segunda-feira, novembro 22, 2010

Marianne Dissard & Francoiz Breut Tour Diary (cont.)

Jour 3 - San Diego to Los Angeles

Françoiz : It’s pretty cool to wake up on the coast! I ask Marianne if there are sharks before going to swim with Stéphane. No Brian Wilson in shorts but a couple dozen surfers riding the waves. A hearty breakfast is waiting for us when we get back, then we take off for Los Angeles. I don’t remember the road to Sunset Blvd; I must have been asleep. Tommy brings us to a very colorful Mexican restaurant, the best one for mojitos (it’s 3pm!). From there, I can see the Hollywood sign in the distance; no, I’m not dreaming!

Nightime. We are playing a garden gig at the house of Benjamin and Catharina. People are already laying down on the grass, it’s so hot still. Some speak French (no Pamela Anderson in fluorescent swimsuit). Marianne sings her latest album, with all her musicians in her computer, they don’t take up much room. Here we go! We might as well have played laying down too, the grass is soft as my grandmother’s cheeks. Oh! I’m drawing a blank... forgot my lines! I laugh and we start again! Except that we don’t know where to sleep tonight. We drive to Venice Beach, with all the lost and homeless of the city who also end up here like old whales.

Jour 4 - Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo.

Françoiz : Ah, la Californie ! The hills are burnt by the sun, with little black dots, cows grazing on the yellow grass. We arrive in San Luis Obispo - no relation to a certain bald French singer. It’s a quaint little university town. There are even people walking in the streets, I mean, people without cars! We go to the radio station, where we are welcomed by Tom DiSanto, a DJ whom Marianne knows well. We sing a song and then it’s all done. Later on, we sing in an art gallery and that’s a lot more serious business!

Marianne: That night, I drop off the gang at the hotel and I escape to sleep on the beach, half-hour drive away. I’ll have slept a lot outside during this tour. Need of space, nature and to enjoy the last few good days of the early fall season.

Jour 5 - San Luis Obispo to San Francisco

Marianne : Sun rays, I feel like I’m floating. A long solitary walk along the arid coast paths, over the cliffs. I meet up with the gang and we choose to head north on Route 1, more touristic, along the coast all the way to San Francisco. The first hour is magic, but soon, I’m anxious. The tour manager that I am on this trip is always afraid of getting to a venue late, and to needlessly accumulate driving hours and be more tired than necessary. Françoiz and Stephane, Christophe and Antoine seem content, however. Tommy, who has such an experience of tour life, is, like me, maybe because he’s American, anxious to arrive.

Françoiz : You always hear about the fog in San Francisco. Story goes that, at times, it can be 32 degrees in Berkeley and only 10 degrees across the bay in San Francisco. It’s already night when we arrive. The venue where we play tonight is splendid. You can almost smell the ocean air and imagine Martin Eden spending a few hours at the bar. A siren welcomes us, her breasts pointed over the stage, quite a sight. Tommy put on his best red pants in honor of our last concert together. Tomorrow, he will meet up with Jonathan for an European tour together.

Marianne : After my troubles during the first show in San Diego, I had to rethink the concept behind my one-woman solo show. I had already toured like that, in New Zealand, last winter, singing over my instrumental studio tracks, a sort of karaoke to my own music, with a narrative progression, costume changes and different personalities I would use to tell the story of my becoming a chanteuse, from the first sweet-sounding song with Calexico - the “Ballad of Cable Hogue” - to my first album and the revelation of the pleasure and untamed ferocity I now know I can bring out on stage. But the songs, performed in a certain order, will suck energy out of me. And I have no band, in this setup, to give life back, to end a show with more energy than has been spent. So I changed the setlist, re-ordered the songs and it worked! I am more alive at the end of the show than at its start!

