Hope you enjoy.
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. My last day in Ireland was spent basically being lazy, going on a bus tour with Sarin, Elijah, and Kendall, and recording our session for Balcony TV.
First item: Being Lazy. Nothing much to discuss there.
Third item: Recording our session for Balcony TV. Balcony TV is this web video series where bands play unamplified on a balcony overlooking a street in Dublin. It’s really cool, and I’m honored we got to do it. It took us a few tries to get the song right, but I think it came out well in the end. Look for our session to be posted to the web site January 2nd.
After Balcony.TV, we got crappy pizza at a place that promoted itself as “probably the best pizza in Dublin” and then walked home.
The next day, Sarin and I flew home to Boise. I personally could have used a few more days in Ireland, but even with the expensive problem we had, the six days we had were wonderful. It’s going to take a while for me to not wish Boise was Dublin. Such beautiful country, such nice people, and basically a better way to organize cities and transportation compared to what we have here. The fact that we could get what we needed by walking most places was amazing. I would love to have that here. Sigh… Oh well. It’s easy to only see the good in a place when you’re there for six days. I’m sure after a while I’d be missing Boise.
And thus ends our trip to Ireland and (for some) Scotland. Hope you enjoyed these posts!
OK, this is it kids! The day of our big show at Whelan’s, probably the best indie club in Dublin. When it comes down to it, this is the main task we set out to accomplish when we came to Ireland. So, I’m going to go ahead and skip most of what else happened that day, OTHER than to say that I had fish and chips for dinner or maybe lunch. I wasn’t too impressed. I just don’t think it’s my thing.
So around 6, Kevin and his friend John came over to get gear and merch to take to Whelan’s. We had three guitars, two amps, two or three decent size merch boxes, and a synth to take with us. John drives a sedan, and in addition to all the gear and merch, we needed to fit all three of us in the car as well. It was a tight squeeze to say the least. There were three guitars on Kevin’s lap and tons of stuff crammed in the trunk. I had a keyboard on my lap in the front seat, where I was pretty squished because the seat was pushed way up to make room for the guitars in the back seat. Fortunately, it was probably only a ten minute drive to Whelan’s. Upon arrival, we unloaded and Kevin and Gia set up the merch table, including a nice Indiecater sign. Here’s a photo of the table:
After the merch table was set up and we had loaded in, I stepped out to see if I could find my friend Charles Holland. I’ve known Charles for probably for a year and a half over the internet, but I’ve yet to meet him since he lives in England. He was kind enough to make the trip from Newcastle to Dublin for the show. Luckily enough, he was outside the venue and we were finally able to meet up face to face. In addition to the show, we also had a lovely dinner that evening at an Irish version of an American 50s diner. Here’s a photo of Charles and I:
Storkboy Choons is a twin brother to the guy that runs Asleep on the Compost Heap, a superb Irish music blog. I had an interesting chat with him, and he happens to be quite the Built to Spill fan, so we had that to bond over. I didn’t get a chance to talk with him after the show, so I hoped he enjoyed it.
Next up was The Ambience Affair, a band that released their first EP digitally on Indiecater. They were excellent live. They are a two piece, drums and acoustic guitar, with the acoustic guitars being looped and manipulated in real time. The versions of the songs differed somewhat from the recordings, but that’s to be expected for a band that loops and improvises like they do. It was fun to hear the songs treated a little differently anyway. Here’s a photo from their performance:
Last up was us. Throughout the night, the room had been filling up, and by the time we were playing it seemed pretty full. The next day we found out that the room (which only holds 80 or so) had come five short of selling out. Not too shabby for a bunch of Idahoans in Ireland. Kevin did an excellent job of promoting the show. It was a little difficult getting a good monitor mix for all five of us on a smaller stage, but such is life. We started the show, and things felt fairly tight, especially given that Zach had a migraine for most of the show (what a trooper!). About six songs in, we played a song that I wrote for Charles when I was recording a custom song for every person that bought our CD. Here’s some video that he took of the song:
Then we played a few more songs before deciding that our time was up, especially since I had broken my guitar string on the last song. The crowd, especially a few in the front, were not happy with that. “ONE MORE TUNE!” “ONE MORE TUNE!” Well, we’re not really used to encores, but we did manage to play a couple more. One of the encores was “Scotland” which, to our surprise, was a request from the audience. The reason this is surprising is that the main line in the song is “All the best bands are from Scotland.” Later, one of the people in the front, a super nice guy named Seth, half-jokingly told me that it was more than fine that we said that about Scotland, but if we had said that about England, the crowd would have been a lot less receptive.
