Monthly Archives: July 2017

Touring Italy (pt. 8)

There was a big build up to playing the Loop Cafe in Perugia mostly because the odds were best that the video cable couriered from Toronto had arrived thereby making the remainder of the tour easy and then there was Stefano going on about an old communist I had to meet who hung out there  (like it was a tourist attraction) and then there was two Gianlucas. Gianluca 1 the owner and Gianluca 2 the booker. I tried to communicate with the two Gianlucas how important retrieving this cable was but their English was like my Italian, we couldn’t communicate.

No cable arrived.

The ups and downs moment by moment, are really what doing this music work, touring/ performing is about. If one finds that stimulating then it couldn’t be more perfect but if you can’t handle the the pathetic and the humiliating you shouldn’t be a touring artist. Anyone can handle compliments and good press but the work is never only about that. I think of the motor that died touring Western Canada in the mountains, the band house in Thunder Bay practically Breaking Bad set for meth heads or critics who might dismiss everything you do even if they attended a show that was successful to fans and new fans. Many times you feel like you’re in jail waiting to get bail.

As it turned out the communist was an old man in a trench coat who called everyone comrade and drank too much but did some research about performers. Upon meeting me his first question was who do I love more Celine Dion or Michael Bublé to which I answered with universal gestures of throwing up. He meant well but the young men there saw him as an object to mock, he didn’t seem to have real friends at the Loop Cafe.

Owner Gianluca shrugged like tough shit, I can’t do anything about it, chill out man. He was a skinny, mousey looking pothead.  The second Gianluca looked like a member of Young Conservatives for Stephen Harper the only time he showed concern was when he wanted a free cd. compare that to Nello the night before insisting on paying 15 Euros though I pressed it into his hands and insisted it free. He would have none of it and treated me to a classy meal. The two Gianlucas were losers. But the show was another magic one, 45 people crammed into 30 seats falling in love with the films and my way of communicating. I stopped at one point and opened the itouch from Magali, the one that contained phonetic translations and slowly tied to say…“La Prosimma Canzone situtti” (the next song is called) but I paused longer because the itouch font is so tiny and I couldn’t clearly make out  “situtti” and people starting yelling the answer to help me and I would give them a raised eyebrow as if to say “don’t help me I must do it myself” and they laughed and wanted to take me home.

Soon Marzio introduced himself. He had the weirdest/ best haircut in the world. Like myself he is also booked by Monica and proved the most valuable person ever because he wasn’t a slacker and had wifi at his apartment, a stones throw from the Loop. Stefano and Gianluca say they will remain at the Loop and Marzio and I should only be 20 minutes so we go to his place, it is raining, I check the internet and we now have Fedex tracing numbers. We return and find the Loop café closed. I can’t believe Stefano would leave without informing me where he has gone, not even a note in the window. My duffle bag, my clothes, all my money are in his car. I can’t recall ever working with anyone this inconsiderate. Marzio tries to find them, he has a cell. He laughs boyishly about the nuttiness of it all and about Italians. He is a very likeable guy, I want to hear his music and hope I like it. I think he would be so much more fun to tour with than Stefano.

He eventually gets Gianluca on the phone and gets his address. We walk 15 minutes away from the car through a dark maze of medieval Perugia, I keep looking backwards to remember the way, so glad I went to wilderness camp as a kid, and I’m wondering about how easily I can be rolled if I have to walk back to the car to get my bag by myself. I’m also filling up my stress-o-meter regarding whether we will meet the FedEx guy tomorrow and what sort of fiasco will entail if we don’t. Gianluca explains to me and Marzisio that Stefano went out on the town, he doesn’t know where. He is a chain smoking pothead and wants me to sleep in his bed the only half good thing about that is that the door closes and it will smell slightly less smoky. But I share the bed with Stefano who no doubt will  enter round 4am drunk.

Marzio leaves, I wish he could stay. Gianluca leads me through the clouds of smoke to explain how to flush his toilet, you have to fill a bucket of water and pour it into the toilet. This somehow makes whatever shit and piss have collected proceed into the sewer system. Fabulous. I try to get under the covers, it’s cold, I’m sleeping in his bed which probably hasn’t been washed in the 21rst century and curse Stefano that he took off without allowing me to collect my bag, that the car may be broken into and that my money and clothes may be stolen. He enters round 5:30 a.m. stinks of booze and smokes. Goes to bed. I wonder if he is an alcoholic.

In the morning I try to communicate with Gianluca but he can’t speak any English. He has to go to the bank and then we’ll go to the Loop. He shows me that his cell phone has no money on it hence we won’t hear from FedEx. This is getting sadder and sadder. His room-mate wakes up, I didn’t know there was one, he is a nice guy, a great resemblance to Nick Frost the room-mate in “Shawn of the Dead” and he has an internet connection, maybe I can check if the FedEx has arrived. His room is thick thick thick with smoke. These guys seem in their 30s but remind me of teenagers, they smoke a joint because they just woke up. I sit down at his computer and the mouse is a topless woman on her back, you click the titz, right boob or left boob. I’m in jail.

 

Piano Symmetry

At D or G# the piano is a mirror. Take D or G# as a first note you can play your hands symmetrically. Meaning if your right thumb plays A your left thumb plays G, if your right index finger plays Bb your left index finger plays F#. There are a couple engaging experiences that follow.

First of all whatever your dominant hand, you simply command the weaker hand to follow. Not the same effort as thinking about separate directions for left and right, playing symmetrically means one just has to follow – it’s how our bodies are designed – a nice byproduct is that the weaker hand, usually the left, will achieve more velocity but it works the other way too if the pianist is a lefty then their right hand will experience more freedom to play swiftly.

The other attractive aspect of playing this way is whatever harmony you know goes out the window and that’s the place I personally enjoy the most. Trying to improvise with this set of conditions and not sound like an exercise.

chrysalis

Once upon a time I was offered a publishing deal after playing a solo showcase SXSW in the 90s. This first of all means you should try to always play those things, shit happens from showing up whether it’s a conference or a party, go shake hands, meet people …things happen not necessarily for the right reason, that’s how it is.
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But the deal changed. They offered it to me in March and resigned their offer in April. My then lawyer thought it was his fault, he felt terrible. This was great because over the next 4 years anything that came my way he did free because he had an ethical streak (which he has successfully since erased).
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Back then he thought he dragged the process on unnecessarily and that’s why they dropped the deal. Maybe so but I thought if they want me Monday but don’t by Thursday then were they ever for real? Do I want to do business with people like that? Even more confusing was if I went through with signing a publishing deal, it meant about $25,000 which would have been awesome but there were two other aspects that screwed me up. First there was the promise of great money if other things happened. Like if I cracked the Billboard top 100 then they would release $75,000 to me. When I calculated everything I might earn a lot of money… might. What stopped me was the “if”s. You aren’t too savvy if you think an “if” means something real.
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But worse than anything was that signing this deal meant they owned all my music including music I am yet to create. How can one write music and occasionally from a critical perspective of management if one agrees to be on the company payroll? Pondering this hurt my imaginary soul. I was more than fine when they dropped it because I never had to make a final decision. My lawyer was grateful I was understanding but he didn’t understand I felt relieved.