Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things fall apart, and I grow an extra finger, probably.

I mean, you pretty much expect things like mandolin strings to get old and break, and the coronation china won't always be there. Parts are going to fall off your instruments. Inevitably, you will do something dumb and somehow end up with your cello spike lost inside the instrument, clattering around ominously. It's not a massive surprise either when you buy a car off a guy for a sweet deal and it starts spraying manky orange water all over the windscreen just as you head out onto the desert road, and the engine begins to rattle and clank like when you've run over too many cops in Grand Theft Auto. It was pretty annoying, though, when the actual screen on my laptop stopped working, and I realised that without those glowing, flickering images, it gets a lot harder to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing here anyhow.

Mostly at the moment I spend all my days staring at .wav files on my laptop screen and playing the same thing over and over again into a microphone, which is to say I am really pretty much quite close to being about to nearly finish, almost, my next album. That's pretty exciting, but really for that kind of thing you need a computer with a screen that works. I mean, I do, anyway. I'm sure that in the olden days people didn't need laptops to make their pretty little folk-pop records, but I find that my productivity is vastly increased by being able to stop what I'm supposed to be doing every ten minutes or so and click through to see if anybody has put any more awesome pictures of cats on the internet. How Nick Drake ever got anything done in the days before memes I frankly do not understand.

So I had to take it to the doctor, the laptop, which meant leaving the house anyway, so I figured that I might as well just make a day of it and get heaps of stuff fixed.  That car I mentioned is long gone now - it lives in Turangi growing geraniums - but things like the cello could be taken care of by my grinning instrument repair guy over on Dominion Road, and I passed a happy couple of hours in various hardware stores discovering that the sort of screws I needed to fix the pickup on my mandolin are not really available outside of the Soviet bloc: absent a time machine and a whole lot of extra visas on my passport, I was going to have to improvise.  So I did, and the mandolin is now as good as ever it was.  I still had time to kill though, so I though I might as well go see a doctor about this extra finger I seem to be growing.

'You're not growing an extra finger.'

'Are you sure?  I mean, I've been playing all these David Rawlings songs and I though maybe the fingerpicking might require more digit -'

'No.'  The thing on the wall said that she got her Doctor degree from the University of Ceylon, so my vague grasp of geopolitical history told me that she'd been doctoring for longer that I've been alive to date.  She probably knows a thing or two about a thing or two, I thought.

'Well I mean what do you reckon it is?'

'The lump? It's likely to be bit of bone. Perhaps.'

'But all my bones seem to be in the right place, broadly speaking. Are you saying I have extra bones? Isn't it more likely to be some sort of tracking device, perhaps implanted by either aliens, shadowy government agencies, or some sinister alliance of the two?'

'Sometimes you just get extra bits of bone. I'll order an x-ray and we'll have a look.'

So that was that, and I think the takeaway from that conversation is as follows:

1) It's not impossible that I have an alien transmitting device implanted in my hand,
2) I probably actually am growing an extra finger, and she just said that I wasn't because she's jealous, and
3) I get to go to hospital and have an x-ray, which is pretty freakin' awesome, because x-rays are totally amazing if you think about it.

So basically, it's all upside.  With any luck, if this exra finger thing works out, I'll be as handsome as this fellow.

 When a cat has extra fingers, it's called a 'polydactyl' and I'm totally not lying about this. 
The cat pictured above lives in Paekakariki and he's a little bit clumsy. 

The future? Here's hoping.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Introducing the enhanced 2011 blog, and a review of 2010.

What are you doing on the internet?  It's the holidays.  Go outside and hunt snakes or something.  Since you're here, though, take a look around:  My blog just got a little bit more awesomer.  Now there are all these tabs at the top, with extra pages hiding behind them: you can go and listen to songs, look at videos, see where I'm playing, and stuff like that.  The idea is that this should be the only website on the entire internet that you ever have to visit in your life, which will boost my traffic and help me to make more money to invest in turtles.

Anyway, now that it's just turned 2011, it seems like a good time to do one of those 'year in review' sort of things that people do, like with best ofs and worst ofs and stuff.  This one is purely and solely about me, so you are bound to find it less interesting that I do.  Trust me though:  I'm having fun.

