Wednesday, July 30, 2008

6 Minutes, 6 Minutes, Coppa Stone You're On....(Part 3)

Once we left the hotel in town, we headed straight to the festival, which was actually in Ziznikov. The road changed from a paved road, to a dirt road, up a hill and through some bush, as we were driving, I thought to myself: This is in the middle of nowhere, on a real "Blair witch" flex, I couldn't even begin to describe to someone where I was if I needed to be found.

As we were driving to the venue, we passed a police contingent, (Babylon bwoy dem full out) and Bob Marley began singing in my head, Jamaica isn't the only one with a "3 o'clock roadblock." Luckily, they never checked us, but they stopped a van behind us.

We pulled in the artist gate, parked the car, and checked in to get our backstage bands. When I saw my name on the artist list below Luciano and his entourage of fifty, well maybe not fifty, but my man rolls deep...I thought to myself again, who would a thought, the lickle bwoy from Jamaica would a touch down in Czech Republic...wicked...After we got the bands, we headed towards the stage, a local group was on stage, I think they were Prague Ska Conspiracy...

I was scheduled to perform around 2 in the morning, it was about 8 p.m., I keep forgetting, we deh a Europe breddren, no watch nuttin, so yeah, it was about 20:00,
so needless to say, I had a whole heap a time on my hands, so I gathered up my stylist/photographer/videographer/publicist, Saran, who by the way, is responsible for all the pictures and videos I post online, respect my girl, couldn't do it without your support, and we headed on to the festival grounds to tek in the vibez.

There were thousands of people at the festival, and all kinda stalls with food, beer for days, tea, coffee, herbs, jewelry, everything, and a lot of dogs, on a side note: Apparently every one in Czech Republic has a dog, yo, even in Prague, the dog goes on the metro, the tram, inside the supermarket, the restaurant, the job, everywhere, the dog is like another person.

We got some local food, a noodles thing and a chicken thing, not sure what the name was, it was good, but it was very salty, and we never finished it. Big up the bredda from RDK HI-FI Sound System, from outta Brixton, when we went to their section, he gave us some rice and cook-up fish, yardman tings. His sound specializes in Dub, and they drove down from England to play all three days at the festival. Their set up was some straight Studio One business, old-school style with the speaker box dem stack up to the sky...dem man deh serious, two vans, portable gas stove, tents, dem a the real deal...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

6 Minutes, 6 Minutes, Coppa Stone You're On....(Part 2)

After about a two hour drive which included one gas stop and a rest/smoke/chill/water-the-plants-stop, we finally reach Ceska Lipa, a small, but relatively big town of about 40,000, which has been around since the mid 1200s. The first stop was the hotel, Penzion Monika, or Hotel Monika on Jir√°skova street, yo, I need to tell unu about this spot...

At first we passed the hotel, it was on a one-way street, so we had to drive all the way back around, and pull up on the side, so Mino could park his car. It is a typical European small town, with cobblestone roads, deserted old buildings, shops and restaurants on the first floor, and flats (apartments) and hotel rooms above, overlooking the narrow streets below. So Misho, Saran, and I walk through these two big ass black medieval iron doors, next to a death metal club, to enter the building where the hotel is upstairs.

We go up these steep winding steps and see a window with a sign that says ring the bell, but in Czech. Luckily, Misho was with us, because like Chris Rock said, instead of "no sex in the champagne room," there was absolutely no English-speaking in Ceska Lipa's room.

After ringing the bell about three times, we finally hear a voice down the hall. When we walk down and turn the corner, there is this old, barefoot, white man with glasses, dressed in an unbuttoned wrinkled collared shirt and pants, standing in front of a door. Homeboy basically looked like he just stepped out of his bed, I think we woke him up. He then motions for us to step inside the door, which is apparently his living room. He pulls out this notebook, which looks like its been around since the mid 1200s, and starts mumbling something, which according to Misho, is a mixture of German and a little Czech. He then starts to write down our names in this notebook, boom, we're checked in. After giving us change from the folder pocket in the back page of the notebook, i.e. the cash register or drawer if you prefer, he then gives us the keys, which by the way, were hanging over his chest-a-drawer, gotta love it.

