Cake – A True Story. Part Three.

Dee was a complex character, as mentioned before he had a history of alcohol & drug abuse, & had addictions to other things in his life. These issues plagued the rest of the band. Looking for an AA meeting in the middle Germany or Sweden at 07:00 was just some of the torments we had to endure with life on the road. He made our life hell sometimes, he would also fall in & out of love as quick as it would rain on a scottish hillside, this would drive us insane. He also had a good side to him too, but he had a manipulative side, & this was hard to bare. Does this excuse our behaviour? No, but life on the road is tough, & wind-ups will happen.

Craziness… After Copenhagen, we travelled to other cities in Scandinavia, & soon after we ended up in Uppsala, a rather beautiful swedish university city. The owner of the venue was Irish, & had a reputation for being a gobshite, so we weren’t sure about his part in the wind-up. As it happened our agent had already told him about it, so a plan was set.

Gav our fiddle player was enjoying his birthday on this day, & he had a friend studying chemistry at the university. She came to our soundcheck to say hi & had also been filled in with the ongoing events between Switzerland & Copenhagen. It seemed she had an idea.

Before the start of the gig, she arrived back at the venue, & gave Gav a small gift. ‘Happy birthday’ she said to him give him a hug. ‘Whats this’ said Gav, & as he opened it she said ‘it’s something new, we’ve been playing around with it, but keep it quiet please. Oh, there’s one each for you all. Yes, it was cake. Four little small white pills in a metal box. But what the hell were they? I asked, ‘salt tablets’ she whispered, just plain salt tablets.

She gave us instructions, ‘take it 15mins before going onstage, it’ll take 20mins to kick in’ & it should last for 30mins only, but you may feel a little down afterwords.
We did as instructed (pissing ourselves) & went onstage. Gordy was a great drummer, tight & always in time, he never needed a click-track except when we were recording. 25mins into the gig Gordy start speeding up, Dee turns round & looks at him with a stern face, Gav was a very unemotional fiddler, wonderful player, but never moved his body, ridged. He began moving, swaying as he bowed, Dee was amazed. I just started jumping to the speed that Gordy was playing as I played my bass & forgot about singing any backing vocals. Dee turned to Gordy & shouted, ‘I’m really high’. Cotcha!!!

The venues owner dragged us into his office after the gig, he told us that he knew were on something, closed the door quietly & asked if we were using Cake, & if so, could we get him some?
Dee stepped in & gave a lecture about the good feeling that Cake gives, how it’s made, & how difficult it was to get a hold of, but he would talk to Gav’s friend. How we kept a straight face, I will never know but this what we were used to. We waited to see what he was doing after the gig, so we could do the opposite, which was find a club & laugh until it hurt.

To be continued… Helsinki & home-of-the-opathy

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Cake – A True Story. Part Two.

Cake – A True Story, Part One, can be found here.

Once we reached Copenhagen, the first thing to do was set up the equipment before finding our hotel, but there was always time for a beer before any hard work would be started. Dee was looking for guitar strings while the rest of us sat at the bar, laughing about the Cake wind-up. The barman asked what we were laughing about, we told him, & as he knew Dee he thought it would be fun to… string him along a bit. So later that evening when Dee was at the bar getting a pint of Diet coke, he mentioned Cake to another barman (who was in on the act of course), Dee immediately joined in telling them what he knew about it, again the foundation had been firmly laid & was set so hard!!! The barman told Dee that there was a place in Christiania that sold ‘Cake/cake’, he gave him directions & told him what to ask for. Dee decided to go the next day.

We had one more gig in Copenhagen the next night, & while the rest of the band rested, Dee went for a walk to Christiania. Later that evening before our soundcheck, he came back to the venue, annoyed, he couldn’t find the place. What we didn’t know was that the barman had set him up with a friends coffee shop, and had normal cake waiting for him which when asked for would think it was Cake/cake, but obviously failed to show, but he genuinely couldn’t find the place, & thought that his chance of trying Cake would be his last.

