field reports from the old world : amidst the woodland hillside still

the main hall of  české budějovice hlavní nádraží was a throng with passengers queuing for tickets, watching the announcements and awaiting seemingly myriad arrivals and departures. i was for a moment a little hesitant that i would make my service back to praha in time to catch my subsequent connexions, but how the line moved quickly and i was able to secure myself the appropriate ticket with enough time to make my way up to the correct platform and board and early afternoon service back north across bohemia. how the route was slow and beautiful, the rolling hills unfolding as a little mist began to creep across their surfaces, and how a few familiar spots along the route had me reminisce on previous outing through these lands; the hlavní nádraží at tábor and the still half-drained jordán being the keenest reminders of magical times of years now steadily passing.
our service pulled into the hlavní nádraží in praha as the sun had slowly sunk below the horizon and the night was begin to paint the sky in the darkest hues, and how a light rain was beginning to fall, slaking the scene in a shimmering haze of neon and amber. i had a short while to kill before the kolín service would depart and managed to find a nice spot out of the rain, sheltered by the ornate facade of the old station entrance walls affording me views of the busy traffic that runs incessantly along the major thoroughfare. i just sat a short while, reflecting on the last couple of days and keenly anticipating the next couple still to come. i wandered back down to the platforms and took the kolín service, letting my eyes rest awhile in the carriage, the night now fully descended.
by the time i changed in kolín and boarded the kutná hora service a heavy rain was falling across seemingly all of bohemia; even for a brief while reminding me of the deluge of last spring upon these already green and lush lands. gladly, upon my arrival at the hlavní nádraži there, i was met by my contact for the evening, a gentleman by the name of vit, who quickly grew to legendary status in my estimations within the first hour of our meeting; his first effortless move being to have secured the use of a car enabling us to escape the brunt of the inclement conditions as we ascended the hillsides above the town to his outrageously charming residence high up within the woodland glades that offer such a peaceful shelter within the heights of the hilly districts.
all was very much in hand, it clearly seemed, as we made our way into his super-comfy abode, his beautifully gentle dog klaudie greeting us at the door, the oven having kept the ground floor nice and cosy for our return, tea soon brewing and a wealth of treats by way of a very special dinner prepared by lenka, vit’s clearly wonderful other-half. i took the opportunity to enjoy a much-needed cup of earl, as big a plate of this rich feast as i could manage and a little less than an hour to relax whilst vit and klaudie ran an errand to the local veterinarian, before we re-grouped and gathered ourselves together before starting to think about making our way down to the venue, the newly-established, and not-actually-quite-fully-operational holubnik, a new enterprise undertaken by vit, his brother josef, good friend mao, and abetted by the support of the local scene folk.
we made our way back down the hillside by car, winding along a path which soon had me quite disorientated until suddenly we were on the grounds of what used to be a very large brewery, but since thrown into disuse by way of economic ‘developments’ in the region. there cobblestone car-park had our vehicle judder and bounce its way to an appropriate halt as i gazed up through the windows to marvel at this impressive piece of industrial architecture, and how delighted i was that they had managed to secure themselves a new venue in such an impressive and culturally significant location, and how, as we unloaded and made our way inside, offering warmest greetings to some of the folk already on-site, i found myself opening an inocuous door into a really cosy, delightfully small and exquisitely-rendered room which served as the current venue for the operation.
within minutes i was delighted to find myself also in the company of the very cool josef, aka inau, who i had the pleasure of sharing a performance with on my first czech tour, on the final night in plzeň and how i have had the pleasure of crossing paths a few times since, but how he always manages to surprise me by appearing in a different location each time. still, this time proved to be yet more of a surprise as, after some short while, i got to learn that he and vit were actually brothers, and how the connexion seemed wonderfully sublime to me in the moment. two clearly legendary gentlemen had just revealed themselves as legendary brothers; splendid, splendid stuff indeed, and how i felt doubly-honoured to have made their dual-acquaintance in this, their newest venture in support of the outrageously fascinating czech music scene.
still, beside all of this newly-realised warmth of connexions, there was a show about to take place, and i can only imagine i was the only one in the room who really had no idea what was about to happen when the astonishing edoshův kurník took to the stage. from my, still regrettably quite limited experience, i have noted quite a theatrical-bent to a goodly number of czech hip hop acts, and so having had the term bounded around before the show i had a mild inkling in the right direction, but to see their performance in action really was something massively different indeed. i would not be able to do justice to the full spectacle in these short lines, but i can reveal that we are dealing with a four-member rap team, two male, two female, all super-young, and all seemingly bent on completely distorting reality for the duration of any given performance. i promise that you have absolutely no idea, and i am still trying to come to terms with being able to fully comprehend the madness in which they threw upon us this night. be sure to investigate.
