our set was smooth, sold a bunch of CD s then went jamming with Tim on the streets. We made some good dough.
Sunday I spent looking for a trad jam. Unfortunately they don't really happen in the bars like they do in Galway. Only organized performers. I did however find something just as suitable. Ron Kane, is from Montana. We me randomly on the street and jammed for a couple hours right there and then. He knew hundreds of old time songs, a historian and great player. Was in cowboy bands that played around the world AND was at the forefront of avalanche prevention in the seventies. They would climb mountains, do a bunch of math, then set snowy land slides so the hill could be skied later on. Good jams.
It was easter sunday. Met two women legionairs, (catholic outreach workers) who where blessing people and giving out medallions of saint Mary. They kept saying what a lovely face I had. We chatted for a long time, prayed together, they blessed me and they told me to never loose that softness I have. It made me cry. They asked me why it made me cry and I answered that in my travels I've had to be extremely brave and strong, so it was nice to be reminded that the soft side is still there. It felt great to cry. In fact I'm crying right now, sitting the Galway library, just thinking about it.
Their friend, an American priest came over and prayed for me as well. Talked about a certain musician traveller saint. I told him I was from Quebec and he said something I found very funny. “Oooh, Quebec used to be just like Ireland was at one point. The people were so devout and god fearing. Unfortunately Quebec is more like Ireland is now.” They gave me a Mary medallion, which I'm still wearing. One more example of the true nature of reality shinning through. Because remember people, we live in a feminine dominant world.
In the evening the guys in told me we didn't have any more gigs booked, that I was free to do what ever I wanted. I had dinner with some Spanish, Italian, Brazilian and french travellers in the hostel kitchen. A 2 eruo contribution made for a delicious salad for all.
Met some American college kids on break from studying in Belgium. Good kids, republicans, but good kids. We played drinking jenga and went to a dance club called Pygmalion. Danced my ass off! Beautiful light rain on the way back.
On monday morning I gave my case to the Morgan and Greg and bid them adieu as they headed south. I spent the day working on the farm house tour, got some grub. Then decided I wanted to hitch hike to Galway.
Looked up wiki hitching, got on a city bus, the driver gave me some hints and it was smooth sailing. Three young folk answered all types of questions about travellers here Got stuck in Athlone. Was getting worried when no one would pick me up after a while. Small town can be conservative in that respect. Chilled into meditation, and all the sudden a double rainbow appeared over me. T'was the brightest rainbow I'd ever seen.
Walked through town to the bus stop. Gorgeous little place. Saw something a bit perturbing on the way. A cop was walking with determination on the other side of the street. Two fifteen year olds in track suits stop and walked up to him. All the sudden the cop was holding a hammer, slid it in his belt and had the two boys up against the wall. I didn't stay long, but I did snap a shot of the church right next door.
The announced for boarding to Galway sounded over the PA as my ticket came out of the machine. I asked someone what the message was, since the accent was so thick. But I thought I heard Galway. Yes, Galway he said. Raced outside as the bus was pulling away, but he stopped and let me on.
The trip was beautiful. I noticed loads of baby animals in the fields. Fole, (baby horse?) caves, lambs, everywhere. It was awesome. Made me feel like a big softy for being so effected by all the rampant cuteness.
Pulling into town, I checked my email, and none of the couch surfing requests had come through. Nor did the greetings from anyone who lived in Galway. Hmmm. Took a few steps outside the internet cafe and saw it. Pallets forming a barricade, protecting a cluster of tents. Occupy Galway! Needless to say they took me in with great warmth. We swapped occupation stories, sang tunes and I felt very safe and sound.
Later, in my warm tent, I was pouring with appreciation for all the elements coming together so well.
Tuesday was spent working on the BC leg of the Farm Tour. Starting to organize my contacts well and use Gmail in it's more and more efficient manners. Evening got some soup and soda bread for dinner and sat in on another session. The 6pm sessions are awesome. People are listening, tasteful players. One of the most incredible elements of Irish culture are the songs. People would be chatting when we were playing tunes, but if someone had a song to sing. Everyone in the bar would shut up and listen intently. Played with a flute player from Basque country, Sweedish basuki player (who'd taken a college course in trad playing) and three locals that playing fiddle, bones, ocartina, button acordian and bones. One had tour all over canada, super fun time.
On a highly personal note. Some of you may know that my body odour can be prominent at times. When I'm stressed, have less then clean clothes, and have poisons like alcohol, it can get bad. To the point where I've been asked to leave bars. I've been great for the last few months, meditation, clean clothes, clean living, help a lot. But now in galway I'd slept in a tent the night before. Was stressing a bit over the boring tour booking work and had left most of my clothes in the guitar case with morgan. Needless to say the bartender took me aside for a quick word. But to my delight, and as reversal from the treatment in Ottawa, handed me a bottle and politely asked if I could give myself a quick spray. Perfecto. Plus, since I was playing I got free Guiness!
The Swede as with three women who'd also taken the course and we got along well. Got some grub. The late night jam session was not as good. Primarily because the audience was there to drink, not enjoy the atmosphere. Couldn’t really hear the banjo or fiddle. There was a wicked good guitar player, playing in DADGA tuning. My jazz style of back up was a bit contrary to his, so I held down the rhythm. After a number of jams, I realize I like this style of music, but get bored playing for long periods of time. The BPM are lively, but usually around same tempo. The tunes start to run into one and other after a while too. Perfect for this visit, but generally I like my music weirder.
Last night hung out with a Quebequoi girl and two French brothers. Found a long PVC pipe and started playing didgeridoo on it. Sounded grand. Then got an entirely unique tri-fecta happening. Playing the diggeridoo, while playing the guitar, while playing the guitar with the digeridoo. To illustrate, sliding the didge across the fretboard, picking with my right and, while singing into the didg.
Stayed at camp last night. Have begun experimenting with vegetarianism. Read a call out in the new york times magazine for people to write essays about why it's ethical too eat meat. I've been thinking about for a while, and I can't think of a damn thing. Had a discussion about with an intelligent irish man, all he could come up with was, “I just don't give a sh*t”. I think I need to do better then that. Seven hours in and I'm feeling okay so far. But please, I do enjoy eating meat. So if any one can give me a reason why in this day and age, it's by any means ethically reasonable, outside of certain exception, I challenge you to tell me.
Love you guys.