We all had our minds set on keeping this going, but how long could we possibly keep it up for? All the venues had staff like the guys in Copenhagen, & all knew Dee. This was going to be good, but how far would we really go??

To be continued…. Uppsala, a chemistry graduate & salt tablets!

Cake – A True Story. Part One.

The following what your about to read is a true story. The events that took place happened over a period of 4 years, & of which I’m not hugely proud of, but as a result has ended up being a one hell of a laugh.

Many years ago I was a musician, a hard working one at that. There wasn’t much time at home, studios & gigs (with many bands at one time) was my job. I founds self playing Scottish & Irish folk music around the mid 90’s, & there was a lot of work around the world for us. At a time when I was juggling between The Journeymen, Hair of the Dog & Shinaig, I chose to play full-time with Shinaig,& with a full Calendar of gigs across Europe with some fine musicians, I made the right choice.

Our singer (Dee) was an colourful character, energetic, stupid & gullible. He had a history of alcohol & drug abuse, of which he was many years sober. He was difficult to be around due to his mental state, but we got by, & onstage we were incredible, so it evened up.

One night (December 1997) we were travelling from Switzerland to Denmark through the night to the next gig, Dee had an opinion about everything, even if he knew nothing about a subject, this was a constant source of amusement to the rest of the band, we would quite often take the piss for our own amusement, it helped the long journeys pass quicker. However, on this trip we started talking rubbish (as you do) discussing a new drug that had the same effect as cocaine & ecstasy, but without the side affects. We called it ’Cake’! Yes, we had just watched Brass Eye, but we knew Dee hadn’t.
He started asking us about Cake, & the other band members gave each other a sign to keep this going. ‘it’s mentioned in that copy of the New Scientist’ is said, somewhere in the back of the van probably, ’yeah’ said Dee, ‘I seen that back there’. We had laid the foundation.

To be continued…

A Bhoys Guide to Helsinki. HJK v Celtic

Helsinki Cathedral

On the 8th of August Glasgow Celtic will return to Finland to play HJK Helsinki in their Champions League qualifier. This is a return from their UEFA Cup qualifier in 2000, where Celtic managed to qualify. The HJK fans are passionate & vocal, their memorable chant is ‘Klubi’ which means ‘club’. In 2000 there were more HJK fans than Celtic fans, & yes, us Celtic fans were louder!

This blog entry is for the visiting Celtic fans, a few tips to get by & enjoy their stay in Helsinki with ease.

Helsinki is the capital of Finland, & its a fairly small city by comparison to other major capitals in Europe. Its compact, efficient & very versatile. Finland is known as a cold country, & in winter it is, very. But in the summer it can get very hot, as much as +35, & you can expect temperatures to be quite high in August also. Helsinki is not a rainy city, but it can rain, & when it does it can be heavy, but never for very long.

 

Helsinki Airport

Arriving in Helsinki, is usually flying into Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (or Tampere airport, 2 hours away) which is 40 min bus ride (€4 max, bus number 615, or night bus 620N takes you to the centre) or a 20 min taxi ride (around €40) Helsinki Airport is an international hub to Asia, & can be very busy, but its very well organised, & has free wifi.

The city of Helsinki will be busy with tourists at this time of year, & many Finns will be returning from their summer cottages to get back to work, so expect the city to be lively. Finnish people are very hospitable, honest, friendly & calm. There is very little crime in the Helsinki & Finland in general, so if you leave a bag in a bar/shop or station, you are likely to find it in the same place or handed in for you to collect, unique I know.

Public Transport in Helsinki

Public trasport in Helsinki is fantastic, there are buses, trams, trains & even boats. To get to the Sonera stadium from the centre, you need to take tram number 3B, 3T, 4, 7B or 10. Oh & there is free wifi on most of the trams too. The Sonera stadium is next to the 1952 Olympic stadium, easily visible from afar. You can walk to the stadium from the centre, it should take 25mins via Töölö Bay.

