This is Egon’s diary courtesy of stonesthrow.com:
Cologne, Germany, Groove Attack office
February 25, 2002
Got here late on Friday eve. The first show was at Oliver’s monthly gig at Studio 672, right outside of downtown Cologne. It’s a real cool venue – there are two floors, with live acts playing on the top floor and DJs on the basement level. Real homey, kinda like Gabah in LA but not THAT ghetto. And the sound was great. The club was packed. Olski reckons it hasn’t been that packed in a while, and I’m happy to admit that the Capprells 45, Yesterdays New Quintet, Quasimoto and Serge Gainsbourg all merrited equal hoots and hollers from the crowd. Everyone was dancing, and it stayed packed from Midnight ’til 4 AM! Quite amazing.
On Sunday, after valiantly waking up at 10 AM for breakfast (and then sleeping ’til 2), I met up with Demian and Carmen from Groove Attack and we jetted out to a record fair in an odd, slightly abandoned industrial complex. I rolled in with the same naivete that I exuded when I first went to Memphis (‘I’m gonna find 24 Carat Black’) and the Carolinas (‘I’m gonna find Carleen and The Groovers’)… Here, I planned to walk away with all of the Can records I’m missing (they’re Cologne’s local heroes).
My mistake. Though there were more rock records than anything else in the fair, I only saw one or two Can records – from the late 70s, blech – and only purchased the Animated Egg LP.
Sunday night was great. I did Klaus Feihe’s radio show ‘Space and Time’ on One Live, the strongest station in Cologne. He let me go for broke, and it turns out that he’s quite knowledgeable about the Stones Throw catalogue. He started his show off with ‘Jazz Cats,’ likens Quasimoto to Charlie Parker, and has been supporting YNQ on his show for some time. He thought Ahmad Miller was the leader of the group, until I told him, “No, Joe McDuphrey rules with an iron fist.”
Today it’s raining – again – but at least I got a decent start buying some Polish and European jazz LPs early in the day, and got a lovely little shopping spree on in the Carhartt store – courtesy of the company, who are sponsoring this tour. Before you jump all over me, you should know that the Carhartt here is quite different than the thick denim that Nebraska farmers and Naughty By Nature used to wear. Out here it’s all fashionable, and quite good looking. I’ll hit you from Paris.
March 3, 2002
On Monday night we traveled to Dusseldorf for a show at a small club called Coffy Bar. Dusseldorf is a very fashionable city, serving as home base for lots of designers like Hugo Boss, Karl Lagerfeld etc. Of course, this means having to stomach meathead American wannabee designers speaking highly about themselves in very loud voices at nightclubs. That sucked.
Dusseldorf is also a city with quite the jazz history. Turns out that the club we played in was a jazz club in the 1960s and 1970s and musicians like Dave Pike (my hero) played in the same cramped quarters that Olski and I played. Olski rocked the spot with a great mixture of dub, soul and mid tempo funk. I daresay he had more people on the dance floor than I did! I played mostly uptempo joints, and I rocked a little Dave Pike tribute set – mixing all of his sitar tracks in between other Indian funk tunes to a decent response. For a Monday, it was a helluva show and a handful of Stones Throw fans showed up. Of course, the coffee served at the bar was top notch, but I told you all about that in my first update.
Tuesday morning we arrived in Paris, where stayed in the Montmartre district, right up the hill from the Moulin Rouge cabaret. It’s a very quaint area, almost like a village. And to a tourist like myself, it bred visions of ‘old Europe,’ with its cramped streets and archaic buildings. Thomas, the journalist who was responsible for hooking up the French shows for us, lives in the district, so we met up and he took us around the area, explaining its ins and outs. Of course, the area is over-run with tourists, especially in the summer. The Sacre Coure is nearby, all of Paris’ sex shops abut the Moulin Rogue, and respected restaurants abound. But in the winter, tourism is at a minimum and there’s much to enjoy. Thomas is quite the educated guy, a film and music afficionado and a connoiseur of French cuisine. So I plagued him with endless questions. He told us that the movie Amelie, one of my faves of last year, was filmed in a cafe two blocks from where we stayed, and that one of the porn star/actresses from my OTHER French fave of last year, ‘Blaise Moi’ (roughly translated as ‘Fuck Me’), lives in the area too and is a frequent visitor at the bars we hopped in and out of. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch a glimpse of her so I couldn’t praise her performance as the oversexed, gun-toting, bi-sexual psychopath in her feature debut.
