A L O T
Has happened since I last posted. I released an album, toured up the west coast, shot some videos, went to Europe, started school for art (again) and procured a band for live gigs. To be fair Jules Stewart, my drummer, was the awesome human behind that last feat and thanks to her, Alex Martinez and Trevor Hamer I am able to set up shows with a little more going on. Still, I have to say the most exciting part of that list of fun things was the Eurotrip- yeah I said it. My sister and I planned to be gone almost the entire month of August which left us a lot of room for fun and games. Heres a lengthy description of all my musical exploits, and some of my personal ones too.
L O N D O N
We started the trip with out stay in Shordich, a painfully hip neighborhood in London. We did a couple touristy bucket-list things like visit platform 9 3/4 and Stonehenge but overall we had the most fun just flying by the seat of our pants. Went to a SoFar sounds show in Hackney Wick, met some ridiculously talented kids, hung out had drinks and talked about absolutely nothing all night. over the course of the week I played two open mics where we befriended so many interesting, hilarious and kind individuals.
The first open mic was in Soho at Spice of Life. This bar and restaurant has a basement dedicated to every brand of performer. Down the stairs from the street where the smokers were outside holding their beer, I saw the well lit stage/neon light to the left and the bar straight ahead. I grabbed a cider and started chatting with everyone because, “Hi, I’m Chris!”
After announcing that this was technically my first performance in another country I played Lyrebird and Sway, everyone was incredibly supportive. If you’re visiting London- go to the Spice of life on Mondays, open mic starts at 7. Sign-ups are at 6:30 but GET THERE AT LEAST BY 6! There isn’t a proper line but everyone pays attention/ knows who came in first and they will knife you if you are out of place… Only half kidding.
Wednesday, Common People Open mic at Old Street Records rounded out the end of our trip. I reconnected with some musicians from the previous spot and met some new ones, too. Sign ups start at 7 but again- get there early or you won’t play. They have two for one cocktails and if you’re going to wait might as well get good and buzzed. Everyone who had the opportunity to play was completely unique and on point, it really raised the bar for what an open mic should deliver. The ambience of this place is very conducive to moody performances too- see for yourself:
B E R L I N
You dirty lover you. Berlin is edgy as fuck and messy and full of the sweetest most selfless human beings on the planet. It is a vegan’s paradise and a party lovers playground, but for me it was a place I was hoping to catch my breath after the gauntlet that is London. Unfortunately I spent most of my energy trying to escape the clouds of cigarette smoke that permeated my being. This, along with navigating the complicated and often broken down transportation system and not being able to read anything, felt insignificant after the garden show at my friend Emaline’s house. People listened, donated, brought food and translated the deep, densely intricate vibes of Germany through a mindful presence and genuine conversation. It was exactly the breath I was looking for. People heard the music from their apartments and became audience members by sitting in their windows. This photo is from a new friend who was doing just that. I’m so grateful to everyone who showed up for this one.
E D I N B U R G H
I did not play any music here as I didn’t have anything scheduled so I just decided to get a kidney infection and go to the hospital instead. Despite that nightmare, Scotland was an absolute dream. The architecture, the history, the Craigellachie (thats whisky speak for yes please forever and ever) was all straight out of a chapter from Harry Potter, so obviously I was beside myself with childish excitement. Unbeknownst to us at the time of booking, Fringe festival was in full swing, and we got to enjoy all the music/comedy/ art events we could handle. Sadly, that amount turned out to be very little for me. When I got sick, the host of the Air BNB drove me everywhere to find a hospital, get treated and pick up a prescription. Then they comped my next night as I was unable to move let alone check out. That was more than enough kindness, but then they made me two meals and gave me an iPad so I had entertainment while laying in bed all day. When I got home I sent them flowers and chocolate, but that gesture feels woefully insignificant next to what they gave me. Due to that dramatic (and entirely fortunate) experience, some of Scotland was a blur. Even so it was easy to absorb the beauty of such a picturesque place regardless.
D U B L I N
Why are you so amazing? I still cant figure it out. Everything about Ireland makes you fall in love with it. The Beer, the chowder (THE HOWTH CHOWDER SPECIFICALLY GO HAVE SOME AND DIE HAPPY) the rolling green hills, the beer, the music and the beer. Ever had a Guiness in Ireland? Do it.
Lets talk about music. Dublin was the best place to end the trip. I had two scheduled performances, one at the Circle Sessions and one at the Ruby Sessions. For each one, the place was completely packed. I briefly described my tunes so that people would be able to sing along in true Irish fashion, and thats exactly what they did.
I have to say It’s really amazing hearing everyone hum the melody of your song just because they can. No judgment or awkward embarrassment wondering if they feel comfortable participating, it’s just part of the entertainment- getting to sing along. That communion of sorts is such a powerful tool and If music was valued in that way here, maybe we would be lucky enough to experience the profound purpose of presence in those moments, or any moment for that matter. I truly believe this is an issue of mental and physical well being.
H O M E
One thing that is very different from the U.S. especially California, is that everyone holds on to these pieces of time and they understand what it means to bare your soul as a performer. That concept has never been foreign to me. I have hushed a room before, and I’ve gained the audience in that capacity, but then people immediately return to their dinner or conversation. The most multitasking anyone was doing In the three countries I played (before I even sang a note) was enjoying a beverage while looking and listening. No talking and no phones, save for taking pictures or video. People were actually repeatedly chastised for checking their messages during a performance. It was almost like everyone was hoping for a guide and listening for the intangible spirit within a room. It would be lovely if that vision were universal.
At one point or another I’ve heard all of my art music or creative friends say something to the effect of, “This is part of my life and I’m giving it to you, please understand what that means and take care of it.” Without even having to ask, so many people in Ireland Scotland, Germany and England did that.
Thank you for taking care of me. xx
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