So, even though the monitoring wasn’t ideal, and we probably weren’t as polished as we would have hoped, our Dublin show was definitely in my top two shows we’ve ever played. The crowd was extremely supportive and enthusiastic, we had people in the audience that had been fans for a while but that are normally separated from us by an ocean, and, last but not least, we had done what we had set out to do in coming to Ireland. I couldn’t have asked for a more uplifting spirit in that room, and I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing gig. Thanks so much to all the people involved in that night. You’ve made a bunch of scruffy Boiseans very happy.
And on that note, we’ll end day five.
The morning of the 11th was an extremely early one for Sarin and I. We had a 7:30 am plane to catch to Glasgow. We had a show set up there at The Captain’s Rest, but the venue somehow got double booked and the show was changed to a different venue (The Box) at the last minute. This abrupt change in venue, along with a few other things, was enough for a few members of the band to decide not to play the show in Glasgow, so I decided to play the show as a solo show.
Sarin and I took an early taxi out to the Dublin airport to catch our flight on Ryanair. We had heard horrible things about Ryanair, (there is even a song that talks about how horrible is supposedly is), but our flight was just fine. I guess it helps, though, that we didn’t bring any luggage and that the flight was only an hour from Dublin to Glasgow. In any case, we got to the Prestwick, Scotland airport around maybe 9 or so, and by 9:30 we were on the train into Glasgow. The train ride to Glasgow was gorgeous. We saw the ocean, beautiful countryside, and some medium sized cities like Irvine and Johnstone. The palette of natural color in Scotland seemed really different from every place I’ve ever seen in the States, and even quite different from what we saw in Ireland. The countryside was green, but much of it was almost a grayish-green or something. I’ve never seen anything like it. Also, the texture of the landscape, for lack of a better word, was very different from any other place I’ve seen. It’s really hard to describe, and I’m not remembering it perfectly unfortunately, but it was such an amazing thing to be immersed in a natural environment that is so utterly different from what we experience here in Idaho. We really wanted to take some photos, but we couldn’t get anything decent on a moving train.
After maybe an hour, the train arrived in Glasgow at the central train station right in the city center. The first thing we noticed as soon as we got off the train was just how bone-chillingly cold it was, and a humid cold at that. All I was wearing was a hooded sweatshirt, and that definitely wasn’t cutting it. The train station was pretty dang cool looking, even though the restaurants there were overpriced. Here’s a photo of the station:
After we ate good, but overpriced, bagel sandwiches for breakfast, we ventured out into Glasgow. We had only two things on our agenda that day: 1. meet my friend Duglas Stewart from the band BMX Bandits at Mono record store/vegan cafe, and 2. play the solo show that night. We had plenty of time until we were supposed to met Duglas so we walked around in Glasgow for a while looking at the shops. From what I understand, Glasgow has a reputation of being kind of a dirty industrial town, but Sarin and I thought it was really nice. It was different from Dublin in that there were more tall, skyscraper-like buildings, but there was some really beautiful architecture. Here’s a few photos from our wanderings in Glasgow before lunch.
We stopped in a gift shop where you could get Scottish souvenirs (I got a keychain, but it has already fallen apart, sadly enough), a book store (it almost seemed like the Scottish equivalent of Barnes and Noble or something), a few clothes shops (Sarin was looking for a scarf), and an internet cafe. Soon enough we had to get serious about finding Mono (which is owned by Stephen Pastel of, well, The Pastels) so we picked up the pace, but unfortunately got a little lost before we received some help with directions. Finally, we reached it. Here’s a photo:
When we got inside it didn’t take long to find Duglas and get a table in the Cafe. We had a really nice chat (including some great stories from Duglas about his days as a TV producer for the BBC), and we had some really nice food. Sarin doesn’t eat meat, so the fact that Mono is entirely vegan was awesome. For once she could order anything from the menu. I had the Greek platter with some of the best hummus I’ve ever had. Sarin had a vegetable pie that she loved, and Duglas had vegan Bangers and Mash. Thinking back I should have gotten that too, since they don’t have a lot of Bangers and Mash in Idaho, oddly enough.
