Tag Archives: Justin Townes Earle

STORIES FROM STOCKHOLM

So often we wait anxiously for something to happen for long time, and when it arrives, it’s so short and intense, all of a sudden it’s all gone, and you’re again back to your routine. Stockhom was to come, and now it’s gone. It’s been a great experience, and the city as such, I’d recommend everyone to visit.

First part of the trip, marked as a quotation, was written at an annex lounge to the actual theater, just before JTE delighted me with his show.

Here I am, sitting on my own at the Södern Teatern, waiting for Justin Townes Earle to start his show. Still don’t know whether he’ll play solo or with a band. To tell you the truth, I don’t care.

I’ve reached town a couple of hours ago, and already have some impressions I want to share, regarding Stockholm inhabitants, and the city

It’s cold indeed, but more bearable than expected. 1-3Cº. You really feel chill when you reach the gates, and because Sodermälm is a kind of slope, the breeze is noticeable if you’re not moving.

People working in anything related to customer service are very nice and very  attentive in general, can’t say the same regarding security crew at the venue, hooligans like.

I’m having a beer, name Abro. 52 sek has cost the motherfucker and is not great at all. I was warned about this. I, an avid beer drinker, sure I’d suffer the outrageous prices, but you know, again, today I don’t care.

I don’t reckon people are so friendly here. Many couples, a couple of groups of rocker boys and girls. Nobody has told me anything while queuing despite the fact that at least 3-4 people have noticed I’m not local. I’m flipping right now because they’re so talkative, the venue is pure buzz.

Guess my previous experience with Swedish people was different due to the background. We were all hanging in a neutral field, so to speak, back in London days. Same in Barcelona.

Let’s see if during the gig my luck changes…

Most boys and girls are good-looking, but, and I’m talking serious here, the handsome guys, are most definitely more stunning than women. Gotta say average Swedish girl is a type I really like: tall, strong and consistent.

A couple of months ago, a Swedish guy showed me his dislike towards Stockholm people, for being too fashion addicted, trendy and “cool”. Well, this is a catwalk of fashion trends right now. Guys are rockers or late 70’s like. Girls are Elle and Vogue prototypes.

Regarding the city, only possitive words can come out from my mouth. Having plenty of time, I’ve decided to have a walk to the venue. Unfortunately at 6,30pm, it was superdark already, and most of shops closed. Anyway, starting point was Upplandsgatan, in the city. Crossed the first bridge and walk by Gamla-Stan, which is a beautiful neighborhood, full of beautiful shops, cafes and pubs. Buildings are ancient and nice. It was like being in a tale, everything was so cute…Tomorrow I’ll check it out again, in daylight and most likely have lunch there at a veggie restaurant I’ve discovered. I might change the planning order a bit approaching light and go to Moderna Museet afterwards.


Have I told you this is my first time at a backpackers hostel? Well, it is, and I’m delighted with my corner, I’m not sleeping in a bunk bed (hate them). In the middle of the city, close to the station, very nice. Facilities are more than enough, everything’s supper clean, and I’ve had a crush on one of the attendants at the reception desk. Uhmmm, very very nice guy hahah! Well, in direct competition with the information guy at the information desk at the airport. Charming, to say the least.

Well, enough for today, 10 minutes to the show… Yay!!!

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, SÖDERN TEATERN, NOVEMBER 17TH

Last night show was a great one. He finally played a solo acoustic set, similar to that one I saw in NY in 2008. Obviously it was completely different, as this time he was headlining and was supported by 3 good albums.

Despite the venue was quite packed, and these Swedish are towers, I was lucky to manage to move to first row on the right side. Earle’s focus point was right where I was, so he was looking in my direction, it wasn’t me, of course. I had the suspicion that something was going on between him and a blonde super skinny girl by my side. She was kind of excited, her friends were gossiping in her ear, and when the gig was over, she stepped aside in a waiting attitude.  Serious, something weird was going on.

Justin focused on his latest album, Harlem River Blues, but didn’t forget about his previous stuff. He didn’t have any set list, and seemed that improvising according to the audience mood and his jokes and stories, he was playing with the order of the songs.

Very talkative and in good mood, the young Earle seemed to be enjoying the show and the enthusiasm of the audience.

Yeah! It was a great night, and no, I wasn’t lucky, nobody talked to me.

*******

Friday started with some wi-fi connection in my room corner, finding out on Twitter (glad I opened an account last week) that Black Sabbath are playing in Azkena Rock Festival 2012. The day couldn’t have better start.

My friend Joaquin wasn’t supposed to join me till the evening, thus, I had plenty of time to wander by the city. With my warm hat, and many clothes, I was ready to hit the road.

