Big Brother history, part fifteen – 2003


Antea gazpacho



18 January 2003      Porterville Auditorium           Porterville         California


Back to the Beans and Bangers circuit.



13 March 2003   The Brook   Southampton   UK

14 March 2003    The Rayners    London Harrows  UK       I asked Kacee Clanton to sing with us on this trip, and she did a good job. I said, “Only thing is, don’t bring anyone with you, and pack extremely light. We only have a small van to travel in. Also, where we will be staying, there are often no elevators and many flights of stairs,” so Kacee showed up with her girlfriend and the largest suitcase I have ever seen. She’s been to Europe many times since then. I bet her luggage was lighter each time.

The band this time:   Chad Quist, Glenn Halvarsson, Kacee Clanton and Peter Albin.

The band with the van.  Yes, we can. Yes, we have to.

15 March 2003  The Borderline   London


16 March 2003    The Borderline   Diest   Belgium         Quite a coincidence to play two clubs with the same name in two different countries on two consecutive nights.



Ingrid Maassen

17 March 2003  Club Banana Peel  Ruiselede   Belgium            This was a tent in an open field. A happening place, though.


One of the best men who ever lived: Vincent Van Gogh.  I read his letters to his brother Theo, and, even allowing for the fact that he is putting on his best face for a dear relative who is going to send him money, comfort and love, still, the piety, honesty, penetration, sheer energy and deep feeling of Vincent are amazing and very affecting.  If he had never painted a stroke, he would still be a very remarkable person.

Van Gogh’s birthplace.

He was born in Zundert, in the far south of the Netherlands.

18 March 2003   Stairway To Heaven   Utrecht   Netherlands


19 March 2003   Rijksmuseum   Amsterdam     I went to this museum long ago when I was in the Kozmic Blues Band, and back now.


Elise Piliwale, Stela Mandel and Nancy Pollock

20 March 2003   Wilhelmina          Eindhoven                Netherlands

My mother’s name was Wilhelmina.

She was named for this queen of the Netherlands.

21 March 2003   Patronaat  Haarlem  Netherlands       This is the hometown of Frans Hals, an extraordinary painter.

Franz Hals visited this home for retired men and painted the inhabitants in the very room where I saw his work. One of the quickest artists ever, he handled all that 17th century lace with verve and accuracy, alla prima, very few corrections. It was a privilege to be in the same room where he did that.

Hals did this painting in this building in about three hours. If you look closely at the original, you can see the almost incredible rapidity of the brushstrokes.

22 March 2003   Iduna   Drachten   Netherlands

Some of these towns were so destroyed in World War Two that they are brand new and even strip mallish today.

IM pretty

Hengelo is almost due east of Amsterdam, close to Enschede.

23 March 2003    Kleine Kunst    Hengelo        Netherlands     “Kleine Kunst” means “little art.”


Now we drive far south to Velden am Wörthersee, Austria.

25 March 2003   Bluesiana Rock Café        Velden am Wörthersee  Austria     Gúðrun Kofler (center above) has brought us here to her place many times now.

Velden is way down in the south of Austria between Villach and Klagenfurt, very close to Italy and Slovenia.

In old Germany the catchphrase was Kinder Küche Kirche (Children Kitchen Church).  Here it’s Konzert Keller Kofler, something like:  Concert  Cellar Kofler, Gudrun’s surname.

Chad can not only bowl, he can also rock and roll.

We had fun. I apologized for George W. Bush, but otherwise we had a wonderful night.

Monika Pabst !    ”Papst,” exactly the same pronunciation, means “pope,” and I think she would make a great pope.

Glenn Halvarsson, sommelier for the Swedish tap water tour.

Chad Quist. One of the all time great guitar players. Clean, intelligent and always interesting.

Austrians are light, witty, schpritzy like Mozart’s music.

An example of their sense of humor may be found down the street at the Stehbar (stand bar).  You think a US bar would advertise this way ?


My friend Ali

26 March 2003         Planet Music             Vienna


28 March 2003   Colos-saal    Aschaffenburg Germany   The name of the club is a Wortspiel, a pun. Koloss (Colossus) is a giant, and Saal is an auditorium (like French Salle).  And the whole thing is colossal.


29 March 2003    Alter Gasometer    Zwickau  Germany    The old gasmeter or the old gas company. I like the reuse of these buildings. This one is a beauty.