Then we looked around at the Monorail record store that was all part of the same building. Here’s a photo:
Often Stephen Pastel is working at the store, but, unfortunately he was off that day. I did, however, get a chance to pick up a copy of a rare Pastels 12″ single. Apparently, they thought the single was out of print, but more copies surfaced in the warehouse so they had some in stock. Score! Where else is something like that going to happen? The store was small, but the selection was excellent. Unlike a lot of stores, they don’t seem to be trying to be all things to all people. They know their clientele and do an excellent job of catering to them. Duglas ended up getting a Sun Ra Doo Wop album (That’s a sentence I thought I’d never be typing.) I ended up getting the aforementioned Pastels 12″ and an Ivor Cutler CD for my sister Rachael. If the exchange rate weren’t so against us, I easily could have bought another 10 discs without breaking a sweat.
After we were done at the record store, we decided we’d better check into our hotel. We were all set to get a taxi until Duglas told us we were within a half hour’s walk from it. Very generously he offered to walk us there. What an awesome guy. On this walk, we got an even better sense of what an amazing city Glasgow is. We stopped in at their Modern Art Museum (which was free) where they were exhibiting the work of Bridget Riley. After that, we saw at a winter carnival with ice skating, rides, and booths. Here’s some photos:
After a couple hours of chillin’ in our hotel room, we got dinner at a noodle house and went to the venue. I played with a couple cool acoustic acts (including The Lonely Souls) and lots of folks seemed to like my set. I also had a pleasant chat with Chris from the band Washington Irving, who tends bar at the Box. The highlight, of course, was getting to play “Scotland” in Scotland for a member of one of the bands I mention in the song! Here’s a photo (with near Satanic red eye unfortunately). Duglas is the one near the front of the stage.
So, the third day after we arrived in Ireland was strictly a vacation day, with no shows planned. Since for a lot of the day we all went off and did our own thing, this post will be about what Sarin and I did on Thursday (if the other band members didn’t happen to be with us). If other members of the band want to fill us in about what they did on Thursday, I’ll post it here too.
So, to tell you the truth, I don’t really remember what I did Thursday morning. I probably spent some time at the internet cafe down the road from Kevin’s apartment, and I probably downed some Irish Fanta and some pastries from the convenience store. I’m not saying this because I have any specific recollection of that happening on Thursday morning; only because I know that it happened regularly.
Probably around noon or so, Kevin met me at the apartment to take some copies of A Year With The Very Most, our new CD, to Road Records in Dublin. It’s a good thing he took me over to the store, because I doubt I could have found it otherwise. It was a decent walk, and if I remember correctly, it involved going near Grafton Street. There were lots of twists and turns in getting there, but it was a fun walk nevertheless. It kind of opened up my eyes to a part of Dublin I hadn’t seen before. It was kind of the fancier section of Dublin for lack of a better word, with lots of high end shops and restaurants. Within half an hour or so, we reached the record store. It was a small space, but they used the space well, and the guys behind the counter were nice and knowledgeable. They had done well with the Candy Claws’ CD that came out on Indiecater, and we’re of course hoping for the same with our CD.
After we dropped off the CDs, Kevin took me around that part of Dublin as we looked for a place to eat lunch. We walked through some cool, narrow streets and through a couple shopping centers (is that the right word for something as cool looking as the places we walked through?). We also visited Waltons music store on Georges Street where part of the movie Once was filmed. Apparently, they’ve had enough people coming in asking questions about the movie that they had to post a sign asking people not to do that. It was a great store, with a better selection of guitars than any Guitar Center I’ve ever been to, as well as a large selection of pianos, percussion, and of course, Irish instruments. Probably the most impressive music store I’ve ever set foot in.
