June 7, 2015

Mon., May 25— Last day in London, or Brighton!

Category: European Tour 2015 — admin @ 6:07 pm

Jimmy by the Brighton Pier in the film "Quadrophenia"

The Mod Revival of the late 70′s/early 80′s hit my little gang of friends pretty hard. The film “The Kids are Alright” came out, then “Quadrophenia”, and seeing these films multiple times at Midnight showings or drive-in double bills (with the Ramones’ “Rock n’ Roll High School”) earned you bragging rights, and was a great way to check if you wanted to bother going out with that girl a second time. Bragging rights were, of course, multiplied by a factor of two or three if you attended in a home-made target shirt or army parka with Who buttons. This is all building up to another rock n’ roll pilgrimage: the pier at Brighton. (and I am, of course, listening to the Quadrophenia LP as I type this) Ron was completely done in by That Hideous Road Cold and was tucked safely in his bed in Nevern Square.

Lauri and Barbara had decided to take the day to see the major sights via a hop-on-hop-off bus tour— Big Ben, Parliament: London’s Smash Hits.

Part of their day together included lifting a tea cup to one of our dearest friends’ [Marcel Nunis] mother at the swank Savoy Hotel’s high tea. This one’s for you Gertie. Apparently, Marcel’s mom had introduced her son to this wondrous place/tradition when he was a budding  young man.

Barbara and Lauri at the Savoy's 'high tea' in London.

Me, I was off for Brighton with John. Neptune, after his *further* adventures in the North (see picture),

Neptune at Blackpool's "Pleasure Beach"--I've forgot the crackers!

promised to meet us.

So, John and I took off on the train to Brighton. This rocky beach town reminded me of a down-scale Santa Monica, or an up-scale Pismo/Venice mix.

Neptune had told me that there were some artsy bits to explore…but we were just there for a couple of hours. John and I headed out to the pier.

A nice holiday weekend (Memorial Day for our U.S. pals; here,  this was a ‘bank holiday’…and I’m still not sure what that is.) At the end of the pier, John invited me in for a pint. There was a club and a rock n’ roll band….but this wasn’t a “Brown-Eyed Girl” moment. They were playing a rotation of Mod hits: Small Faces, The Kinks, The Who, something from Tamla/Motown/ Stax, then rinse and repeat. Ah, we’d found our tribe.

There was the same couple who’d been dancing at home to Let’s Go Bowling or The Khyber Rifles (seemingly). Many of the guys in the band were much older than us, and must’ve been there for this music’s first go-round. In fact, we heard that the drummer had played for Sandie Shaw and had been Ringo’s (!!!!) replacement in Rory and the Hurricane’s when that guy left to join the Beatles. Seemed like a pivotal moment…esp. after seeing no reference/throw the rock tourist a bone kind of things in town (unlike Liverpool who finally figured out they could run at least 1/2 of their economy on the Beatles.). We enjoyed for a while, then had a good visit with the band afterwards. We walked back up the pier and…there was our partner Neptune.

Next , it was time for lunch, we walked back up into the town and found lunch at a local pub.

After spending a while trying to work out the puzzle, “How can this town support a Fish n’ Chips Shop every 27.5 feet”, we headed back to the train station and our beds in London.

Brighton Rail Station

inside Brighton rail station

A great day. –and now to end this post with an observation: There seemed to be some sort of trend towards using these cheap, plastic, fake plants….these round blobs of almost-foilage….north, south, Liverpool, Manchester, London…we saw them everywhere.

funny plastic plant reproductions near our hotel in London.

Sting as "BellBoy" and "Ace Face" in the film Quadrophenia

June 6, 2015

Tues., May 26 –the Chunnel. London to Dusseldorf.

Category: European Tour 2015 — admin @ 6:10 pm

Lauri strike The Pose outside of the high-speed train that'd just taken us under the English Channel.