somehow, it seemed, i was supposed to follow-up their performance in the best manner that i could, and feel that i might just well have managed to acquit myself admirably enough, performance an almost-pauseless blend of iron filings and sellotape materials combined with a number of songs from my recent ‘six six seven‘ tape into quite the psychedelic whole, and allowing myself enough room for a few quieter spoken-word sections to drift in between the more chaotic peaks, and how the crowd was gracious enough for me to be able to perform a suitably-enjoyable rendition of ‘listen the night‘ by way on an encore. later i would realise yet-further how suitably fitting this was, when vit revealed to me that my dear older brother 2econd class citizen had performed a house-show in his beautiful hillside manner the year previous; marvelous stuff indeed, and yet more splendid moment of warm connexions further realised.
with the shows wrapped up by ten o’clock in order to comply with current legislation, the audience of dear friends slowly made their seperate ways onto different locations to continue their evening whilst a few more of us remained, finishing our svařené víno and shutting down the marvelous holubnik compound til we were reduced to just myself, vit and his good friend mao, who was very keen for the three of us to head on to ‘na valech’; his absolute favourite pub in all of kutná hora. vit assured me that this was very much the place we ought to head to, and how i needed no further convincing. with the venue secured for the night we made way back through the winding streets once again til arriving at this extra-special location, and how it did indeed reveal itself in that way from the very first moment.
although i am a little hazy on the exact detail, the name ‘na valech’ relates to the name of the original old wall of the town and how the pub is indeed set within the architecture of what remains of the medieval construction to protect the people of kutná hora from invaders in distant times. still, how the pub itself is an immediately welcoming prospect, the perfect tavern that could almost appear ‘unchanged’ in the last thousand years or so, and how we were soon sat at a long table surrounded by a group of immediately charming and wonderful friends of vit and mao’s; regulars in this fine establishment, no doubt. how i immediately got to make the fine acquaintance of deka and his very charming wife míša, and exchanged very friendly smiles with a whole host of warm souls gathered along the full length of the table. conversation was soon flowing thick and fast and how, nikola, the very enchanting barmaid, was quick to repeatedly set a host of dangerous shots on the table for us; one of which being labelled as the ‘devil’ itself. big business indeed.
how the night bled on into the early hours with a mix of fascinating conversation from all quarters, a goodly deal of amusement, silliness and roaring laughter, more and more drink and dangerous shots arriving at the seemingly merciless hands of nikola, and how it was indeed really rather difficult to force ourselves to bid farewell to the souls communed on this wintry night. still, vit, mao and i stumbled out into the night and bid each other farewells as vit and i made the final walk back up the hillside to the quiet and safely of his hillside manner, and how the heavy rainclouds had been swept away by the evening breezes, causing all of the stars to emerge over kutná hora and our path offering beautiful vistas of the town drifting away below us as we made our ascent to our sleeping quarters, with just enough time to take a final tea, take in the last of the evening air and then retire into the dreaming once more.
how i must have slept incredibly well, vit’s house being so particularly comfy and the snoozing klaudie to watch over me as the morning crept onwards. i must not have arisen until around eleven o’clock in the morning and how the bright sunlight was streaming in through the windows from between the trees of the woodlands opposite the house. for the first moments, i wasn’t sure if i was alone in the house and had to reduce myself to knocking on the door of the master bedroom, only to find vit himself still slowly coming out the dreaming. we made our arrangements regarding my departure to the hlavní nádraži and how it afforded us enough time to handle our online business, drink a little earl and feast upon some much-needed toasted sandwiches conjured up by the man himself. but time was short and how my next train service beckoned.
at a little after midday we stepped back out into the fresh air of the kutná hora hillsides once more and took a gentle stroll through the copse and down into the disctrict of sedlec which lead back to the hlavní nádraži. it was, of course, at this exact moment that it dawned on me that it was the very same sedlec that contains sedlecká kostnice; the world-famous ossuary which i had so often had the greatest desire to visit, even planning it into the itinerary of my last czech tour with my dyxz.born.rndr brothers, only to be foiled at the last minute, and here i was again, just some hundred meters from the site, but with no time and a train to catch, the horror! i think my mix of disappointed excitement rather amused vit and how i distinctly recall arranging that we must make time to view the site, next time! we arrived at the hlavní nádraži and he graciously waited with me for the last ten minutes before my trains arrival, a gentleman to the last, and a wonderful guide and host on a wonderful excursion to this magical new spot on my czech map.
so, might i take a moment to offer so much thanks and appreciation to everyone involved and everyone who made it down to the show at the charming holubnik. the masters brothers holub, vit and josef, the very cool captain mao, the very exceptional edoshův kurník for their amazing performance and very kind words afterwards, to the very cool kubeat for his outstanding beatbox contributions and kind words, to all those whose names i didn’t get to learn, to lenka for the super-nice food that gave me the energy for the adventure, and to deka, míša, nikola and the whole of the wonderful na valech family, who made me feel so very welcome in their extra-special world for the evening. how i am sincerely looking forward to next time so much already.
next field report : fog shrouding the steel heart of the republic

