This time I bring to you good news! Doppler is back!
Last night, I was out at the pub and a conversation I was having led me to mention that my bike had been stolen. A few seconds later, I received a call from a friend saying ‘don’t get excited but I might have found your bike!‘. I got excited. I described Doppler in every single detail and, as soon as I finished, she said ‘I’ve found your bike!!‘. I hurried in to town to meet her. I found her in the very center of Oxford standing next to good old Doppler! Whoever stole him left him unlocked, so I easily regained my favourite compagnon and left the thief a note. It’s strange as I truly felt that Doppler hadn’t gone for ever and I’m so glad that he hadn’t!
This whole story taught me a good lesson that I probably should have learnt a long time ago: your bike is never safe! not even hidden behind a big green car in your drive way!
Also, all the very positive reactions following the announcement of the theft have encouraged me to keep this website a bit more alive! I’ll let you know about all the projects that have stemmed from the trip and the planning of future ones. In the meantime I would like thank you all for keeping an eye out for Doppler and particularly thank you to ‘Broken Spokes‘ for sharing the news!
I haven’t posted on here for quite a while now. All is well with me and all was well with Doppler up until yesterday.
On Monday 4th March, after a lovely sunny day busking in the streets of Oxford I went to bed exhausted. Halfway through the night, I was woken up by some shuffling noise coming from outside. I open my window and looked around for a good 5 minutes. I didn’t see anything unusual so went back to bed. Yesterday, as I went out to climb onto Doppler and pedal to the other side of Oxford, I realised he had gone. I stood there baffled. I couldn’t believe he’d been stolen. I walked up to town checking every spot I might have mindlessly left him, hoping I’d gone to a shop and completely forgotten I’d cycled there. Doppler wasn’t there and, after going through my memories, was certain I’d left him by my house.
However, I don’t want to accept that Doppler is gone for ever. So I would like to ask you guys to keep yours eyes open for a sexy looking adventurous friend!
I don’t know his make or the dimensions (he’s always been Doppler to me) but he is metallic orange, the handlebars have yellow tape wound around them and underneath they’re wound with multicolored electric tape, the saddle is white and bears the scars of the Zadar episode (someone lacerated it in Croatia), the frame has a washed out record-and-ride sticker as well as stickers from a bike workshop in Krakow and a ribbon from a fundraising cycle-ride in Warsaw, the pedal axle is completely rusted and a little bit wobbly, it has unusually mounted front and back paniers, the rear panier is held together by plastic and metal zip-ties, the rear mud gard is zip-tied to the rear panier and has a Motherfolkers sticker on it and, finally, there is bell attached to the left half of the handlebars with a picture of an elephant which belonged to my father.
Finally, here is the last recording from the cycling adventure – the first and last recordings being from Oxford, recorded nearly seven months apart.
Before introducing the last artist, I would like say a big THANK YOU to all of you who have participated in this adventure by performing, hosting me, sponsoring or supporting me, giving me contacts and following the trip. However cliché this may sound: I couldn’t have done this without you! Thank you!
There are many other similar projects out there that also need help and I believe it is important to support them. As they remind us of what there is outside our daily life and remind us of how beautiful and rich the world around us is. Some friends of mine are about to embark on a year long kayak adventure across the northern section of the Mediterranean coast. The project is called Mare Nostrum and is “a scientific project, an educational project, as well as a cultural one, which is dedicated to the Mediterranean Sea and its children”. For more information please go to there facebook page.
Back to the recordings – It took me sometime after I returned home to settle back into a non-nomadic life. Thus, it wasn’t till a month later that I got round to record the last artist. I have known Luke Keegan for quite sometime now and he seemed like the obvious person to call upon to close this series of recordings. He came round to my place and we tried to record outside. However, England being England we only had time to record two songs before we were forced back inside by the weather. We recorded one last song in the front room which is cluttered with musical instruments. I believe two of the songs he performed were new ones that aren’t on his recently released album ‘Conker & The Wheel’. Voilà. Thank you for listening.
Hello! It’s been a long time since I’ve updated the website! However, I’ve been quite busy with plans to mark the end of the project. Two weeks ago, I recorded the last artists and will upload the recordings this week-end.
Also, I thought I’d make a call for help in organising a Record and Ride concert. I would like the event to be like a little festival where artists I recorded throughout the trip come to perform in England sharing their music and part of their culture. Thus, if any of you would like to help please drop me an email.