Thomas booked us a table at this great little hole in the wall, where I enjoyed my first Parisian meal – a starter of fresh goat cheese and tomatoes followed by salmon fillet garnished with nuts and potatoes and finished by an amazing creme brule. Wolf would have been sick for a week; I felt heavenly. Time got away from us, so we arrived at the gig – at the Batofar, a boat anchored on the side of the Seine – a bit late. Not to worry, the resident DJs Thomas (number two, I should say) and Atsushi were holding it down, so we had time to get situated and decently drunk on rum. I ran into many folks that I had previously communicated with solely by email, including a friend of B Plus and Eric Coleman – small world, right? The club was jam packed with people ready to get down, much to my relief. I started off my set with Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Requiem Pour Un Con’ – I’d been waiting to play that one in France for EVER – talked shit on the mic (including praising Serge as a proto hip-hop genius), and generally had a great time. Paris was probably the best gig to date.
Wednesday was an off day in gay Paris, so we woke up as early as possible, and did all the things you could think of doing- we enjoyed a petit dejeuner (‘little breakfast,’ get it?), did a couple interviews and photo shoots for French press, ate crepes purchased from streetside vendors, went record shopping with Thomas the Second and Atsushi (Paris is pretty dry for the funk, my friend), drank more espresso than is healthy in one day (no wonder Parisians are so hyper!), and ate at a great Moroccan restaruant late in the eve. Late, late night Thomas the First and I hopped the metro to the Champs Elysesse, peeped the Arc D’ Triumphe, spied the Effiel Tower from across a large park and walked over to see the Notre Dame Cathedral.
On Thursday, I had to depart for Strasbourg in the Northeast of France by train. Thankfully, my departure was arranged for 4 PM, so I had time to catch up on a couple things I hadn’t done. I walked up the hundreds of stairs to the Sacre Coure and immediately got taken in by the hustlers up there that catch idiots like me off guard. Ah, it was worth it though – that Church is so majestic, and situated on a large hill that overlooks the entire city. You just don’t see things like this in America. Walking around, I saw the Tower by daylight, and enjoyed a proper lunch of a baguette, Roquefort cheese (the real deal, homey), and a couple glasses of cheap, white wine (hey, I had to temper my extravagance some how). I made my train with plenty of time, and was pleasantly surprised when Thomas the First showed up to accompany me to Strasbourg, his home city. More on France in the next update.
Strasbourg part 2
March 3, 2002
When we arrived in Strasbourg, Thomas (formerly Thomas the First) and I were greeted by Pablo, the 20 year old wunderkind of a club promoter up there, and Patrick, owner of the Cafe du Ange, the nightclub where I would spin that night. Patrick, informed by Thomas as to my penchant for French cuisine, booked us a table at a small Alsatien restaurant, removed from one of the motorways in a small alley. Grand choice. The main chef – also the owner of the restaurant – greeted us to take our orders. He explained the dishes du jour, in French for the natives and in perfect English for me. I had an appetizer of his own creation, a buttery sauce containing barley, mussels and crayfish. The wines, of the owner’s choice, were appropriate and good. For the main course, a duck.
Patrick is a well known percussionist from Paris, who moved to Strasbourg and opened his club 8 years ago. He is a true music fan, and well versed in all types of music. He is a fan of NYC salsa (but only before 1976, he informed me), and devotes part of his club to the music. He is a fan of the nu jazz movement that’s picking up steam in London’s west end. And he is also a fan of the funk, and a rabid record collector. You know me, I’m a complete obsessive, so to converse with someone nearly 20 years my senior about JB era funk music was a blast. The epitome of the conversation was his assessment of disco and the 1980′s impact on funk music. With typical French zest, he colorfully argued for the rough funk of the early 1970s, nearly bringing tears to my young eyes.