field reports from the old world – under a wintry full moon

having taken our fill of afternoon sustenance, myself along with the entire at bona fide, benelux and odeur de violettes team reconvened at the pohoda music club to load out into the two cars that would take us on the drive south to české budějovice. the dusk was descending and the temperature dropping fast, not to mention a few spots of cold rain starting to fall. still, the gang attended to the task in record time and we soon had our two vehicles filled to capacity before we spread our number evenly between them and took to the highway heading south out of the city.
for my own part i was still so weary-headed from the lack of sleep the night before, and the sounds of the honeycombs only served to lull me into a light sleep as the night fell and the highway wound its way down towards the old city. i awoke from my half-slumber as we entered the české budějovice city-limits, the soothing sounds of jesu now emitting from the car stereo. the night was bitterly cool as we parked our vehicle and stepped out onto the wintry streets outside the location, the full moon hanging bright above kredance and fast-moving clouds trailing quickly across its surface.
we made our way inside and were soon greeted by the very cool tomas, our bar-man, promoter, organiser and host for the evening; and what a true gentlemen in every sense indeed. a firm handshake soon turned its attention to a freshly brewed cup of earl sitting on the bar for me as i took in the delights of the super-chilled location that is kredance. how it was a pleasure to relax for a short while as the other members of the gang dealt with their equipment, even allowing myself the chance to utilise the wifi to finalise some more of my travel plans, as well as to send word back to the leipzig safehouse that all is well.
once we had all taken our fill of a particularly satisfying pasta dish, the stage was soon being set up, soundchecks happening and the guests starting to arrive, and what a pleasure to it was to see some familiar faces as well as getting to meet some new folks; this being my first time in the city. how much jovial conversation was had as we all slowly warmed up into the evening; a splendid constellation of people taking refuge from the cold of the wintry night together in close communion, all in the name of taking in some rather special live musical performances, of sharing the experience.
benelux took to the stage once again without delay, and how the acoustics of the location seemed to favour them a little more this night; how yet more staggering waves of their performance cut through the monolithic sound that they were able to extract from their speaker-stacks, and how a second chance to audition their live set only served to reveal yet more details and facets of worthy note. and how it was very much the same story with at bona fide, both bands taking full advantage of the sound situation and getting to unveil the full might of their shoegaze splendor on the wholly-receptive audience.
still, soon it was my turn to take to the stage and how i deliberately set about crafted a less frenetic and more considered performance than the night before. in plzeň, in the chaos of the pohoda, i had the chance to deliver a faster-paced, shorter, more tightly-woven set, whereas in the kredance i took my time to draw out more atmospheric spoken-word moments between the chaos and clatter of my main compositions. there seemed to be a calming still in the air, one that gave me the chance to perform at my own pace, and one that resulted in what ended up being a very-well-received and very satisfying performance indeed.
naturally, with the performances safely-handled, it was time to spend the rest of the night propping up the bar, which we did to long and good effect. i made my way through two or three more earls whilst embroiled in conversations with a splendid gentleman by the name of petr, who would later reveal himself as my co-host for the evening, and how he being a rather-well-traveled scholar led to long talks on various cities around the world and our own personal takes therein. zuzka and the others were also very much on hand to lend their worthy remarks to our discourse, and how the whole evening wound down most enjoyably as the location slowly emptied, til we were the last ones left, tomas holding the keys.
zuzka and the rest of the remaining gang were still keen to head on to another place, but i was very much ready to turn in for the night, and so how tomas kindly escorted me back to his place, where he soon turned in for the night, and where i set about brewing one more cup of tea and handling some small admin chores in the wonderfully warm and cosy environment of his apartment. and how it was very much a delight to find myself accompanied by his beautiful cat, who goes by the name of cuketa-courgette, and was sure to keep a curious and inquisitive eye upon me as i slowly managed to find my way back into the dreaming once more; a head full of new and wonderful experiences.
i must have been so deeply embroiled in the dreaming, and still so weary from the previous night that i managed to find myself sleeping til almost midday, and had to arise with a start to be sure about being ready to take the necessary train from the hlavní nádraží, my schedule taking me on to kutná hora via kolín and a tight one. luckily there was enough time to briefly cross paths and offer thanks to both petr and tomas again before i made my hazy way back down onto the streets of české budějovice, the first time in the daylight, and paced earnestly in the direction of the hlavní nádraží with plenty of time to board the kolín service and begin my next leg of the adventure.
how it was such a memorable time indeed and a wonderful first visit to this new location on my czech map, and how i would very much like to take the chance to offer such thanks to everyone involved and everyone who made it down, new friends and old. extra-special thanks of course going to tomas for helping organise such a splendid night, for petr for making it all the more pleasant, the mighty kredance for hosting such a nice evening, to the benelux and at bona fide families for yet another night of wonderful music, to the mighty george-jirka for the crystal clear sound, and all those who offered me such kind words, praise and the feeling of being so very welcome. here’s to next time indeed.
next field report : amidst the woodland hillside still

