Monday, March 15, 2010

Trekkin' across Europe

Just finished up the French leg of our tour - a literal "Tour de France," as we pretty much zipped around the entire country. We started about 2 weeks ago in the Northeast in New Brittany, an area known for its crepes and alcoholic cider. We then made our way around counter-clockwise, hitting some lovely cities like St. Nazaire, La Rochelle, Marseille, Reims, Villeurbane, Dijon, Calais and finishing up last night with an incredible sold out show in St. Germain en Lay, a suburb of Paris.

Oh, how I had missed this royal treatment! The venues and promotors here take great pride in making their artists and musicians comfortable, and it really makes a difference in life on the road. We generally arrive at the venue mid-afternoon for soundcheck. Upon arrival, we head to the dressing room or catering where a gorgeous spread of salads and snacks awaits, while the crew at the venue carries in our equipment and sets it up. The lunch catering is always chock full of delicious veg/vegan goodies. The standard fare is couscous, shredded carrots, cornichons, fresh greens with an insanely good vinaigrette, and a big bowl of fresh fruits. And of course, a few bottles of local red wine. Also, a food blog about France would not be complete without mention of the bread - I'm not quite sure what they do that is so different, but nothing I've ever had in the states even comes close. I have managed to stay 90% vegan on the trip, but the local cheeses they give us with that insanely good french bread is something that I simply have to indulge in a little when I am here...

Our singer, Lisa, and I have ourselves listed as vegetarians on our tech rider, and most nights for dinner they prepare us a special meal since the entrees are normally meat dishes. Almost all of the venues we play have their own kitchen staff and chef, and many of our meals on this trip have been spectacular. Up in Brittany we had a ridiculously good mushroom/leek crepe made with a type of buckwheat unique to the region - heavenly. When we arrived in Dijon the girl in the kitchen had prepared a homemade 7 vegetable soup with a very heavy black pepper flavor and a fresh cucumber salad, and for dinner we had some delicious bbq lentils and a bulgur salad, wowwww. Many of our stops have had great ways of preparing lentils and grains, which is a lovely treat. There was really only one major disappointment - the club in Villeurbane (suburb of Lyon) served us a frozen veggie patty with some utterly tasteless rice. Weak! It's all good, I had completely forgotten by the 1st bite of the amazing veggie ratatouille prepared for us a few nights later in Reims.

Bottom line: France rules. Always a pleasure... Our shows have been awesome, with 3-400 people a night, always in a very festive mood and so happy to see us. We leave the stage to thunderous applause and spend the evening drinking wine and doing our best to mangle the French language trying to talk with fans and friends. We now have 3 shows left, in Belgium, Germany and Holland. Just arrived in Gent, Belgium and went walking around town. We sought out and found a tiny, reknown frituur (maker of fries, or frites) for some incredible frites with curry sauce, followed by a beer in a small Belgian pub called Den Turk that has been in existence since 1228 - the oldest pub in Gent. Walking around in these cities is a grand adventure, and is definitely the icing on the cake of a fantastic tour of glorious shows and wonderful food...

Just a quick note about the music: I am on tour with The BellRays, who completely rock in every possible way, and we are touring with a band from Brooklyn called The Fleshtones. They have been around since the mid 70's and are a flippin' riot to watch on stage. They are also genuinely supreme dudes - in our two weeks on the road  together we have become incredibly close and I am feeling rather honored to share the experience with them. Check 'em out! The Fleshtones...

CHEERS from the road.


  1. That has got to be the best spread of road food ever!

  2. Yeah! Rock clubs in the US could learn a thing or two about hospitality, that's for sure... I'm always amazed by how accommodating they are to the veg thing over here. They really make us feel welcome :)

  3. Nice that they are so accomodating with your vegan meals.
    Wine is always nice to go with as well.

    Sounds like you are having a blast! I remember the Fleshtones, very cool.

    Rock on!

  4. That is cool! They are great guys, and an excellent band. Tours overseas always yield such stories and adventures, and having such a great group along with us just added to the excitement. And the food... Oh my.