Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blue Monday 03.03.

How does it feel... well here we are again. Last year I organised a gig, Plus played a long set as well as a really good assortment of friends played. The story behind this goes like this: most of the time we don't really look around for gigs. It's partly some missplaced pride or something. But we made our second album and, unlike the first one, I was really quite happy with how it turned out and wanted to make a modest effort to make the world listen in one way or another. Well, at least play one or two gigs. So I started looking around a bit more than usual. We're on myspace now, somewhat reluctantly, though nothing much happens on there, well I've uploaded all sorts of stuff but I'm not going to go out and spam loads of people about it, I find it a bit cruel, myspace, as a band you're almost obliged to plug your band on there otherwise you look like a bunch of nobodies, it's a little bit offputting to me, though it is of course a good way to put yourself out there, however distorted it may be. The only online place I feel really comfortable talking about this band that is really quite special to me over the years is this blog for some reason. Well, it is completely mine and I talk about whatever I want to. And that is probably partly the problem. I don't really feel like "promoting"too much, it starts with how do you describe the music, whats your angle, how do you "sell" it with a few words and five minutes . If you ask me all of this is true to some extent: it's quite "dark", it can definitely be "strangely flavoured" and posseses different shades, it's often improvised, it's rock music but it can be quite stripped down and downbeat, and it has a "vibe". Sometimes when we're rehearsing we reach a fantastic zen like state that we can sustain for hours but to translate it into a live gig or even recordings is partly the problem, though sometimes it actually works. Anyway, most promoters or venues just aren't interested, we're not young, "up and coming", we're not too perky, we don't do typical indie band kinda songs, we're not weird enough for the out-there scene (though to be fair I haven't really tried these kinds of promoters) though definitely too weird and indescribable for most promoters it seems. A lot of nights and venues try to group bands together that are "like each other", fit in with each other. We really stick out - a bit, and I can't tone it down even if I wanted to. I actually like playing with bands who do something different to us. I feel an affinity with other bands that could just be a similar attitude, being into the same band or kind of music, having a similar sense of humour. It definitely helps not taking the whole process too serious even though you love what you're doing. Anyway, we were told by this venue that we wouldn't really fit into any of the nights they had on but we could do our own night. And that has always been a little dream of mine...

I guess I'm fairly well placed to do this, I can still think of all sorts of nights involving friends of mine. So if this works (again) I might do it again. It's basically been fairly easy to put these things together, at least the bit about finding friends/bands/acts who are happy to get involved. The whole process is quite fascinating, I want to get people involved and have a really good night and present something special, at least to me. It's kinda a party among friends but there will be people there who I don't know and who don't know each other. It's non commercial and DIY but it wants to be taken seriously. It really could be something meaningful but most definitely it will be a little night where we play a show and make it like we want it, and there won't be anyone else telling us to stop. We invited ourselves.

So anyway, on Monday 3rd of March it's Blue Monday cos it's Monday and we're playing with the mighty AMY BLUE. We played with them at the now defunct Pleasure Unit a few years ago, I think it was their first ever show, at the time it was just the two of them fiddling around with equipment and guitars doing these weird noise pop songs with lots of loops and samples. It was compelling though a little chaotic. In the meantime they've added a bassist and a drummer, recorded a couple of EPs and are more of a full blown rock band (though for this show they might do some laptop freakout imrov interludes). They are very happy to play a slightly longer set as they have a lot of material too, and I really like their songs, and the noise textures, and the sense of humour... We also have a mystery project, Rail 66, which definitely features our friend Simon who among many other things (playing bass in Gallon Drunk, tour managing Bright Eyes) records us, it might involve his girfriend and another guy too, or it could be just him doing stuff on his laptop. Apparently he's been doing music for years but noone's heard it so this could be a bit special. He/They will start this off with a short set at 08.30, Amy Blue at 9 and we're on at about 10. DJ Hombre, a friend of the Amy Blues, will play old 45s and other stuff in between sets. It's at the Cross Kings, 126 York Way, near Kings X. We'll see how it goes... and I might report back! Come along if you want to!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Witches Hill / Hexenhuegel

