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A German Singer In South Dakota

Looks like somebody got something really wrong in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. What you see above is the internet version of an article in the local newspaper “Argus Leader”, which announced Tish’s concert at the Grand Opera House (unfortunately I didn’t save a copy of the printed version). For some reason, after hearing that Tish now resides in Germany,  the local promoter had decided to combine the show with a German dinner. Naturally the interviewer from the newspaper talked to Tish about that aspect, and then the person writing the headline took it just a little bit further …

Anyway, the German dinner, cooked by chef Horst from Eisleben, East Germany, featured some very good beef rouladen and a tasty Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cake). Afterwards though, during the concert at the amazingly beautiful theater, nobody seemed to care much about Tishs’s “German side” anymore (although once again our little St. Pauli song was received enthusiastically).

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Looking For Lewis And Clark

In southeastern South Dakota, not far from Lilly’s farm, we had our first encounter with signs referring to the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 (there would be more to come on our way to the northwest). Apparantly, on August 24, 1804, the two explorers with some of their men left the Missouri River in order to explore a nearby “high hill”, as they put it in their diary. Well, some people in east South Dakota may consider “Spirit Mound”, as the place is called these days, a high hill, but I’m pretty sure that Lewis & Clark regretted having used this term somewhat prematurely, when they approached Montana and then the Rocky Mountains later on into their trip.

Nevertheless Spirit Mound is quite a fascinating place and well worth the little hike to its … well … summit. Tish, the three kids and I were lucky to get there right in time for sunset.

***

I might as well admit it: I only wrote this post (and had Tish take the picture on top of the page) to be able to introduce you to the song “Looking for Lewis and Clark” by a US band I have always loved, the Long Ryders. When I first heard the tune in 1985, it was my first introduction to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, since in Germany you don’t learn about it in school.

While listening to the song for the first time in years, I had to realize that it’s a little more rock’n’roll than I would prefer, but it’s still catchy. And by the way: The Long Ryders, who broke up as early as 1987, might play some reunion concerts in 2013, so keep your eyes open!

Das Herz von St. Pauli

I promised you a while ago that I would write more about a new element that Tish has integrated into her shows, so now I’m pleased and honored to be able to tell you that this new element actually includes my participation. Ever since Tish’s show in Columbus, Mississippi, we have been performing a duet of the German song „Das Herz von St. Pauli“ on stage. For some reason, audiences everywhere just seem to love it, sometimes to an extent that seems a little exaggerated.

For those of you who are not from Hamburg: The song „Das Herz von St. Pauli“ („The Heart of St. Pauli“) talks about the neighborhood that Tish and I live in. It’s a very colorful part of town, characterized by the nearness of the harbor and the huge river Elbe, with hundreds of bars and clubs, many of which are open 24 hours a day. St. Pauli also hosts Hamburg’s red light district, and on top of it all it’s the place where the Beatles used to live and work for long periods during the years 1960-1962, before they became famous. „Das Herz von St. Pauli“ has been made popular by the Hamburg-born singer Hans Albers in the 1950s. Nowadays a lot of people identify it with our local soccer club, the FC St. Pauli, because the song gets played at the stadium before every game. Tish and I added a verse in English, which talks about a few of the things I just mentioned.

This video recording was taped at a house concert in Westerville, Ohio. Nancy Tomei and Roy Stein were the perfect hosts and made sure that Tish’s concert in their beautiful garden was one of the most enjoyable events on our tour. It wasn’t our best performance of “Das Herz von St. Pauli”, though, we definitely had it worked out much better by the end of the tour, but this is the only decent video recording, so you’ll have to put up with some flaws. I hope you will enjoy our little number anyway.

(Written in Hamburg, Germany, July 31, 2012)

New York City Hotels, Part 2

From Brighton Beach we headed for Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where Tish’s second NYC concert was going to take place. Once again we stayed at quite a remarkable hotel, only this time is wasn’t exactly cheap. Our room on the ninth floor of the „Thompson Hotel“ on Allen Street was quite swankily designed and had the most incredible view of Downtown, with the window reaching all the way down to the floor.

Tish liked the room so much, she decided to stay for another day – not the best thing possible to happen to our budget, especially since unfortunately Tish’s show at the “Rockwood City Music Hall” had a rather disappointing turnout -, but it gave me the possibility to explore the neighborhood in detail – and to try my first canoli in Little Italy. As often as I eat Italian food, I had never had this desert before, that they mention so often on the “Sopranos”. Seems to be more an Italian-American than an Italian thing. But whatever – it tasted great!

