TOUR DIARY: A Tube Inside Of A Tube Inside Of A Tube

Last night we wrapped up our Dutch journey in Utrecht with a show at the TivoliVredenburg. It's a massive nine-story arts complex the size of an entire city block that contains six or seven distinct venues, including classical concert halls and rock clubs of various sizes. The government in the Netherlands helps subsidize the arts, so even small cities can have the kind of state-of-the-art complexes (or at least above average venues) that will bring in artists from around the world. I've never seen anything quite like this place, though. It was situated right on the canal with a sweeping view of the skyline. We took a massive, lumbering elevator down to Floor -1 for dinner in the bustling commissary, where classical cellists ate next to sound techs and lighting gurus. The place was its own self-contained ecosystem, like the Death Star if it had been for artists instead of storm troopers. Before the gig, I taped a session for a Dutch website called The Influences, which features musicians performing their own songs as well as covers of tuness that have influenced them. I first became aware of it through my labelmate Robert Ellis's performance, so I was excited to be invited to perform. I broke out and arranged a brand new cover for the first time (stay tuned!), and then teamed up with The Mastersons on a joint performance of Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere." We've been ending the show every night with that one, each of us taking a verse and then all joining in on the chorus harmonies together.

After the gig, we drove nearly four hours to Calais, France, where we checked into the hotel just after 4am. I hesitate to call what we did there going to sleep. It was more like a nap. A few hours later, we were awake and back in the van, loading it onto a train that would take us under the English Channel through the Eurotunnel. There was a bit of claustrophobia to it (as The Mastersons pointed out, you're sitting in a tube that's loaded inside a tube that's traveling through another tube), but fortunately the whole thing only takes a half hour or so. After coming back above ground in Folkestone, England we rolled another 5 hours north across the countryside all the way to Leeds, where we'll play the first of 9 UK shows tonight.

Anthony D'Amato