Hear about the guitarist who played in tune? Neither did I.

The first two people to be shown in bed together on prime time television were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

Things You Would Never Know Without The Movies:

When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

If a young man at the age of twenty-three can write a symphony like that, in five years he will be ready to commit murder.”

– Walter Damrosch on Aaron Copland

A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, ‘You’ve been brought here for drinking. ‘

The drunk says ‘Okay, let’s get started.’

Mr. Burns: “How were his test scores?”

College Rep: “Let’s just say this:  he spelled ‘Yale’ with a six.”

A Peter Albin joke:

We used to take acid, now we take antacid.

I want to be cremated, and I want my agent to have ten, er, fifteen per cent of my ashes. Exclusively. It’s in the contract. (Watch him save this.)

Sarah Palin: Juneau if she’s going to run?  Alaska.

Actual courtroom conversation:

Q: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

A: Oral.

Q: What is your date of birth?

A: July 15th.

Q: What year?

A: Every year.

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a


A: No.

Q: Did you check for blood pressure?

A: No.

Q: Did you check for breathing?

A: No.

Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you

began the autopsy?

A: No.

Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?

A: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and

practicing law somewhere.

How many buddhists does it take to change a light bulb?

One to change it, and one not to change it.

Did you hear about the man with the Catholic father and the Jewish mother?

When he went to confession he brought along his lawyer.

Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn’t

control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup

to repeat the words, “Give me all your money or I’ll shoot,” the man shouted,

“That’s not what I  said!”

“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” – Jim Carrey

What happened when the flasher decided to retire?

He decided to stick it out for one more year.

A Goy Joke:

“You own your own business, don’t you? How’s it doing?”

The goy says, “Just great! Thanks for asking!”

Major Reno rode up to Colonel Custer on the eve of the Little Big Horn massacre and said, “Colonel, there’s evidence of a large number of Indians over the ridge.  I don’t like the sound of those drums.”

From over the ridge came a loud cry, “We just hired a better drummer.”

Homer Simpson, whom I actually met in Austria, made this toast:

To alcohol The cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems!

A Jewish woman hired a private detective to watch her husband.

She wanted to know what his mistress saw in him.

Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.” The waitress replies, “I’m sorry, monsieur, but we’re out of cream.  How about with no milk?”

Oedipus, schmoedipus, as long as he loves his mother.

Subtitle in a Kung Fu film:

Greetings, large black person. Let us not forget to form a team up together

and go into the country to inflict the pain of our karate feats on some

giant lizard person.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

What’s the latest crime wave in New York City?

Drive-by trombone solos.

Anything War can do, Peace can do better.

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake

that, you’ve got it made.

-Groucho Marx

Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.


Don’t imagine you can change a man. Unless he’s in diapers.

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

(This goes for so many other things in life as well.)

A drummer, tired of being ridiculed by his peers, decides to learn how to play some “real” musical instruments. He goes to a music store, walks in, approaches the store clerk, and says “I’ll take that red trumpet over there and that accordian.”

The store clerk looks at him a bit funny, and replies “OK, you can have the fire extinguisher but the radiator’s got to stay”.

How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?

Did you hear about the musician who won the lottery?

He played gigs until the money ran out.

Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

War is expensive, Peace is priceless.

One evening, watching her neighborhood from her front  porch, a wife pointed out one young couple on their street to her husband. “Do you see that couple? They are so devoted. He kisses her every time they meet. Why don’t you do that?”

“I would love to,” replied the husband, “but I don’t know her well enough.”

I was dating this woman for a while and the first time she saw me naked, she said, “Is everything a joke with you?”

Q. What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, laser

printers and White-Out all have in common?

A. All invented by women. The last one was invented by Mike Nesmith’s mother.

If all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.

– George Bernard Shaw

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Muses and Paintings

21 November 2010

The Muses were the daughters of Mnemosyne (Memory).

Calliope is the muse of epic poetry. Homer and Virgil appealed to her for her help in writing the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Aeneid. Clio is the muse of history. She is often depicted with a volume, a lyre, a cithara, a lute or a guitar, so we in Big Brother love Clio. Euterpe is the muse of lyric poetry and she often carries an aulos or a flute.