Thanks to the previous night walk I more or less knew where to go, thus I only had a map in my pocket and started walking towards Gamla-Stan, very beautiful area full of antique shops, pubs, restaurants and really nice corners, several churches and the Royal Palace.

Eventually I ended my first 3 hours walk at the Moderna Museet. There was an exhibition of late paintings by Monet, Turner and Twombly and there were waves of old people queuing to get in, thus I decided to have a coke and start writing my first travel notebook.

It’s shocking the honesty and correctness of people overseas. In Spain we’re more cheating and tricky. This often shocks me whenever I visit other countries, and this time, at the museum, there were two remarkable things I have to mention. On one hand, no security was at the entrance, of course I paid my ticket, but when I got in, there was no one to check whether you had purchased it or not. On the other hand, there were lockers, but not enough for all the visitors, and cloakroom was unattended. It didn’t matter, everybody was leaving their coats there, even bags and luggage, without feeling uneasy nor thinking of the possibility of getting stolen at all. This reminds me also that, the night before at the theater, I was carrying a backpack with my reflex camera and nobody bothered to check it. Unbelievable!

I didn’t like the exhibition so much, like both Monet and Turner’s earlier paintings, and regarding Twombly, seemed like a joke to me. I really don’t understand his work, and cannot figure out how this kind of paint can be successful and praised.

EN ANNAN HISTORIA / ANOTHER STORY, MODERNA MUSEET

Moderna Museet’s photography collection is said to be one of the finest in Europe, with material from 1840 up to date.

The concept of the exhibition started with the idea that an art collection can’t remain static, in order to stay alive and even evolve. Thus, by arranging the collection from a radically different point of view, it renews energy, and highlights other aspects previously unnoticed.

First step of the presentation, Possesed by the Camera, contained pictures from 1970 to 2010. Camera is used not only to emphasize the reality, but also to build identity by means of role-play. Artists such as Cecilia Edefalk, Annica Karlsson Rixon or Hirogi Sugimoto, and photos belonging to the collection New Topographics. Photographs of a Man, were exhibited.

See the World (1920-1980), had to do more with photo journalism , documentary, and surrealism. This was the part I liked most. Famous photographers such as Nan Goldin, Irving Penn, or Diane Arbus, were present. I was really shocked by the Tulsa Series by Larry Clark, portraying real white trash, full of junkies shooting and scum. The super underground atmosphere and such realism eventually turn into fiction, as our daily lives are not familiarized with such environment.

To finish, Written in Light (1840-1930) reveals the birth and infancy of photography, including mostly portraits, landscapes, nature and architecture, typical in those early years.

While moving from one area to another, there was a compilation of daily living pictures submitted by visitors and people interested in the museum activities, because, according to the philosophy of this exhibition, everyone can be a photographer. A point of view don’t think is shared by most of professional photographers.

As a photography lover I am, and starting to dig into history, names and information, this exhibition really was worth seeing.  It was long time since I hadn’t gone to a museum, and am glad I did it.

***

Joaquin came to pick me up to the hostel close to 7pm. The plan was having a walk and some drinks and go to Nalen Klubb to see three Swedish rock bands there. I knew of one of them, Marulk, because the guitarist is also an Instagramer and we follow each other. As soon as I knew his band (from Gothemburg) was playing in Stockholm on my free night, the plan was set.

We complain about not supporting local nor national bands, and it’s true, but seems that this is a common disease everywhere. It’s hard to get a name as to move 100 people to a venue, especially if raining.

The klubb night was named Pussy A Go-Go & Who Killed Marilyn, and the bands playing were Propane Propane, Lanfinger and Marulk. The first ones were like Kyuss, the second ones reminded us of The Hellacopters, and Marulk sounded more like 70’s hardrock. Gotta remark that the level was really high and musicians were awesome. Guess Dregen was right when he was saying, there was nothing else to do but playing, when he was a teenager.

It was a good night, and we got quite drunk too, but definitely we had fun, and yes, we talked to people. Surely they thought we were nuts.

***

Saturday was a very looooong day. To start, I had massive hangover. Haven’t told you at the hostel I met 5 German kids in party mood who gave me a can of beer after taking them to a 7Eleven, so had gone to sleep at 5, and girls I shared the room with woke up at 8 and were nonstop talking till I yelled at them.

We headed to the Vasa Museet to see this old vessel recovered from the sea, and had another beautiful walk by the river, because it was a very sunny morning. But after crossing a gate, we started to see record shops and couldn’t resist such temptation, and went for hunting, forgetting about the museum. Beside we had to eat something and meet some acquaintances in Södermalm for the pre-show.