After we were done in the music store, we went to a nice restaurant (again, I can’t remember the name). It was in this beautiful older building, and we were up on a second floor overlooking the ground floor. I got a panini and some soup, and it was quite good. Kevin and I had more of a chance to chat, which was good because we’ve been in contact over email nearly every day for the last year (at least), and this was our first real chance to hang out face to face. After lunch, we walked back to the apartment and we made plans for everyone to meet later that night at a pub near the apartment.
Soon after I got back from hanging out with Kevin, all of us (Sarin, Jake, Lisa, Gia, Zach, Elijah, Kendall, Karen, and I) decided to walk to Trinity College to see the famous library there, as well as to see an exhibit of The Book of Kells. On the way to Trinity College, we crossed a bridge over the River Liffey. Here’s a photo of Sarin and I on the bridge. Aren’t we photogenic?
Unfortunately, for us, the Book was being repaired or something, and it wasn’t being shown when we went to see it. However, there was a replica being exhibited, and they were offering admission at half price, so we decided to go anyway. Between the time that we left the apartment and the time we reached Trinity College, Zach, Karen, and Gia had gotten so far ahead of the rest of us that we lost them, but the rest of us saw the exhibit and the old library together. The Book of Kells exhibit was interesting. Irish Monks in the 6th century (I think?) spent thousands of hours creating the book, which is an elaborately illustrated Book of The Gospels written in Latin. The exhibit also teaches you about the history of Christianity in Ireland.
Next, we went to the old library, which was an amazing building with high arched ceilings and beautiful wood work. It was built, IIRC, in the early 1600s. We spent probably 45 minutes to an hour just sitting in the library absorbing the beauty of the room and looking at the displays. I saw one of the few remaining copies of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and got choked up. It was really touching to be in the presence of a document of such historical importance, let alone one that declares human rights and equality under the law. Clearly, you don’t have to be Irish to be affected by that.
After we left Trinity College we got dinner at an Indian restaurant in that same part of town. The food was good, but the service wasn’t that great. The bus boy spilled water all over Lisa, and not only did they not offer her a discount on her meal, but they basically hid in the kitchen because they were so embarrassed about what happened. They did eventually give Lisa a discount, but only after Elijah mentioned how disappointed we were that they didn’t offer her one. Lame. Oh well. It was still good food, though it was pretty expensive, and they charged extra for rice and nan.
After dinner, we all met Kevin at the apartment to go to the pub, which was about a 10 minute walk. It was exactly what you’d expect an Irish pub to be: pictures of JFK on the wall, Guinness flowing freely, Irish flags, very friendly people. There was a band playing traditional Irish music, though I was having a hard time hearing any instruments other than the guitar. No matter. It was more of an atmospheric thing anyway. At the pub, we met Kevin’s friend John, and his brother Philip, who were both great lads and a pleasure to hang out with. Overall, a great time was had by all, even by Sarin and I, the teetotalers of the group. (For the record, I was drinking Lucozade that night, which is, apparently, the drink everyone grew up on in Ireland. It’s a kind of energy/sports drink. The next night I tried the orange flavor, which I dug more than the original flavor.)
After the pub, we went straight to the apartment and got some rest. Some of us had a very early plane to catch to Glasgow.
And thus ends day three.
So, I’m going to preface this blog post by saying that this, the second day of our trip was, by far, the worst day. But I’m going to do my best not to focus too much on the extremely unfortunate things that happened that day and focus more on the positive things. So, in that spirit, all I’m going to say about the hours of 8 am to 5 pm is that we rented a car, the clutch on the car went out, and Budget rent a car stuck us with the $1700 repair bill. Fun stuff. We’re going to try to dispute this charge, but this is not the time or place to discuss the particulars. I will say, however, that the guy that drove our tow truck was a very nice, interesting fellow. Moving on…
So after we had a little time to recover from the shock of the car troubles that consumed the first two-thirds of the day, we started on our way to our first show of the tour. The show was in Dundalk, a small-ish town about an hour’s drive north of Dublin. Immediately, we noticed that the traffic going out of Dublin was horrendous. It wasn’t until we had been stuck in it for 40 minutes that our suspicions were confirmed by the radio news: there was a wreck on the highway. Two and a half hours into our should-have-been-an-hour drive we arrived at the venue in Dundalk: The Spirit Store.