Today was a travel day. Sort of a day of rest. Somehow it doesn’t always feel that way. Barbara put it well by saying that
travel days were a lot of sitting down for several hours, broken by short,exhausting, crazy bursts of running. “Oh no, the train’s just changed from track 12 to track 14″…zoom! I do love the long train trips though: the scenery, the leg room, and often the chance to meet people from other walks and have some cool conversations. One of the first chance meetings was at the station in Brussels where we changed from one high-speed train to the next. Who did we meet? A lady who’d played flute in the Fresno Philharmonic, and her daughter who’d graduated from Hoover High School just two years before me. Crazy, eh? On the train itself, we had a great mixed-up multi-lingual-multi-person conversation going. That started because we said hello to a young woman who turned out to be a Russian who had just learned German. So, with Lauri’s bit o’ Russian, and my bit o’ German, the comedy began. Across from us was a Frenchman from Burgundy. Lauri pulled him into the conversation when she saw him trying not to laugh too obviously at something I’d said in my halting German. ["Your hovercraft is full of eels."?] He (of course) spoke a few words of Russian as well as French and English. Then it was only a matter of time ’til we pulled in the German lady next to him. Crazy, but cool.

When we got into Dusseldorf we finally got to make the in-the-flesh acquaintance of our host for the last leg of our tour, the Irishman turned German businessman/pub proprietor Stephen Leech whom we’d met via our long-time internet radio friend Mike Lidskin (no surprise there, Mike being not just the curator of his weekly radio show, but also the curator/matchmaker of musical friends. Check him on Saturday afternoons at www.twirlradio.com and at KUBU 96.5fm if you’re in the Sacramento area. I’m listening as I type!) Stephen got us safely onto a train that took us to the smaller, nearby town of Hilden where we would be staying for the next few days. And here’s a good enough spot to say, that if you’re ever in the Dusseldorf area, find Stephen at his place: The Irish Pub . We can’t thank him enough. All I can say, is that we will try our best to spoil him when he and his come to California.
first visit to Stephen Leech (center)'s Irish Pub in Hilden, Germany

Afterwards, some of us crashed at the hotel, and some of us couldn’t resist a late-night exploring of Dusseldorf.

and sometimes one does need a special tag: “things are a little bit different in Germany”…a slightly surreal Brothers Grimm spirit and style that sometimes shows through:

the (should be) world-famous Nutella Nipple of Dusseldorf



Wed., May 27—A Day off in Dusseldorf

Category: European Tour 2015 — admin @ 2:15 pm

We started our morning by going to the ‘city center’ of Hilden–the ‘fussgangerzone’ [or foot-going-zone...sort of like our Fulton Mall for you Fresnans, and those things actually work just fine in Europe...] There was a grocery store, and whenever anyone of our troop went inside, they would emerge much much later wide-eyed ranting about the great price and exotic varieties of German chocolates.

strange goings on in the Hilden city center


file under: things are just a little bit different in Germany

Well settled into our hotel in Hilden, and with no gig or other band responsibilities until tomorrow night, Lauri and I decided to hspend the rest of the day together exploring the alt stadt (“old town”) in Dusseldorf.

We started off with a late lunch-early supper back at Die Schlussel (“The Key”) where we had eaten last night. This time I was going to try the Schweinhaxe (roasted ham hock or ‘pig’s knuckle’). It sounded weird to my very pedestrian palate, but after seeing them being served here last night, I wanted me one of them things! Get around a couple of bones, and you have the most tender pork roast you’ve ever had.

schweinhaxe mit kartofelbrei und rot kraut

Two stores we wanted to visit amongst the winding alleys of the old town were the spice shop, and a chocolate shop that had a name that just did not work in English–more than once I had heard one of our friends read it : “Gut and Gerne”?…[ the locals say it: 'gooot unt ger-nah'...or, as best as I can translate it, a store devoted to what is "good" and things we "like"].

The "Gut und Gerne" chocolate shop

check out the fountain of chocolate in the window!

Then it was a leisurely walk along the river to finish off our evening in Dusseldorf.

old town Dusseldorf along the Rhine

We closed off our night by taking the bus into the town center of Hilden to say “hello” to our host Stephen at his pub. We ended up on the other end of the ‘fussgangerzone’ from where we were yesterday.–a nice little walk down the way after they’d rolled up the sidewalks for the night. We came into The Irish Pub where Stephen immediately pulled up a chair and conversation fired along until it was time to get home to bed.—tomorrow: our first gig in Germany!