Melpomene is the muse of tragedy. Terpsichore (choral songs and dance),

Erato (her name comes from Eros) is the muse of love poetry, and so we songwriters honor her. Polyhymnia protects the hymnist, the religious song maker. Urania is the muse of the study of heaven, astronomy and astrology.

Thalia is the muse of comedy. She oten carries a comic mask.

Now the Muses are preparing for a ritual.

This is Brice Marden’s version of The Muses. Brice Marden who befriended me once when it counted, he and his wife Helen.

Mousa in Greek means a song or poem, so the Muses are all about the sung word, the spoken word. There are no muses for the plastic arts, painting and sculpture. I have had to dream my own set of Muses with their Muse names, not their human names. Alexandra Aschmann, for example, is a Muse of sanity and reason.

Alexandra exhorted me to paint ¡Escógeme!

Aline Aigner is a droll, merry woman. She looks like a piece of Coptic Art.

Aline gave me the happy thought to do this oil on panel.

Bärbel Brandl’s coloring and her attitude are very engaging.

I was imitating Bärbel’s “color” in this painting All of Us.

Beate Baier is always inspirational. Highly intelligent and amusing, she is one of the most creative goddesses I know.

Beate persuaded me to paint my ancestors at a party.

Carina Così (Lovely Thus, this is her Muse name, not her human name) is a great artist, warm, witty and alive.

Carina asked me to do a portrait of her sister, Andressa.

Cybille Copp is very bright and she is a visionary.

So, when Cybille asked me to do a canvas about where i paint everyday, I took some time and tried to paint everything in the room.

Danie Depner wanted to see what the people in Aroma Café looked like.

So I did this painting to show her.

Daniela Dietz, her Muse name, not her human name, remember, wanted me to do an honest self portrait in oil.

It has always been difficult for me to ignore a request from Daniela.

Elisabeth Eisen also has a keen sense of humor. Her name Elisabeth means “house of God,” and Eisen means “iron.” She has been an inspiration to me since I have known her. Her own paintings are accomplished and interesting. I love them and I love her.

Elisabeth, my favorite Muse, asked me to paint the early Big Brother in oil.

Eva-Maria Ernst is all about the power of music.

Eva-Maria inspired me to paint Peter dancing with Dave as I played.

Florine Fabrizius, this Muse’s name, loves Caravaggio, whom she inspired when he was alive.

I have always admired Caravaggio’s circular composition, and, to learn it truly, I copied it and put Elise and me in there.

I did this portrait of Elise because Franziska Föttinger made me do it.

I toned a canvas and used a piece of charcoal to draw this beautiful woman.

Gabrielle Gagi, her Muse name, not her human name, paints beautiful canvases in a very individual style that is so satisfying. I love her work.

Gabrielle moved me to do this oil of Elise and me

Giselle Günsel is elegant, chic.

Then why would Giselle, the Muse, give me the idea to do this version of these five musicians? She obviously has a taste for the singular.

Hannah Hass has so much discernment and perception for one of her tender years. She pointed out to me the essential character of each of us in Big Brother.

“Now,” she said, “let’s have you interpret this in a vivid manner.”

Hanni Reinmuth who is a divine and almost incorporeal Muse inspired me to do a portrait of Zwanda with musicians in her heart.

This was a work of love, since Zwanda has been my model for years.

Happy Holzinger is a Muse daughter of Clio and she loves the singing of Vera Thomas who performs in Las Vegas.

“Draw me an image of Vera,” Happy ordered, “and make it look like her.”

Henriette Heißbauer is this Muse’s name and she has a pointed intelligence and a keen analytical mind. Henriette induced me to portray Big Brother as Mount Rushmore. Maybe she had just seen North By Northwest.

So, I chose this round panel and painted the version of the band that includes Sophia Ramos and Ben Nieves. Did the artful Henriette encourage me to limn Peter Albin as he was in the 1960s? Hmmmm, I  must take this up with her.