field reports from the old world – returning to the ancient heart of bohemia

how unusually mild winter weather it was for my latest excursion back to the wonders of the czech republic. i arose in the very early morning and made my way via straßenbahn from connewitz to the hauptbahnhof here in leipzig under gloomy grey skies threatening a few drops of rain, but the ground remained unfrozen, and the winter wind only blowing cool. i followed the trainlines a short ways northwest til the skyline of dresden loomed on the horizon, the schloss, the frauenkirche; all bathed in the muted winter half-light. til, finally the trainlines bore us in a southerly direction and into the heart of bohemia, it’s majestic captial; the city of praha.
it was early afternoon when i stepped wearily out onto the platform and made my way down to the main concourse of praha hlavní nádraží; its sights now becoming wonderfully familiar to me. i set about fixing myself some czech koruna, a fresh bottle of water and my ticket to plzeň, before stepping outside to take in the mild wintry city air from one of the benches sitting on the small strip of parkland bordering washingtonova. how weary i felt from the long journey out of sachsen, but how glad i was to find myself once again in this beautifully romantic land, filled with such treasures and wonders; always just waiting to be uncovered.

i boarded the plzeň service in the late afternoon and watched the bohemian landscapes stretch out before me as i headed west along the line, even catching glimpses of two sets of deer couples frolicking in the fallow fields together, until the sun quickly began to set and dusk began to bathe the landscapes in a swift and steadily descending darkness. but how perfectly warm and cosy the carriage was and how friendly my fellow compartment passengers were. we followed the line all the way to plzeň and disembarked at the beautifully-crafted hlavní nádraží, its architecture hinting at the marvels of this ancient city; only serving to remind me how glad i was to return.
the mighty jan sinko from the místní borci crew was poised to collect me from the station and how it was only a short walk to the location, a walk which took us passed the now demolished old theatre, an empty lot waiting to be turned into luxury apartments or a shopping mall most-likely; a tragic blow to the city center. still, how we pressed onwards and arrived at the very cool pohoda music club, slung low deep within the basements of a bigger complex of perhaps three or four bars and clubs. but, embedded deep within the confines of this safehouse the rest of the world seemed like a million miles away.

