Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Berlin Got The Best Of Me

Bit by bit I am putting myself back together…It has been over a month since Niz left for Nepal and the first two weeks were the hardest, I was broken inside.  Busking with a broken heart can be slow and painful and after having such a great set and sound together, it was sad and lonely on my own.  But now I am feeling better and better every day and seeing how this brave decision she made was the best thing she ever could have done for us.  We had spent an incredible year together - living, loving, busking and drifting and being so close, but the last 3 months something had been wrong between us and we were pushing each other away more and more.

We needed some space and to digest the last year together….And what a year it was!  After busking enough to get her ticket over here we got through Autumn and Winter in Liverpool by playing lots of gigs and drinking tea with Michael Phoenix.  Spring took us to Amsterdam for a few weeks where we played on the Moet Chandon boat and wrote some nice songs in the Gardenhouse.  Then we spent an incredible 3 months in Berlin - seeing the best buskers in the world, meeting crazy and beautiful people and staying with a very special family.  Summer took us to Galway where the busking was wet but the people so warm.  Then we stayed on a few boats in the brightness and sunshine of the beaches of Brighton and THEN headed to an old barn in County Donegal to record an e.p and play some very nice gigs in the legendary bars of Ireland.  Autumn and winter took us back to Berlin to busking in the U bahns, and all along this journey we have made great friends, had our ups and our downs but sung all the way!

Although it was hard without Niz at the start I am re finding myself more and more.  I got rid of my tramps coat and shoes and got a nice new pair of leather boots, a long dark green coat with gloves to match, a stylish Van Gils jacket and a few new shirts.  When you’re looking good, you’re feeling good.  When you are looking like a tramp the people in the shops pull their dogs away from you, you feel even lower.  I am using my time well here and enjoying being me again.  After a hard 2 weeks in Berlin on my own, I decided to come to my second home ‘Amsterdam’ to see my old friends and see in Spring in the flat lands.  I have been riding my bike, drinking lots of water and working hard at the garden-house in the day time writing and getting a new set together with the Spanish guitar I bought in Berlin. In the evenings I go to DeGraal to meet nice people and draw some pictures and smoke a joint.

In Berlin, I fell into a trap that a lot of performers, buskers, artists fall into.  I started relying on beer, whisky, wine and weed for inspiration and energy whilst busking and performing.  I would drink a beer on the way to the busk and then buy another 2, play for an hour and then smoke a joint.   Then I would have a little break and get some more beer in and do the last set of the evening smoking many, many rollies in between. Doing this for 4 nights a week will take its toll, and it did.  We were making great money, music and memories together though.  We could be quite distant with eachother when we were home, but when we busked we had a special energy and people felt it, we sold hundreds of CD’s in a few months.  But it was the end of a chapter.  I was drinking too much and smoking and though I didn’t see it then, I think that is what caused the distance between us.

I came to Amsterdam with only my Spanish guitar ‘Misty’, and have been trying to write and learn a whole new set.  It feels like a whole new instrument to me and my voice has changed to match it.  In Berlin I was singing lots of Tom Waits songs with a whisky, weed, and pilsener gravel to the voice - really trying to crack it, with a little touch of over drive for the guitar on the amp and the wonderful reverb of the U bahns of Berlin.  But now I am projecting my voice in a cleaner, more powerful way, and it sounds quite old fashioned and different but I like it.  It has been my mission to write a set that will move me on from busking and get me in the bars and I am making great progress.

I have always enjoyed the safety of busking, no one is judging you and you can do what you want.  I started to prefer busking for passing people than playing intimate shows.  But now I feel I am ready.  I have learned a lot from busking these last 4 years and especially a lot being with Niz, so now it’s time to digest that knowledge and make something great I can be even more proud of.  And the Gardenhouse is the perfect place for it.  You can sing as loud as you want and really practice taking your voice out.  Being here has been just what I needed.  I know that Niz and I have more music and memories to make, but right now I am just enjoying and appreciating each day without thinking too far forward.

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