Before DJing that night, I stopped off at Pablo’s house to check email. I was promptly greeted by a miserable beast ( or ‘le bete miserable,’ as they say en france, or ‘das misarble biest’ as they say en deutschland) who was getting a little too excited by my pants. ‘She has heat in the ass,’ Pablo’s roomate explained to me. Completely confused – I thought the poor thing had diarrhea or something – it took a little bit of translating to figure out that he meant that the cat was ‘in heat.’ But the ‘heat in the ass thing’ was priceless.
The club was really cool, not to packed, but filled with music enthusiasts who obviously had no idea of Stones Throw. But it was fun, and they responded excitedly to the Capprells 45 – always the sign of an educated crowd. Patrick and I hung out while I played my set, and he asked about the availability of a number of 45s. Again, playing Serge Gainsbourg exacted oohs and ahhs, maybe because I was an American playing the music of a French icon.
Before departing by train for Cologne, Thomas and I went to the version of Strasbourg called ‘petite France,’ and ate and drank well. I hope you get the idea here – my plan on this tour involves eating well, and DJing well. And perhaps getting some good records in between. While there were no records to find in Strasbourg ( I tried, believe me…), I did eat some quiche lorrainne, so half the battle was won.
I’m also down with seeing aspects of the cities that are completely new to me as an American. For instance, seeing the Cathedral in Strasbourg was a wondrous experience. Out of nowhere this 30 story, Gothic masterpiece juts out of nowhere. Built completely by hand, centuries ago. I’m not religious, but that shit is out of hand.
March 4, 2002
Getting from Strasbourg to Cologne, Germany was a nightmare – two missed trains while hauling a huge bag of records in a city devoid of English. The one upside was that in Germany, graffiti still lives on the commuter trains, and I saw a good number of well produced, simple style pieces roll by once I made it to the station.
I arrived in Cologne quite late, and was greeted at the station by Olski. We were due in Dortmund in less than a half an hour – about 75 miles away. So no time for eating, or grabbing anything. After seven hours in transit, we were off again.
I wish I could tell you that Dortmund was worth it, but it wasn’t. The club scene up there seems minimal, at best, and this night – though a Friday, at the same club that will house the White Stripes and Adam Smith later this month – was completely empty. So Olski and I just had fun, created our own drinks at the bar, and generally carried on in a very self indulgent manner.
I went shopping for records in Cologne, and scored a couple nice finds at Soul Tower – Cologne’s Sound Library/Groove Merchant equivalent. Later, I did a couple of interviews, and found time to check out Cologne’s glorious cathedral, ‘The Dome.’ Quite a site, much like the Cathedral in Strasbourg. That eve, after a hearty Austrian meal (let me tell you, ‘knudle’ is the heaviest food known to man), I went to a series of clubs with Demian and Milan from Groove Attack. Cologne has quite a lot going on, on Saturdays – we stopped at bars that featured a great varieties of funky music, and nightclubs from the Studio to an illegal joint held in the basement of the Cologne Film Institute. All the while, I engaged Milan in a series of discussions about the history of the Serbian/Croatian conflict (as a native Croat, he had a lot to say), and politics and philosphy in general. You would have enjoyed it, Wolf would have fallen asleep. Fuck it, I’m out here to increase my world view, as well as spin funky records and eat good food.
Today, Monday, marked my first appearance on television. Well, at least I went to Viva (the German equivalent of MTV) and recorded two segments for Viva and Viva Plus. Yup, I got on my funk soapbox and talked shit, bigged up Stones Throw (guess which slip-mats are now on Viva’s in house set of turntables?), and did a short mix of ‘Funky 16 Corners’ tracks which they’re going to air with my interview. Yes Jeff, I’m going to be a star. Well maybe not, but it was fun. Oliver and I left Cologne and drove to Tubingen, a city in the South of Germany, by car. I saw some of the most pictaresque countrysides you could imagine – lull meadows dotted the hillsides, and small villages popped out of nowhere. I see why people my age choose to ‘tour Germany,’ it must be quite the experience. More on the final leg of the tour later – I’m late for my gig here in Tubingen!
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