The Spirit Store is at George’s Quay, right on a bay, and right as we arrived there, we saw a flock of swans. The venue itself is fairly small, but the vibe of the place is really interesting. It almost feels like a pub in a black and white movie or something. There is no attempt whatsoever to glitz up the place or over-adorn it. The performance space is upstairs, with tables and couches taking up nearly the entire space. Not the usual way things are done, but quite nice nevertheless.
We arrived there about an hour and a half late for sound check, but Derek at the venue had heard about the accident on the highway and was really nice about it. There were four bands on the bill that night: Us, Daragh and Vinny from The Angel Pier, We Cut Corners, and At Last An Atlas. We were the only non-Irish band. With the late start, we each got about 25 minutes, which was actually perfect for us. After what we’d been through, I’m not sure that a 50 minute set would have been the best idea.
First up was At Last An Atlas. At Last An Atlas is Greg O’Brien, who also plays in The Hollows. I helped him book a few shows in Idaho and Utah when he did a tour of the Western US. He plays these really great folky songs that combine samples and electronics with the usual guitar and vocals. Plus, his between song banter is always really funny, and usually involves some form of direct democracy. That will make a lot more sense if you ever get the chance to see him. Here’s a picture from his set.
Next up was Darragh and Vinny from the Angel Pier. They were mainly just vocals and guitar, though they did have one song where they used a Fender Rhodes and a couple songs where they invited a violin player on stage with them. They were great. I’m hard pressed to think of a time where I’ve heard better male vocals performed anywhere. They played a couple songs that I hadn’t heard before that I especially enjoyed. I can’t wait to hear a new record from The Angel Pier. Here’s a picture from their set:
We took the next slot on the bill. I consider it probably the best show, technically, that we’ve played in a long, long time. Darragh was nice enough to let us use his Rhodes that night, so that added a cool dimension to this show as well. (Oh, and while I’m talking about nice, I would like to mention how generous Greg from At Last An Atlas was. Nearly all the gear we used for our Ireland shows was lent to us by Greg. Thanks go out to him for making our lives so much easier. We didn’t want to fly with guitars and amps, and renting can be so expensive.) We played seven songs, if I remember correctly, including the live debut of “Autumn Air.” The sound was excellent, and I can say, without a doubt, that the monitor mix I got at The Spirit Store was the best I’ve ever had. Derek is an amazing sound guy. Here’s a pic from our set:
The last band that night was We Cut Corners, who blew me away. They’re a guitar and drums two-piece, but they sound as big and full as bands twice their size. You should definitely check out some of their songs on their MySpace. Here’s a picture:
After We Cut Corners finished, we tore down, thanked the folks at the venue, said our goodbyes, and went back to the apartment in Dublin. This time, obviously, the trip took a lot less time than the trip up. We were pretty beat, so we went right to bed as soon as we got back to Dublin.
And thus ends day two.
Hey everyone! This is the first post of our retrospective tour diary for our Ireland, and for some of us, Scotland trip. For the time being, these posts will be written from my perspective (Jeremy), but I hope to get some stuff from the other Very Mosters eventually.
So just a little background first. We decided as a band in February (I think?) of 2009 that we were going to go to Ireland to do our European CD launch in Dublin. Basically, it came down to “why not?” We all had plenty of time between now and the completion of our seasonal EPs (whose tracks were going on the CD) to sock away enough money for the trip, and it sounded like a blast. So, there you go. Most of us would also bring our significant others, and it would be a vacation as well as being a tour. Here’s everyone that ended up going:
The members of the band:
- Jeremy Jensen
- Zach House
- Gia Trotter
- Jake Hite
- Elijah Jensen (who was filling in for Clint Vickery, who couldn’t make it)
And our significant others:
- Sarin Jensen (Jeremy’s wife)
- Karen Jarboe-Singletary (Zach’s girlfriend)
- Lisa Hite (Jake’s wife)
- Kendall Vogt (Elijah’s girlfriend)
OK, onto the first day of the trip.
