POGUS POGUS Is Watching You!

Tour Diary or (Diary of a Mad Composer on Tour)

Lovely lovely lovely lovely, lovely. Is that 5 lovelies? One for every week. Was a really nice trip that i think turned out a success. A leisurely 5 weeks - with nine performances by the end..plus what should turn out to be a couple of cds and another piece or 2 plus raw material for the future.

Headed off June 6 for Amsterdam where a gig at Karnatic Lab awaited along with the main reason for going - recording Trio Scordatura, who i have written (well...) a few works for. Arrived afternoon of June 7 at Schipol airport where fetched by Bob Gilmore (who along with Elisabeth Smalt put me up and put up with me for a week plus). They are also two thirds of Trio Scordatura. Upon arrival we put into action the plan against jetlag - we got drunk.... And then the weird things began happening. Apparently i had brought with me some kind of electromagnetic curse. So That on the evening i arrived Bob's computer went down. To be followed the next day (tuesday - day of gig) by my computer going „kaput" - that's a quote -. And maybe that drinking thing was not such a good idea as when we arrived at the space i went ahead and plugged my mixer in with adapter (but not transformer) and blew the power supply. And this was basically the second day of a 5 week trip. Oh well.

I had planned for possible misfortunes however and had extra cd players and such as wellas me trusty clarinet..so that the gig went well. We also began to develop a ritual for ridding bad electricity that involved head rubbing abd coconut butter (don't ask) that seemed to work. Anyway computers went in for repair and new mixers were purchased - i now have a US and also a Euro one..so not all as bad as could be. We (Trio S including vocalist Alfrun) then spent most of the next few days recordinga t Robert Bosch's place....and it looks like the tracks have come out extremely well..yeah. So a good time had in Amsterdam (my first time there) - Bob and i saw a couple of performances as well..iand got to see and meet Anne La Berge which was quite nice.

Then it was off to Prague (on the day the Dutch won their first match of the World Cup). There i was to meet up with Phill Niblock and Katherine Liberovskaya for a 10 day tour of Prague, Brno, Budapest and Vienna (again a bit leisurely). Upon arrival i had lovely surprise of being met at airport by Martin Janicek who was going to perform with Katherine and i at Skolska 28 in Prague. The next day we all (including Martin scooted off to Brno where we met some old pals (and new ones) - Josef Cseres and David Subik among them - the presenters. Sets by Phill and Katherine, myself and Martin, myself and Katherine and then Phill alone ensued. Attending was Bob Ostertag (who was to play same venue a couple of days later).

Phill heads off early to Barcelona and we go back to Prague..or do we? Apparently my electro issues had in fact preceded me and Phill's car had the lights left on (before my arrival in fact) and the battery had been drained. And it happened again in Brno. So we spent part of that early afternoon trying to get the car jumped while in a parking garage..would these issues never cease? (well they do)

Anyway back to Prgaue where we check out Katherine's installation. We were planning to use that as jumping of point of our performnace. Very nice sound and video installation and we decide that we can in fact work with it...which we do the next day. Very nicely attendde performnace and i get to see some folks (the petrs - vrba and ferenc) that i had met on previous visit.. After some more hanging out and wandering the beautiful city of Prague its off to Budapest. - another first for me. As Phill likes to drive roads he has not when possible and also likes to show me places he knows i have never seen, we take a drive throught the countryside of Slovakia. Really beautiful countryside and we dine - me on haveshgi - in Stara Tura. Finally arrive latish evening in Budapest. Where we meet our hosts (Janos Sugar, Zoltan and Georg) . we get to stay at art school visitors residence. As usual some drinking ensues.... We perform at Labyrinth - a small gallery with great sound....the shape of gallery is almost tunnel like and allows for some verfy interestin acoustics. Sets come off very well, Phill is too loud at end for upstairs neighbor, who comes down a shouting. I sell some cds and that keeps me cool for rest of Budapest stay.

What a nice city...and ..well..the baths. Katherine says oh we must go to the baths and i agree (though i know i have some weird disagreeable/skeptical look on my face). But we go toi the Turkish baths..i'm sold 36C water temperature is perfect by me..worth going back just fort hat alone..man we had fun. Also had a chance to meet some contacts face to face - Zsolt Sores being first among many.

Then Vienna. We stay at Martin Zrost's place (and thanks again to him and his family - i may have been that „surprise child" they were not necessarily expecting). But host us they did and then next evening - after KL and i wandered around Vienna and ate weiner schnitzel etc- we played at a small peformance/rehearsal/recording space - collectively run - Garnison 7. A nice evening, we are fed and taken care of - Martin joins both me and Phill for a piece.