This Muse is Ilse Ismaili and she is a fey sprite indeed.

Ilse likes Hieronymous Bosch and she knows I live in San Geronimo, which is Spanish for Saint Hieronymous, so she urged me to put Elise and me into a Bosch type painting.

Jana Juritsch in Aroma Café. I don’t know her human name.

Jana spurred me on to do this loving couple in oil on a panel.

Katrin König is such a good artist. She knows her materials and techniques and she is the real thing, a great painter. So I listen closely to any suggestion she has.

Katrin said, “Why not put The Virgin of Guadalupe in a painting you’re doing? She has been the Mexican Muse and inspiration since she was an Aztec princess.”

Kerstin Klemp is a novelty seekinng and mischievous Muse, easily bored.

Kerstin said, “You paint all these portraits and you never do anything remotely abstract or design conscious, as, for example, Brice Marden does.”

Here i just went straight to the point and did a painting of Lena Lachner, just to see what this particular Muse of Painting would have to say.

“You have depicted me well enough,” she noted, “I like the movement, and the overall conception.”

Lindii Loidl has a public face. She enjoys life. Then there is her private self. Lindii is an altrovert, inner and outer directed, balanced.

Lindii said to me, “Paint my public self and my private self at the same time?” I will title this work Tatemae Honne, which means ‘Façade and Real Sound’ in Japanese. The inner person and the outer, political persona that we all have.

Manuela Mössenböck just told me about her voyage on a flying trapeze, where she had to trust someone completely when that someone said, “Let go!”

Nadine Naß  marveled at Manuela, and said, “Paint her brain at the moment she is saying, ‘Yes, I will fly with you and trust you to give me direction at the most crucial moment.’ “

Miriam Mülders, my unlikely Muse of metallurgy, said, “Why not do a painting of Elise in her welding gear?”

Elise has always had a fascination with heavy metal.

Olga Ortner began thinking of the local Muses in San Rafael, California.

“Paint them,” she asked, “they are your native deities.”

“OK, Apollo,” Petra Prentner cracked, “paint yourself, your inner self.”

“You mean sketch all that confusion, that doubt, that self questioning,” I answered, “I’m not sure I’m up to that.”

Raphaela Raubal pointed out that I had already painted Zwanda many times.

“Why not portray her again and her ex boyfriend Musa? Such a great name, Musa, do a painting of the two of them, and then put in some of Zwanda’s artwork.”

“Here’s an idea,” says Birgit Braun. “Do a drawing of one of us Muses. Adriana, for example.”

Birgit is an exceptional Muse. She looks a bit like the Muse Thalia here. I did the drawing of Adriana with a Conté crayon and wrote some Japanese.

Giesele Gräshafter is an imaginative, scintillating Muse, and she urges me to do the unparalleled and unprecedented.

I tried to capture Giesele’s mood and élan here.

Monika Mayerhofer is serene, tranquil and she has a self possession that is very attractive. Monika is her Muse name.

I did this drawing in colored pencil to capture how placid Monika was.

Natasche Nerstheimer, sweet, lovely Muse.

I tried to portray Natasche’s sister in sanguine.

Sabrina Schönleitner is an avatar of Terpsichore and she wanted a quick, gesture drawing of dancers.

I hope Sabrina will like this, because I dashed it off very rapidly.

Samira Spießberger is a practical Muse, so I asked her a very concrete question. “Which one of you inspired him to write that book? Was it Clio?”

“Do me a drawing of him,” she replied, “and I might tell you.”

Saskia Schadt is a Muse of sculpture and she helped me plan a work.

To please Saskia, I did these sketches of Deborah on roofing paper.

Thalia Tillman is a Muse of comedy, but she is so lovely that it rather undercuts her humor at times.

Thalia gave me the incentive to complete this image of Janis Joplin.

“Come on,” do something a little unusual, “ declares Theresa Thallhammer. “I’m tired of everything so sweet and orthodox.”

“OK, OK,” I said, “I’ll do me as I really am.”