Gia, Sarin, and I flew out of Boise at around 1 in the afternoon on Monday the 7th. It was an uneventful flight (thank goodness) and we arrived in Dublin around 9 am. The one thing I will mention about the flight is that Aer Lingus (Ireland’s national carrier) is awesome. Our seven hour flight from Chicago to Dublin was as pleasant as it could be, and they had this entertainment unit built into your seat where you could choose from movies, TV shows, video games, etc. I quickly got hooked on a trivia game. It helped the trip go so much faster. Within a few minutes of arriving in Dublin, we found Elijah and Kendall in the airport, who had a different flight but were arriving at around the same time as we were. The picture below is of Kendall, Elijah and I in the Dublin airport. Notice how the sign is in English and Irish.
So, at this point, Jeremy, Sarin, Elijah, Kendall, and Gia had all made it to Dublin. Jake, Lisa, Zach, and Karen had all been in Ireland for a day or two prior to this. We took a bus into the city center and met Kevin, our amazing label guy from Indiecater, and he walked us to the apartment he was lending us for our stay in Ireland. What a standup guy. We had a nice chat at the apartment that lasted until we realized that we really needed some breakfast.
We walked into town and, after first trying a pub that wasn’t yet serving food, settled on another place really close that I don’t remember the name of right now. It seemed like a typical Irish pub that served food, though we later learned it really wasn’t the best place we could have gone. No matter. The food was pretty good and I had what is famously called a “Full Irish Breakfast.” This includes “Black and White Pudding” which I later learned is made mostly from pig blood. AWESOME! It was disgusting and I didn’t have more than a couple nibbles. One thing I learned is that the Irish put baked beans on their fried eggs for breakfast. It really wasn’t a bad combination, though I doubt I’ll be going out of my way to experience it in the future. The other folks in our group went for less adventurous fare (eggs, toast, etc.). On our way back to the apartment, we stopped and got drinks at a corner convenience store, and I began a week long love affair with Irish Orange Fanta, which seems to me to be significantly different than Fanta in the US. It’s almost more like a sweeter version of Orangina. Yummy.
Finally, it was time to be interviewed for the radio show “Wired For Sound,” a show that is broadcast on a web station ran by the RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster. Elijah, Gia, and I took a cab out to the RTE compound and met Jan Nifhlanagain, one of the hosts of the show, who took us back to their studio. Unbeknown to us, Jake was also in the RTE studios, trying to find us. Apparently, the secretary at the front desk wasn’t aware of what was going on with the web station, so she didn’t even know where to send him. Dag, yo. Jan took us back to the studio and introduced us to the other hosts: a guy and one other girl, who, I apologize, but I can’t remember their names at the moment. Everyone was really friendly and funny, and the interview went really well, but I can’t help thinking that the funniest moments of our conversations happened when we weren’t recording. D’oh! They played “Sod Off” and “Away in a Manger,” which I think were great picks. It’s too bad Jake couldn’t join us, but it was still fun, and we had done what we came there to do: plug our show in Dublin and get some sweet, sweet Irish airplay. Mission Accomplished.
We took a bus back into the city center (or perhaps I should say “centre”), and, after resting for a little bit at the apartment, went to go meet (for the first time) my friend Darragh Nolan from the amazing band The Angel Pier at his work. He works as a graphic and web designer for an organization that promotes Irish music and musicians. Lucky dude. After I got lost trying to find his office, I had to message him on Facebook, but eventually I found it and we had a nice chat. After maybe an hour and a half of hanging out with him at his workplace, I walked back to the apartment to catch up with the rest of the homiez.
We all decided we needed some dinner, so we walked to this Kebab house that I had seen while I was lost looking for Darragh’s office. I had a greek lamb sandwich that took up half my plate, as well as some fries, and everyone else had falafel sandwiches. Great stuff. Finally, though, fatigue got the best of me and by the end of the dinner, I was falling asleep in my chair. Unfortunately, it was a decent walk back to the apartment. Here’s a picture of Elijah and Gia in the Kebab house:
Right after we got back to the apartment, most of us were ready to sleep. We were severely jet lagged, and we needed to rest up for our first show in Dundalk, which I’ll fill you in on tomorrow.
And thus ends day one.