Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9 shows in 9 days. I’m a certifiable now…

Italy Italy Italy

Had a stellar time here.  First show of 9 we played in a small club in Italy.  They dig the blues brothers.  This is one of the table tops. 

The owner was a sweetheart and the audience went bananas.  People were really listening and getting into it – dancing too.  We were lucky – there was a great birthday party there.  We were playing for folks in their 20s.  Beautiful people.  They had never heard of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.  Wow.  We are not the center of the universe in the US.

Before the gig, we hung out in Trento, a small but beautiful city.  The politics may be absolutely crazy and corrupt here, but Italy, without fail, is Italy. 

The coffee, the food and the sound of the language lived up to my expectations.  They do take coffee to another level.

And they have interesting gum:

and even more interesting guitars.

Gig #2 was at Steinegg Blues festival.  Although Steinegg is in Italy, it is, for all intensive purposes, Austrian.  Just an hour north of Trento, this area of Italy is called Sud Tirol – not very Italian at all, except for the excellent coffee.   Most of the people speak German.  Before WWI, it was Austrian but the Austrians had to give it up after the war.  War, what it is good for.  The people would rather be part of Austria now and I suppose I understand why.  Better social services!  i.e. we waited a good 45 minutes to an hour at the post office to send a package in Italy.  Just a small microcosm of how things seem to operate most of the time here. 

It is staggeringly gorgeous here.  I missed my hub and dog, but I loved taking in the scenery and playing music.  Being in the moment – really pays off.  It is something I am trying to pay more attention to in this life and yes, it works.


Of course, it never hurts to get to know the local royalty too!

The Steinegg Blues Festival is pretty fabuloso.  I am very honored to have been a part of this festival.  Some incredible artists have played here and the folks who run the venue do it for the love of the music – not for money.  Seriously, they work for free.  They only have a few concerts, so when they do, they do it up and promote it to the hilt.  We had a sold out show..  Wonderful audience.  Quite a memorable night.  Check out the festival here: http://www.riegler.it/steinegglive/

The chickens seem content in Steinegg too – they can walk around a bit, but, their fate is ultimately not so happy – not sure if you can see the guillotine-ish blade on the stone…That  rooster is headed right for it.  Talk about ol' skool!

There’s something very magical in Italy – I’ve been there a few times and no matter where I’ve been, I always feel that.  As soon as you cross the border back into Austria, it’s different.  Austria is great too, just not Italy. 

After Italy, we drove to the next gig in Switzerland.  Audience response couldn’t have been more different.  They were very quiet.  I got the feeling they didn’t like the music but I was completely wrong -- folks stayed for both sets, were very enthusiastic about getting the new cd, and the promoter invited us back.  Amazing what a few hours distance does to change people.

From Switzerland, we went to Rottweil. Germany, birthplace of the Rottweiler dog.

And then Vienna.  What a beautiful city.  And the venue, Reigen, was great.  Super sound, super nice promoter, great hotel and Viennese coffee at the Museum Quarter.


Vienna has changed since the last time I was here six years ago.  They have a health food store where they sell, you guessed it, American Cookies 

And of course, I found my favorite hang: the hund zone aka dog park! 

Last gig was at the “Rockhouse” in Salzburg.  Excellent venue.  Since the band is based in Salzburg, it is always our last show and it is always bittersweet for that reason.  There’s a video clip here of one of the tunes. http://www.meinbezirk.at/salzburg-stadt/kultur/ann-klein-and-band-in-concert-in-der-rockhouse-bar-salzburg-d948682.html

As soon as I got back to NYC I had three rehearsals and two gigs, one of them in Maryland.  The gigs couldn’t be more different!  One was a rockin blues gig at Hill Country and the one in Maryland was pretty straight ahead pop/country gig where I played only mandolin.  The gear switching has been very intense. 

Now as I sit here in my apartment, absolutely exhausted, reflecting back on it all, it seemed so large in that moment.  And all those moments, now gone, are memories!  I have a couple of days to recoup before the next bunch of events – again, all very different projects.  But I hope to see some folks on May 28 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 where I will be doing an acoustic show.

