Lord Mouse reflects on our latest tour to the south of France.
Every August, the 17 piece calypso band pack into two vans and begin their long drive to the south of France for two weeks to share their special brand of music and enjoy the wine, food and weather.
Now, before we begin the story, I must remind you that I do not keep a journal, take photos, or tweet. This little story is from my memory, which is incredible. Not incredible in that I can remember anything, but remarkable in the sense that it underlies the strange world I inhabit. But I am not making anything up here, it’s just me and my withered brain.
Our first port of call was really out in the sticks, a throw-together gig in the middle of the week that our buddy J.C. found us. The audience, comprised of farmers, mechanics, housewives and teenagers, looked at us as though we were circus freaks escaped from a local psychiatric ward. I was tired on arrival, and pulled out the last dregs of my power to pull the show off. I then got drunk and slept in the fireplace. (It was a hot August night, don’t worry.)
Packing out of that town, we made our way inland from the sea, heading towards a spot north of Toulouse. Our buddy Jean-Paul lives there, and had booked us some nice shows. We rested at his place for a few days, getting back some energy and relaxing in general, some swimming or walking in the nature, others opting to stay back and entertain Jean-Paul with drinking and telling stories.
I had decided before we left that I would focus more on my health this time. I am generally noted for being particularly hard on myself. I have a difficult time sleeping, for example, and basically have no appetite. Beer tends to make up for my lack of food, and cigarettes for my lack of sleep. But this time I decided I was going to eat, and at least attempt to sleep. So anyway, I was looking forward to a healthier few weeks.
I was feeling fit when we packed off to the tiny village of Luxey, a small town that transforms into a massive festival, Musicalarue, for the long weekend. We were scheduled to play two nights. Our first show went well, even though our stage was too small for the band, and the acoustics couldn’t handle our sonic onslaught.
Once again, at the catering area, the few vegans and vegetarians in our band began to call foul, while the meat-eaters cheered up. This would be the basic gastronomic reality of our tour in France. These people do not understand the concept of living life without meat. Now, I don’t care about food, but I did feel sorry for the vegetarians, who were staring sadly into their plates. A bit of rice, a small salad, and a huge empty spot taking up the other two-thirds, the place where the meat was meant to go.
The next night, we played the main stage. We rocked it so hard that there was a dust storm from the dancefloor. It covered the entire center area of the festival. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Luckily we had the next day off, because I was caughing up large black chunks of festival for days afterwards, which is a real pain in the ass when you are a singer.
After chilling for a few days at Jean-Paul’s place we headed out to Sète, a lovely little coastal town near Montpellier, on the Mediterranean, were we played directly on the beach. Unfortunately, we arrived at exactly sunset. What I didn’t know was that the place becomes a mighty cloud of mosquitos during sunset. Now I was spared the massacre. The others were not as lucky. Strangely, the little buzzing bastards preferred French blood, covering our french collegues Stéphane and Benoît with a trillion angry little bumps. They also seem to like females. The show was fine and we spent the night drinking and looking at the stars over the water, the full moon was large and dark red, casting an eerie reflection over the sea.
The next day we travelled to a gorgeous blue lake, and I even went into the water, although I must admit it was more to clean myself than to swim. For as much as the others enjoy the sport, I prefer sitting on the beach with a cold drink and a smoke. We played on a nice stage overlooking the lake that night and the audience was friendly and accomodating.
I’m sure that I’ve forgotten some shows, most likely, too, I’ve put the shows that I do remember in the wrong order. I’ve forgotten the names of the towns we’ve played. I’ve most likely left out parts of the trip that the others would find memorable. My bandmates will undoubtedly question my sanity, but that is nothing new.
Our drive home was smooth. As every year, as soon as we hit the German border and entered into Freiburg, the sky went black with rain and the temperature dropped into the low 20s. I fished my jacket out of my bag, turned in the sunglasses, and replaced my flip-flops for shoes. The trip was officially over.