“East” Germany was under Soviet domination for a long time and there was not a lot of money under Communist rule, so, paradoxically, many places were left “unimproved” and as they were in the 1930s. Indeed, Prague in many places looks much as it did in Mozart’s time, which is why they filmed extended portions of Amadeus in Prague instead of in Vienna. Communism had the inadvertent virtue of preserving an older way of life.

When I stay in an old hotel room in eastern Germany, I think a lot about the lives lived there under Communism. The faded walls, ancient appliances and creaky floors speak to me of all the people who simply tried to make it through those parlous times.


The “cookwash.”  Laundromats are great places for guitar playing. Somehow they filter out the mistakes. It’s like singing in the shower.

The Sword of the East.   Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of beautiful ideas in Communism. The rights of women, for example, were recognized under that system, and in old Soviet films you see women engineers on locomotives, women doctors, a real gender equality only beginning to be seen in the West now.

Communism, though, had the misfortune to be directed by human beings and we all know how selfish and venal they can be, and how even a little power can pervert the finest ideals.

So, in the former East Germany, I see much evidence of the wreckage of hope and ambition and comfort.  This can be dispiriting.


The times, though, as someone once noted, are a changin’.  All of these old buildings and old lives have a new lease now. Suddenly former East Germany is hip.  The people in the DDR were “hillbillies” not so long ago. Now they are “authentic” and preserved from the olden times. This is a familiar scenario. Social regentrification, I suppose you could call it, and it’s worth a lot more than nothing.


It’s just that, when I am in those old hotel rooms late at night, I think of the ones who didn’t make it, the ones who died shortly before the Wall came down and thus lived their entire lives in desperate hope, cramped conformity and, sometimes, in terror.

We are the people.

Vacation in the DDR, the Orwellian named Deutsche Demokratische Republik.  Now that it’s over, everyone wants to reëxperience life under Communism.  The Ford in the East Germany of that time was called the Trabant (the Trabi) and now everyone wants to have one and especially that little tent that was erected on top of the car. It’s so chic, don’t you know ?

How quickly we forget and how easy to remember the “good old days,” which, of course, never were good.  Nostalgia for neuralgia.

Brezhnev and Honneker, the East German leader,  certainly seemed to be feeling the love, but there wasn’t a lot of trickle down.  There never is. There never will be.

31 March 2003    Objekt 5    Halle          Germany


1 April 2003   Musiktheater Rex  Lorsch  Germany

I'm under a train

Sylvia Bartolotti tells me that Sto sotto ‘n treno (I’m under a train) is a way of saying, I feel as if I’ve been run over by a train, or I have a horrible hangover.


2 April 2003     Rockfabrik    Ludwigsburg             Germany

It’s funny to me, because Rock in German means skirt, and Fabrik could be cloth, but it really means Rock Factory.  Rock und Blouse could be a skirt and blouse, or it could be Rock and Blues.


4 April 2003  Fismo   Einsiedeln    Switzerland           My hotel room was right across from this monastery.


Fismo is an acronym:   Fédération Internationale des Sports Mécaniques Originaux.

The CH = Confoederatio Helvetica    The Helvetic Confederation.  In his book De Bello Gallico The Gallic War, Julius Caesar used the word Helvetica for what is now Switzerland. So, the abbreviation for Switzerland on license plates and elsewhere is CH.

6 April 2003            Albani Music Club         Winterthur           Switzerland


My niece Emily Bullis Rollins came to see me in Winterthur. We had such a good time. I wish I would have had her sing a jazz standard or two.  Cry me a river?  Next time, Emily?

Cathy Richardson sang with us in Texas and

Joel seated

Joel Hoekstra played guitar, two hot Chicagoans. I have raved about Joel elsewhere. He’s a good human being and probably the best guitarist I have ever known. He plays in White Snake now.

9 May 2003     Wildflower Arts & Music Festival   Richardson  Texas, or Wichowdson, as Cathy pronounces it.


28 June 2003            Jenner By The Sea       California



17 July 2003           Point Breeze           Webster             Massachusetts


18 July 2003    Ocean Beach Park       New London      Connecticut


19 July 2003       Vetrock     Mason Field    North Attleboro          Massachusetts

Elise Piliwale             midtown Manhattan.

27 July 2003   Central Park Summer Stage  New York City          Nina Simone’s daughter Simone and Elise.

Diane Lotny and Rob Clores.  There is something special about Diane. She has a big brain and a lot of talent.

Ashley Kahn and friends.

This is where we met the beautiful and talented Sophia Ramos. Sophia sang Ball & Chain and she stopped the show.