Buying spree was awesome in terms of stuff, but will eat pasta, rice and lentils till the end of this month. Everybody pays the price, right?

THE HEAD AND THE HEART / MY MORNING JACKET, MÜNCHENBRYGGERIET, November 20th

Finally the day had arrived and we were attending the last show of the Americans in Stockholm, no less!

It’s curious in both shows I attended, most of the audience got in the venue as soon as doors opened.

The place was beautiful, venues there haven’t anything to do with those we are familiar with. This was a former brewery, completely reformed inside. Architecture and decoration are fileds in which Swedish are outstanding. It was fabulous. The hall maximum capacity is of around 950-1000, and obviously tickets were sold out.

The Head and The Heart were responsible for warming the audience up, but wasn’t very difficult, as many people seem to know them well already, and the response was really enthusiastic. I had only heard they belong to this new American folk wave, such as The Avett Brothers, so I was eager to discover what they were up to. So impressed I was, right after the show, I went to the merchandising stand and got a copy of their album. Not only they reminded me to the North Carolina guys, but also to Dr Dog and others. It was a very beautiful and intense show they offer. Very emotional.

At 10pm sharp, My Morning Jacket came onto stage, starting the show with the same song as Circuital, Victory Dance, which I particularly find hypnotic and really atmospheric.

Most of the set list was based on their last work, including 8 songs, but they also squeezed Z and Evil Urges most memorable themes, and 4 of It Still Moves were also included.

Some song before the encore, I had already convinced the security guy to bring me the set list, and he really did it!

Jim James wasn’t talkative at all, and wasn’t much communicative either. Considering the way these Swedish people are, probably this wasn’t any inconvenience to them. To be honest, the singer is kind of a divo, very pretentious and theatrical. I’m not questioning his talent at all, but is his attitude of I-am-freak-and –proud-and-cooler-than-you, what gets on my nerves.

We were in first row on the left, so we could see Carl Broemel perfect, and I enjoyed lots observing his guitar tech, a more than 60 year old man, tuning both guitars and bass guitars, selecting from the gear case for each song, and what was incredible, was how fast to put the guitar belt to Broemel. We are always aware of what’s going on on stage, but, back, or in this case, sidestage was as interesting and fascinating as the show.

Broemel was the real hero of the night. He really spreads elegance and class when playing any of his instruments, guitar, saxo, and pedal steel. Focused, professional, he, and the rest of the band, in a discreet position, were executing song after song with severity and perfection.  They were perfect.

It’s really taken me a couple of days to digest and analyze what I saw on Saturday. Not only because I was overwhelmed by the quality of the show, but also because the comeback, at 6,30am and what such departure schedule implied, was really hard stuff.

It’s a pity such awesome bands are not visiting us, so we have to arrange these crazy contingency plans to see bands we love. Of course, this makes the experience more intense and fulfilling, but it’s sad, we are stepping back as crabs, and Spain is returning to the era when it didn’t belong to the European tour circuit, so we were missing most of the American bands shows.

I’m very glad for having visited Stockholm and sure I will come back in the future. Beautiful city, I strongly recommend you.

AN ACT OF KINDNESS ALWAYS ENDS WITH REWARD

Never talked much about my job. It’s not very exciting, although is characterized for being quite dynamic and sometimes unpredictable, usually implying a certain degree of anxiety and stress. I’m involved with logistics, handling with two more people a huge textile account, of a very famous Spanish empire I’m not gonna name but sure many of you could guess easily.

While crisis is affecting the whole country, and rates of unemployment reach and affect 20% of population, this company is growing nonstop, which means I gotta work more and more. I don’t complain though, and feel very lucky after all, for both having a job and the environment I work in. the team gets on really on well and some of us are developing a quite strong camaraderie, even friendship.

Basically my job consists on assisting my clients in bringing cargo from the factories where clothes you might wear are manufactured, to the facilities owned by the company, from where distribution to stores and rest of the world is arranged.

Think of anything, the tiniest piece of whatever, and I’ll tell you it’s being moved from one point to another via sea, inside a container. It’s unbelievable, really.

Most of my day I’m fulfilling the needs of my clients, with uncertain luck, and very often I get pissed off.

I must say I’m not the aiding volunteer kind of person at all, but one of my main targets in life is to help and make my closest ones happy. And I’ve been trying to do so all my life. Outside my universe, that’s different stuff, although I walk in the line of politeness as much as possible.