Five months ago, I cycled south out of Oxford then turned ouest for London and then miles of cycling and recording adventures. Last Saturday, the 8th September 2012, I cycled back in through north Oxford, thus, completing the circle. After an extended period of absence, I have always found it hard to understand what it feels like to return to a place I could call home. I am sure many of you have experienced that slight feeling of disappointment from how underwhelming it is. Then there is the excitement of seing all your friends again and the beginning of a new stage of your life but, unavoidably, nostalgia starts creeping in. At the moment this is where I’m at: a big cloud of mixed feelings. In a few weeks time, I’m sure that telling stories from the trip will be like trying to recount episodes from a dream. Before it does, here’s what I did after York.
I left York early on the 5th September and had a lovely ride down to Sheffield. The country side was absolutely beautiful although I had to ignore the occasional factory (in the cloudy sunlit sky I must say they had their charm). I arrived in Sheffield some 55 miles and two cream teas later. There I met up with Sophia from the Mother Folkers with whom I would be staying. I knew Sophia from before the trip as she played for a concert in Oxford a friend and me had organised. The next evening, we went down to a bloc of small studios that bands exploit to satisfy their creative needs. We met up with the rest of the band. As we were setting up, the whole room started to resonate with the roar of crashing cymbals, overdriven guitars and bass and, shouting/scream – In the studios below, a punk gig was being hosted… So we moved to a more quite but smaller room where we had to fit a drummer, two singers/guitarists, a violinist, a flautist, a bassist, a former band member and me with my recording gear. We just about managed. Squashed in this small space, the Mother Folkers launched into their special blended folk, hip hop, blues, you name it, smoothy. Here are the recordings: (and for more: http://themotherfolkersmusic.bandcamp.com/)
Although the cycling is finished the project is not completely finished. I shall be recording Luke Keegan to close the recording cycle! So stay tuned for a little bit longer!
That’s it the fringe is finished and I, just like many others, am enjoying the post-festival comedown, the adrenaline drop, the slight sadness yet relief I’m out of that frenzy and budget abyss. Unfortunately, I have come out the other side with no recordings to share with you… It’s not that I didn’t try, it’s that everyone is so busy promoting and performing their show then running around from show to show to party to party. Result no one has time to sit down to record a few tunes. It was crazier than expected and was so in different ways than I expected – I’ll know better next time!
Anyways, Doppler still hasn’t arrived. Our separation has been disastrous to my moral. There was a confusion in the courier service and should have arrive two weeks ago! Hopefully, it’ll arrive tomorrow between 9am and 5pm. If all goes well tomorrow, I shall empty the Deck Theatre Company fringe apartment and sit outside till Doppler arrives. Put it back together and set of into the beautiful Scottish hills heading for Newcastle. If it doesn’t go well, then I’m stuck.
I have another 2 weeks of travelling then it’ll be back to Oxford! Maybe I’ll see you on the road and maybe you can share the project.
I was lying on the beach one afternoon in Tel Aviv playing guitar and flute when someone came up to me inviting me to join her group of friends. They were sitting down taking in late afternoon sun, eating fruit and chatting. I joined the conversation and very quickly I was given the contact for a place to stay in Jerusalem. A few days later, with the first two artists recorded, I decided it was time to visit somewhere new. I got in contact with this mysterious person. Quickly, I got a text back saying I was welcome to stay at this persons place in Jerusalem. I hoped on the bus and arrived in the Holy City an hour later.
Jerusalem was just a tourist stop for me – I didn’t record anyone. However, I met some wonderful people. My host and her housemate were very nice to talk to and live in a very nice apartment. In the evening of my second day and last day, I went to see the dressed rehearsals of a small theatre/performance/design school my host was attending. I was pleasantly surprised by utterly beautiful performances with very cleverly designed puppets and sets. As soon as the rehearsals finished I caught a bus back to Tel Aviv.
With only a few days left before my flight to Edinburgh, I went back to the soothing rhythm characterised by late mornings, seaside and freshly pressed fruit juices. I met up with two more artists. The first is Nadav Zilberstein who is a fellow sound engineer but specialises in location recording for films and TV. He recorded two songs on guitar and vocals. Ironically, he grew up in Jerusalem and said he’s seen a drastic decline of the city as a vibrant cultural hub. The cultural actors are all moving to Tel Aviv leaving spaces for religious people to move into the holy city. He wrote a song about it:
On the same day, I cycled on Tel Aviv’s green city bikes to what seemed like the out skirts of the city. There I met with Rami Feinstein and his band. We went to his bass player’s apartment which essentially is a studio with a bedroom annexed to it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that much time to record so we weren’t able to use their equipment (although I did borrow a microphone). The recording session was quick and efficient but difficult to capture properly with the equipment I had with me as the musicians were all amplified. Thus, I apologies, the vocals nearly disappear in the loud bits.
