We started our trip to California 10th of May. Our flight departure was around 11 am and we had to fly for eleven ours to get from Amsterdam to San Francisco.
Since I never flew that long, I really enjoyed this trip. I never saw Greenland, Canada or the Hudson Bay from ten kilometres above with a temperature of -60 degrees Celsius.
The American government nowadays has new restrictions towards foreign visitors that travel to the USA. Airport officers took our digital fingerprints and a photo. We even had to fill out a form that explained what especially we were going to do in the States, where we were going to stay and for how long.
Very funny was the part where one has to answer yes or no if one's a terrorist !?!
On our way to the youth
hostel at Market Street/ Civic Center we had a few minutes to relax in the metro
and Jacek offered everyone a cookie. A young man sat between us, he also got
a cookie from Jacek. Recognizing that we speak German, he said "A German
that's what I was looking for the whole day." We answered that
those cookies were actually Dutch and that we live in Arnhem/Netherlands.
And sometimes, maybe by chance something like this is the answer: "Jullie komen uit Arnhem? Ik kom uit Nijmegen (10 min from Arnhem by car)!"
Of course we laughed a lot. His name was Klaas and he told us about another emigrant from Nijmegen who came to California years ago. His name was Peter Van Kleef, an owner of a live music club in Oakland which was on the other side of the bay bridge. We took their addresses, not knowing what they were good for in the following days.
As soon as we arrived we went to a supermarket to get some cheap food for the next days. I was very excited what an
American supermarket would look like.
Inside the super market I saw a young women looking very much like squatters do in the Netherlands and Germany. She told me her boyfriend was putting up gigs and free shows in the bay area. Together they were doing a monthly newsletter with free show dates published in it. She gave me one and her telephone number. There was a free punk fest somewhere in a park on Friday and Saturday where we might get the chance to play at.
We got up at about 10 am. I drank my first American coffee and I have to admit that this coffee has nothing to do with the coffee European people are used to drink.
Anyway, on this day we wanted to make promotion, sightseeing, looking up the Internet, some flyers and even the library of SF to find more magazines or small clubs in which we could promote the band and maybe find a club to play.
On our way through San Francisco we walked no 20 meters without sticking one of our band stickers somewhere.
We got some nice impressions from SF while walking up and down the hills near the Buena Vista Park and Haight & Ashbury. The highlight of the day was definitely the big record shop AMOEBA MUSIC. It seemed as if you could buy there every album known to man. We left a promo cd and a band info there. Jacek even asked somebody from the store if it would be possible to play there. But we had no luck.
We spent the afternoon at the Golden Gate Park, one of the places that are known in the whole world since the Hippie Generation celebrated love & peace in the 1970's.
We figured out that the only club for us to get a gig at, must be the one in Oakland that Klaas told us about in the metro. We called the owner by phone and fortunately he invited Jacek for a drink.
He must have had a good
impression of Jacek because he invited the whole band to play there the following
day. We were lucky as hell to get a gig organized in such a short time.
After a few hours relaxing we went on giving away our stickers and promo-cd's in different shops and clubs.
We spent our last morning
in SF with writing postcards to friends all over the world.
For the rest of the day, we decided to split up. Jacek went on to make promotion, the rest of us went to see Fisherman's Wharf and the famous cable car.
While putting flyers and stickers everywhere I heard some loud guitar sounds coming out of a doorway. I went inside and found myself in a big rehearsal place, spoke to several bands such as THE GRANNIES who planned to tour Europe in June and exchanged addresses and promo material with them. I also gave a lot of stickers to some people who wanted to spread them around the city.
In the late afternoon we met again at the youth hostel and went to Oakland by metro. The bar, Café van Kleef, reminded us of bars or pubs we are used to have in the Netherlands and Germany. It was quite small and there was a lot of old requisites from movies such as the gloves of Rocky, some weird statues, and they even had Austrian draft beer. We played about 40 minutes and in a more experimental way. Many songs with improvisation. The club was half full and we had a good feeling about the audience liking it. Peter Van Kleef, "de bas van dit kroeg" was very fond of the music and the fact that this band comes from the region where he had grown up.