…and as Lauri and I had our evening together, the rest of our gang, roamed the night on the cobbled streets of Dusseldorf….


June 4, 2015

Thurs., May 28—First Show in Germany

Category: European Tour 2015 — admin @ 10:16 am


"The Tube", Dusseldorf, Deutschland

Tonight was to be our first show in Germany. For all the times I’ve visited friends and family here, I’ve never done a gig in my mother’s homeland. Lauri was sleeping ’round the clock. She had developed a little bit of a cold. There was a lot of coughing, colds, and sinus infections going around our gang throughout this trip. The memory of our last tour in the UK where I arrived almost completely unable to sing for the first two shows was a memory that cut deep; I lived in paranoia. Thankfully, I was ok so far. Just two shows to go. I let Lauri sleep. We were just going to hang around the hotel this morning. Maybe get lunch before going to an early soundcheck at “The Tube” in Dusseldorf’s altstadt.

The rest of the band went to a classic car museum/auction and hung out with Stephen for the afternoon.

Lauri and I had lunch in the altstadt then walked on over to The Tube. It was starting to rain just a little. Very much like everyone of my trips to Europe, it always looked like it had *just*rained, or that it was *going to* rain, or maybe it was raining *just a little*, but thankfully, the rain never stopped or slowed any of our fun.
It looked like people were just starting to arrive. We got the equipment going, said our ‘hellos’, met the soundperson, the club owner, the other bands…

loading into The Tube, Dusseldorf Altstadt

Then it was that chunk of time between arriving and actually playing. This time it was mostly filled with meeting folks who’d come esp. to meet us: Barbara’s family had had a foreign exchange student stay with them years ago, and now Sabina, her husband, and her two daughters were there to meet Barbara. Then came Thorston, an exchange student who went to high school with Lauri, and coincidentally was a friend of my own and some of my friends (though Lauri and I wouldn’t meet for another year.)

Barbara's family's exchange student Sabina & family

Interesting to us Yanks, most music clubs in Germany allow minors up to a certain hour as long as they are with parents.
Opening the show was Bo & the Headhunters. Think of a mid-60′s garage band with a very cool ‘Nuggets’-style record collection, and strange Italian guitars–plus a Fender Musicmaster to boot. Great guys.

Bo & the Headhunters

The show went well. Except for a short scare where I was trying to get the theremin adapted to the new voltage/different shaped plugs that Germany had compared to the UK, all was easy.

The band played solid, and folks were interested. At the end of the set there was a call of “Zugabe! Zugabe!” that warmed my heart as I recalled the German version of our “Encore!” Pretty sweet for this half-German boy to hear that at our first show ever in Germany. Actually, I didn’t know what to play. Good thing Neptune, who seemed to be keeping some careful track of what we were playing and not playing from our list-o’-songs called out “Bad Bad Ronald”, which I think was the only time we played that strange old Trike Shop chestnut on the tour. Afterwards, we were treated to our first hearing of Hack Mack Johnson—a very solid band in the Beat Farmer (what I said)/ Social Distortion (what Doc said) vein.

Hackmack Jackson at soundcheck

Hackmack Jackson

Good stuff indeed. All in all, this was a perfect, compatible bill. Thanks to all who set it up!—-after the show, it was the walk up the lane to the bus stop, the bus ride to the “Hilden Huessen” stop, the short walk up to the Ibis Hotel. So different than at home, where everyone loads into their own car.

Outside "The Tube"-- Dusseldorf

June 3, 2015

Fri., May 29–Last Show of the Tour @ Hilden, Germany

Category: European Tour 2015 — Tags: – admin @ 6:34 pm

Our last show of the tour was at the The Irish Pub in Hilden, Germany which is a town just outside of Dusseldorf. Stephen Leech, our host for our few days in Germany is the proprietor. Of course we wanted to do well for him as well as close out our tour on a strong note. We’d be playing with the same groups we played with last night. This time it would be Hackmack Jackson starting things off (and they did! with all the solidity and power of this very together band), then it was our spot, and then closing things would be Bo & the Headhunters (and they rocked it tonight).