With four artists recorded I caught the plane for Edinburgh. Well first I had to go through security… And lost two flutes in the process… Anyways, after four months of absence and many adventures, I’m back in the UK! I’ll be staying in Edinburgh up until the end of the Fringe – 27th August. I’m here run the sound and light on a small production for which I did the sound design. I’m working with a very talented team on an absurd dark comedy called Pinch in Love written by Caroline Mitchell and directed by the crazy and amazing Tania Higgins from The Deck Theatre Company. If you’re in Edinburgh or know anyone up here please invite them to show. If they say “Pinch will grow up to be a cyclist” they’ll get a free ticket!
Voilà. That’s the end of Foreign countries for this trip. After Edinburgh I’ll be cycling back down to Oxford still recording on the way. I hope you to see you following the trip till the end. Thank you.
The Italy stay with the family ended very quickly. A friend who joined me in Italy and me took a ferry back to the other side of the Adriatic sea. After a whole night at sea, we arrived in Patras in the early afternoon. My companion being bikeless, an alternative mode of transport to get to Athens was necessary. Surprisingly, we chose the bus. We were hosted by the most wonderful hosts (friends of my farther) who not only took us out to dinner in a beautiful restaurant with view on the Acropolis but also helped me organise sending Doppler to Scotland. Unfortunately, I didn’t record anything during my time in Greece and I have no good excuse…
On the 29th July, I took a plane from Athens to Tel Aviv, Israel. I landed safely but nostalgic of the cycling days. A good friend of mine with whom I studied met me at the airport. What followed was a week and a half of events racing by. I started by taking another plane down south to Eilat. There is held the Red Sea Jazz festival. I stayed three days enjoying not very exciting traditional and modern Jazz, every now and then, surprised by a truly mind boggling act. Then I took a bus across the desert to Be’er sheva were I met my Israel friend who drove us to a concert of Idan Raichel Project in some sort of resort in the middle of the desert! Fleeing the fans, we drove back to Tel Aviv in the night. I spent the next few days recording, drinking freshly pressed fruit juices and lying on the beach.
The first artist I recorded was Galit Vashdi. We met up in a nice greenish parc (apparently the gay parc) in the center of Tel Aviv. Up front, Galit asked me to be her shaker operator for her first song. Excited by playing some music, I ended up taking out my flute. So after recording three of her songs we spent a bit of time learning an Irish song called ‘Sally Gardens’. Galit learnt it incredibly fast while I struggled to get the lyrics right.. Anyways, it was lovely playing around and here are the recordings:
The second artist I recorded was Amos Zimmerman. I first met him in Oxford when he was touring living rooms in the UK. Ironically, we recorded in his kind of living room/bedroom in his shared house in Tel Aviv. Once again, after recording a few songs, I whipped out my flute (I mean my sister’s flute) and tried to learn one of Amos’ songs. Sadly, I only got two takes to get it right and I’m not much of a flute player… Anyways, after recording we had a very nice interview/chat about music and all that jazz. We briefly met again on my last day as I was walking past the shop where Amos works. He kindly gave me a Israeli flag patch that I’ll stick on my bike luggage! For more music: http://amoszimmerman.com/
The last cycling stop after Dubrovnik was Bar in Montenegro. I left late in the afternoon of the 14th July, climbed all the way back up to the road going to Montenegro and got a puncture… The hole was big! and I have no idea what caused it! I changed the inner tube in the burning sun and set off into some of the most beautiful scenery. For the first time since the beginning of the trip, I decided to stop set up my camera and get a video of me cycling. So here is the only proof that I have showing that I have been doing what I’ve been doing:
I got very excited when after over 3 months of cycling I crossed more than 3 other traveling cyclist. Unfortunately, they where all going in the opposite direction. At some point, I briefly caught up with a cyclist from London who was heading for Istambul but, sadly, our routes quickly parted when I decided to cycle all round the bay of Kotor and he to cut across with a ferry. If you ever go cycling there, don’t believe what people say, it is a long cycle round but the view is stunning and worth every single extra Km.
