The Jazz Butcher
The Jazz Butcher Press Brian Kelly reports - June 20, 2002
June 20, 2002
The associated Gig:
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Brian Kelly reports
the 20th anniversary tour
June 8-19, 2002

Credit: Brian Kelly


Credit: Brian Kelly

JBC 20th Anniversary Tour Travelogue - Day One
June 8, 2002

Ich Bin Ein Hamburger!

A loooong first day. After all, I left Minneapolis at 1:00 pm, arriving at 10:30 am Hamburg time. The connection from Boston to Amsterdam was some 6 hours long, and the seats unreasonably close together. Clearly they were designed with legless pygmies in mind. The in-flight movies were 'Snow Dogs' and whatever the hell the Brittney Spears movie is called, thereby completing the aesthetic.

Arriving in Amsterdam officiated my first experience outside of the continental US. The airport was a good primer for the foreign experience, in that English appears to be the default language. The flight attendants were all blonde Amazon supermodels in bright sky blue uniforms. So far, Brian like-y this 'Eur-ope'.

I arrived in Hamburg to be met by the wonderful Owen Jones - Drummer, tour organizer and hamburg-host with the JBC. We rode the train into town, and sat in the front room of Casa de Jones, listening to David J's most recent demo tape. We talked a bit about the itinerary and proposed set lists, while he tried diligently to find a bootleg that I didn't already have (success came with Munich '85...he was so pleased to have stumped the one they call 'the archivist').

And then...sleep...

When I awoke, I found Owen, his girlfriend Baerbel and the just arrived Max Eider out in the little garden wood-house/ bar. Max and I caught up while Owen went off to prepare a fantastic pasta supper for everyone.

Then it was off to the local pub, where the band will be playing on Tuesday night. We played darts (501) after which I taught them how to play cricket. It seemed ironic to be teaching a couple Brits how to play darts (and cricket no less), but by the second round, Max had got his game on, and put us all to shame.

It is, of course, world cup football (soccer) time, and apparently most of Europe and certainly the Jones household revolves around the tournament schedule. Me, I plan to sleep in...until I am awakened by a couple of aging British rockers drunkenly shouting 'GOOOOOOAL'.

JBC 20th Anniversary Tour Travelogue - Day Two
June 9, 2002

I awoke to find Owen once again bustling about the kitchen, preparing a wonderful vegetarian breakfast, which we proceeded to enjoy out in the yard. Again today, the boys were keen on watching football. They were most excited to cheer on Japan, having found a recent kinship after playing there for the first time last Summer.

So, while the displaced English gentlemen watched soccer, Baerbel and I went walking. Altona, which is the county we are in, was having a festival. Sideshows and music, food and drink and fantastic people watching. Max & Owen soon joined up with us, and we took the ferry boat down the river (gorgeous) and took the train back. I was glad of this, since all the shops are closed on Sundays, and I desperately needed my diet soda fix. I took advantage of the vending machines at the station, and loaded up. I felt very much the ugly American, buying four 1 liter bottles of diet coke...I'm sure the Euro-perception is that we Yanks have coca cola in our veins...hmm perhaps they're not half wrong in my case.

Still a bit jet lagged from the long journey over, I went down for a nap. I was awakened by the boys blasting 'Southern Mark Smith'. They laughed and said they considered a number of ways to wake me up, but that seemed the most kind. Too true.

Chef Owen had prepared a homemade spinich pizza that was unbelievably good. I did the washing up, wanting to earn my keep. The generosity of these guys is too much, really...I've barely spent a Euro since I arrived...every meal has been prepared, every train ticket paid for. I had to insist on paying the bar tab at the pub this evening... fortunately for me, it was a tame night for the fellows who once sang 'I don't wanna think about how much I drink/ it's a habit that's out of control/ I hope I never get dry before I get old'. Little chance of that! Me on the other hand...

At the pub, the song 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' came on, and Owen confessed that 'soppy' as it is, he loves this song. He asked the bartender if she would turn it up, which she did, and upon it's conclusion, played it again. Our table just sort of sat and swayed, enjoying the music. Just then an elderly gentlemen wearing a bathrobe came in to buy cigarettes. I informed Owen that he'd gone and woke the neighbors.

We returned to the flat, and I played DJ, introducing the Brits to some of my contemporary favorites, Gorillaz, and Soul Coughing. Then, in honor of the recent passing of Dee Dee Ramone, I put on the Ramone's 'Blitzkrieg Bop' which then had us talking about punk rock history until it was time to retire.

Tomorrow, Pat Fish, the Jazz Butcher hisself, and Ms. Kathy McGinty arrive. No one is sure what time, and Owen refuses to call and ask him. 'Feck him, if the bastard can't be bothered' was his and Max's attitude, 'so long as he brings the rubber reptiles (JBC mascots) for the tour bus, otherwise, there'll be hell to pay.

JBC 20th Anniversary Tour Travelogue - Day Three
June 10, 2002

Today was rather it the calm before the storm. The storm, of course being the arrival of a certain mad Northampton tunesmith. Hurricane Pat, as it were.

We split up during the day, Owen went to get the beer, Max went to the music store for guitar strings and such, and I went to the shops. I had planned to go to the airport to greet the Northampton faction, but Max had yet to return, so I stayed behind to let him in.