Ursula Unterberger likes the work of Edvard Munch, and, in fact, she inspired him to do his most famous work, The Scream.

Thus, I thought I would do a modern scream, or maybe it’s just Peter, Dave and Sam singing.

Valbona Pfeil tells me to do a painting in the style of Lucian Freud.

“Show a little boldness and daring. Do it!”

The comely and graceful Viktoria Veit has a yen for skulls. Who knew?

“Viktoria, will you accept this, oh, divine Muse?”

Wilhelmina Weiße is an odd name for this dark angel Muse, but, remember, for all of these deities, I am not using their human names, but only their Muse names.

Wilhelmina caused me to paint Meagan McCauley, who is an excellent singer and a beauteous human being.

Xenia Xiphos has inspired me in so many ways for years. Her art is beyond excellent and she is a person of probity and value.

“Draw a hand,” Xenia directed, “just a hand, nothing more.”

Yana Young, delicate, refined, a well favored Muse.

“Do a pencil sketch of you and Peter and Dave.”

Zandra Zeke, the gamin Muse, nomadic seraph of the streets. She murmurs, “Draft for me a naked woman, sculptural, sepulchral, well constructed.”

Thank you, Zandra, and thank all of you Muses for your help over the years.

And thank you too, to Max Clarke, who took many of these photographs.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.

14 November 2010

Steve Brown took this lovely photograph of Janis.

I could have met Stela Mandel at this engagement, but, no….

The very lively Cathy Richardson.

Marin: Lizards in the summer, Salamanders when it gets cooler.

Elise au naturel.

Janis at her house in Larkspur. She was once the pool champion of Avenue D.

If Tom Cruise lived in East Texas, he might look like this.

Basic human decency, rock and roll version.

Two and a half years old.

Elise when she was modeling. Sarasota, Florida. 1980s.

Mary Bridget Davies. Very intelligent, smart as can be. Funny. Strong.

Kate Russo and Peter Albin in Koh Samui, Thailand.

My sister Lillian and my father.

See? I told you she knew how to play flügelhorn.

Janis had an angular, jabbing kind of writing style. Sharp as she was.

Moondog, serious classical composer, author of All Is Loneliness.

Tom Finch and Tara Coyote. Glamorous and amorous.

Nick Gravenites, a very happy unidentified woman, and John Cipollina.

On the cover of the Rolling Stone, Italian style. Good photograph.

We learned Ball and Chain from this woman.

Elise took this dawn photograph of the Wörthersee in southern Austria.

Tim Braun and Woo Salazar in the Kansas City, Missouri, Love, Janis.

278 West 11th Street, NYC. I lived in the West Village for almost ten years.

McNear’s Beach, I think. Janis, Peter, Dave, Sam. Total madhouse.

One of the many appropriations of Robert Crumb’s great idea.

We played with Steve at The Shoreline Amphitheatre a couple of years ago.

Karen Lyberger, glassical scholar, Hawaii.

Merl Saunders, Barry Melton, Norton Buffalo, shot by Don Aters.

The Hummingbird that Janis first played Bobby McGee on. Beautiful guitar.

I remember these vehicles.

Joan, Karen, Elise, Hawaii.

This was quite a gig.

Big Brother in Kyoto. Tom Finch, Duffy Bishop. 1996?

Just another night backstage.

Shanghai Elise.

In this manicured England, we were at the Bein Inn. Not like a Be In.

The top of San Francisco. Fisherman’s Wharf. Aquatic Park. The Marina.

Aspects of Elise. 1980s.

Max Clarke, peripheralist, photographer extraordinaire.

Carla, Elise’s mother, and Edd came to Scotland when we played there.

Almost two.

Dave Getz, Hawaii.

Regensburg, Germany 2003.

Kathi McDonald and Bob Mosely.

The Pik Ass Playroom.

White Plains, New York.

With my brother Dan in Austin. 1980s.

I wonder how many times I’ve played Piece of My Heart?

Elise is singing.

Getting ready to go to Okinawa the first time.

