Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Holland is a nice place!

What can I really say about The City Of Holland. Amsterdam and Rotterdam to be exact?
It's pretty chill and relaxed and most of all, I feel totally comfortable there. I Haven't really figured it out yet, but I've been there plenty of times to try and figure it out, but I still have not managed to do so.
If your wondering about the smoke shops and all that good stuff, Im not into that stuff so much, but sometimes it is fun, especially right before going on stage. It's like playing in space! Anything you ever thought about doing, it all comes out without a hesitation. Whether its that run you've been trying to belt out, or a bass lick your trying to throw in on a show, it will all come out while playing under the influence of the you know what.

Amsterdam in the summer is a beautiful place.. there's so much to the city that everytime I go there, I see something different.  It's that I'm blogging on this place once again, if any of you guys remember last year I blogged about Amsterdam, and now I'm back again.
This time around was a very interesting trip. The famous Paridiso Venue that everyone performs at when they visit Amsterdam, heard of that place right. Ok well we would always perform there, and they have a smaller stage upstairs, and a bigger stage downstairs. Well When I tour with Bilal, we always perform on the bigger stage and the crowds usually pack in to see us, Watching Bilal in concert is an amazing experience along with the how well he bonds with the band on stage allowing them to creative and free. It's the best to me.
Well this time, the first time in years, our roles were reversed, as we played the smaller stage due to a Adele concert being booked on the same night.
The whole time I'm wondering, wow, what is going on? We never play the small stage, i remember a few times, we played there after our concert to hold a jam session. Now, we're doing our full in there.
I just figured that the promotion sucked pretty bad, and that this should never happen again.
It's one thing to jump from a major to Indie, but to drop off like that in ticket sales……… Where is this coming from?
It was like a smack in the face, but a reality check too at the same time. 
People filled up the small little place and the sound was nice and tight, and everybody felt comfortable and had a great show.  Hopefully this promotion of these tours and shows will get better.
It's really a bad look when you come to town and nobody knows your there! if any officials are reading this, then I honestly feel like you need to, and that you need to step up your game of promoting your artist when they tour another country.
When you travel all the way to Europe…. they love it when we come and they expect a great sound and show…. It's a total different beast when they don't even know your coming though.
On the bright side of that, the sun was shining bright, and you could smell spring and summer all in the air.
It's rare that we tour Europe this time of the year, it's usually always when the weather is cold or raining and grey outside.
So that made things a lot better.
Maybe that's why I ran into so many cool attractions there. Weird thing is, I was there to work and it felt like I was a tourist, walking around with my camera and did a little window shopping.
There were plenty museums and parks, I felt like wow, I've cheated myself overtime I came in the past.

I would definitely encourage anybody to go there for a vacation, specially if you never gotten yourself out of the country. I think people should have passports in general, because it makes it easier for you to book a flight and go, rather then saying, I'll get my passport first , and then I can go.
Just get one now, because you never know when your gonna want or need to cross that Atlantic Ocean.
Amsterdam is dope, Rotterdam is also dope! That place always makes me feel like I'm home for some reason.
I have a few friends there and they are totally cool and always making me feel right at home.
Again I haven't  pin pointed what it is about Rotterdam either. Another place where I've been a number of times.

Maybe it just a pure vibe, but It always makes feel cool when I'm there.
Some people favorite places are, London, Paris,Berlin, etc…. I like Holland!
Its definitely one of my favorite European cities to this date, and Oh, I have to give a honorable mention to Den Haag.
Holland is just cool.
Kinda ran into this shopping strip.... It was located right at the top of the street where I was staying....
Almost every shop you can think of!
Nice Area!
Everyone lncluding this young man right here is riding bicycles
Didnt believe, everybody is riding them
And there was a museum
Tony walking through the park.
He's in all my photo's
This was one of my favorite aspects of this park! Playground with the kids
more playground
And they played basketball
Then they skated!
Nice park!
Later folks

Thursday, April 7, 2011

These 5 AM Lobby Calls.....

If you only knew what the life of a musician is, I'm pretty sure that you would reconsider all the comments you made from time to time to a fellow friend who happens to be a musician.  For example you say things like, "Wow" You get to travel the whole world for free" I hate my job…. Yours is more fun. Stuff like that for example, which makes it more interesting for MTV to take upon a show featuring the details of a musician's life and what it's like prior to getting on stage and performing.

Well there's my introduction to my story today as I travelled  to Lyon,France. Oh yeah, remember my last blog about being in Paris, France for two days. Talk about a schedule!
Well last night was a cool show in Koln,Germany, a great musical town full of musicians and singers of such, and also a place I've visited often to record albums and play shows with a bunch of my friends there.
I met up with a bunch of them and ended going to  one of my friends studio to check out his place and all the amazing things going on there. Need I say, I'm gonna get  back over to record some records through some sweet pieces of equipment!