Free wifi is available around Helsinki city, just search for it on your device, & theres no need to sign up for it, just accept & surf.

Ive had a lot of tweets from Celtic fans asking me the same question, how much is the beer?? Well, it can be expensive depending where you go, anything from €4-€6, & please remember, its not a full pint you get here, they press a button & it fills to the amount. Unless your a Guinness drinker, then you’ll get a proper pint. So where to drink? Molly Malone’s is where most people went the last time Celtic played here, it can be expensive & over priced but its the only place to have live music seven days a week. Its also the only pub in Helsinki that has Sky TV. For the Finnish experience, try Zetor, its fun & quirky with Finnish food at a decent price. There is a unique pub in Helsinki, it’s a tram, the Koff tram (named after the Finnish beer) runs throughout the summer, its 8€ & will take you on a tour of the city as you drink beer, its very popular, & you cant miss it, its bright red!

This wishing to buy alcohol can do so from any supermarket (S-market, K-market, CityMarket) From there you can buy beer & cider, if you wish to buy anything stronger you need to go to Alko, its the national alcoholic beverage retailing monopoly in Finland. Its sounds dodgy, but its not anywhere near like that. Prices are the same as the UK. You have the ability to recycle your empties, all shops have machines, so if you have cans or bottles, return them, you’ll get money back.

Eating in Helsinki is great, & if your a little open minded it will be a pleasurable experience. Fish is plentiful & fresh, straight from the baltic sea, & definitely worth trying. Herring & salmon is always available. Meatballs & mash potatoes is a traditional dish, you may also get a side of berry jam with it, so don’t be offended or shocked if you see it. Reindeer is also available to eat, again worth trying once in your life. There are plenty Grill kiosks around the city which are open to the wee small hours, try a Lihapirakka (meat pie) or a makkara (sausage). But you can check out every place to eat on the site eat.fi, where you can define what you want to eat. A very good site.

If any of you miss Irn-Bru or Tunnocks caramel wafers you can visit Behnford’s in the WTC, in the heart of the city. Again, its expensive, but if your desperate…

The city of Helsinki.

There are plenty beaches around Helsinki, you can try Hietaniemi beach (or Hietsu as its known) its a 15min walk from town & has golden sand. & there are plenty of football fields around the city too, all have goals (with nets), they’re free to use. If your in the Hietsu area you should try the famous Cafe Regatta, The only cafe in the world to give you money back when you ask for a coffee refill. All buns are freshly baked & there is an open fire outside to cook sausages if you want, it sits by the sea & is very popular & has friendly staff.

Hietsu Beach

Sightseeing, there is plenty to see in Helsinki if you have the notion to look around. Soumenlinna is a fortress build on a beautiful island, & you can get to it from the Market Square. The boat trip is part of the public transport route, so its cheap, highly recommended.

If you happen to find yourself in need of help, lost passport for example, you’ll need to contact the British Embassy. Its not far from the centre of the city (15min walk) & the phone number is +358 (0)9 2286 5100

Please contact me if there is anything I may have missed out that you need to know.

Enjoy, & hail hail!!

Prometheus: Hollywood Evolves.

This is my second blog about Prometheus, my first: Prometheus: Film Studios do not Make Movies on Straight Lines was written 72 hours after I seeing the movie, I was confused, yet intrigued why this movie had a 50/50 response, after all, the movie tells us nothing. Well, after two weeks of thinking about the movie, I went to see it again & I have set my mind at ease with the symbolic messages that is (now) so obvious to me as to what it’s all about.

Please bare with me…

**** Major Spoilers Ahead****

Lets start near the beginning, Its easier this way. Elizabeth Shaw finds a drawing in Scotland dated back 35000 years ago, this drawing depicts humans bowing down before a much larger human figure who is pointing to a group of (six) stars, we know this larger figure to be an Engineer. Elizabeth Shaw tells us that this is an invitation to this group of stars & this is where they have now arrived. Is this an invitation?