the earl grey was soon brewing, stage preparations being made, two dogs were running wildly throughout the bar and all was very much in order. after some short while things were made even more comfortable with the arrival of the wonderful at bona fide family, their benelux counterparts at the later-to-be-staggering odeur de violettes. with the whole gang assembled and the guests arriving in droves it was clearly almost time for the evenings entertainment to begin; once a little backstage sustenance had been devoured, naturally.
benelux took to the stage first and quickly revealed a well-crafted line of what could possibly be described as ‘surf-gaze’; a fine blend of elements that had me think of east bay rays‘ guitar lines for early dead kennedys, of velvet underground inspired noise-action, all being held together by a warm field of indie and shoegaze vibes which all melded to create a splendid whole. i had previously been told of their work, but how it was certainly a delight to hear it for the first time being issued at a megalithic volume within the confines of this small underground cavern.

to the best of my understanding odeur de violettes is one girl, that goes by the name of laví, who performs a very stunning line in super-heartfelt acoustic singer-songwriter material, and is very much in control of what she is doing. her first order of business was to refuse playing on the main stage through the sound system and rather performing acoustic in the relative quite of the fussball antechamber. at first just a few of us huddled together to hear her curious magic, but by the end of the set almost the whole club was squeezed into this tight room and marveling at her stunning pieces. truly magical indeed, and well worth investigating.
before too long, at bona fide were ready to take to the stage, and how it was an event i had been anticipating for some long while. zuzka, their bass-player, was my first connexion in ostrava on my first tour to the czech republic and how i have come to be very good friends with the ostrava family, but had long had to wait til there was a chance to get to see them perform their own fantastic music, and how it truly was a delight indeed. just massive, massive waves of full-noise-field-shoegaze; truly epic in every possible way, and managing to drown us in velvet’s noise work-outs as well us bathe us in shimmering dream-pop waves en route; thoroughly excellent work indeed. still, how even-luckier i was to be able to join them onstage for one song before beginning my own performance; magical times indeed.

how i must also take a moment to say how much of a pleasure it was to perform, to audition some of the songs from my new album for the first time, and to have such a warm audience listening keen in attendance. still, with the live music concluded it was time to start the serious process of drinking long into the early hours. luckily, for my part, the earl grey kept flowing and how i was treated to a host of wonderful conversations, not least of all with the enchanting miss katie elznicova; the singer, guitarist and songwriter behind the very amazing manon meurt, an upcoming plzeň dream-pop / shoegaze band who have already had the pleasure of supporting my bloody valentine for their recent praha show. our introduction came by way of the very wonderful miss vendula skalková and how the rest of the evening was spent discussing music, the arts, life and all therein; a thoroughly fascinating conversation within the chaos of the ever-maddening bar.
still, how ‘the end‘ came very literally in the form of the doors being played on the sound system. we all ferried our was out into the very early morning hours, yet how the city still seemed to be a blur of activity; late night bars with folk still spilling in and out of them, the buses and trams clattering and droning along the main-streets. slowly our number began to splinter as we began to bid each other farewell for the evening, some with plans for sleeping, some with plans for more drinking. for my own part i wandered to the quiet of our sleeping location with zuzka, to join the others that had retired previously and to get some precious sleep before the excitement of the new day dawned.

i awoke around midday, wrapped in my sleeping bag, on the floor of a kitchen in a second or third floor apartment. most of the gang were nowhere to be seen, but zuzka and a couple of other late-risers were still on the scene, and how, after a quick tea, we gathered ourselves up to head out into the afternoon, to re-commune with the others and find ourselves a little something to eat. the day was relatively mild still as we walked down towards the old square, connected with half of the rest of our team at the foot of the towering katedrála sv. bartoloměje before walking on to a nice cosy pub to meet the rest of our number and take some much needed lunch, and start to think about making our way by car to the next location.
how it had been a really wonderful, crazy, chaotic night indeed, and how i must take a moment to send so much thanks to everyone involved and everyone who made it down. so much love to the mighty jan, petr and the místní borci crew for arranging such a magical event, the whole pohoda crew for making us feel so welcome in their magical venue; standa, ráďa, and all those names i didn’t get to learn, vojta for handling the sound so well, the awesome benelux, odeur de violettes and at bona fide for the wonderful music, matěj hošek for his awesome photography, and extra-special thanks to vendula and katie for the wonderful conversations. sending all the love, and here’s to next time indeed.
next field report : under a wintry full moon