The days are so long you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Try starting off walking up at 9am to have yourself ready by 9:45 and downstairs in the lobby, only to hit the road in a van traveling to the next city. We left from Gent,Belgium and made our way to Germany which was about a 4 hour drive! Sounds cool and doable but put yourself in a van thats not comfortable and your still not fully awake, and everything inside of you wants to just lay on the floor somewhere to get some kind of comfort… NO!
The 4 hour drive becomes very intense, with our tour manager driving a stick and listening to all the soul music you can handle, its definitely a trip to experience, and y'all thought it was all sweet.
We arrive at our next destination and we're pressed for time, so we head straight to the venue and sound check, and then after soundcheck, all the good stuff happens, you see your friends, and family, and you chat, and eat, and then there's this short window of time to get ready for the show. Fast forward, we played a great show minus all the smoking that people are doing, and then you meet and greet, shake hands, hook up with friends again.
With me not seeing my friends here for some two years, I go and hang out and catch up, only to be sent home wishing i had more amazing stuff in my studio. I did managed to sneak away with a crazy Moog keyboard, and not to mention that everyone is doing well, and it was great to see everybody there in Koln, Germany, NIce town. 
In the back of my mind, I knew I had a 5am lobby call to catch a flight to Lyon, France. Being as though I never get the proper amount of rest most the time,  I stayed up for the entire day, even after the show, hung out at a studio until four, then came back to the hotel and washed and packed and downstairs in the van ready to go. At this point, it's 6Am and were making our way to the gates, with no sleep and only to get harassed by the security agents! NIce!

Lyon, France had some beautiful weather today, the kind that makes you feel good, and your walking around with positive energy, you know that feeling? Well I had it today and was glad that the cold season is done for a little while.
Soundcheck was nice and easy. I had a stupid situation with my blackberry battery dying, then one of the runners at the venue took care of me, and now I'm back up and running!
Show was great, I always feel like if my drums are the way they suppose to be, meaning, if they provide what I ask for on the tour rider, I usually have a good show. It's a ritual for me, if its not good, then it really predicts my mood and my playing tends to be good, but feeling wise, it's a rough thing to endure. Im sure my fellow musicians can relate.It's a neutral thing.

After the show, the normal, meet and greet, take a gang full of photo's and drink lots of water. 
Then you decide, if you wanna eat,hang, or whatever, and then BOOM…….. Hey guys, 5AM lobby call again…….. 
My sleep pattern is all messed up, damn it's gonna be rough once I get home.  Its the life, getting up early, going through the airports, going through security, and taking your stuff out your bags, put it back in your bags, every night, this is how it is.
You still want that life?
Yeah….. I'll still take it, I've seen the world and circling it at this point, there is still a few places I haven't been yet, but this is cool so far and all the miles we put on our bodies can compare to any of these experiences.
Well it's almost 3am and I gotta be in the lobby in two hours….. If I go to sleep, I'll be doomed…. I"ll stay up and blog and give you this experience…. sorry if my pics are boring… It's the only place I've today, even with dinner, there just so happen to be a Thai place in our lobby! Pretty good too!
On to Amsterdam…… Vaporsssssssss….. later folks
Guess it meant to say parking drive?
The Venue had a amazing feel on the inside, not the same for the outside though
My Boy Bilal, works hard, Had a new baby just yesterday and he's out here on the road, killing shows, and doing interview after interview
Look at what I found, A dope jogging trail!
Didnt have time to run today.
There's a nice little view of Lyon France, some say its boring, but it def had a cool vibe.
The sun was out shining today.
The Hilton at Lyon France, one of the biggest hotel by Hilton I've ever seen
The View of the hotel from the elevator.... I felt like i was in the damn matrix
After a all night event... we got here at 9 am this morning and that bed never looked so good to me.
And there was Thai, right in our lobby! Good too!
Right before the show, we ate and went to the gig.


Monday, April 4, 2011

On The Road In Paris Again.

I can't really remember how many times I've been in Paris and other places in France I visted, But I do know that it has been quite a few times. I've have many experiences here as well.
Paris is a beautiful place, and just like any other place you travel too, there's gonna be nice moments about the city and not so nice moments. Its all over the world. Paris has got Hoods too, and it just on a different level hood if you know what I mean.
One thing that is very new to me though, is coming to Paris and having a full two days off with no concerts to play!
Yeah they cancelled our show due to low ticket sales I heard, or something like the promoter didn't feel like he could pull the show off. So we get here, to only find out that we're staying here for two days after going non stop for two days straight. From Norway to Germany. Full steam ahead!

We literally went from flying from JFK into Germany to Norway and played a show and rested for a few hours and then flew to Berlin, and got in a Van and drove to Minden Germany. On about 5 hours of sleep, total.
Needless to say, these two days off in Paris was a bit different because every time I'm here, its all about work and studio and work, and traveling. My past few days were cool, spending time with friends from here and seeing the town like I never get to see it because I'm always working.
I even took a jog around this dope lake in the area 16, if you pay any attention to the districts here.

Shops were cool… if your into spending a little more then you know you should be, then cool. The Boutique shops are all there. I've found a few, but nothing worth me spending any extra euro's on.