A Warning, not an Invitation.

After seeing the movie for a second time, I see this & the other drawings as a warning, a threat from this star map. Keep the threat of this warning in your head for now… The Engineers are telling us, if we screw it up, they will come back, & it will not end well.

They land on the planet LV-223 hoping to meet the Engineers or as they state; their makers. LV-223 is referring to standard Biblical notation for Leviticus-223, quite symbolic? Once on the planet they find the decapitated body of an Engineer, the body is carbon dated to 2000 years (there or about) before 2089. What major event happened 2000 years (there or about) ago on Earth? The death of Jesus Christ. Now the movie is not telling us this, the movie tells us nothing, but there are clues throughout hinting that this maybe the case, & leading to more… Before Elizabeth Shaw tells the crew about the star map, Captain Janek is seen erecting a Christmas tree on a pool table, its not significant, but its a tease, & when you miss it, you kick your self…

So, we have a drawing of an alien telling us to be good, a planet that refers to passage in the bible, a body of a dead alien dating back to the death of Jesus Christ & someone telling us that its Christmas… & there’s more….

Calvary

Calvary, Symbolic in Many Ways. e.g. Captain Janek & his Two Co-pilots

The black goo. What is it? They find it in room with a mural of what looks (to me) like an Engineer, arms spread in a crucified position, this room is filled with vases filled with a black substance that seems to change when door is opened, or the humans enter. This is the same goo the the sacrificial engineer drinks at the very beginning of the movie. It destroys to create new life. Now there is a lot of this goo, we learn that there is a cargo hold filled with thousands of vases of the stuff, & that there was a plotted route to Earth which never happened due to the deaths of many Engineers. Why? The movie tells us nothing, but we need to piece each (DNA) strand together.

2000 years before (there or about) Jesus Christ walked the Earth, he was born of a virgin, Mary, & was indeed a very special man. performing miracles & being the son of god. Is the son of god being misinterpreted as the Engineers who created us? Anyway, we killed him, crucified him, with two others on Calvary. Keep this image in you head until the end, it is significant.

Now, for me the movie is telling us that Jesus Christ was an Engineer, sent down to see how we were doing, he was a majestic figure, large, strong & had the power to do things now one could do. Alien powers, or just illusions? Anyway, we killed him, we killed him & the other Engineers were really pissed off, so pissed off that they wanted to wipe us out, so their plan was to send a ship loaded with the black goo to Earth & this goo would cleanse us, now this could be seen as medication, the snake/serpent like creature seen in the room of black goo when wrapped around the mans arm looks to me like the rod of Asclepius, (,which actually has six sides,remember the six planets on the star map above) The serpent/alien creature wraps is itself around its victims arm (just like the picture below)

The star of Life

To me, this is signifying that they intended to cleanse the earth & start again, our medicine? After all, we killed one of their ambassadors, & they were in no mood for forgiveness. The black goo had turned on them, killing most of them, we can see from the pile of bodies that there are stomachs that have exploded open, Xenomorph’s have already made an appearance & wiped most of them all out? Is the Xenomorph their devil? We do see a mural in the chamber with the black goo of a Xenomorph, I dont think they were worshiping it, I think they feared it.

The character Holloway impregnates Elizabeth with his poisoned seamen, thanks to David, but Elizabeth cannot get pregnant she so firmly explains before being impregnated with the black goo. Is this symbolic? Luke 1:36, oh & remember, its Christmas! Its not a virgin birth, but she has help from her creator.

This is all starting to get a bit heavy now, but I’m not done.

Once Elizabeth has her alien baby removed by cesarean, not abortion (pro-life anyone?) she stumbles into Peter Wayland’s room, if you look carefully you’ll see David cleaning his creator’s feet, does David see himself as Jesus? & did he tell this to the Engineer when he woke him up? Well the Engineer wasn’t happy, & ripped off David’s head, battered Peter Wayland with it, killing him. The Engineer is telling Peter Wayland; you killed us with our creation, so I will kill you with yours. Obvious, & ironic maybe.

