Hello, lovely people!
With September well behind us and winter on the horizon, I’m still buzzing from the tour I did with Aidan & The Italian Weather Ladies around Belgium, France and Luxembourg.
The tour started with a date in Louvain La Neuve — home of my good friends and master luthiers, De Musica — at a smart little organic café cum venue called Alterez-Vouz. After the show, I got proper pissed on Belgian beer and ended up back at Francois Massau’s house, demonstrating what I believed Sid Vicious would look like playing a six year old’s violin.
We had a proper romp at Why Not? in Dudelange (Luxembourg, for the uninitiated) and even went to an Indian restaurant where the staff lined up to shake our hands on the way in, and on the way out. We made lots of great friends and stayed up until morning playing songs in their flat. I also learned the importance of saying bise instead of baise. (Look it up if you want to know why.)
Some highlights of the tour included my first Boulets Liègeois, which looked to me like a ginger Gonzo from the Muppets…
Encountering French vintners’ puns (analogous to the British real ale tradition — but is he drinking a can of lager?)…
And most delightfully of all, visiting my friends Jeanne & Deni at their vineyard, Le Dessous du Cep at Le Vivier, in Fleurie…
Deni is a poet and wine-magician. He cooked some delicious food, showed us their sensuous and eminently quaffable natural wine called Rock And Roll (so named because it went into the cuve smelling like piss and came out like nectar of the gods), and informed us of the untold horrors of the French wine industry. Jeanne showed us her gorgeously bold and dynamic paintings, and talked about the challenges, frustrations and thrills of raising up a vineyard (and a family) from its bootstraps. We played a very fun gig and I DJd afterwards. I must have done a good job because most of the men in the room had their shirts off before midnight. I also polished off a methuselah of wine in the process.
The next day, Jeanne and Deni were kind enough to treat us to some wine for the road. The bottles were labeled with Jeanne’s designs, and stuck on by hand:
At Le Blogg in Lyon, I found myself apologising on stage for not speaking French, until someone asked me to tell a French joke. I jumped at the opportunity.
“Why does a Frenchman only have one egg for breakfast?”
“Because un oeuf is un oeuf.”
The audience grumbled. Someone heigh-ho’d half-heartedly. Another person said something in French; it was probably, “Don’t give up your day job”.
The next morning, I gave myself concussion lying in bed. I turned over too fast and cracked my head against a table leg. The drive from Lyon to Brussels was fun with concussion — I’ve never seen the French countryside reel and rock like a sea before.
Our last date was a house gig in Gent, courtesy of the lovely An and Steven. They joined forces with a collective of musicians from Flanders to perform Bob Dylan’s album Time Out Of Mind. It was amazing! Especially An’s ukulele and vocal cover of “To Make You Feel My Love” — it beat the pants off Adele’s saccharine-glazed version.
Aidan and I spent the days off at the end of the tour working on vocals for the next Herons! record, Some Things Run Wild. We got really pissed (again) and did a vocal take at 2am in his apartment. I let out a blood-curdling scream at the end of one of the takes, which seemed like a good idea. I’m sure Aidan’s neighbours felt the same way.
I look forward to returning to all these places and seeing all these awesome people again. But now it’s back to work here in Stroud — we’ve got a record to finish! Speaking of which, we’ve done a little live video of the band peforming our song “Cain”, which is first song on the upcoming record. You can expect to see it here very soon!