Finally, I got to Bar and booked a ticket to its Italian adriatic brother who grew an extra i: Bari. I left the next day and had a tumultuous ride across the sea and arrived early the next morning. That was it. After 5-6 years of absence, I was back in my mother’s home city and the cycle ride south was over! My aunt met me at the port to lead me to her house and for the next five days I was treated like a king! Such a huge contrast with the homeless cycling life I had been living most days since the beginning of the trip.
On one of those days, my cousin and I had a recording marathon. After going to a beautiful beach somewhere south of Bari, we got home picked up all the recording equipment and went to meet some of his friends who were rehearsing in a sort of little storage both in what seemed the middle of nowhere. Their both was one a dozen of other storage boths converted to rehearsal rooms. Each band rented out their own personal space for rehearsing and could contribute to the musical mess that you can hear outside. The band was called Rainvan and we recorded in the building heat of a none air conditioned room! The band is Daniele Mauro on acoustic guitar, Andrea Damiani on electric drums and Marco Annoscia on piano and synths. For more about them and their music: https://www.facebook.com/TheRainVan or http://soundcloud.com/RainVan
As soon as we finished with Rainvan, we hoped into the car all sweaty and drove to the other side of Bari where some other of my cousin’s friends had an outdoor concert. We got there with 10mins to set up. So I pulled everything out of the bag as fast I could, got everything ready and sound-checked as they were performing the first two songs. The band is called Orecchiabili and they are an Italian rockabilly band and we had a good time watching and listening to them. Unfortunately, the recording does not render the guitarist wondering away to sit on benches or going into the bar all whilst soloing. This photo will have to do:
And here are the recordings with Alessio Virno on guitar and vocals, Joe Leali on double bass and vocals and, Marco Nimi on drums:
That’s it for my brief episode in Italy. Next recordings from Israel will be up soon!
That’s it… the cycling is now over until the end of next month. I arrived in Athens 5 days ago and the first thing I did was send my bike to Edinburg where I will be joining it on the 13th August. There, I will be working with The Deck Theatre Company on a play called Pinch in Love as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In Athens, I had break from recording to go exploring before taking a plane to Israel. Thus, I’m writing to you from a friend’s house in Tel Aviv! but don’t worry, the recording isn’t over!
In the meantime, after Zadar (Croatia), I had a lovely cycle ride to Dubrovnik. It was particularly fun, as to get there, one has to cross a small portion of the coast which briefly becomes Bosnia Herzegovina! Also, I went through some amazing scenery where the brown rocky dry coast slowly morphs into a much greener coast which then descends into a long plain surrounded by mountains. The road then leaves the plain and returns to its windy coastal self.
I finally arrived in Dubrovnik on the 14th July. I headed straight for the old town which is contained within castle walls. Once again, I was dazed by the passage from utter solitude to an overcrowded city. I sat down and observed the waves of tourists of all nationalities poring out of coaches, camera in hand, stumbling over each other as they tried to take pictures of the outer walls of the city. Amused, I made my way into the old town in mind of finding a place to sleep and rest Doppler for the day. The search was only brief as the prices were bogglingly high! Thus, I decided I’d sleep on a beach somewhere and found an internet cafe. After a nice simple meal, as I was slowly pushing Doppler back out of the small alleyway, the waitress asked me where I was cycling. I told her about the project and that I had nowhere to sleep in Dubrovnik. Instantly, she very kindly invited me to stay at her and her boyfriends place! I was even allowed to leave my bike by the restaurant for most of the day.
High on her generosity, I set out to explore the town and quickly came across some fantastic street artists! The first where a trio of musicians called Fiori Musicali. They play an eneregised version of many classical classics with flute, guitar and violin. All three musicians are music professors from Zagreb University and are spending most of the summer in Dubrovnik performing in the street and in more conventional venues. After a first matinal encounter, we arranged to meet again in the evening at the entrance of the city where they would be busking. That is exactly what happened. So here is, paraphrasing the guitarist, classical tunes performed as if performing Iron Maiden covers:
After meeting Fiori Musicali, I continued my exploration of the city. Sitting on some steps was a classical guitarist dreamingly plucking the strings on his guitar. Still dazed by the sun, I sat down and listened for a bit. Later, I learnt he was a music teacher and had his own little school in Hungary and, just like the previous band, had come down for the summer to enjoy the sunshine and busk. Here are some of the tunes he played:
Finally, as I was finishing my round I came across a very nice little bar called The Troubadour Jazz Cafe, supposedly a legendary Dubrovnik bar. When I was walking by, there were two musicians playing exciting arrangement of pop and classical songs. The duo is called Nota Bene and here are their songs! (there also might be a video of them soon!)