Do I look proud to be with these people? Sophia Ramos and Ben Nieves.

Chad Quist, Lisa Mills, Todd Vinciguerra. This was a good band.

With Kathi McDonald. Seattle.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Images and Ideas

7 November 2010

Janis in her Fillmore T.

Playing in Vicenza, Italy, October 2010.

Big brother 1996, with Lisa Battle.

Shooting the photographer in Compiègne, France, October 2010.

Albert King and Tim Buckley and us. Adventurous billing typical of the period.

Peter playing a solo on It’s Cool, Vicenza.

How Hard It Is. We loved making this album.

Teatro San Marco in Vicenza, Italy. Beautiful place. So much character.

Rehearsing in the 1960s.

Mary Bridget, photo by Arianna Antinori, or is that Nicola Zanettin?

Now, what could have been going on here?

Arriving at Teatro San Marco, Vicenza.

Lisa Law took this in West Marin.

These people are called Vicentine, females from Vicenza.

Joel Hoekstra, ex Big Brother. Now inhabits Rock Olympus.

Putative display for Marin Music Museum.

Newspaper account of our Vicenza stop.

Loose recreation of the hearth in our Lagunitas house, Marin Music Museum.

Nicola Zanettin shot this one.

Boulevard du Temple, photo by Daguerre, oldest Daguerrotype of a human?

Arianna Antinori.

Big Brother at The Cheetah, San Francisco. Peter Tork came to play with us.

Arianna in action. I’m going to do a painting of her.

My opening solo on Piece written out with bass part also.

Beginning five minutes of a painting that looks quite different now.

I like this shot of Arianna. It shows her Roman personality.

A Big Brother bootleg? I like the song choices. We should put this out.

Arianna singing Piece of My Heart. October 2010, Vicenza.

My right hand, 1967.

Tara Degl’Innocenti, Bergamo, Italy, November 2010.

Big Brother in bed.

Playing Piece of My Heart with Tara Degl’Innocenti.

Albert King. He tuned differently and played upside down. Wonderful tone.

Peter, Tara, Lory and Mary Bridget, out on the town in Bergamo, Italy.

Elmore James. God, we loved his playing. Still do.

Singing My Funny Valentine.

I have no idea where or when or who.

Country Joe and Ezio Guaitamacci at The Italian Cultural Center.

Jerry Donahue and Zak Keith. Jerry’s a good man and a great player.

Noe Valley. Isn’t this a great shot? See you next week.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Dornbirn, Vicenza, Bruneck, Aarburg, Rubigen and Bergamo

31 Ocotber 2010

So, now we leave Strasbourg which is very close to the border with Germany, and we drive south into the Alps where we will be for much of the rest of our trip. Our first stop is Dornbirn, which is way over on the west side of Austria, near the beautiful Lake Constance.

When  I heard the name Dornbirn, I thought “Thorn pear, funny name for a town.” There are even pears in the city shield of Dornbirn. The real meaning of the town name, though, is much more interesting. There was an Alemannic farmer who lived here long ago and his name was Torro. (I love these old German names; I have a friend from Berlin named Ingo.) So this land was called Torrin Puirron, Torro’s Settlement, and over time this became Dornbirn. Nothing to do with pears, so you can take those off the city shield now.

Stefan Penz brought us to this place. Stefan has a very typical Austrian look, dark hair, fine features, slight of build. We played at the Wirtschaft, which means economy, restaurant or pub. It was a small place, and we held forth upstairs. Our hotel, Harry’s Home, was brand new, very futuristic looking and staffed by pleasant people.

The next day Ben and I drove down to Vicenza, Italy, and landed in the Tre Torri (three towers) hotel and now my flu is going full force. I can barely talk and i have to acknowledge what heroes Ben and Mary Bridget were even to be around me. It must have been scary, and I am grateful. They observed the marriage vows, “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” They really hung in there and, to their immense credit, never made me feel bad for being ill.

