In 2 days I head back to Liverpool for a recharge of my batteries, to spend some time with my mum and friends, eat English breakfasts and drink copious amounts of Yorkshire tea for 10 days. So before I leave, I want to document the last 6 weeks since my last entry. I will pick up where I left off..........
I was getting into a good routine with my busking, 3 or 4 sessions of an over an hour at my favourite spots, I was feeding myself, buying some treasures from the market, pimping my bike and was waking up with about 40 euros still! That is a lot to me, I know some 'buskers' who use amps make hundreds a day, but believe me when I say I am satisfied just to eat and treat myself. I am not a greedy or money hungry person, just enough to enjoy the day suffices for me. It was turning bitterly cold though, and my hands would ache to the bones, but I was determined to keep the momentum going.
I was playing at Waterlooplein in the evening, it was around 9pm and
there was a little trickle of cold rain falling from the skies. A
beautiful young girl was riding past and stopped, she parked her bike
and stood by the bridge just listening. After I had played a few songs,
she came over and commented on how nice it was to hear me play, and
that she never takes this route home, but just decided to tonight and
was very glad she did. She is putting on a house concert and asked me
if I would play at it, I said yes in my ever so enthusiastic way and
gave her my email address.
I had decided it was Martha's turn for a treat, so I paid to get her pampered by a pro, with a new bridge, action lowered and new strings. I was breaking 3 strings a day with her, so I thought I would invest in getting her looked at. He did a great job, and after a few weeks of tinny-ness and thin sounding worry, she is now back to her deep honey like maple syrupy sound.
I had started recording an album with Cato, in the morning I would come round, we would drink a coffee then record a song. We set up a little studio in the corner of the dining room and started to understand how each of us work. We recorded an album in Liverpool exactly this time last year, it was dance, hip hop electronica, but this one we wanted to capture the organic flow and feel of her songs she plays on the accordion.
For a few hours each morning, we would pick a song to do, then start recording and doing a few overdubs. They were going well, and one morning Cato said she wanted to do a song about May Day that is a few hundred years old. We stripped it down, and built it into one of the most beautiful vocal and accordion arrangements ever. Each time I listen to it, my body tenses up as it's so powerful a performance and recording. After we recorded it, Cato burst into tears and the 3 C's of Cato, Colin and Chiel knew we had recorded a special one. The album is now done and getting ready to be released. I am very proud of what we made, and want to dedicate a whole chapter to the recording sessions and the 3 C's.
I turned up for this gig at a house concert and was immediately met with such a warmth. 3 girls live there with a female cat, at the top of an empty building with a wood fire and musical instruments everywhere. A double bass player turned up and a gypsy guitarist. All of us just played and sang completely improvised and felt this great musical rush of energy. We ate some lovely food and then carried on. Each of the girls would then play one of their songs, and the other two girls would sing these telepathic harmonies with her. It was very amazing to watch. I had nowhere to sleep that night, so they let me crash on their couch, and their very grande cat slept under the covers with me. (I think it just craved some male presence)
Gig offers had started to come in all of a sudden. I was booked for this music and poetry night at the artists squat called 'Valreep'. It was an amazing day, the audience were silent as people read their poetry and the music played. I got up to play, and loved the bit of nerves I felt. Whenever it is a really great line up, it makes me up my game a bit and really go for it. I went for it. The applause from each song seemed to last ages, it really seemed like they connected with the songs. I played a few Ewan Mccoll folk numbers, my own and a few others, and they really went down well! I was on a high, had my busking amp with me and thought I will do a spot at Rembrandtplein.......
There was someone just finishing up and I asked if I could jump on. He said that ´them´2 were booked next. I turned around and seen the vile ego of this horrible little South American Nickleback wannabe. I know them, and each time they play it´s like someone is pushing dog sick into my ear drum. I sighed and walked upto them. I said Í am gonna play after you, how long are you playing for?` They said they are only allowed 40 mins. So I waited for nearly an hour while they dicked about setting up. I was getting a bit tired now, the alcohol was starting to wear off and I just wanted to play. They finally set up, and then I had to sit through 45 minutes of them murdering Pink Floyd, spewing out ´Want you back for good´and just filling the air with ego voice bile, just as they started a police man came and checked their permit....
While I was waiting this Irish busker called Tom came and seen I was in the queue, so he left. And the little ego splein said in a voice quite desperate ´come back Tom'. I think he was a bit put off by the look I was giving as he 'sung'. I can't help it if things distgust me! When they finally finished, I said 'We got there in the end didn't we hey. I set up within minutes and started to play. NO! My batteries had died in my amp so noone could hear me, but I thought fuck it. I just sung as loud as I could and out of pride for the fact I had waited so friggin long. That Tom came up to me and after a few songs, and said 'Make this your last one hey, we don't want you here making trouble, we will tell the police you dont have a permit' I said you sad little man, I turned around and played a few more songs, but then it was boiling up in me.
I took off my guitar (almost) threw it down and walked up to the 3 little terds all sitting there. I said who the fuck do you think you are, you little snake! Saying your gonna snitch like the little snake you are! I said get out me face, I said I needed to make 50 euroes so I could rent a room for a week, and I come here to have to wait will these 2 dick around and then fill the air with shit. The voice said Í don't know what your problem is with me' I said, Ít's because your voice is like shit in me ears you NOTHING! I started to rant at their faces, and then I just went.
Looking back, it was quite sad what happened. Me losing it, and them threatening to snitch on me like a snake. But these guys make 300 euroes a DAY! And here's me just wanting to do a little slot and they react like that. So fuck them. He does sing so HORRIBLE though, like a forced, strained Nickleback horror ego show, and then he begs the crowd for money in this horrid way and it JUST MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL. But enough of that......
I think I prefer to just play acoustic, and make enough to enjoy the day. Me and Martha are quite a team, haven't broke a string since I got her fixed, and she is enjoying being fingered a lot more. But, the weather is bitterly cold now, and I think the main busking season has ended for me. But I have a portable recording studio and lots of contacts to build on and make it through the winter with my production experience.
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====UPDATE------ YOU CAN NO LONGER GET A PERMIT TO USE AN AMP OF ANY KIND IN AMSTERDAM - ACOUSTIC ONLY_YOU CAN PLAY ACOUSTIC ANYWHERE FOR 30...