Once upon a time in  the 80s - well, a lot of posts on this increasingly nostalgia-driven blog could have started like that ;-) - I was hanging out by the farm in the valley near my parents house with my friends Gabriel and Frank. It was winter, and we had a bit of an afternoon, there was no particular plan, and I soon lost them for some reason and wandered around the woods on my own for a while, they found me later and showed me where they've been which is this old and witchy looking hill behind the old farm buildings, it's a really "nothing special" kinda hill, and it doesn't lead anywhere unless you count the railway line and now some new road, but looking at it from slightly below it does look quite dramatic, you see a line of five or so gnarly old apple trees on top of the hill dominating it and looking down on you, if you feel like indulging yourself in such mystical musings. They christened it Witches Hill, Hexenhuegel, on that afternoon, and it stayed with us, that name.  So when I arrived in Ulm last month the first thing I saw from the train that was really part of my home town was this hill, and I said to myself "Hey, there's the Hexenhuegel" and thought that I would maybe go there again during my stay, since I hadn't done so for quite a few years. There are many old haunts I could visit and I didn't have so much time, but for some reason I did manage to go there this time with my old school friend Christine who now has a little house in the same modern 60s built and very 60s looking suburb I grew up in which is situated quite nicely right on the edge of town and above the weird little valley leading to the old farm next to the - yeah - witches hill. It makes you think how people give names to places and often they stick and stay attached to the places, I mean, that's how it works, right? For us this will always be "Hexenhuegel", witches hill. I studied a fairly detailed map of Ulm in the station during my stay, this map features names for all the woods and places - if they have a name - and for some reason this hill doesn't seem to have a name yet on the official maps. It's quite a beautiful hill, with its old apple trees, it's mostly a wild meadow like you can see them still in the area around Ulm, Schwaebische Alb, and you have a good view into the valley and the old farm buildings where there are often horses, and over the railway line, the newly built road to Jungingen and the plain fields. There is some sort of little path leading up and along it we discovered (again) but it doesn't really lead anywhere but the new road so that's probably why people never go there. Anyway, it's here, roughly between the 19, the K9915 and "Oerlingen" on this map . 

Monday, February 04, 2008


my grandparents grave

the shop, now 222 years old


a painting of this view used to hang over my grandfather's study

above on the wall it's the Geyrhalter family crest on the right together with the initials M.G. (click to enlarge)

some (rudely defamed) paintings of the towns landmarks by local schoolchildren in a corridor underneath the station

the family crest (a man holding a bird of prey)

some pics from the afternoon we spent in Kaufbeuren, a small-ish old town in lower Bavaria. My family name GEYRHALTER (an old name that is fairly rare and has an odd spelling that confuses even native speakers) comes from this town and the history of the family tree is very much connected to the place - one of my forebears was apparently even a mayor and wrote a 17th century history of the once important merchant town, and in the St Blasius chapel on the hill (now beautifully restored) you can find the family crest (see also right above, from my parents house) and the crest of another family painted on the wall to mark the occasion of a wedding between the families. There is a  shop by that name in town which has existed for 222 years now and is run by another branch of the family. We met some of them when my grandparents were buried there. Even though he hadn't lived there for a long time (in my grandmothers case she never lived there) my grandfather and my grandmother are buried in the same grave together with his parents and siblings, and there are family graves of the other branches right next to it, in the old cemetery in town. My grandfather used to have a painting hanging over his study in their lounge (in the flat where they lived for over 40 years) showing a view of Kaufbeuren from the old city wall right next to the chapel that features the family crest, we don't have that painting anymore but that view sticks in my mind and the view is virtually unchanged now, you can see over the town with the various churches looming over it.  

I'm not sure what all this means to me but from when I was very young there was always talk about the town, and I was glad to reconnect a little bit with it and take some pics. 

What I didn't know is that there is an old convent in town where supposedly a miracle took place, and even a three day hike to commemorate the holy Sister Crescentia . Since the area is lovely, you can already see the Alps in the not so far distance, I wouldn't mind doing it one day!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Some photos from the mountains / Tannheimer Tal in snow

some photos from the three sunny days I spent in the Austrian Alps, in the high lying Tannheimer Tal where there is still snow, a lot of cross country skiing, some alpine skiing and snowboarding but you can also do a bit of winter hiking, mainly in the valleys, and lower slopes, and that's what we did. There are a couple of lakes that were completely frozen over so you can walk on them. One day it was a very beautiful sky but a lot of mist was lying over the lake. I didn't take my camera that day... but it looked stunning.