Dienstag, 7. Februar 2017

Miracle healing. Southern France 2016.

During the last show I played with Grae J. Wall in Catalonia the problem occurred the first time. Middle of the gig the guitar pickup had these annoying drop outs. No sound - sound - no sound... Bloody mess. Left for Toulouse to play the Les Pavillons Sauvages, worried the whole thing would turn out a disaster just due to some technical issues. Fortunately it didn't. In fact maybe one of the best shows I had the pleasure to play 2016. For some reason the guitar worked all through the show, there was a fantastic crowd, I shared the evening with two most amazing acts (Koonda Holaa and Hilton) and the sound was just perfect. Surprisingly I didn't even fuck up my playing. The Les Pavillons Sauvages family took care of me in a way you don't really get to experience very often on tour. I owe you. A lot.

Had a stroll along the Canal du Midi in the afternoon. I was walking towards two plain-clothes police officers walking a young woman away from one of the locks. There were another two uniformed officers obviously examining the scene, a medic followed the two policemen with the lady. She had a Mia Farrow kind of look to her, a tattoo on her arm, maybe the left one, looking terrified, staring at some spot somewhere behind me. I thought she should have been trembling but I think she wasn't. She looked like someone who had just seen or discovered something really terrible, something unspeakably scary, something not meant to be seen by anyone. It was a dim, mid-November afternoon, not particularly cold or warm. I remember there was some Italian chanson or schlager from some open window from across the canal adding a surreal soundtrack to the whole scenery.

As the following day was off I went to see two guitar shops for fixing my guitar. Paprika's Workshop had a look at it but couldn't help as they were up to their neck in work, the other one, Fred's Guitar Parts, was equally helpful but had no spare part for the out-of-phase switch being apparently the trouble maker that cut off the signal as soon as I touched it. Advise: well, can't do anything about it now on such short notice but...erm... maybe just don't touch it. There you are!
Checking the route to my next show in Tarbes I realized this little town in the south of France is just about a 30 minutes ride away from Lourdes. It may sound silly but that's the kind of thinking you inadvertently get into being on tour. "What's good for the blind and the crippled can't be bad for Mäkkelä's guitar." is what I thought... You might figure what I was hoping for.

I drove there. I parked the car. I felt a bit stupid about the whole idea so I didn't take the guitar out of the car. Instead I walked down towards the St Bernadette church or grotto or whatever it is behind it's massive iron gate. I've been told about endless rows of water tabs where one can fill own bottles for some take-away holy water for home healing business. Unfortunately I didn't have a spare bottle on my walk down the hill in the old town of Lourdes. Down the deserted main drag of Bernadette merchandise wonderland, past closed memorabilia shops, through the drizzle, across the river... This was like a film set of some weird road movie. I took a photo of the gate with the Bernadette fountain behind it, at least I assume that's what it's called, turned around and walked back. That's when I spotted what's very likely one of the biggest merchandise supermarkets I've seen all my life. All kind of useful things you would like to take home from your pilgrimage. Candles all sizes, snow globes all sizes, Bernadette shaped bottles (didn't find the dildo shaped ones I've been told about), both filled with water and empty in a broad variety of qualities and makes, a huge selection of things I don't know what they're for, a dashboard-pope and to my big surprise also a dashboard-Mr Bean, the latter in the bargain section. If you ever get there have a look at the Palais du Rosaire. Highly recommended. And still, please believe me, I'm not taking the piss here. It's just yours truly stumbled into a slightly surreal scenery totally new to him. And yes, there was still that thought something around here might help me with my guitar. I did spend about 18 Euros in holy merch for which I got a surprising lot of things including a very small vial with sacred water. Picked up my car and headed for Tarbes. On the drive, mulling over the afternoon, I had to admit my belief has apparently got it's limits. No, I wasn't going to pour the water on my guitar. If that healing power was strong enough just the effort of going there, willing to believe in it, should be enough. Even though I turned out too much of a sceptic at the end of the day.


Tarbes. I like Tarbes. I liked it from the moment I bought my first parking ticket there. A bargain. I liked it when I saw the Celtic Pub Is Not A Pub where I was about to perform in with all its posters of a surprising lot of bands I either know or played with before. I liked it when I walked through town and saw the shop window with the penguins and seagulls. I seriously started to love it when the sound was brilliant, JL the bar owner turned out to be a wonderful bloke, the audience was well into what I did on this Friday night and it was packed. You wouldn't expect this in a small town in the south of France. As little as on that very evening the young guy from Hamilton, Ontario probably expected a Finnish-German songwriter playing "End of me", a song written by Wax Mannequin, an artist from his home town and chatting about just recently strolling down James Street N. and having played a gig at the This Ain't Hollywood. Ended the evening with a stiff Picon Bière.

You should also know I'm still brooding about the fact my guitar worked perfectly ok for that night and all the rest of the tour. So...

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