Now, many of you know of my notorious sense of direction (or lack therof), but it pales in comparison to Mr. Eider. Owen told me that they once stopped off at a pub across from the airport before their flight...across the street, mind you...and Max managed somehow to get himself lost and nearly miss the plane.

Well, once again, Max entered what the band calls 'the Zone'...that being the Twilight Zone, and what should have been about an hour long errand became something of an all day exercise. The good news, is that Max is quite at home in the Twilight Zone, as he's spent a lot of time there.

Pat and Kathy arrived at about 8pm, and after hugs and warm greetings, we all made our way out back to 'Fritzi's Bar'. I should describe this. In Owen's back yard he's got a wooden...well, clubhouse rather aptly describes it. A handpainted sign reads 'Fritzi's Bar', named for his and Baerbel's first cat. The Jolly Roger flies over the door.

Inside, there is a fully loaded bar, and 3 stools, which, when occupied, means the place is packed. As Pat pointed out, the bartender was clearly behind the design, in that there is as much space behind the bar as there is in front of it. But, we all agreed that the ergonomic design is neccessary...for nothing must hinder the barkeep from the swift fulfilment of his duties.

Then, 'Barkeep Owen' became 'Chef Owen' once again, and we supped on couscous. The inn is now at full capacity, so now it is really a matter of feeding the troops.

Owen asked if the plan was to go to the pub afterwards, at which Pat and Max looked at each other incredulously...

Max: "is the Pope Catholic?"

Pat: "Does a bear shit in the woods?"

Owen: "Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back" ... pause

Pat: "Thank you so much for that enduring mental image."

And so, off to the Pub it was. Pat and I had the chance to catch up some. When we last met in LA, last year, his mother had just died, a scant two weeks after my mom passed. We talked a bit about dealing with that, although unfortunately, his situation is compounded by having to deal with his mother's estate. From the sound of it, it has been an altogether terrible ordeal. I think this tour is the best thing for him...A chance to redirect his energies and let loose.

Wishing to let the three old mates have an opportunity to catch up on their own, and wanting to be rested for the whirlwind that is to follow, I decided to retire early. Tomorrow 'Baby' arrives (aka Steven D. Valentine, bassist and legal representation for the JBC), and the pub will serve as something of a warm-up to the tour ahead. Not to mention, at midnight's chime, the band celebrates it's official 20th birthday. June 12, 1982 was the first Jazz Butcher gig, and that same day, Pat said, they signed on the dotted line. If they knew then that they would still be doing this some 20 years later, They might have dropped the pen and run screaming.

Today was mostly business in preparation for this evening's show.

Owen & Kathy & I went to sort out the business of the tour bus, whilst Pat & Max headed off to the airport to pick up Mr. Valentine.

A little background on Steve...he is a California native and a JBC fan like myself. He volunteered to play with the boys at one point, many fans...was abducted. He helped Max record his solo record last summer, and, in that he is a lawyer, he serves as legal representation. As I say, he is quite a bit younger than the pop stars he's gigging with, and looks even younger than his age, hence the nickname of 'baby'.

So it was that we loaded up the bus, and went to the venue. This was not an 'official gig' in any real sense, more of a party and a warm up for the next week's shows. The pub itself is not really designed for a rock show...they have folk music on Tuesdays. So it was that the quarters were most tight on the 'stage'...also, it was commented upon that the bar had never heard music so loud before.

So loud, in fact, the politzei were called. As Pat pointed out, 'we may be old, but we're still antisocial.' So it was that the gig was cut short...but they did make it to the midnight mark, at which point baerbel brought out a birthday cake for the band & guests.

The strangeness of the evening left the band feeling a bit out of sorts, but a few pints and things looked brighter. At any rate, tomorrow we leave for Munich, thus starting the official tour.

Day 5 was mostly travel. The day began with a phone call booking the band for a second gig in Belgium...rock! We got on the road at a fairly reasonable hour, Baerbel kissed us all good luck, and we were on our way.

Everyone was still a bit weary from the night before, not to mention getting up at an unGodly hour to watch football. The drive was long, but we reached Nüremberg in about 6 hours or so. The initial plan was to go straight on to Munich, but Pat's judgment at Nüremberg (pun intended) was to stay the night and pick up the additional two hours or so the next day.

The hotel we stayed at was French, and had all of the modern conveniences of a plastic room with a mattress on the floor. Indeed, we got onto the elevator, which promptly trapped us until Owen smartly came to look for us. Good thing, too...for we know what happens when you leave a Fish too long in an elevator (don't we?)...Also, no phones in the room (hence, no internet connection, hence no report...QED)

I enjoyed a much needed shower and a good night's sleep, and in the morning, we had breakfast outside a small cafe. We again took to the autobahn, arriving in Munich mid-afternoon.

After setting up, the band did a rehearsal (since they hadn't had one...even prior to the Hamburg gig) and really tightened up. By soundcheck they were in the groove, and well looking forward to the show.

The club owner prepared dinner for all, after which I went for a stroll. Former JBC alum Peter 'No Show' Crouch turned up, to everyone's delight. I ran merchandise before and after the show, and once again got to be 'JBC answer man', a job I am uniquely suited for. Pat decided that I was in charge of 'Public relations', and was pleased with the number of CDs that I am earning my keep. :