Arianna, Antea, Filippo and Antea’s father came and picked me up at the hotel. Arianna is Roman and she has that witty Roman way. There’s always a joke and a smile behind everything she says and does. Antea’s father told me that Andrea Palladio was born in Padua, but came to Vicenza when he was very young and designed some buildings of High Renaissance calm and harmony, that still influence architects everywhere. I have long admired Palladio who seemed to me to construct the same sort of balanced periods in stone that Dr. Samuel Johnson did in his prose of 18th Century England.

We played at the Teatro di San Marco on 27 October 2010 at a beautiful event that Arianna Antinori made for us. Arianna and Antea worked so hard on this show and it was a stupendous success. They had to turn away 400 people. The place was jammed.

Arianna did everything. She sold tickets, she cooked the food, she provided the security, and then she sang Call On Me and Piece of My Heart with us, and she did such a great job. I said, “Io sono tanto felice di stare qui a Vicenza, e di suonare con Arianna Antinori, una vera amica e molto dottata.” I am so happy to be here in Vicenza and to play with Arianna Antinori, a true friend and very talented.

Ben Nieves added his own fire to the occasion. Arianna sounded good and she was dressed in black satin pants and a backless top, very beautiful. What a thrill it was to feel her excitement and add our own to it.

As we drove out of town the next morning, Ben and I saw these lovely statues, so human, so Italian. It was a fitting goodbye to Vicenza.

Now we drive back through the Brenner Pass to Bruneck, a town that has always had difficulty deciding whether to be Austrian or Italian. It is Austrian now, but not so long ago was Brunico, an Italian town. The people there speak Italian and German indiscriminately and all the signs are in both languages.

For example, Hanni here is fluent in Italian, German and English and switches back and forth with complete ease. The Alps are a linguist’s paradise. In Switzerland, right next door, four languages are officially used, French, German, Italian and their own dialect RhaetoRomansch (Romanche).

In Bruneck we played at UFO to a completely insane audience, unruly, out of their minds and determined to have a good time. Old friends Monika and Joseph came to this gig, and here is Monika sitting backstage with Jim Wall.

This is a photo by Nicola Zanettin, a very talented Italian photographer.

Walking out of the back door to our hotel in Bruneck, this is what you see.

This is a sign in our Bruneck elevator which I like: The greatest danger in life is to become too prudent. (I try to live by this motto.)

Bolzano is very near Dario Da Rold’s hometown of Belluno. I tried very hard to get to Belluno, but just couldn’t make it.

Yes, we’re in the Dolomites, a section of the Alps mostly in the province of Belluno, Italy. The Dolomites are mostly carbonate rock which is light in color, so there was a sense of beauty driving through the Alps that we missed when we drove down into the flatlands. The Adige is the main river that runs through the Dolomites.

Elena and Mary Bridget in Aarburg, Switzerland, where we stayed at The Hotel Krone, and played at another insanely lively place, The Moonwalker.

Arty shot of Ben in Aarburg. Ben played better than I have ever heard him play on this whole tour. Just extraordinary in every way.

On 30 October 2010 we played at Rubigen, Switzerland, one of our favorite places, The Mühle. This place is a work of art. Getting ready to go on with Stefan Penz and Jim Wall. Elena’s aunt Marliess and Inge were kind enough to take me back to the Hotel Ambassador in Berne after the gig. I was really ill with the flu at this point. No one else got the disease for which  I am truly relieved.

Not even Lisa who came to see me with her family backstage. She does look a little apprehensive here, though. That was a serious flu.

The next day, Hallowe’en, Ben and I drove down into the flatlands and across France to Paris. What a change from The Alps! France did look very beautiful, especially the closer we got to The City of Light. A little north of Paris we got lost and wandered around a Norman village that we would never have seen otherwise. It was surreal to me to see French children trick or treating, something they never did when i lived here. This is a completely American custom that has been exported, probably to benefit candy manufacturers. The Norman town was so exotic and the trick or treating so familiar, that the juxtaposition was jarring in the extreme.