The best part was when he said, in Misho's translation:

"There are three keys, one for the front door at night, (the big-ass black medieval iron doors which funny enough, had this small regular key hole)the door to the hall, and the door to your room. Make sure you lock the door to the hall, so that the homeless people don't come in and use the bathroom and showers..."

Overall, it wasn't a bad place, the room was clean. It had three small beds, with some tough mattress, a couch, a center table, and a cabinet. Across from the room were two separate showers/sinks and toilets. Oh yeah, apparently in Europe, it's common to have the toilet in a separate room by itself, from the shower and the sink...I actually like this idea, because if someone is sitting on the toilet, you can still brush your teeth or take a shower, yuh si mi...

I quickly changed my clothes and put on the "showtime" gear, and I was ready like Spragga and Frisco Kid on a Dave Kelly riddim. Misho and Mino were playing at 8 or 20:00, so we didn't have a lot of time...the festival was about a 6 min ride from the hotel.

6 Minutes, 6 Minutes, Coppa Stone You're On....

6 minutes, 6 minutes, 6 minutes Coppa Stone you're on
Ah ah on, ah ah on, ah ah ah ah ah ah ah on....

I felt like Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick before the show...after touching down in Prague three days ago, I was on my way down to Ceska Lipa, something like 70 km outside of Prague for my first stop, the Reggae Ethnic Session (RES) Festival...the headliners were supposed to be Lutan Fyah and Jah Mason, but they ended up canceling at the last minute, I believe they got a better offer in Australia, so Luciano and Etana headlined instead...

Saran and I left her place around 6 pm, but since we in Europe, around 18:00, and walked three blocks down from the Flora Tram stop along Vinohradsk√° Street to meet up with Mino and Misho, from Whaddup Sound. They're both originally from Slovakia, but have lived in Prague over 10 years now, and mainly play out of Prague, specializing in Dancehall...Big up Mino every time, respect breddren for the transport...while we were walking, we ran into Missy on her way to the show, she is also a local reggae artist, originally from Slovakia as well...we hailed her up, apparently Prague is not that big...

On the ride up, I just sat in the back seat thinking to myself, if someone told me five years ago, that muzik would take me to Eastern Europe, I would never have believed was a surreal moment. As I looked at the Czech countryside, passing through these small towns, I couldn't believe that this little Jamaican bwoy was on his way to a show in Ceska Lipa, Czech is funny like that some time, you just have to stop and count your blessings and give thanks, fi real...

It was interesting passing through the small towns, each with their own squares, run-down houses, closed businesses, I started to realize that country people are the same no matter where you are, whether Czech Republic or Jamaica or Florida, they all are struggling to survive outside the city, whether Prague, Miami, or Kingston, we're really not that different...we all want to live...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Guess Who's Back...."

After 24 plus hours of travel and no luggage, I was looking forward to seeing a familiar face. When I walked out the arrival doors, the only person I saw was an older Czech lady mopping the floor. I felt like Lisa Stanfield, "Been around the world and I, I, I can't find my lady..." I looked to the left, nobody, looked straight ahead, no one, I was like damn, I guess she left, so I started to walk out and then I turned to the right, and boom, there she was, I should of known better. It had been five months since I had seen Saran, she is one of my closest friends and my biggest supporter in this music thing, needless to say, it was good seeing her, trust me. "Guess who's back in the mother******g house..."

As we traveled back from the airport on the bus and the train, (yeah man, no van to pick me up, no representative to meet me at the airport, no hotel booking, yo, true struggling artist style, public transportation to the fullest) we encountered the usual stares from the locals. Saran was immune to it, but I was fresh off the plane, so I had forgotten how it was. Regardless, it felt good to be back. We took Bus # 119 to Dejvicka, the last stop on the green line, the A line, and took the metro to Flora, where Saran's flat is, (i.e. my accommodations in Prague) right by the mall.

