Monday, February 26, 2007

On the Bus

I am leading the life of a groupie, having come to Barcelona to see a concert by my sibling Dee. There were two other acts on the bill, Little Annie, a tiny New Yorker who channels Edith Piaf and Judy Garland and does a lot of her own songs (one is called "You Can't Sing the Blues While Drinking Milk"), and Marc Almond, who I'm told is famous ("Tainted Love" is his big hit). Dee played in an old ballroom with big globular lamps dangling from the ceiling. She had to follow Marc Almond, the headliner, and it was not easy for her. The audience was packed for Marc Almond, and I couldn't believe some of them left without hearing Baby Dee!!! I wanted to stand at the exit compelling them to get back in there and sit down!

Anyway, Dee pulled it off. She sings her own songs, accompanying herself on piano and harp (and sometimes accordion, but not so much when there's a piano available). This is the third time I've seen her perform in Europe (first in Venice, then in Amsterdam), and I have learned to stop expressing directly to Dee my astonishment at the fact that people come from all over Europe to see her. There are three people in the entourage from England, one from Lisbon, one from Cologne, two from Canada. The local promoter, Rosario, is a dynamo. She found a restaurant for a group of eighteen at one in the morning on Sunday, after the show.

I was advised to have lots of red wine and paella and seafood while I'm in Spain, but food is not really the focus of the groupie life. Rosario is a vegetarian and doesn't drink, so she prefers organic/Vegan restaurants. I keep wondering what Hemingway would think. Rosario had to rent a van for Dee and Annie et al. to complete their tour (they go from here to Madrid, Porto, and Vigo and back), though she herself doesn't drive, and find someplace to park the car of the woman named Maude, an American living in London who brought Dee's harp here from Paris. It cost 23 eros to park the car in a lot for one night in central Barcelona. Yesterday, we drove it to the beach, where you can park for free. We stuck our feet in the Mediterranean and took the bus back to the hotel. Apart from this excursion, I spent the whole day sitting in a cafe in a big walled courtyard with an orange grove at the back, moving from late-morning coffee to lunch to beer with Dee and other members of the entourage, including a Sicilian, Ernesto, who does an act about the history of the castrato, and an Italian, Fabrizio, a musician from Turin who moonlights as a promoter. He is bald with a goat's beard and many whimsical tattoos, including one of a cord running from behind his ears down the back of his neck to below his collar, which looks like one of those things that keep you from losing your glasses.

Today I will go with Rosario and the Canadians (the man has a record shop in Kitchener, outside Toronto) and an English couple (he is David Tibet, of Current 93, who inspires much devotion among his fans; he produced Dee's first CDs; his wife, Andrea, known as Dre, also known as Pantaleimon, plays dulcimer) to Montserrat, where there is a monastery on a serrated mountain above the city. We'll take a train and a cable car and maybe a funicular. Originally, I planned to rent a car and drive by myself to Granada, but instead I am going by train to Madrid to see Dee perform again, this time in a more intimate venue, and then go to Granada (I've always wanted to see the Alhambra). I don't have so much as a map of Madrid, and my Spanish is all but nonexistent (fragments come back to me, like the word for "right" (derecho), but not for "left"). I can't decide whether this trip is woefully underplanned or fabulously spontaneous. I know I will miss the entourage when I'm solo again, but right now it makes sense. I'm on the bus, as it were (and the train and the tram and the cable car and the funicular).

And of course the Gaudi is astonishing. Everything is swirly, grandiose and detailed. Now when I get back to work I will understand the Frank Gehry cafeteria.


Dan B (no, not Bennett, think harder) said...

Speaking of Judy Garland, There is an exciting and popular new group on Yahoo called THE JUDY GARLAND EXPERIENCE. The group features several dozen ultra rare audio files, great photo's, lively discussions, and the most eclectic and entertaining group of Judy fans you would ever hope to meet. Please stop by and check out our little Judyville, you may never want to go home!

FriendofGus said...


Don't miss Parc Guell!

Hi, Dee!

How come you never asked me to recommend a B&B in Granada? I've got a great one, dammit. G and I saw the fireworks over the Alhambra on New Years, 2000, with the German proprietor and his kids (and a bunch of lovely people with Silly String and champagne). The same guy also picked oranges off the tree so G could have fresh juice for breakfast.

A fan

K-Oh said...

"It cost 23 eros to park the car in a lot for one night in central Barcelona."

Eros? Please divulge the details! On all 23!

I hope this wasn't a typo.

MJN/NYC said...

Damn, of course it was a typo. Sorry about that. Eros as a unit of currency is am irresistible notion.

Fireworks over the Alhambra! Friendofgus, I seem to have forgotten that you had been to Granada. You must not have rhapsodized about it enough. Or I had a Y2K glitch. I adored all the orange trees everywhere, and am going to have fresh-squeezed orange juice as often as I can from now on. Did you know, by the way, that orange trees are a sign that a civilization has gone to hell?

Dan B, I can't think who you are. I'm very glad you weighed in, though, and hope to get another clue. Also, will look at the Judy Garland Experience. Thanks.

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