As you may recall, Jeremy Mackinder, who has played bass in Whitey Morgan & the 78s, used to check in with us from the road with some entertaining and...educational...posts. Now he's playing with Deadstring Brothers (it's all relative over here at Bloodshot Records), who are on tour supporting their new album Cannery Row, out Tuesday 4/9. We'll be posting a few of his stories from overseas. Here he checks in with us to regale a tale from the Swedish road...
We in Deadstring Brothers are prone to bite off more than anyone should try to chew, and we certainly find a way to push through anything, but this was pretty extraordinary. After a hefty few months touring, we finished off a heavy SXSW schedule and rehearsing material with the band Deadman throughout SX so we could prepare for this Scandanavian tour. We took on the extra work of picking up our used/new-to-us Sprinter van for the rest of the year's tour schedule on our way back to Nashville from Texas. A roadside repair and three flights later we had accumulated 61 straight hours of travelling by the time we landed in Stockholm. Grueling.
The concept of this tour was put together some time ago and spearheaded by a mutual appreciation between Steven Collins of Deadman and (Deadstring frontman) Kurtis. We are playing our Deadstring Brothers set and also serving as backing band for Deadman. The two sets have enough in common to make sense together influence-wise and enough variety to them to keep it interesting for the audience. The whole thing was put together by Rootsy Live over here in Sweden, and three shows in, it's been a great success.
For those of us who have seen Deadstring Brothers since we started touring last year and spent some time with us, they would know that there is a long running inside-joke about us guiding this pirate ship around the world. Well, it seemed somehow appropriate that after a brief meeting and catch up session with Bjorn of Rootsy Live that we ran across the parrot pictured here. He didn't have much to say, but I think that was just a language barrior that we could have quickly overcome.
Every show is unique and the people have been wonderful the whole time. Steven and I were the only ones on the whole crew who had been here before, but we both agree that in each town there are similar experiences of the folks there being warm and appreciating music, especially American music. It's a great country.
That being said, when we went over the schedule, we both smiled and shared stories with everyone in the group about the promoter for our show in Bjursas. The venue is beautiful, on the side of a mountain looking down on the small town, breathtaking anytime of year. Jonas is the promoter; his enthusiasm for music might only be seconded by his love of of dancing and libations. He also happens to be the town Vicar.
Jonas is a great man, and he certainly takes all those who come around him under his wing. He had been instrumental in helping Deadman succeed as well as Steven has over here and was a big part of a festival that Steven was on called the Peace and Love which included them celebrating Levon Helm along with Deadman performing with Garth Hudson of The Band.
Jonas introduces each set (we start with Steven solo acoustic, then Deadstring Brothers, followed by all of us playing the Deadman material) with increasing enthusiasm and length each time. Its something the crowd obviously enjoys and is part of the whole experience they come to see there. It feels very religious, in a musical way. I only wish I knew what he was saying, but he assured me it was all positive and that they all remembered me from my boots (not my hair) from my previous visit there.
We finish the show, shake hands with everyone, sign many records and start packing up gear. We are giving Jonas a ride home so I sit and finish my whiskey with him and we share stories about our similar childhoods; about the importance of music, the ugliness of money, responsibilities, love, and general philosophy. I'm sure it was all profound, but I think I was laughing too hard to notice. On the ride home he told me that Deadstring Brothers and Deadman were to him the greatest kinds of music. That it was "powerful and punishing rock n' roll" and that it came for the great roots of country and soul. He was preaching to me about music as we came down from his mountain. It was powerful, moving and honestly uplifting. But most importantly, it was a hilariously great time on the side of a beautiful mountain in Bjursas, Sweden and I can only hope to return many times over.
All for now.