Here's what the Bond Street Bridge 2010 looked like as a series of isolated and loosely-related facts:

Total shows:  Something like 83, but I lost count.  That's not just as Bond St though, that's everything.  Heartbreakers, Reb's band, Hannah's band, An Emerald City.  But: not couting busking.  Nights where I played in more than one band on the same bill, like Bond Street Bridge opening for the Hearbreakers, count as one.  Not that the rules matter much, given that I lost count, but it's around about there somewhere.

Most Southerly show:  Chick's Hotel, Port Chalmers, NZ with the Broken Heartbreakers and Death By Silo:  45°48'51.90"S

Most Northerly show: Loppen, Christiania, Denmark with Black Mountain and An Emerald City -  55°33'37.42"N

Shortest time between shows in different locations: Mauersegler, in Prenzlauer Berg in the afternoon to Tacheles, in Mitte in the evening: 1.5 hours by foot and two trains in a 39 degree heatwave with all these amps and stuff that looked light to begin with but became heavier and less wieldy as as the day got hotter.  Not complaining, just saying.

Longest drive between consecutive shows: Berlin on the Friday to Lewes on the Sunday, 1,147 km.

Top speed on land: 181 kph between Hamburg and Berlin.

Scariest place to wander around before a show:  Reeperbahn, Hamburg.  Lots of third-day-drunk Englishmen and massive Polish pimps, as well as obsessive middle-aged fans looking for the Beatles.

 An Emerald City on the Reeperbahn.  I can't decide if we look cool or not, but I'm leaning toward yeah, definitley.

Biggest venue:  Auckland Town hall with the Broken Heartbreakers at the music for 1,000 lovers show that Rohan put together sometime in May.

Smallest venue: The back room of East of Eden Bookstore, Freidrichshain, Berlin.

Most surfabilly werewolves on a single bill:  High Seas Capsize party at the wine cellar with a whole bunch of Stink Magnetic awesomeness.  Also a very good poster:

Best tour buddy: Ms Millicent Crow.

Worst tour buddy: Would you believe me if I told you there wasn't one?  There wasn't one.  Actually Mavis the authoritarian GPS was a bit annoying, but on average she got us out of more scrapes than she got us into, which is what you want in a tour buddy.

Most solar-powered show:  In southern Germany, near the Rhine, there was this 400-year old barn on a vineyard in a town called Botzingen, where a bunch of solarelectrical engineers live.  They recycled broken solar panels from their work and used them to power their postapocayptic solarpunk lifestyle.  We stayed with them for a few days in August and played a show to their friends and neighbours. When civilazation collapses and the zombies are chewing on the power grid, all shows will be like this.

Most incongruous lineup at a gig:  Would have to be at Ieperfest, where An Emerald City shared the bill with Agnostic Front and Converge.  This fixture also takes the title for:

Most ridiculous chain of events following a show:  The thing where I fell over, smashed up my face, bled my way through UK immigration, missed a train, slept on the pavement, and got laughed at by seagulls.

Most fun onstage at a show:  Broken Heartbreakers album release show at the Grey Lynn Library hall, because we were on form and the room was full of love.  This is a tie with An Emerald City at Loppen, because we were on form and the room was full of vikings.

Most opportunistic jumping-on-a-bill to get a free ticket to see a band I like:  Dylan comes to band practice and goes 'Hey I just got asked to open for the Mountain Goats at the Kings Arms,' and I go 'I bet you need a mandolin player, eh?'
'Well I hadn't really though about it.  I was just going to do it solo probably.'
'No, you'll definitely need a mandolin player.  What if John Darnielle challenges you to a fight or like an arm-wrestle or something and you don't have backup?'
'That's pretty unlikely to happen I would think.'
'Well, OK, that's up to you if you want to take that kind of risk.  But we could do a Midlake cover.'
'Van Occupanther?  With harmonies?'
'You got it.'
'OK, the gig's on the tenth or something.  Let's maybe have a pratice first.'

Best use of Led Zeppelin in a touring context:  Rolling off the fery into Denmark rocking Immigrant Song pretty hard through a ten-watt amplifier with everyone doing the screamy bits at the beginning of the verse.  Happy days.