(Written in Austin, TX, July 27, 2012)

Another Island

Four weeks after leaving Bald Head Island, it was time for us to once again enter a ferry and leave the mainland. Our destination: Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, which of course is about 25 times bigger and a thousand times more famous than Bald Head Island. In fact it’s so big, Tish and I only got to see a small section of it. We stayed at the house of our friends Nat and Pam Benjamin in Vinyard Haven for three days and enjoyed the beautiful beaches and the lovely weather.

The only thing we didn’t like about Martha’s Vineyard was the traffic: There’s fast-going cars everywhere, and riding our bicycles felt much more dangerous than it did in New York City. Made us wish for the whacky golf carts from Bald Head Island.

For our last evening, Nat and Pam invited a few people over and cooked a great dinner. It was a pleasure to finally meet Tish’s old friend Kate Taylor and hear her sing some songs.

P. S.: Apart from being a great singer-songwriter and a wonderful friend, Kate is also the sister of her famous brother James. We also met Carly Simon‘s brother and John Belushi’s widow. It’s that kind of island.

(Written in Redding, CA, July 21, 2012)

State By State (18): Vermont

The last state in New England that we had not seen!

Vermont – for some reason that name has always struck a chord with me. Maybe it is because of the way it sounds? Or because of the Sinatra song „Moonlight in Vermont“? I really don’t know.

Anyway, I strongly insisted that we include Vermont in our trip, although tourwise there was no real need to go there. and so we spent a day and a half in the “Green Mountain State”, mostly just driving around and enjoying the beautiful landscape. From what I saw,Vermont is one of the prettiest states, it doesn’t seem to have an ugly spot in it. Everything is rural, green and hilly – and reminds me a lot of the nicer parts of Germany.

As for the moonlight – well, we didn’t really take the picture in Vermont, but in northern Massachusetts, about 20 miles south of the state line. But I’m absolutely sure that the moon looked the same from Vermont.

***

Since I couldn’t remember much of the Sinatra song „Moonlight in Vermont“, I listened to it on Youtube during our stay in Vermont, and had to find out that it is rather dull song. So instead let me introduce to you a very different homage to the state: „Moonlight on Vermont“ by the immortal Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band. My brother and I used to listen to this a lot around 1981, so maybe that’s what started my fascination with Vermont.

(Written in San Francisco, CA, July 17, 2012)

Woody Sez: Tish Rocks!

By some great coincidence, Tish and I got a chance to see a performance of “Woody Sez” at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston). It’s a play about the life of folk legend Woody Guthrie, who would have had his 100th birthday this year. Scenes from Woody’s life and of course a bunch of his songs are performed by four fantastic musicians. One of them is Darcie Deaville, a fabulous singer and multi-instrumentalist from Austin, who has occasionally played with Tish over the years (as can be seen here, unfortunately in lousy quality). It was Darcie, who invited us over to see the play, and she also suggested that Tish sing a few songs at a hootenanny that took place on the grounds of nearby Harvard University after the theater performance. So in honour of Woody Guthrie Tish and the “Woody Sez” cast gave renditions of “Something In The Rain” and “De Colores”.

Tish with the cast of “Woody Sez” at a hootenanny at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

Having thus made friends with the “Woody Sez” musicians, Tish invited them to come to her show at “Club Passim” in Cambridge the next evening. And so it happened that in the second set of her show Tish was accompanied by two musicians, for the first time on this tour. Darcie and her “Woody Sez” colleague Andy Terstein both continously switched between instruments and thus made sure that the audience got to hear some great and very unique versions of Tish’s songs. I hold every bet that this was the first time ever that “Destiny’s Gate” was played on a violin and a viola (Bratsche). For the encore, the rest of the “Woody Sez” cast came on stage, and everybody joined in for two Woody Guthrie songs. What a wonderful evening!

Tish joined on stage at “Club Passim” in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Andy Terstein and Darcie Deaville

Check out the performance schedule for “Woody Sez” and go see the play, if you can. Over the next days (between July 7 and 10), there will be a few performances in Germany (in Rudolstadt and Munich), than later this year they will be in Glen Falls, NY, Chicago and Washington D. C.

(Written in Fort Collins, Colorado, July 6, 2012)