And yes, they had an accordion festival in Salzburg, which makes me question everything now!

xx, ak

Sunday, April 27, 2014

White Asparagus has arrived!

White Asparagus mission – accomplished.  Here’s the proof.  It was served with Zander fish, fresh out of the Lake of Constance, which is one of the largest lakes of Austria (and is also shared by Switzerland and Germany).

We have been blessed with fantastic weather, beautiful mountains and an abundance of good food, flowers and very friendly people.  Hung out with some real Austrian hippies too.  They even had the VW bus all hooked up at the venue, which was in the middle of a farm, by the way.   Yep, they have hippies here and wow can they party. 

  There’s snow on the mountains, but it has been very warm and sunny.  This has been my view.

This was my front yard, just outside my hotel.  I don’t feel so bad about getting cheese from this area.  The cows seem pretty content.  Wish It was this way all over the world.  

Of course I  had to visit the local cheese shop – what a beautiful store this was.  Bought some vacuum packed  12 month bergkase (mountain cheese) to bring home.  


The shows are going well – we’re selling lots of cds, signing posters, making friends. The language barrier is a little difficult sometimes, but they seem to get the stories and love the music.  They love the blues here – so as a guitarist, this is good for me, but they are really digging the mandolin as well.

Tomorrow we will start recording the “blues” cd in Salzburg.  Even Austrians get the blues...but love em!  especially because of this:


til next time.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


April 24,

Salzburg, Austria

.The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity.  I got off the plane and we started rehearsing immediately after a nice strong coffee.  Pretty intense. 

The hills really are alive with the sound of music in Salzburg.   Most notable moment:  Waking up in the morning and hearing an orchestra of birds chirping.  And then there was the cat fight in the middle of the night.  That was fun too.

Austria is a truly beautiful country.  I always feel very hopeful here – if any country got through a hotbed of hell, Austria would have to be high up on the list.  Remember Hitler?  Born here in a small town called Braunau. 

Now, Austria boasts having good roads, good schools, long leaves of absences for new mothers (I think it’s a year!!!) healthcare, a growing variety in food choices, etc.  The food is so fresh here too and prepared with a lot of care.  There’s a new Thai place right across the street from Rockhouse, (a killer venue, which also has rehearsal rooms).  There wasn’t any Thai food here six years ago  The joint is a little hole in the wall, but it was fantastic.  Good coffee and good Thai food?  That’s all I need! 

But let’s talk about the WHITE ASPARAGUS.  It is in season NOW.  I haven’t had any yet, but it’s going to happen – any minute now.  I can feel it.


And it is so clean here .  One of the best things:  the water.  Straight from the mountain.  Fantastic.

As much as I love that we get free rehearsal time, I find the pictures on the walls of the room a little disconcerting.  Zappa sitting on the can just doesn’t do much for me and neither do the heavy metal posters.

We had our first gig in Linz last night and I saw a lot of familiar faces.  I almost cried on stage – I had to do everything in my power not to.  It means a lot to me to come back here and be able to do this after a six year break – having been here at least 12 times.  I often wondered if I would ever get to do it again.  And there I was in Linz, with folks who have come to every show I ever did there, bought every cd, knew some of the lyrics, listened to stories.  Wow…  I don’t care what all the self help books in the world say, one can’t help but feel validation when someone likes your music. 

Thank you Oostereich!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Perfect NY Sunday

Went to a reading by my good friend Sari Botton today at Housing Works on Crosby Street.  Sari is an extremely gifted writer and I do whatever I can to support her.  It’s a breath of fresh air to attend an event that involves a friend that isn’t music related (although I love going to see my friends play music as well). The topic was essentially NY apartment nightmare stories.

