Arts and Culture

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tour Diaries! Days Seven, Eight and Nine of the Marianne Dissard Euro Tour

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 4:18 PM

Day ​7​—May 28. Berlin: ​ At last, at last! We played a show tonight, the four of us finally reunited, Connor back from Cologne, Annie from rollerblading, me from my cave and Brittany from the ER. Earlier today, I went swimming in a small neighborhood lake with my Berlin friend Anne. We put down our towels on the grass. I stared for a long time at the baby ducks huddled under a tree by the water. The water was cold. Naked men and women walked and swam around. I got a bit of a sunburn. But back to the show. It went great, smooth, fun, wild and oh, we are happy. Connor commented how he had missed playing. He hates days off as much as I used to. I'm happy tonight, in a quiet way. 
Parts of the setlist and the intro / motto to our tour "Woman, Who's A Woman," lyrics by me with a composition by Naïm Amor. - MARRIANE DISSARD
  • Marriane Dissard
  • Parts of the setlist and the intro / motto to our tour "Woman, Who's A Woman," lyrics by me with a composition by Naïm Amor.

​Day ​8​—May 29. Berlin to ​Fulda​:​ ​I couldn't sleep last night after the show. Wired, restless, hungry, lonesome, tired, worried about the storm raging on the British harbor where my sailboat - home - is moored. In the morning, Anne brings us to her special lake for a swim. Brittany and I dip in while Connor and Annie find a spot away from the dozens of naked young and old sunbathers. The culture shock reaches peak level. 
Connor privately serenades an enormous and very slanted tree that Annie has climbed. - MARIANNE DISSARD
  • Marianne Dissard
  • Connor privately serenades an enormous and very slanted tree that Annie has climbed.

The afternoon is a long drive from Berlin south to Fulda. Tired, I get gloomy and a bit depressed, feeling lonelier and darker than at any point since the start of tour. Always happens after a great show and leaving friends behind. We stop for burgers at a picture-perfect chrome and vinyl booths replica of an American roadside diner. Some hours later, we park at last on the street of our AirBnB in Fulda. It's Big Trash Day in Fulda and the people of "our" street celebrate it with a communal sidewalk BBQ. We join in, eat sausages and drink beer on the street, discussing with these hardcore German hobbyists their collection of VW bugs and lowrider bicycles projects while Annie rollerblades our guitars and bags from the van to the safety of our rooms. I wish I had a photo of that.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In Defense of the Summer Blockbuster

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Is the latest Pirates film great cinema? No. But that doesn't mean you won't enjoy watching it. - WALT DISNEY COMPANY
  • Walt Disney Company
  • Is the latest Pirates film great cinema? No. But that doesn't mean you won't enjoy watching it.

What is there to say about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales that has not already been said? New York Times critic A. O. Scott called the flick “the perfect opposite of entertainment.” Ouch.

The movie is, technically, awful. The plot is—most definitely—garbage. And yet I found myself enjoying the film, despite the ridiculously over-long runtime of two-and-a-half hours.

To counter the opinion of Scott (or Mr. Scott in the style of the Times), I would contend movies in the vein of Pirates are meant to be enjoyed much like their theme park inspirations: with bells and whistles and in the company of family and friends.

Let me explain.

I attended a showing of Pirates on Memorial Day with my mom and her friend in Chandler, Arizona. Since I was visiting from out-of-town, my mother suggested we visit a new theater, Alamo Drafthouse.

It’s similar, I’m told, to RoadHouse Cinemas here in town.

Alamo is known for pioneering the “fork and screen” style cinema experience, where patrons can order a brew and some food to help with enjoying a rom-com or summer blockbuster.

The seats also recline, making for a viewing experience more akin to your home den than Harkins 10. Just like rides at Disneyland are similar-but-totally-superior to rides at the Pima County Fair, a movie at Alamo has the distinct feel of first class versus coach.

So maybe it was the good food. Maybe it was the three beers (more likely). But even after reading every legitimate movie critic skewer this Johnny Depp-paycheck machine, I came away thoroughly entertained.

