Geoff Berner
 
 
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Dear Everybody, I write to you as I prepare to host the Apocalympic Cabaret in Vancouver on Saturday, and then fly out to Norway the very next day. Hectic but glamorous.

I really just can't wait to see everybody in Norway, and finally finally get to bring Wayne Adams and Diona Davies, who play on all my albums. We'll be able to play the songs as they're meant to be heard, in an atmosphere of wild drunken abandon in a cozy, packed bar. Be careful, because the Oslo shows last year sold out in advance. Here's the facebook event page for the tour:

This jaunt culminates with a major klezmer festival in Germany, and a major artistic event for me: The Fuerth Klezmer Festival is a pretty big deal--over a week of music by the heavy hitters of klezmer. And our night, we're doing a big collaborative performance with my friends Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, and Nayekhovichi. Nayekhovichi and Dan Kahn I consider my cohorts in what Dan has coined the "Klezmer Bund", something of a movement of overtly political, pretty hard-drinking, punk-inspired klezmer players. The performance on the 12th, we'll play separately, and as dual collaborative bands, and in the finale we'll be a giant Klezmer Bund 3-Headed Monster. You'll be hearing more about the Klezmer Bund in the future, I think.

Are you aware? The Olympics are here in my home town. Oddly, except for right downtown, there hasn't been as much disruption to everyday life as we thought there'd be. Stores are open but not packed. The airport is manageable. Traffic is not much worse than usual. There's more Canadian flags on people's houses and shirts, which of course always bothers me a bit, since the thing I've always been proud of as a Canadian is our lack of overt patriotism. But I have a feeling that won't last more than a few days after the games. Less, if the Canadian men's hockey team doesn't get a gold medal.

I must say, it's all a bit anti-climactic.

I went to the big demonstration on opening day. It was rather heart-warming. I saw so many lovely people I hadn't seen in a while. I wandered through the crowd, re-connecting with old friends from lefty politics and commenting on the growth of old friends' kids. The police showed remarkable restraint, for police. I think it was smart for the protest organizers to put the First Nations Elders at the front of the parade, riding their electric scooters like a tank division of wisdom in the vanguard of our cause. I think that protected us.

We rolled on up to the Terry Fox Memorial, where it's known that every Summer Solstice, a secret group of Chilliwack farmers sacrifices a 3-legged dog in order to ensure a bountiful harvest.

A division of police were waiting for us, on horseback. The crowd chanted, "Get those animals off of those horses!" but it failed to rouse the cops, who looked a little sleepy and bored.

Then it started raining and we went home, having borne witness to the wrongness of all this bizarre excess in hard times, and having made ourselves feel less alone in the feeling that we are not Catching The Pride and Excitement of this Celebration of Excellence, which the commercial Canadian media hammers at you to feel as hard as any 1979 issue of Pravda ever could.

The next day, some young people dressed in black, some of whom I believe I knew, smashed the windows at the Bay department store, where the Olympics merchandise was on display. The police arrested a few of them. Some people called them cowards, because they hid their faces from police cameras. They were outnumbered by the cops by a 3-to-1 ratio, the cowards. Everyone talked about how they were giving us protesters a bad name, because supposedly, regular TV-watching people are too dumb to tell the difference between peaceful marchers and window-smashing anarchists. Umm, I guess so. Anyway, the way we say we believe things go here in Canada, everybody has a right to a proper legal defense, so hopefully some of the money we raise at the Cabaret will help defend some of those, uh, cowardly kids.

Oh, by the way, after we spent a billion dollars on security, a harmless madman with no organization behind him, carrying a home-made fake pass that said "ALL ACCESS", was able to get within about 5 meters of the Vice President of the United States. But we don't even get a discount on our security costs for it!

In March, after the Games are over, the government will unveil its new budget. They will announce that the deficit is much bigger than they thought it would be (gasp!) and that further significant cuts to health, education and social spending will be necessary. Plans for housing the homeless may have to be delayed for a while. That's my psychic prediction. Of course, for now, both federal and provincial governments are bravely choosing to only talk about Catching the Excitement. The closing of surgery in the town of Trail, and one third of Prince George schools, among other things, will be discussed later, when the World Isn't Watching anymore.

