The last two nights we were privileged enough to play two amazing festivals. The first was in Avesta, Sweden, and it was part of a two-day event put on by the killer Rootsy promoters. The gig is held inside of a massive double-peaked teepee, where everything is draped in pelts and furs. There was an enormous bar and a mix of standing room and seating for what had to be one of the most fun crowds yet. I had my own set so I got to stretch out and play a longer show, which felt great. I love opening shows, but the shorter your set, the more challenging it can be to settle into the gig, develop an emotional arc, build that connection, etc. It was our last night with Joshua James and Timmy The Teeth, so it was a bittersweet goodbye at the end of the night, but worlds collided when our pal Aaron Lee Tasjan rolled into town. He's on tour for the great new record he put on New West called "Silver Tears,' and he was slated to play the festival the next night. Familiar faces in strange places go a long way to keeping you feeling connected, and it's always nice to have someone who's going through the same crazy shit that you are on the road to trade stories and speak English with.
The next morning we headed south to Gothenburg to play another festival with my old pals Shovels & Rope and Matthew Logan Vasquez from Delta Spirit. I took a nice walk around the city before the show with Matt, but more than anywhere we've played so far I wished I had more time to explore Gothenburg. Beautiful architecture, cool vintage trams, second-hand stores, it had everything. It was great catching up with Shovels & Rope and seeing how much their little girl has grown since I saw her last at the Green River Festival in June. The festival promoter, Kim, was an incredibly cool guy who puts on shows with Bon Iver, My Morning Jacket, Midlake, and all sorts of amazing artists at his venue. After the show, he took over the DJ booth and spun rockabilly and soul until 3am and had loads of young folks out on the dance floor tearing it up. Would love to see more of that in America.
Gotta take a minute to send a special thank you out to Emma from Eksjo, who not only was kind enough to cook for us and host us at her home in addition to taking me to the moose preserve, but also drove all the way to Gothenburg to reunite me with some belongings I left behind a few days earlier during my moose fever. She works with handicapped people and also volunteers with refugees, so for her to take time out of her busy days to help an absent-minded moose-loving musician who's a long way from home really meant a lot. We went out to breakfast in Gothenburg this morning, and while she taught me a lot about Sweden, she taught me even more about generosity and kindness at a time when my country is trying to turn its back on both of those things.
There's not a lot I can say about this Muslim Ban business that hasn't already been said. It's shameful, un-American, and nothing short of cruel. When people here ask me what the hell is going on, I really don't have an answer for them. All I know is that we've seen this happen before, this systematic, institutionalized discrimination based on race/ethnicity/religion. We know how this ends. Every time it's remembered as a black mark on history, a momentary loss of humanity. Whether you believe in Jesus or Karma or humanism or anything in between, few times in life are right and wrong so clearly defined, and I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters back home who have taken to the streets to put pressure on our country to live up to its ideals.
Anyway, after a lovely breakfast with Emma, I joined back up with The Mastersons and headed to the Nudie Jeans shop, where we got hooked up with some amazing denim (thank you, Nudie!) and hit the road for Malmo. Sweden's been so amazing and it's going to be hard to say goodbye.