This isn’t to say that Pirates or any other movie can’t be enjoyed at the local megaplex or the small-town cinema. There is definitely more to the equation than decent chicken wings.

After all, recliners and booze can only go so far. It wasn’t until a few hours later, after my buzz wore off, that I thought about why I enjoyed the experience so much. Admittedly, big, dumb blockbusters with no depth are not my idea of a good time.

Yet, I still laughed with my mom at all the dumb “horologist” jokes in the movie. We still marveled at the impressive action sequences.

I probably wouldn’t have done that had I attended by my lonesome. Sure the beer assisted in the enjoyment, but being with family brought out even more of my silly side.

What’s often lost by movie reviewers, who attend most screenings by themselves or with other critics, is the ability of movies to bring families and friends together for fun.

Who really cares if Depp mailed a performance in if you’re enjoying the experience with those whose company you value?

Far from being the opposite of entertainment, Pirates and movies like it offer the opportunity for families and friends to create real, lasting memories. That’s why as bad as it’s a small world is as a ride, you can’t stop talking about it.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tour Diaries, Day Five and Six of the Marianne Dissard Euro Tour

Posted By on Sun, May 28, 2017 at 9:58 AM

Day 5—May 26. Berlin : Annie bought some roller blades this morning and sends me a video of her feet slicing through the streets of Prenzlauer Berg and into a church. Don't you go breaking an arm now, guitar player! We're not done playing. Me? I'm playing it very safe on our second day off. I'm still reclusing in the posh west end of town. I've got to make use of that time to put the finishing touches to my first book, a memoir of addiction and recovery that I started writing three years ago. It tells the story of how, exhausted and lost from years of touring and a bad breakup, I escaped from Tucson to regain my health and sanity in Europe. I must have learned a thing or two since. Days off used to scare me. I'd be missing the adrenaline of performance so much that I would behave like a mad monkey chasing a swarm of bees. Today, though, is truly a (dirty) laundry day. In the evening, I emerge to meet with three dear friends at Café Einstein in Schöneberg. We girls - the German, the Italian, the Greek and me, the mutt - talk about love and other little lies. On the way back, we drive past the site of the Christmas Market 2016 terrorist attack. East and West, past and present, no matter how you slice it, Berlin is a stitch job well done.

Annie Dolan in Berlin with her new blades:

Also of Annie with her new blades in a church:

​Day 6—May 27. Berlin: I was looking forward to a day of reclusing again, needed to prepare for tomorrow's show at B-Flat on Alexanderplatz. Needed to work on the new songs I'd soon be singing with my "other" guitar player - the British one - in our hometown in Kent. But that didn't happen. Today, I kept both tour manager and friend hats screwed on. I meet Annie in Prenzlauer Berg for a morning Pilates class at Remedy Studio (motto: I love my body. It's an action. It's a feeling. It's a lifestyle). I was hoping she'd like the new experience.
Annie Dolan, Ami Garmon and Emily Ranford at Remedy Studio in Berlin - MARIANNE DISSARD
  • Marianne Dissard
  • Annie Dolan, Ami Garmon and Emily Ranford at Remedy Studio in Berlin

Afterwards, I help Ami, our teacher, an old friend and the studio owner, with flyering in the neighborhood. Brittany hasn't joined us. She has been coughing and running a fever since the start of tour and isn't getting better. She wants to go to a doctor now but, on a weekend, is better off going directly to the emergency room. I take her to Charité Mitte where we wait the customary four-plus hours. After a blood test and chest X-rays (stripping not a big deal here), the verdict falls. Viral. That's it. Nothing Brittany can do, really. The doctor asks if she wants codeine. She says no and we leave. We haven't seen a cashier. New nickname for Brittany: Elviral. Annie has been out rollerblading in the Tempelhof park. Me? No matter what I did today, I really only paid attention to the song looping under that tour manager hat of mine: the Gainsbourg/Birkin duo Je t'aime...Moi non plus. In a couple of weeks, I'll have to perform it, orgasmic spasms included for the UK audience. Yeah, I'm gonna have to prepare.
Brittany Katter after leaving the emergency room in Berlin - MARIANNE DISSARD
  • Marianne Dissard
  • Brittany Katter after leaving the emergency room in Berlin
Read the previous Marianne Dissard Tour Diaries entry here.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tour Diaries! The Second Entry (Day Four) of the Marianne Dissard Euro Tour