There's a six-hour time difference, so my remedy for jet lag is to stay up all night and the whole day tomorrow, and hopefully fall into the new time zone. Tonight, I'll choose which covers I want to do for the show, maybe "Welcome to Jamrock" and "Ghetto Story." I'll rewrite some of the lyrics, memorize them, and finalize my set. I figured I'd give myself a day to recoup, and then the next order of business would be checking the promoter for my show this weekend, to mek sure everyting lock. Like Russell Simmons says, "Goodnight and God Bless."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

"I don't wanna wait in vain..."

The flight between London and Prague is about an hour and a was a very uneventful flight, and was over before I could really settle in, but yo, jus have to big up British Airways, because even though it was such a short flight, I still got a sandwich and a cookie, unlike American, where you have to beg the stewardess for water, and I can't forget that wine and liquor was big respect to the English...

So, I was back in the Ceska Republika, I got through immigration relatively easy...I followed everyone downstairs to the baggage claim, and began scouting out a good spot to wait for my bags, you know, that prime location right by where the bags come you can grab them before someone mistakes your bag for theirs, and because you can't wait to get out the by one, I mean literally, one by one, they slowly came out the luggage door, and one by one, people started leaving with their bags, with that look of relief and happiness on their face, that all their bags made it, smiling hard, taunting the rest of us as they walked by.

Ten minutes became twenty, and twenty became forty, and by the time it became an hour, it was only four of us left, the flight was no longer on the screen above the luggage belt, and there was tumbleweeds rolling through the airport...

In other words, my bags never came...after speaking with one of the representatives, I found out that my bags made it to Montreal, and after an extended layover, wouldn't be arriving till three hours later. This was after the lady from American, I think she was a manager, guaranteed me that she was going to personally go down to the luggage carts, and make sure that my luggage was rerouted straight to London. I think what she really did, was she went downstairs, smoked a cigarette, started talking to one of her co-workers about what she was going to do this weekend, and then she came back upstairs and gave me the new baggage claim slips with the new information...which apparently were never assigned to my bags, because they ended up in Montreal still, but yo, so it go sometimes..."Summer is here, I'm still waiting there..."

"Mind the Gap" In Between Flights

Alright, so I finally reach London...half an hour later after my original time. I was asleep for the majority of the flight, but managed to fit in "Fools Gold" with Kate Hudson between the lasagna and the breakfast croissant...the girl who sat beside me never said a word except for "Excuse me" when she needed to go to the bathroom and "Why won't she shut up" when the older woman next to me was talking on her phone. When the plane finally landed in Heathrow, I was ready to get back on the ground.

I had a six-hour layover, so I linked up with my friend Dia, and we went into London to hold a food at this Middle Eastern restaurant...two hours later, I was back at Heathrow on my flight to Prague.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are We There Yet...(Part 2)

Now, originally, I was supposed to have a 6-hour layover in Montreal, which I didn't mind, because I'd never been there, so I figured it would be a good time to take a little excursion out to downtown Montreal, maybe spend a hour and a half there, eat a food, and head back to the airport to catch the connection to London, well yo, none a dat ever happen.

When we first come off the plane, the flight agent at the gate, who was very annoyed that we had to book a flight that got delayed, cause you know it's our fault that the plane had mechanical problems...and why should we be bothering her about our connections...anyways, when I spoke to her, and she checked my flight, she told me "Don't worry, you have a lot of time, you'll make your connection..." Four hours later and after a 10-dollar Airline Food Coupon fi we troubles: "Alright, I don't think you'll be making your connection, so, let me see...."

To make a long story short, 9 hours later, I'm still at the damn airport, yow, I never mek it to Montreal, because the plane I was on had "mechanical problems", and I got on a 8:35 pm flight direct to London...."Whe dem seh," "A London me a go my yout, man a world traveler, yuh dun kno..."