Ready to go out here in Queens.
This is how Aaron and I look to a bug.
Same stuff as up top, but at a club in Prague.
Sunday, June 16, 2019
Hello from the banks of the Vltava, the gem of the Czech Republic, the City of of a Thousand Spires: Prague. It's a nearly perfect June Saturday here in the Portheimka Park, quietly nestled into the less-touristy and slightly seedier side of the river that bisects the City. I'm typing this from a bench in front of a two-story tall fountain dominated by the likeness of Prometheus. He looks a little unhappy - probably because they parked him about 350 miles away from the shores of the North Sea.
First things first: we made it. The records, shirts, guitars, drum machine, effects pedals, bassist - it's all parked about 75 yards behind me in the basement venue we are playing tonight. Thousands of bucks spent in creative ways to make all that happen. But it has happened. I've spent most of the last 24 hours looking around going "I cannot, cannot believe that I'm here."
Travel stories are most interesting to those who suffer through them so I will work to keep mine short (at the expense of my own enjoyment). This particular adventure started when I finished a conference call on Friday from my kitchen table in New York City. My boss, her boss and his boss all wished me a good vacation and I hung up the phone. At that point, the stuff before the trip - months and months of it - that was over.
I slung a camping backpack over my shoulder and wheeled a folding handtruck the 1/2 mile to the subway. I must say that I cut quite the figure sherpa-ing two guitar cases, a pedalboard box stuffed-to-bursting with extra crap, and a duffel bag full of sweatshirts that will hopefully be sold. Note that it was rush hour on Friday and I had to own the fact that, just for today,I was going to be the guy on the subway that everyone else had to deal with. But hey: whether you're a waif of a supermodel or a sweaty noise-metal dude with about 150 extra pounds of "my band is playing in Europe" in tow, $2.75 gets you on the train all the same. And so, with a pile of luck and maybe a touch of planning, my whole gear situation and I rolled off the AirTrain at JFK three whole hours before our flight.
And there, sitting with the bemused look that he nearly always wears when he sees me crash back into his life, was Austerity Program bassist Thad Calabrese. Hello Thad.
He gave me a languid once-over. "Hey."
Not much to say about the flight other than to strongly encourage you to skip the movie "Overlord" because what was I thinking. Had one anxious moment of getting off the plane and seeing someone walk across the tarmac with our gate-checked guitars, but we happily pleaded our case to any airline employee in begging distance and got those in hand soon enough.
What else? We had a lovely 85 degree day in an supremely pretty European city we'd never visited with no show that night, so we walked all over the place. Met up with Aaron (Sumac singer/guitarist) and happily harassed one another in the shadow of beautiful gothic cathedrals and street after street of ornate architecture. I tried to teach Aaron and Thad a card game in a cafe. They - ungrateful bastards - both told me I was a lousy instructor even though I only had to adjust the rules twice while we were playing. Oh, and I beat the pants off of them. Sore losers.
Tossed and turned amidst some jetlag last night in a non-air conditioned room. Today was more of the same - Thad and I traipsing through the morning rain with Aaron and Sumac drummer Nick. By midday we were in a beautiful park at the top of a hill, staring across miles of red tile roofs and exquisite cathedrals. Sunshine was burning off the wet clouds of the early day and, at noon, the city opened up in pealing bells, rolling out across the riverway and up the castle-dotted slopes. Pretty nice way to spend a Sunday.
Tonight we begin. Thad and I are less-practiced than we should be and will suck. Before then I'll soak in the warmth of the afternoon before retreating into the unlit basement of the Futurum.
And now here's a handy reference guide for you, dear reader.
Cast of characters
The Austerity Program
- Thad Calabrese - one of my oldest friends. Plays bass and puts up with so much nonsense from the other guy in the band.
- Aaron Turner - Guitar and Vocals. Invited us along and is kind of the captain of this whole ship. We've known one another for a long time and have grown to be such good friends that we just constantly tease one another.
- Nick Yacyshyn - Percussion. Absolute beast of a drummer which contrasts entirely with his friendly humility and good humor. Canadian.
- Brian Cook - Bass. Thoughtful and erudite. By far the cleanest beard in the whole crew. Brian is also a very fast walker which I like.
- Daniel Menche - Solo artist. Funny, intense and a little loopy. Daniel emits electricity that can range from a low hum to a sharp crackling when he's really going. He's usually stuck rooming with Thad and I, poor fella.
- Tomas - Tour manager and driver. Just met him last night, comes highly recommended. Lots of tattoos, likes dumb hardcore, clearly knows how to handle the problems his work throws at him. Sends texts with the personalized emoji thing.
- Sumac sound guy - I didn't catch his name yet. (Later: his name is Hein.)
We go on in about an hour.
PS - They won't all be this long.
(Not true, they did all end up about this long.)
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