Couple Number One :    Carrie and Rob Clores.

There was an embarrassment of riches that day: Annisette, Baby Jane Dexter, Chan Marshall, Christine Ohlman, Caron Wheeler, Diane Lotny, Genya Ravan, Judith Owen, Kate Pierson, Lene Lovich, Little Queenie, Milini Khan, N’Dea Davenport, Phoebe Snow and Simone.

Judith Owen.

Kate Pierson was her usual charming self.

Miz Happiness and Joy, Milini Khan.

Brad Campbell and Snooky Flowers came, and we pretended we were the Kozmic Blues Band with Rob Clores and Maury Baker, the original drummer.

Milini Khan belongs to Chaka, and Simone belongs to Nina, so we had some royal princesses there.

Liz Payne Getz and Elise Wainani Piliwale.

Phoebe Snow came by and sang Piece of My Heart.  It was so good to see her… and hear her.

Diane Lotny, Kate Pierson and Elise Piliwale.

Chan Marshall.

Chan sang Down On Me.

Cat Power

Ry Cooder came to Central Park because he was playing with some Okinawan musicians.

18 September 2003      Sky Church    Experimental Music Project         Seattle

Sam blondes

19 September 2003   The Kenworthy Performing Arts Center    Moscow   Idaho

Lynn gamba

Lynn Asher has been on my mind a lot lately.


20 September 2003  First Orcas Island Music Festival     Orcas Island     Washington

Lynn Asher GGate

San Francisco that a way.

25 September 2003        Justin Herman Plaza          San Francisco

4 October 2003        The Landmark  Hotel    bathroom sink, room 105     Los Angeles            Photo:  Howard Sounes

Yes. We remember her all the time.

12 October 2003     Avalon Ballroom              San Francisco

Lauren and Lynn

Wishing her well.   Lynn and Lauren

Wendy Rich sleep learning.

6 November 2003     Skihuette    Oberwangen    Switzerland

Oberwangen is very close to Bern.  We often play also in Rubigen (in the lower righthand corner of this map).

Hazel and Lena

Hazel Scott and Lena Horne

7 November 2003         The Krone Bar          Einsiedeln        Switzerland

Red Dog merchandise

8 November 2003      Baden Halle 36     Baden Baden was a famous spa. Dostoyefsky set a novel there, Der Spieler, The Gambler.   This word “Messe” can mean “a mass” or a “tradefair.” You see it a lot with city names.  ”Messe” can merely mean “town center” or something to that effect, since the fair, and the mass, were usually held in the center of town.

9 November 2003   Albani Music Club   Winterthur   Switzerland       Lovely people here.

Wendy Rich              Glenn Halvarsson     Glenn is Swedish, don’t  you know?  In fact, he’s a big Swedish meatball.

Sound checks. I love them so much. (That’s an example of irony.)   During this one, which was actually pleasant, we performed Blue Bossa and Cry Me A River, which Wendy Rich sang to perfection. The jazz ballad is really her strong point.

Wendy with that dazzling smile.

11 November 2003    Hirsch    Nürnberg   Germany   To some, this town Nürnberg connotes trials of World War Two gangsters.

To me, Nürnberg is the home of Albrecht Dürer.

I visited Dürers house in Nürnberg, and pulled this print on his own press upstairs. Big thrill for an artist.

Dürer was very successful.  He was as well known in his time as, say, Vincent Van Gogh is now. Dürer’s art was instantly understood and very popular.

I love his work too, and have made many copies of it.

Laura and Lynn

Photo:   Baron Wolman


Lynn Sausa

13 November 2003    Das Movie    Bielefeld           Germany

Bielefeld doesn’t exist! For some reason, internet users in Germany write this a lot. I know it exists. I’ve played there a couple of times.

Michael Spörke published the German edition of his book Big Brother and the Holding Company, Die Band, die Janis Joplin berühmt machte, in 2003 or so.

Elaine Mayes took this interesting photograph.

14 November 2003   Alte Mälzerei  Regensburg      Malz = malt, so this could mean Old Maltery, a brewery.

Lynn Asher, Caroline Sky

The Cotton Club       Zug       Switzerland

Lynn Asher

Zug is a little south of Zürich.   Zug means a train or a column (of, say, marching soldiers) or a procession, so it’s an odd name for a town.


30 December 2003         Sudsy Malone’s          Cincinnati          Ohio

steve ashman and daughters

Steve Ashman and friends

31 December 2003          The Rose         Medina    Ohio


See you next week !

Sam Andrew