our host Stephen Leech and his lovely staff

Our time was off to a bumpy start: I couldn’t get the theremin to work. There was always the worry of the electricity—slightly different voltage and plugs than the UK. I tried both adapters, neither worked. This is never fun when the pressure of ‘the clock’ is tapping on your shoulder the whole time, and you don’t want to kill the momentum/energy of the night. The theremin had taken a fall; the mic stands in Europe don’t have the same girth that ours do—something in the water I suppose [har har], so we tried putting the thing on one of the bar tables…nothing. Had it died in the crash?…Finally, I picked it up and heard it’s heart-warming little whirring buzz. The table’s heavy metal stand or inside bracing must’ve been killing it. Not that an entire blog post about why-the-theremin-wasn’t-working wouldn’t be fascinating, but let’s get on with the story… Finally, things were ready, and the band shot off like a cannon–much like the busted string at Liverpool’s “Zanzibar” had made us bounce back with attitude and extra crunch. So, with my musical partners well-greased from the two week tour, we delivered a set worthy of a Last Night, and, I believe a suitable offering for Stephen, our most-awesome host. (If you read this Stephen, thank you for all you did for us!) The rest of the evening was spent celebrating, amongst ourselves and our new friends, a job happily and strongly done.

–and to quote John Shafer when he posted this pic on facebook: “We’ve been on the road together for two weeks and we still love one another. ‘magine that. Back to Fresno for more rockin’ and schemin’. See you all soon!”

(If you’re reading this fellow Trike Shoppers, thank you for the power and skill you poured into every single gig.) And, except for the stumble home, that’s the end of our little tale.  [I can't wait for it to be re-told by Doc--it'll be much more grand!]

p.s. maybe it’ll just be a good archive for the band, but if anyone is interested, the setlists from each gig will eventually  be posted on this blog…probably under some other category or ‘page’ as to not clog up the works. cheers!–B.

trike shop + the awesome people of The Irish Pub, Hilden, Germany

Fri., May 29th—…earlier that day –Kaiserwerth.

Category: European Tour 2015,Uncategorized — admin @ 5:20 pm

Dusseldorf’s a great town, but since our time in Germany was so limited, and we had a few folks with us who’d never been to Germany, I really wished for them to see,  you know, something ‘old world’, and most of today’s Dusseldorf was (re)built after the Second War. We’d heard of a village just up the Rhine called “Kaiserswerth”, and it seemed there was a scenic boat ride that’d take us right there that departed from Dusseldorf’s ‘altstadt’. We met Barbara’s exchange family in front of last night’s club (The Tube), and went down to the river to learn that that boat no longer actually docks in Kaiserswerth. Not to be discouraged, Lauri, John, Ron and I walked up the street, cuz a U-Bahn gets you there in a quick 20 minute jaunt. Barbara decided to enjoy an afternoon with her family there in the altstadt. Neptune was hanging close to the hotel and taking it easy for the day.

Sabina and Barbara

Kaiserswerth turned out to be a very charming little town. Our first stop was a little bakery which we promised ourselves would also be our last stop after lunch.  We walked to the river, made a new friend from an outgoing lady who said, amongst many other things (to Ron): “You, you’re always so serious, you need to smile more!” [Ron was just standing their politely. That's what you're supposed to do when an elderly lady speaks to you, even when they speak in a language that you don't understand.] She mused about many things, demonstrated a back-wrenching rock n’ roll dance for us, and then ended by sighing, “I used to be young and beautiful, now I’m just beautiful.”

Our new friend from Dusseldorf

We then found a church that had bits first built in the 12th C., then found the ruins of a fort-thing called Kaiserpfalz.

The Rhine


Sat., May 30th–On Our Way Back Home

Category: European Tour 2015 — Tags: – admin @ 4:31 pm

Everyone was missing their dogs, kids, loved ones, and their own bed. It had been an over-the-top successful tour, densely packed with good times with wonderful people, but it was time to go home. Any cross-continental trip (even though miraculously short compared to such travels of earlier times) is long and grueling. The one life-lesson we all inevitably learn: United *blows* (the cheap suckers), and Lufthansa RULES!

Rare giraffe with elephant mask, spotted at the Dusseldorf airport