Next day, 1 November, we flew to Milan and then drove to Bergamo, Italy, where we played at The Druso Circus as guests of Tara Degl’Innocenti who sang Piece of My Heart with us. I did an interview in the afternoon of the Bergamo show with Ezio Guaitamacchi, an old friend who does a radio show in Milan. It was good to see Ezio again. There is something special about him. He is calm, dignified, intelligent and watchful. It is a kind of lesson to be with him.

The Druso Circus in Bergamo was a small, round space filled with a lot of enthusiastic people, especially Tara who was bouncing around the room. She and Mary Bridget and several other people sang Mercedes Benz in a novel, brand new arrangement. That was quite a gig. Everyone was exhausted and so to bed. I tried to get Peter to take his clothes off, since in the last Big Brother bed photo he was the only one with clothes on, but it was no go this time again. Some people never change.

I called Elise at four in the morning (seven evening here in California) and she said, “I’ll see you tomorrow night,” which sounded strange to me at the time, but then we 1. drove from Bergamo to Milan where we caught a plane at seven in the morning. 2. landed at Charles de Gaulle (Paris) and caught a 1:30 Delta flight to Detroit, 3. went through customs and then boarded another plane to San Francisco, so almost twenty-four hours of travel. I was so happy to see Elise. Home after three weeks. Ahhhhh.

See you next week!

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Toronto, Rochester, Paris, Saint Dié, Compiègne

24 October 2010

We drove into the Rockpile parking lot and there on the sign was “Big Bother.” Years ago, I named the band Big Bother and the Folding Company, so when we saw this sign, we said, “They finally got it right.” I like how the ‘R’ is even a little corroded. A nice touch.

Victor Fernandes came to this gig. If they ever do a remake of Rebel Without A Cause, here is the principal cast: Teressa as Natalie Wood, Ben as James Dean, and Victor as Sal Mineo.

Dave and Peter in that special Toronto light.

Teressa is from Rochester, talented, sweet, Ben’s in love with her.

Six feet, four? No, I don’t think so. I would never fit in those airplane seats at that altitude.

Teressa is from Rochester. Ben met her there while he was doing Love, Janis.

Rochester, New York could not have been more different from Toronto. There is a beautiful museum there where they have “one of everything,” as the Marlene Hamann-Whitmore observed to me, and so they did. There was one Rembrandt, one Rothko, one Rockwell, and so on. A very beautiful place with beautiful people. This was a celebration of an installation of psychedelic art. So our set took on a sacramental quality. We all felt a glow from being in this place.

Peter Albin and I flew to Paris on Monday 18 October and fetched up in a hotel in the XVII arrondissement, just outside the péripherique, the belt loop that runs all around Paris. This hotel reminded me of one we had in Athens. Funky, gritty. I walked every morning a couple of miles to La Place Clichy and did some drawing. This is the way the Place looked in 1870 or so.

My brother Bill and i once lived in rue Legendre. i tried to find our apartment building but could not. Long time ago.

Twentyfirst century Parisian man.

The windows in my hotel room would not open, so the air in the room was stale and recycled, and I think I knew I was catching something. That little man was giving it to me.

Thiis drawing, done on the second day in Paris, is a man catching the flu.

Mary Bridget Davies, Ben Nieves and Jim Wall arrived in Paris on Thursday 21 October, and performed the very difficult feat of playing that same night. We were supposed to play at New Morning, a club that I love, but there was a venue change to La Boule Noire.

Dominique Bérard was our man in France, and it was such a pleasure to travel with him. He’s a funny man, fearless, honest. He went to the Sorbonne to study English literature, as I did to study French literature, so you could say we were schoolmates, somewhat separated in years.

Fortunately, the Paris event at La Boule Noire was a smashing success. The band took off at top speed, aided in no small measure by the drumming of Jim Wall, another Love, Janis musician. Jim’s playing was miraculous. His time is impeccable and non wavering and he kept up a series of accents that pushed the band along, always adding to the charge, always inflaming the music.