I tried my hand at film making!  Well, I am exaggerating, but I did film her reading with an app on my phone called 8 millimeter and it has a lot of fun filters to play with.   I heard that part of “Searching for Sugarman” was filmed on a phone using this app, but admittedly I can’t verify that.  Anyway, I used the “70s” filter.  It was a great reading:  here it is: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ch55zffr6karpxx/IMG_2251.MOV

In other news, all the artwork for the new cd is done and promotion for the tour in Europe has started.  One of the venues, Kulturforum Weissenbach, posts a picture of me almost every day and tags me in the post.  I must seem EXTREMELY narcissistic.  But it’s not me posting…  Really, it’s not!

I feel like I’ve been given a 2nd chance with this tour/new cd.  The cd was made possible by a grant from the Chengzong Foundation.  Look it up, pretty cool (http://www.czfoundation.org/)  This foundation has given support mostly to schools but is now branching out to artists.  In addition to the grant, the founder of the Chengzong Foundation took a film class and made a documentary about me for his class, which is pretty good!  I’ll post that soon.  I can’t believe how lucky I am to have received these gifts.  When I was half way through finishing the cd, I called my European agent (Peter Walser) and said it was time to do another tour.  It had been seven years since I was last there.  And he agreed. 

We have about 15 shows booked plus a few workshops.  Peter and the label over there (Sowiesound) want to record a blues cd with me and the two guys I’ll be touring with, Klaus Kircher (bass) and Robert Kainar (drums).  I can’t express how lucky I feel to have these opportunities.  I’ve been playing guitar and mandolin for a lot of other folks and subbing on Broadway. I love doing that and hope to be able to continue.  But it is quite an honor for someone to say, “we like your tunes, we want to market you as a guitarist, etc.”  After seven years, it’s a huge honor.

In preparation for the tour, I’ve purchased “throat coat”.  The minute I land we start rehearsing and the tour/recording schedule is pretty intense.  I might have a day off in three weeks…I have to really take care of myself, particularly my voice.

Ok, that’s enough for now.  Time to walk the dog.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I've been slow in my acceleration into the future.  To quote Steve Miller, "time keeps on slippin...into the future."  Trying to keep up!

I've been so busy dealing with new cd issues, learning a ton of new material and taking care of my dog that I just have not been able to keep the blog thing together.

Last night I played with Bad News Barnes and the Brethren of Blues at Hill Country with my favorite folks in the world:  Bette Sussman, Rich Mercurio, Lee Nadel, Tabitha Fair and of course Chris Barnes who is a maniac in the best way possible.  It was a true hoot and holla.  Not to mention, that even though I don't eat meat, the sides at Hill Country are pretty slammin...

What has become clear to me is that the blues seems to be tracking me down!

I play in Chris' band, (and am a co-writer on some of the original tunes) AND, when I go on tour in Austria in two weeks, we're going to spend three days to record a blues cd.  I'm picking out the material now and it is sooooooo much fun.  Yesterday I learned Kissin in the Dark by Memphis Minnie.  Hilarious.  Got some Ma Rainey in there.  Great stuff!  Gonna do a mandolin version of a Bonnie Raitt tune -- I hope it works out.

When I return, I have two more gigs with Chris -- May 16 at Hill Country and June 28 at a Blues Festival in Mystic, CT.  Mystic CT!!! I used to go there on field trips when I was a kid.  I'm so psyched about this...

lastly, I'm also playing mandolin and singing with Risa Binder -- no guitar!  April 16 and May 16.She's not blues, but she's country.  Blues but major...for all you muso types.

This seems so self-promoty and it's really strange, but, bottom line is, I'm really just so excited about it all and quite determined to keep it all going as much as I can.  There's nothing I love more than music and playing with my friends.  Nothing!  My time here on this planet is really short,  so, I'm committed to keep music alive and kicking through every fiber of my body and soul.  It'll either kill me or extend my life.  What an experiment!

Til next time...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ol' School no more

I am slow to embrace new technology.  About six years ago, back in ancient times, I didn't want a cell phone, but my husband made me get one.  He said, "You cannot be a working musician and be a luddite."   Now, I cannot believe that I could be so stubborn. So, to start, I am going to make this very brief as I get the hang of this thing and drag myself into the future.  Because it is in fact now.

testing one two three