The Whiskey Daredevils just returned from a road trip in Europe. Frontman Greg Miller fills us in on what happened.
Day 11: Toulouse, France
Chrsitoph and I walk to get the van, which was parked as instructed by James last night around the corner. The neighborhood, with the exception of James’s place, is meticulously groomed nice small houses with fenced in yards. Each house overlooks the foothills that roll into town. It’s a really nice suburb. Who exactly were these thieves that were going to emerge from the shadows at 3 am last night? If I were the people living nearby, I’d be worried about us. We are the sketchy looking ones.
The van is parked in front of one of these houses in an open space in the street. Christoph and I climb into the van to swing it around when an elderly man shoots across the yard to the van with surprising quickness. He must be the owner of the place, and he is really fired up about us parking in front of his house. Christoph is being lambasted in waves of French with the Old Man’s arms wildly waving about. The only word I can pick out of the whole thing is “private”. He must have woken up and stewed all morning long after seeing the LSD Trips van in his parking space. Sure, he wasn’t going to use it at 3 am, but godammit, it’s HIS space. Our German license plate must have been the last straw. “Zees Goddamn Germans think zay can park anywhere they want? In France? No!”
Chrsitoph responds to the onslaught with his own wild hand motioning in a “sorry” gesture, and shows him a piece of paper with James address on it. More torrents of French spew forth from the Old Man. I would guess that James is the fuck up neighbor everyone talks shit about, so seeing that address just pissed off the Old Man even further. I enter the fray with my go-to French saying “No parlay vous Francais man” and “Sorry, we’ll go.”. For some unknown reason, this settles him down, and he even sort of waves at us as we turn around and drive by. We load up the van without mentioning any of this to James.
The drive to Toulouse is long and when we pass Lyon, the sun starts to get very strong. The ground is arid, and small desert plants pop up in the scrub. It’s warm and dry like Southern California. So this is Southern France? Now I get it. This is weather I could get used to. Christoph, on the other hand, starts to bitch. “This is awful. The perfect day is 65 degrees and cloudy. Cold enough so you have to wear a jacket.” He does have the complexion of a cave fish, so maybe that has something to do with his issue. As the weather gets warmer and sunnier, he gets crankier.
We arrive in town and drive around looking for a place to park. Toulouse is a very diverse town. You can note Spanish, French, and African influences all melted together. Exotic women and strangely dressed men parade up and down like peacocks in front of the cafes. There must be a large artistic community here as some people are dressed in a very “individual” manner. My favorite is the guy dressed in MC Hammer pants, Picasso neckerchief, and clear jelly sandels. He is either a very important artist or a street person. It’s hard to know in Toulouse.
We walk around and finally set down roots at a café to watch the scene. Everyone checks each other out, and a woman that looks a hell of a lot like PJ Harvery is playing some kind of peek a boo game with me that I don’t know the rules of. In fact, I may be creeping her out as I stare at her trying to figure out what she is doing. I never know if someone is checking me out, but I am pretty sure she was checking me out. Maybe she was looking at a clock above my head though…
The show is at the EL Camino, a Spanish tapas themed bar. Pitch and his girlfriend Brigitte put on the show, another stop on the Teenage Head Booking circuit as evidenced by the now familiar Sonny Vincent poster. The neighborhood is a weird mix of Middle Eastern, African, Spanish, and French. Dark skinned black women walk by in colorful clothes holding babies. Olive skinned men in groups of three smoke cigarettes and try to strike up conversations with women. Mopeds whine past darting in and out of the cars. There’s a certain spiciness in the air. I think this is what Morocco must be like.
Mr. White, a one man band doing rockabilly covers, opens up. He is a short squat guy playing a Gretsch reissue accompanied by pre-recorded bass/drum tracks. I know this sounds like an awful idea, but he’s actually pretty good. He keeps everyone interested until we start. The crowd is small enough that I can pick out individual people from the crowd. Two older rockabilly guys sit on stools against the left wall “chair dancing” by rocking back and forth on their stools. A man with a startling resemblance to Gary Kane, our manager, dances right up front. He falls down every so often as he is completely shit faced. A guy that’s a cross between Hemingway and Bukowski looks on judgmentally. The whole place is filled with crazy characters.
The crowd really likes us, and we play well. We sell very little merchandise as these fuckers don’t seem to have any money whatsoever. After the show, we hang out for a bit, and I start the new game of “Hey Mon…Let me take your picture. You will like it.”. (The concept of this game started when Leo’s voice was almost shot, and he started to say “Hey mon…Want to see a picture of me fucking your wife? It will turn you on Mon. You will like it.” This has since mutated into Leo talking into the gruff voice and pointing to Gary saying “Hey Mon…How about I fuck your wife while my friend takes a picture. You will like it.”. Gary then quickly affirms whatever creepy thing Leo says by holding his camera and saying in a bad French accent “You will like it.” It is all very unsettling, but has become the joke of the tour despite making everyone we come in contact with VERY uncomfortable.)
We end up at Pitch and Brigitte’s apartment. They are exceptionally nice, and want to make sure we are happy. Leo and Gary get into some absinthe, I spin records from Pitch’s giant vinyl collection, and Christoph gets down to some serious cyberstalking of his “enemies” (whoever they are).