I was more intrigued by the culture of France, and how differently they do things in the city.
The traffic patterns that drives you crazy while you feel like your going in a big circle. The way they just shut the city down on sundays and mondays, and EVERTHING closes early!
I wanted something to drink, and came away totally shocked that there wasn't one little spot open to get a bottle of water from.
I was in a conversation with a few friends and we got into details briefly on why Paris has a kind of relaxed and lazy feel. I wont go into specific details but I can say that the government welfare system is enormous here. You get something like 1,000 euro per child, if you don't have a job and claim to be poor. What I found interesting was that you can work to about 8 months and you can have 75 percent of your salary at your job. 75 percent!!!!! Im guessing these salaries aren't too much.
It makes sense now that most businesses are closed and Sunday and Mondays. They aren't  tripping about it. Some kind of Social Security system going on here in Paris.
It's still a beautiful place to visit. 
I was kinda sad to see the famous venue Elysee Montmartre burned down to the ground.
That was a very popular place to play in Paris.
I had some good moments in that venue as a musician, back in 2002 playing with Bilal.
The band grew on that very stage and to come back here now years later to see it gone, is sad.
It's always like that though, when you have very fond memories of places and you come back and they don't exsist anymore.

I think everyone in the crew enjoyed themselves this time around in Paris, I know i did.
We got to stay at a hotel of our choice in Mama's Shelter and the whole vibe was just cool, and relaxed. Wait, this is a tour! no way, I thought I was on vacation! :)
Now we looking ahead to no more days off with show after show until we fly back into the states, 7 shows straight. Bring the pain!
Catch you guys soon!
Maybe from belgium.

The lake were I jogged today in Paris, if you go around two time, you got four miles in the books!
Look at What I find here... lol... they are all over the world, doing the same rackets!
damn parking tickets!
There's like a million cafe's here, just take your pick!
Another corner turned, another cafe, take your pick please!
The streets of Paris
Trying to figure out which way to go!
This cool bridge I came across... I know my photographer friends are clowning my pics
In this book store, could you really find anything to read, oh look Andy Warhol!
Most of the time i was in a moving car, so my snaps had to be quick
Elysee Montmartre!
Walking down the street, looks who get reconized!
Tour manager Maria, Bilal, Tony, Mike, and Chris chiling
This cool dude is largely responsible for our good time in Paris, Friend Mikeal
He shot the video for the song Robots that I produced with Bilal
Cool dude!
Look at what I found, i remember walking by this place many of times before i knew what it was.
Moulin Rouge!
Look at the building, remembers me of somewhere, maybe NY

later folks,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oslo,Norway again.... and tired!

Talk about traveling! How about driving from Philly, to New York, the JFK airport to be exact and then boarding a plane to fly to Frankfurt,Germany. The madness doesn't stop there, we clear through customs to only board a connecting flight to Oslo,Norway.
Our first show is tonight too by the way.
Were all going off of fumes scared to lay down in fear of over sleeping, so we walked around, and ate and now there is a hour in between our set tonight.
So here I am, writing to you guys. Blogging!
What can I say without sounding like a snob. I've been to Europe over and over again.
No, I've been here many times and overtime I come now it all feels the same to me?

Ok I'm trying, but I really have circled these places three and four times, maybe more.
To some degree most of the places, like London, Amsterdam,Paris, they all have the same feel to me now days. It's almost like you know what to expect and how to plan your time. You know exactly where you wanna eat, and go hang before you have to play. Sometimes, if your lucky, there's time to go check some cool museums and sights, and not to forget, time to shop for gifts to bring home for the loved ones and friends.
Im always have a hard time with that because it's so many people and most of the time you forget and people on your list are slighted. It's easy to remember to bring my mother fridge magnets though, she has a bunch of those.
Traveling around the world is totally cool, and to get paid doing what you love is a plus. I couldn't ask for more, I feel like God as truly blessed me and everything.
One thing that most people wont recognize is that, flying back and forth, driving from ferry to ferry, red eye flight after red eye flight, to some degree, you put miles on your buddy just as you put miles on your car.
Over the years, I've truly learned what it is to pace yourself during these travels.
What to pack, what to wear, how much to pack, not to over pack, and a good technique for staying organized in your travel bag.
Sounds funny, but in the end, it makes a world of difference.
Contrary to what I'm saying, For the longest time, I travelled around with a duffle bag, without wheels, from Heathrow to Charles de Gaulle airport without wheels, and usually always trying to figure out how to pack and roll to the point where i wasn't overloading my bag because I knew I would be carrying it on my shoulders. Poor me!
This time around, I took myself out to get a nice bag with wheels only to be more dependable and ready for the race in these airports. If you don't have wheels, you are killing yourself, Trust me, I've been through many of these moments and I wouldn't advise that for anyone.
Buy a great piece of luggage with wheels, that's if you travel all the time.

Man……… jet leg is kicking in. I wanna sleep, but I can't, and to top that off, we have a 4am lobby call for the airport…… Talk about the life and adventure of a musician.
I'm off to the show, catch you guys tomorrow!
We Flew on this plane and it held about 500 people.
My setup in Oslo.... was a good night playing wise!
The Venue was nice and crunk, but held a good energy, good first show
Front view of the venue.
The Life, planes, trains, and automobiles.......
Chris Turner, my homeboy from Ny by the way of Oakland California..
Look out for him, he's next