The finale. The Engineer is really pissed off & sets a course for Earth, Elizabeth manages to escape telling Captain Janek he must stop the ship at all cost, which he does along with his 2 co-pilots. Nothing symbolic there eh? I never understood why he shouted ‘Heads up’ right before he smashes the Prometheus into the Alien ship, but I noticed when reading the subtitles (I watched this in Finland) he shouts ‘hands up’, not ‘heads up’. They are sacrificing themselves for the sake of mankind, & if you look more closely at how they are positioned its the exact same formation from Calgary (picture above) Captain Janek in the middle & his two co-pilots lower at each side. Nice!! Oh, did Holloway also sacrifice himself for mankind before being burned by Vickers? (Very symbolic, Prometheus, the giver of fire, clever) His hands spread out accepting his fate from the power of the gods. Wow.

That’s it, Jesus was an Alien, & we murdered him. I’m sure there is lots more I’ve missed, so please feel free to leave any comments. Thanks for reading.

* Update * An official translator for the film has commented on what David said to the Engineer.
“This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life.”
So nothing major then.

Inspired by Music: Week 2. Abba: Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie!

One of my first memories of music was Abba winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with Waterloo. No one can deny the impact they had on the music world, catchy songs with talent to match, & their influence still shows on modern music even today.

Nils Landgren

Im choosing Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! just to be a little versatile, & showing the influence of musical freedom with Nils Landgren’s version of the song. Nils Landgren is a Swedish Trombone player who has been on the jazz/funk scene for a number of years with his band The Funk Unit. In 2000 he approached Benny Andersson & asked him if he could do an album of Abba songs in his own unique style, Benny Andersson replied with ‘Is that possible?’

This is pretty much a musicians album, paying homage to pop in all its glory. Its different, & looking at classic songs from another angle which I support greatly in the understanding of music.

spotify:track:01CIk9RsbeTBVJIEmJiQEX

Inspired by Music: Week 1. Pat Metheny Group – So May It Secretly Begin

My last blog entry received a lot of traffic & gave me a real buzz, so this made me want to write more. I needed an idea, & here it is.  A regular weekly post that would give a little insight into myself & maybe inspire others with new music. I cant get enough of new music, I’m always looking out for the newest sounds, greatest musician’s & amazing ideas.

Ive always seen musical notes as a jumbled up puzzle, get everything in the correct order (that hasn’t been done before) & you have a piece of unique music that nobody has ever created. So with that in mind I’m posting a track that has inspired/changed my outlook on the world every week. I’ll also write a short summery why, its nice to have a bit of background, but I wont bore you 🙂

Pat Metheny Group

Pat Metheny

At the age of 16/17 when I was studying music, I had an amazing group of people around me which opened my eyes & helped make me into the musician that I had become later in life. Swapping musical ideas was always a key to writing or playing better, & I was given a copy of the album Still Life (Talking) by Pat Metheny Group. Jazz had been alien to me, I didn’t understand it yet this album turned my head. I learned a new musical phrase from Pat Metheny, texture. I could feel the emotions from the musicians as they played, particularly Lyle Mays on keyboards.

The track “So May It Secretly Begin” is not the obvious stand out track on this album, but its an example of how everything just clicks together, & most bizarrely there is a Güiro playing constantly through each verse & solo adding to the basis of the groove. This is a beautiful track, & I never tire of listening to it.

Enjoy.

Track listing

All music composed by Pat Metheny, except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. “Minuano (Six Eight)” (Metheny, Lyle Mays) 9:28
2. So May It Secretly Begin 6:25
3. “Last Train Home” 5:41
4. “(It’s Just) Talk” 6:17
5. “Third Wind” (Metheny, Mays) 8:37
6. “Distance” (Mays) 2:45
7. “In Her Family” 3:17

Personnel