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 8:20 PM

Dissard imbibing on her day off. - ANNE PRESTING.
  • Anne Presting.
  • Dissard imbibing on her day off.
Day 4—May 25, 10 a.m.: I drive Connor to the McDonald's parking lot on the outskirt of Chemnitz. On our first day off, he's catching a car share ride - in a white convertible - to Cologne, a seven hours drive to reunite with his/our old Tucson buddy - and my first Europe tour drummer back in 2008 - Andrew Collberg who now lives in Germany. It's men's day, also known as father's day in Germany. Me and the girls checked out from the Chemnitz hotel at noon. At the first roundabout, three grown men standing in a circle in the middle of the street, peeing, just peeing on the ground and grinning, their flies down, their dicks dripping. We drive past in slow motion, looking at the flow of urine, the shoes wet, their faces red with laughter, alcohol and maybe what constitutes manhood. Further, men in bizarre costumes. Strange rituals. The town itself seems so sedate ordinarily. Is this how you cope with ordinary, once or twice a year? Pressure valve off. Today, 25 May, is a holiday in Germany - father's day - and we drive from Chemnitz to Berlin, then through Berlin with no traffic jams. Berlin feels empty, easy, enjoyable. I drop off the girls in Prenzlauer Berg with an old friend and escape to a refuge in nearby Charlottensburg, a century-old mansion in the woods. I finish my day lakeside with white wine, talks of illicit lovers and open love, fried sardines and watching boats swing by as the sun descends on the water. A day off. They don't usually go down that easy with me but I make it my duty to enjoy every minute of it. Tonight, I sleep in a bed where Howe Gelb slept not long ago. This is getting funny.

Read the previous Marianne Dissard Tour Diaries entry here.

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Tour Diaries! Vol. 1 Finds Tucson Songster Marianne Dissard Galavanting Across Europe, With Old Pueblo Star-Shiners Brittany Katter, Annie Dolan and (Special Guest) Connor Gallaher in Tow

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 11:12 AM

The Tucson Weekly blog is today launching an ongoing Tour Diaries series that will see Tucson artists keeping daily, er semi-daily, track of their on-the-road shenanigans, the dirt, the grime, the glory, the hangovers, the warts, maybe even the schtupping. We'll be asking all artists to tell it like it is. For the inaugural Tour Diaries, we present Marianne Dissard ... this first installment features the first three days of the tour.

Day 1—Monday, May 22: A blur already and we haven't yet started. This morning, as I made breakfast —as close to huevos rancheros as I can manage here, baguette for corn tortillas, I thought of a good first story for the tour blog I'd write that evening. As I doubled-down on black coffee, checking live updates for flight arrivals at Charles de Gaulle from my laptop, I swear I had the whole thing figured out. 
The bleary-eyed Tucsonans.
  • The bleary-eyed Tucsonans.

Twelve hours later, it's all lost. I'm drained. Blame it on a full afternoon of rehearsals. Now I pop a melatonin and before crashing, conjure up this one story of today. Here it is. When guitarist Annie Dolan, bassist Brittany Katter and pedal steel player Connor Gallaher got off the plane this morning in Paris, I wasn't waiting for them - take a taxi, I had instructed. But someone was there, pacing the crowded hall. Someone from Tucson, a musician flying home from his own European tour as my band was flying in for our own. Howe Gelb himself, the man, had been waiting for them in the CDG arrival hall. He greeted the bleary-eyed Tucsonans with a handwritten sign that read 'punk'. Yes, welcome to Paris, punks. Let's start that tour. 
Howe Gelb at  Charles de Gaulle.
  • Howe Gelb at Charles de Gaulle.

Day 2—Tuesday, May 23: We're leaving Paris in the afternoon, direction Germany and our overnight Airbnb pit stop in some tiny village near Frankfurt. The Guardian, when I check it online, has an article here on the dark side of touring - Insomnia, anxiety, break-ups ... but the headline news screams Manchester. 
Street hassle.
  • Street hassle.