Believe it or not, I’m not very interested in getting to meet tourists for having fun, but it’s true I usually assist people regarding addresses and that stuff. think of it, you’re in a foreign country, different language and culture, streets are different, sense of orientation is crap out of town… it’s always glad someone willing to help. Best example was last year in Japan. People didn’t even speak my language, nor English, but tried to communicate so hard, they even took me to the place I was looking for. Awesome! This really impressed me so much, I felt like I should be kinder to alien people.

The reason I tell all this is just because I feel like telling you a situation I lived two days ago.

After work, I went to the hairdresser’s, no big deal, usual stuff. Once  I got one of these insane stylish moments, decided to have a walk home. Evening was very pleasant, and observing things and people isolated from noise thanks to the Ipod is pretty cool.

10 minutes from home, I had some inspiration and felt the urge of buying a mouse for the computer, so I got inside a store. When I was queuing for paying, right before me was  an old lady in her seventies trying the cashier to show her an address, but the girl didn’t speak English (same shit in this country, desperating). I thought, well, let’s see what’s going on, if I manage to help them, I won’t have to wait so much and will head home cause I gotta do plenty of stuff and it’s getting late. So I spoke to the lady to get the situation.

Age is been always said to be accompanied with wisdom and experience, but there’s some kind of barely noticeable remark which states age also turns people carefree and a bit, with all due respect, stupid.

This lady, she was really sweet and polite, was exhausted. So was her husband. They were looking for a hostel someone has given them the card of, in order to rent a room for that night. I was wondering how the fuck this couple have arrived Barcelona without booking accommodation in advance. She started to tell me the story, and I swear on whatever, that, despite it might sound absurd, it’s real. They of course had accommodation, a real nice apartment with a small patio, in a neighborhood I had never heard of. They had arrived the night before and had rested quite comfy. So in the morning, so excited for discovering the city, they just went out as any given tourist. The problem, or the root of the problem was that they hadn’t written down the address of the apartment, didn’t have any contact phone, hadn’t paid much attention to any possible references to get the track back to the place nad had spent several hours wandering without finding the final point.

I really felt sorry for them, as well as was completely shocked by such spiral of inconveniences. Cheap and decent accommodation in Barcelona for the very same night is almost impossible. They had this card, but a hostel? In September? Sure was fully occupied. I suggested them to go to a hotel, depending on the budget. They were so desperate they didn’t give a shit whether it was a 5 stars hotel as long as they could get some sleep, and wake up the next morning fresh enough as to focus on finding the damn apartment.

When I offered to go to an area full of hotels, close to my Hellhouse, they were flipping, praising my kindness. There was a funny moment when the woman said, God bless you with… a tall brown hair guy. That wouldn’t be bad, I answered. And she started telling typical nonsense stuff about having done such a good thing would eventually have some kind of reward. Again, i wouldn’t mind.

At a certain point she mentioned she had booked the apartment via internet, and I was even thinking of taking them to my place so they could check the mail to find anything, I’d put them in a cab if necessary, and then I remembered my phone has internet, so when I was telling her to check right there she said once she had the email confirmation, she just printed it to delete it immediately. At that point, her husband, a smiley quiet man, yelled What??? I almost started laughing. Poor guy!

We tried a couple of hotels, and they were all packed, and then I took them to another and aid goodbye, after giving them my phone number just in case they needed something, and warning them of the dark side of the city, because they were very good pieces to hunt at night.

What can I say? The situation was weird. It was like, how could you do that? What were you thinking? Unfuckinbelievable.

Right after that, I came back home to discover something that personally pissed me of, related to my ex. Not worth telling about it, personal stuff that, again, shows lack of respect towards me. But hey! Again I didn’t waste too much time thinking about it, i had to check my mail.

Surprise surprise, my temporary moment of super bad mood vanished as soon Ias I started reading the subject of the last mail I had received.

I started to subscribe to bands mailing lists not so long ago, a year and a half? a bit more perhaps. Sometimes I don’t pay much attention except when new releases, tour dates or merch are updated. And this time the mail was telling about more tour dates added in the US and also in Europe this fall.

Started checking, and European dates were remarked. First thing I look for is Spain, again no luck. Fuck! Then I started checking again, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Sweden… blah blah blah. Hold on a sec! he’s playing in November. Uhmmm! Gothenburg, Oslo, Mälmo… shiiiiiiiit! November 17th my beloved Justin Townes Earle is playing in Stockholm. That is, two days before My Morning Jacket gig I’m attending… and I don’t have the flying tickets yet! You bet I’m gonna make it. I’m so so excited! Two gigs in Stockholm, two bands I love playing.

You see? The old Canadian lady was right! My act of kindness got its reward! These days that I been a bit down, forgotten in just a minute.

Again my friends, ain’t life sometimes Grand?