Jour 6 - San Francisco to Eugene

Françoiz : We got our San Francisco cliché this morning: an impressive view over a lace of roads, highways and the constant noise of wheels. The inclined streets are not easy to handle, when you have to carry a drumkit, then a guitar amp and a guitar so long that it behaves as a level!

Tonight, we will sleep in a backyard hut in the garden of Michael Roderick, the singer of Mood Area 52, who are playing with us, in a club near the train tracks, with the train bells like in a western movie.

Jour 7 - Eugene to Portland

Françoiz : Nearing Portland, nature gets more dense, mountains higher. It looks like we’re in “The Shining”, at the beginning when the family of Jack Nicholson arrives at the hotel. That film was actually shot in Mt Hood, near Portland. It’s impressive and magnificent... just like the Crystal Ballroom. A venue where a lot of bands have played, leaving behind lots of printed mementos and lithographed posters, on walls from another century. The ‘boom boom’ coming down from the upstairs ballroom will be with us the entire time of our show - the best of the tour. People seem happy, including one of the members of Chumbawamba, from Seattle.

Jour 8 - Portland to Seattle

Marianne : We get to Seattle early. Christophe and me head to the museum of contemporary art: not very impressive. That night, we play in the best-equipped venue of the tour: the concert is not very impressive. I spend the night on the floor, in a kitchen, sleeping on a yoga mat.

Jour 9 - Seattle to Williams

Marianne : Drive day. No show. We sleep in a Motel 6 on border of the I-5 Interstate Highway, about an hour north of Sacramento.

Jour 10 - Williams to Los Angeles

Marianne : I explore, alone, at sunrise, the minuscule Main Street of Williams, California. The light is stunning over the rundown buildings. Yellow of the sun, red of the signs, off-white of the skeltered houses. Typical of small towns from the agricultural inlands of California, Williams is most definitely bilingual. The ‘chic’ restaurant in town is a haven for Tea Baggers, those extremists for whom Sarah Palin is queen. No one is hungry. We head out of town, southbound toward Los Angeles.

Françoiz : Tonight, we play in an acoustic guitars shop, with Benjamin, a Native American straight from the street, who will encourage and cheer us all throughout the show. We sleep in a strange wooden house, Walter’s, a musician who loves Canadian bluegrass, fan of Georges Moustaki. There are thick mattresses, like in the fairy tale about the princess, and old psychedelic drawings everywhere.

Jour 11 - Los Angeles to Phoenix

Marianne : I never really feel comfortable in Phoenix. Sleek suburbs, one after the other over a very efficient system of highways. The only good thing about today is the photobooth at the venue, where we spend the entire take of the night. Françoiz and myself share a young girl’s bedroom in a mansion belonging to French expats. I see myself, twenty-five years ago, French teenager landing in Phoenix with her parents. This woman who is putting us up overnight, like my mother at the time, finds herself living in a sudden material comfort that can only obstruct temporarily and with difficulty the soullessness of this imitation Eldorado. Bonne chance!

Jour 12 - Phoenix to Prescott

Marianne : Impossible to leave Phoenix before the afternoon since everyone wants to put in some shopping time before heading out to Europe. I’ve had enough. I’m two hours from my hometown and I can’t wait to get back. But we still have one last date in the small town of Prescott, the hometown of the republican senator, John McCain.

Françoiz : Detour through Sedona and Jerome, ex-mining town and real ‘ghost’ town, on the hill. The sights are that of the most amazing western movies, before we arrive at night in Prescott. It’s getting cold all of a sudden but the place is warm and welcoming and people really listen. For me and Stéphane, it’s very enjoyable. We sing “Si Tu Disais” with Marianne, on this last night... That old forgotten song is beautiful. It smells like old cowboy! Sad, it’s the end!

Written by Françoiz Breut and Marianne Dissard. Kindly edited by Cathimi. Originally published in Abus Dangereux 116, December 2010 . Photo montage by Marianne, from photos taken at a photobooth in Phoenix, Arizona. Thanks to Cathimi and Guuzbourg.