Later this evening, a guy named Vaughn showed up in the bar. He was a radio Dj, working for a Berkley Pirate radio station, who wanted CD's with JAG music to play it on air.
Yet there still was something to do in terms of promotion that night. In the train from Oakland to San Francisco someone told us about the Saloon, a live music club in a city district called North Beach. Although it was quite late and I wouldn't have a long night rest I decided to go there and see what it is.
I took the night bus and I think it's great thet it costs only one dollar for using busses all night long. I went there and met someone showing me some places where live music was played and you can find some artists. In one of these small clubs it was said that Stevie Ray Vaughan recently had played there. At the Saloon it was free entrance and I considered the Blues Rock band on stage as not bad so I left a CD and a band info at the bar. On my way home (by feet) I placed as much stickers as possible around there and checked in at my bed at about three o`clock in the morning.
FRIDAY, May 13th
That morning we left SF and went to Modesto. On the way to the Amtrak-station we could enjoy the beautiful site of San Francisco once more. Especially since the bus went over the great bay bridge.
After a two hours train trip we arrived in Modesto.
Before Anastasia Rego, one of the organizers of the festival, picked us up at the station it was an interesting feeling standing there in the middle of the Californian Central Valley with some corn fields and a lot of sand around us. A few hundred metres away we could see some houses. The sun was hot and the wind blew a soft breeze. We were sweating in the shadow of the white station building surrounded by this prairie impression.
That evening we went to the "MUSTANG-CLUB" to play our first show at the Central Valley Indie Fest. We were the headliner and the people liked us very much.
Afterwards we were invited to a private party. Too bad it got busted by the police just when we got there. So we went back to Anastasia's place and spent the night in one of her rooms.
SATURDAY, May 14th
Since it got pretty late the last night we slept in a little bit. The radio show we were supposed to do was deferred to Monday. So we didn't really have that much to do during the day. We went to eat some burritos, did some shopping and spent most of the time at the house, practising and relaxing.
Then at night we went to the "MUSTANG-CLUB" again to play our second show. That was still fun though, because the audience was different every night and we kept getting really good feedback. For the next day Stockton was planned.
It's the forth edition of that festival already and it was much fun. Lot's of people from very different directions (scene, musically) meeting, having a good time, hanging around, drinking a lot, enthusiastic about the bands playing, also the bands differed from each other in style, look and sound very much. It seemed like a melting pot of HC and Electro Pop, Noise Rock and Country, Singer-Songwriter. Also that day we met a photographer, Philip Johnson from Turlock, who offered to take pictures of us for free.
Monday 15th /Tuesday 16th
The next morning the photo shooting took place .The radio interview was postponed to a Saturday some weeks later by phone then. Phillip Johnson came to Anastasia's and Robbie's house to pick us up and drive to several locations to take photos. After that we went with Anastasia to the Fat Cat club in Modesto where this day's show would take place. When we arrived the first band had already started to play. As we were headliner there was some time left to organise the things needed to make also a good soundboard recording happen. Robbie had brought his 4-track recorder, which we connected to the soundboard to record four instruments on separate channels. The reactions of the audience to our show were very enthusiastic and some people went with our group to Anastasia's place and a restaurant to have a small party, get some food and later some sleep. I stayed awake all night long to work on the recordings we've made that evening and a few days earlier. Anastasia talked with me about organising a bigger tour for us in cooperation with more bookers around California. They've seen the band playing live and they'd like to do something with JAG in 2006. Phillip Johnson also came to bring us something: A cd with more than five hundred photos of the band he made during our photo session the day before. Just two hours later we were going to the airport of San Francisco. On our way we had the tasty experience of eating burritos at the famous Taco Trucks.
We're very glad about having visited the United States and having played our music there. With the help from the organisers of the CVI- festival, A Girl Hurts Productions and the Dutch NPI-Toursupport- this was made possible. We're very thankful for that.