I've done a number of interviews lately with Canadian and Norwegian media, where they've asked me if I hate sports. Yup. My whole family was killed by a truck full of ski equipment when I was a child, and it scarred me for life. That's why I'm against the Olympics. My secret's out.

Oh, the Inanity! Let's have a real party, and have some fun, dammit!

The Apocalympic Cabaret might just be one of the best parties you ever go to. Burlesque! Magic! Music! Theatre! Booze! Accordions! Special Guests! And nobody's profiting a dime from it. It's all for the good people at PIVOT legal society. These are the folks who set up the Red Tent protest during the games, protesting the tripling of homelessness here since we won the Olympic bid.

Late additions to the show include a look-in by my pal Jason Webley from Seattle--songwriter, madman and co-discoverer of those fabulous singing conjoined twins, Evelyn Evelyn.

And Brad Cran, Vancouver's Official (no, really, actually Official) Poet Laureate, who bravely refused to perform at any of the Olympic events, because the Vancouver Olympic Corporation insisted that he sign a contract that said:

"The artist shall at all times refrain from making any negative or derogatory remarks respecting VANOC, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement generally, Bell and/or other sponsors associated with VANOC."

So in order to play OUR event, I'll be insisting he sign a contract with this clause:

"The artist shall at all times refrain from sounding like a commercial for the Olympics, any sponsors associated with VANOC, or jingo-ism in general. So there."

Thanks sooooooo much to the folks at Neworld Theatre for putting this together!

IMPORTANT CORRECTION:
Many people wrote in about Wayne and Diona's encounter with the Danish Nazis. As I mentioned, I was safely drinking in the bar while all this happened. So my account was a 2nd-hand memory, and I got something quite wrong in the account:

Wayne points out that he didn't get sucker punched in the chest. He was pushed from behind with what felt like a forearm, in an obvious provocation of a fight. It was forceful and really caught him by complete surprise.

I think this is significant, because while it's one thing to have someone strike you, it's another thing to get struck essentially out of nowhere, blindsided. Attacking a guy like that is particularly more cowardly, more even than the version I reported before. I do try to record things as they really were as best I can, so I apologize for that lapse

 

Here are the dates.  Remember, you can buy the CD at your local independent record store, or download the album at zunior.com http://www.zunior.com  .
 
Okay, so here are the shows, below. You might note that I've got my first real New York dates coming, plus a nice tour of the UK right after. Looking to punch in a little more action in the North, if that can be swangled. I like Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, and I would miss them if I missed them.

Saturday, Feb 27 - Vancouver, BC - Apocalympic Cabaret at the WISE Hall
Advance Tix at Highlife, Red Cat, and Zulu Records.

NORWAY DRUNK AND DANCING TOUR
with Diona Davies and Wayne Adams
CONTACT VENUES FOR SHOWTIMES, WHICH ARE A BIT EARLY SOMETIMES.

March 3 - Trondheim - Familien

March 4 - Oslo - MIR, with Lasso (elastique)
March 5 - Oslo - MIR, with Lasso (elastique)
Pre-sale tickets on sale at MIR

March 6 - Bergen -Victoria Bar, with Pål & hans fantastiske djup-psykologiske ubalanse!
Get there early! Show starts at 8pm!
Pre-sale tickets available at the bar.

March 7 - Stavanger - Cementen

March 8 - Kristiansand - TrashPop / Charlie's Bar

March 10 - Arendal - Munkehaugen Kultursenter

March 12 - FUERTH KLEZMER FESTIVAL
with Wayne Adams and Diona Davies
Peformance with Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, Nayekhovichi.

NYC/UK TOUR
More Dates TBA

April 12 - Brooklyn - Barbes, with Michael Winograd

April 15 - New York - Fatbaby, with Michael Winograd

April 25 - Hastings, UK - TBA

April 28: London - The Green Note in Parkway Camden, with Swill from The Men They Couldn't Hang

April 29: Croydon - The Green Dragon

April 30 - Brighton - The Cowley Club

May 2-5 - Belfast - Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

May 6: Sheffield - The Grapes, with the Silver Darlings

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