Ariana Grande, whose show the bomb blasted, tweets to her fans: 'broken'. Yes, broken. Two days after the Paris attacks in 2015, I left to tour. Today, as a little over a year ago, taking to the road and playing is the only fix I have to the breaking. I ask Connor if he would learn a new cover song, "Amsterdam," for our show's encore. Of course, he says, always the trooper, juggling a stir-fry and a bottle opener. Singing that song in the kitchen repairs me some.

Day 3—Wednesday, May 23: Our first show. I'm anxious. This lineup is fresh. How many shows have we got under our belts the four of us together? Two. Last tour, in October, Vicki Brown was with me, Annie and Brittany. Six months later, Connor Gallaher has replaced her. 'Replace' is not the right word. The balance is completely new, to be found anew. I don't want to over-rehearse us, don't want to second-guess myself. This is a fine, fine foursome. 
Photoshop by Connor Gallaher of his face onto that of Vicki on the venue's program.
  • Photoshop by Connor Gallaher of his face onto that of Vicki on the venue's program.

I know it, I've cast it and want to be surprised by us, by myself. And tonight on stage in Chemnitz, I am. Everyone rises to the occasion in a venue I've already played every couple of years for the past seven years—once with Sergio Mendoza, Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan, then the Tucson Tour and Andrew Collberg, and with my French guitarist Yan Péchin. The show ends. We're thrilled. We've clicked. Didn't click with our nice AirBnB from last night, though, the one in the tiny, tidy village on the outskirt of Frankfurt. Their review of us...? "Hi Marianne, I gave you a good (public) rating - just because you have so many good reviews. it is unpleasant when you leave the roof window shutters open, soap and other trifles disappear and the apartment looks as if no one have cleaned there for months … It would be nice if you would not book us again".

Stay tuned ...

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Streets of This Town: Don't 'Toilet' in Front of Mailbox!

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM


"Streets of This Town" is a little photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Streets of This Town: Skeleton Crew

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Skelton Crew. - BRIAN SMITH
  • Brian Smith
  • Skelton Crew.

"Streets of This Town" is a little daily photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson—to sort of coincide with Tucson Salvage.

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Tucson Superstars Gabriel Sullivan, Brian Lopez, Carlos Arzate and Others to Play Naturalization Benefit for Their Own

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 12:42 PM

Tom Walbank calls Tucson home.
  • Tom Walbank calls Tucson home.
Yes, the United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from around the globe. During the last decade more than 6.6 million naturalized citizens were welcomed into the crucible. The cost of citizenship is becoming prohibitive to permanent residents before being able to complete the tedious naturalization process necessary to take the oath of allegiance.

Join the damn cause already. Che’s Lounge will be the site for a weekend-long Benefit for Naturalization—featuring the music of Gabriel Sullivan, Brian Lopez, Carlos Arzate & The Kind Souls, Tom Walbank and guests—to raise money to assist two adopted and beloved Tucson Musicians, Tom Walbank and Thøger Tetens Lund, in their quest for citizenship.
Thøger Tetens Lund (standup bass), here performing with Rosie Starke and Naim Amor. - LISA LEMKE
  • Lisa Lemke
  • Thøger Tetens Lund (standup bass), here performing with Rosie Starke and Naim Amor.

Saturday, April 29 at 10 p.m., globetrotting local heroes Gabriel Sullivan and Brian Lopez will deliver sets accompanied by full band.

Sunday, April 30, Carlos Arzate & The Kind Souls and bluesman extraordinaire Tom Walbank will perform in the evening starting at 6 p.m.

Che’s Lounge, 350 N. 4th Avenue. No cover. A portion of the proceeds from bar sales will go towards the cause.

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Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Cool Summer Nights

Beat Arizona heat and enjoy a family-friendly outing during the Desert Museum’s Cool Summer Nights. The stunning… More

@ Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Saturdays, 5-10 p.m. Continues through Sept. 2 2021 N. Kinney Road.

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