And then next day we all separate..always a sad moment - ist nice to tour with P and K..they bare off to Italy and then Portugal and i am back to the Netherlands..Nijmegen...for a residency with an old firiend Adam Bohman. Wonderful English improvisor on prepared violin and string objects. What a sound. I've known Adam for about 25 years - from the cassette days - and have not seen him in about 8 years apparently, so this is great. We are going to be at Extrapool and i finally get to meet Frans de Waard - Korm Plastics, Vital Weekly, Kappotte Muziek among other things - someone else i"ve known for many years but have actually never met. Frans invited us to the residency. Where we got to work in the studio (and record a cd as part of Extrapool's Brom Bron series) as well as do a couple of gigs -Rotterdam and Nijmegen. And the drinking begins (er continues) - a land of beer - and belgian beer at reasonable prices...yum...The first night i arrive it has turned hot and ist a saturday night - bars close at 4am and who knew - the Dutch are loud all night - not much sleep.

Adam and i actually work really hard - everyday in the studio - which is actually nice and cool being in the basement. Adam with his table of objects and contact mics and string things pushes me really hard - i only with my breaking down sieve-like clarinet. First 2 days we just play/improvise and after a while - with my lack of any clarinet technique - am reduced to singing/vocalizing through the clarinet. The 9 or 10 imrovs that we manage the first couple of days we then assemble (as each one really only has about 5 decent minutes per take) into what will turn out to be the cd..And Extrapool is a cool place - 20 years as a collective who print art books in their own style...so really a great space and place (thanks Yolanda, Joyce and JonDirk). The gigs come off ok and adam and i finish up what should be a pretty interesting cd. The Dutch win a couple of more World Cup matches whaile we are there (including getting into the semi-finals our last night there...so between the heat, my paranoia about missing the early train and the celebrating...well no sleep that night). Rene van Peer and Timo and Mark of Onde show up. Also Holger of Vuz/Bastet label bringst he 3 cdrs of If, Bwana releases he is re-issuing - so also a new release event!!!

After no sleep i shoot off to the Nijmegen train station to begin my all day journey to Italy. First to amsterdam, then frankfort airport (not a bad one overall- free coffee and newspapers..decent food) - then on to venice and then train to udine then to cividale then picked up at 11 at night fort the ride to Topolo. I meet the movers and shakers of the fest - Moreno and Donatella - and Antonella and Cosimo and and and..too many to name but thank you all. Topolo - a small (30 people!) mountain village on the Slovenian border, that, thanks to folks from the area, transforms for 2 weeks every July into a festival/residency. And a beautiful place. Actually reminds me of home..very good to end up my travels here. I have a place to myself (but can't get used to leaving doors unlocked and open - NY paranoia). The first day (sunday) turns out to be a town festival - not religious - just a festival so all day there is drinking and food - i meet some locals - fabio and Italo - now good friends (despite us not being able to actually speak the same language). I get to work on a piece for pre-recorded material - drawn from the area - and some musicians from festival - michele, bass, Veronika, flute, Marta, harp, Sandro, trumpet and Antonio sax. We work on piece - ist a bit of a struggle - i dont usually work that quickly preferring to poke and prod at it and we do not have time form e to give them samples of the work to listen to. But it comes off in the end ok. It's really amazing during this entire trek to have all this time and freedom to actually work on music..kind of another first form me. Everyone there is working on something - or presenting something.There are films and music and...,Michele presents a live piece and installation for bass and prerecorded sounds - an audio diary - which is great - and Marta (the harpist) does an invisible performance - for one person at a time - she behind a curtain - really amazing and meditational/soothing - couldn't actually get up almost afterwards.

(We also get into the subject of guest/host - ghosting in the end - where it was encouraged to not eat alone by accept what is given and look for meals with others - something that is great but on occasion - yes i confess i ate alone a couple of time - seems difficult to do for me...
i sometimes felt a bit like the vampire child in Let the Right One In - i had to be asked in....but this is probably me)

On the last night i am recruited into the Topolo Minimalist Orchestra - Alexander Balanescu who was to attend and perform had family medical issues and could not come - so the Orchestra - who love to play In C - well we did so - to accompany second half of World Cup final. I was an honored guest artist at this event - they love the Styrenes recording we did of In C...so it was really great to play with this large ensemble.

And of course from the first the drinking had ensued..finding my lack of Italian getting less troublesome the more wine we drank. Totally great place - embraced by the locals Great ending to a great and productive trip and i have probably typed way to long so

Thanks to all

And let the drinking begin (again)

Past Feature Article: If, Bwana / Al Margolis featured in UK's Wire Magazine
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