Peter and I played with Jim Wall in Buffalo a few years ago. Ben brought him to us, so, on this French trip, we had three Clevelanders along: Mary Bridget Davies, Ben Nieves and Jim Wall, and, I have to say, there is a very good chance that this was the best Big Brother, ever. The shows were high flying, fluid and fast. There was a sense of celebration here. High energy.

I did an interview in French with this TV crew and I didn’t really get into the flow of it. I was trying to say something original about Janis and to honor the fortieth anniversary of her passing, but just couldn’t quite get it right. I wish I could do that interview over again, but maybe they found something useful. I hope so.

Alain Bertrand came with his wife Marie Odile to La Boule Noire and brought me a beautiful prospectus of his Cuba paintings, which are marvelous in their detail and sense of humor. Merci beaucoup, Alain, you are so unbelievably talented and industrious. Marti and Phil Demetrion came to this gig with their Cuban friend, Jorge Masetti, who brought Peter and me his book The Pirate’s Den and inscribed it thusly: “Paris 10/21/10 a Sam, con todo el afecto. Muchas gracias por toda esa buena música.” I read the book on the way home and it is a gripping account of Jorge’s years as a “secret agent for Castro.”

Alison Benoit came to La Boule Noire. She and I knew each other so long ago in the days of the Haight. Alison is completely Parisian now.

So, we leave La Boule Noire and Paris.

The next day, Friday 22 October 2010, we drove east to Saint Dié, a beautiful town in Lorraine. My mother’s people are from Alsace very near here, so I thought a lot about how they left this beautiful place in the 19th century and traveled to arid, stark south Texas, which must have been a very dramatic change. They were southern Germans, really, Catholic, dark haired and used to a very fertile land. I can’t imagine how hard they worked to make it in Texas.

Saint Dié is an amazing place. For one thing, America was named there. I strolled around the cathedral and happened upon the spot where, in 1507, there was an imprimerie, a printing shop, where they were publishing maps of Asia, Europe, Africa, and a new land that they needed a name for. They knew the work of Amerigo Vespucci and so they arbitrarily decided to name the new continent for him, right in that small town, Saint Dié. Our hotel was called Le Globe and its breakfast room was named Amerigo Vespucci, which puzzled me until I happened on this sign.

Let’s see, on 13 March 1944, I was a little over two years old. If I were a Jew and I lived in this town, I would have been “assembled” with other coreligionists and been deported from this very cathedral square. I paused a long time at this sign. The history of humans is one long narrative of cruelty, madness, and savagery. Are things getting better? Tell me.

Véronique had heard us in Paris at New Morning the last time we played there and she wanted to bring us to her town, Saint Dié, and she did it. She put us in the very beautiful Espace Sadoul, as beautiful as she is, and she created a wonderful engagement for us, on Friday 22 October 2010.

Two lovely people, Mary Bridget Davies and Véronique. Mary Bridget sang so well on this trip. Strong, in tune, giving, giving, energizing the band, nonstoppable, happy, a life force.

The next day, we drove all the way back to Compiègne, an hour north of Paris. Compiègne is the town where France signed the treaty with Germany at the end of World War I. This was seen as a defeat for Germany, so naturally at the end of the Second Unpleasantness, Hitler saw to it that France would give herself over in this same town. There is a famous film of Adolph dancing the jig at this event, but it was doctored to look like that. He only did a little two step, so they edited the film back and forth to make a Hitlerian victory dance.

We played at Le Ziquodrome in Compiègne with the Marchal Brothers who were a strong unit. I liked the way the singer talked to the audience. I think I see Mary Bridget back there monitoring my armpit. (That must have been a fun place to be.)

Photo by Ben Nieves.

Les femmes de Compiègne.

Hotel scene.

We drove away from Compiègne, me in the back seat and Ben and Mary Bridget in front. We’re heading for Strasbourg, capital of Alsace, and I am becoming aware that I will have the flu. Always, it seems, halfway through these European trips, I break down in some way, catch my breath, and then am good as new again, so I’m right on schedule this time too. All three of the French engagements were wonderful for Big Brother, Paris, Saint Dié and Compiègne. The crowds were enthusiastic and we played well.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company