into africa with ahaddaf

Poolside in the Chams Hotel, waiting to go to our soundcheck. Whilst Amsterdam seems to have resolutely entered summer, the aforementioned chams – sun in Arabic – is hiding behind a thick layer of dark grey clouds here in Tetouan, on the north coast of Morocco … [...]

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meanwhile, in the hot & dusty south…

When I switched on the wifi on my computer, it didn’t find a single network in the centre of Vellore, a middle-sized town in the hot and dusty plains of Tamil Nadu. Some things in South India do not change, it seems. Women with turmeric-yellow palms and faces, cows roaming the street, men urinating on the the pavement … [...]

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elephant songs in suleymaniyah

October 2013 saw another episode of Elephant Songs, my ongoing project in which musicians from different backgrounds meet and create original music together. This time, the backdrop was Suleymaniyah, the economic heart of Iraqi Kurdistan … [...]

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escapism

Waiting for Erik Gustafson of EPIC to talk about elephant songs for his Iraq Matters podcast over more than decent espresso at the Rand Gallery, Suleymaniyah. It’s the second day of Eid … [...]

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teatime with the people

After arriving in hot and bone-dry Suleymaniyah I unpacked half my backpack, met up with the musicians (happy reunions and pleasant nice-to-meet-yous), and we started working. We had a week to come up with a repertoire … [...]

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elephant on the road

First time I’m on an airplane in a long time (my last flight was a domestic Indian Anand-Delhi blitzrun more than a year ago when I unexpectedly needed a No Objection Certificate from the Dutch Embassy to obtain a visa for Pakistan, the first country to cross after leaving India on my way to the lowlands on an old motorcycle loaded with drums) … [...]

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dinner music

Celebrity chef Herman den Blijker wanted us to stay all night. But we had other places to go, however beautiful (and ambient-music-inspiring) the accoustics in the high-ceilinged entrance of his place were.

What places? Why, restaurants, of course. The latest sensation in dinner music, guitarist Lukas Simonis, Peter van Bergen, and yours truly … [...]

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snowflakes & pancakes

“Do you have a reservation?”
Quoi? Ehm no, we didn’t. He pulled down the corners of his mouth, but showed us a table when we announced we just wanted to have a drink. Something hot for me, underdressed as always, and a Belgian beer for Anna … [...]

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three steps for easy landing in a new city

Arrive late at night and get lost. No aim, no route, no schedule. After finding yet another hostel dorm bed in Münster (last stop before the Netherlands, early October 2012 on my elephant songs trip from South India to the low lands) I once again realised how alive I feel exploring a new city, without a plan, at night. Coming out of a shopping street … [...]

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elephant songs: last stop utrecht

On 2 November, my drumbiker trip Elephant Songs, a musical journey from South India to the Netherlands on an old motorcycle loaded with drums, was concluded with a beautiful evening at the Utrecht theatre farm rood|noot. A full house enjoyed fantastic Indian food cooked by Sanderien, Peter, Irene, and Suzy while watching a selection of filmclips of the trip or checking out the morning pictures … [...]

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burootje beuk

Not entirely sure what to do now the trip was almost over, I decided to to enjoy the early autumn light in beautiful Antwerp. From there, one cold and sunny morning I rode into the Netherlands to play with Rik van Iersel’s … [...]

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ensemble gending: whooosh

Ensemble Gending plays the double bill Whooosh. [...]

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homely elephant improvisations

tweet   When I visited Berlin in 2007, I lived in my yellow camper van in the Volkspark Friedrichshain amongst other mobile-home dwellers during what must have the coldest spring since the banana war. Snowstorm on 21 March. The Kastanienallee in nearby Prenzlauerberg welcomed me with its squatted [...]

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photos: berlin

photographs of my time in berlin, september & october 2012 – part of elephant songs [...]

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brrrliner elephant songs: church cucumbers & suicidal pizza

tweet   And how long is your piece? A surprising question. My drums and I had arrived at the Pizza Suicide Collective‘s Julian Percy Afterparty at Zur Möbelfabrik in trendy Prenzlauerberg expecting to find a selection of likeminded musicians to play an evening of good old-fashioned improvised music. [...]

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improv under a thousand spires

tweet   http://www.skupinau.cz/

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into central europe

tweet   Good day, sunshine! Bratislava, half past eight in the morning. A hot chili-chocolate that makes my nose run and a (strangely lemon-scented) croissant – in the sun! It’s warm enough to take off my hiking quality cardigan, the combination of sun and fresh breeze feels good [...]

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photos: beograd

photographs of my days in belgrade, september 2012 – part of elephant songs [...]

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wisdom & poetry

tweet   In-bowl taps in the toilets replaced with paper, church bells instead of azaan, and on the road to Sofia every other kilometre a stoned-looking woman who forgot to put her clothes on, advertising things as diverse as hotel rooms, soft drinks, and hunting rifles. Riding into [...]

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istanbuli nights

tweet   Upon my arrival in İstanbul from Safranbolu, singer Sumru and yours truly met at the Kadiköy boat station. Lots of tea (what else), and we chatted and walked around and watched the sunset over the famous skyline of Sultanahmet across the Bosphorus – in Europe! Sumru [...]

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songs of beyoğlu

Besides the most enjoyable improvised sessions I took part in in Istanbul, I was very lucky to have a few cosy evenings at the studio of streetfolk legends Kara Güneş. I had fantastic cheese, fell in love with the santoor, and had great chats with many wonderful … [...]

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elephant songs: nice to meet you

tweet   One of the aims of my trip elephant songs is meeting musicians in places I travel through on my journey from South India to Amsterdam. As I explained in the five-minute-film I made to introduce the project, when collaborating with people in this way, playing together [...]

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safranbolu songs

tweet   In the part of the world I have now reached, tourism no longer means Backpackistan: Safranbolu is the territory of large touringcars, Koreans with elaborate cameras, unwinding pensioners, and European families on exotic summer holidays (as it happens, that’s how I came to Turkey the first [...]

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off with its head – again?!?

tweet   Riding through the hills around Kaleybar, in South Azerbayjan in the north of Iran, the hole-in-the-head-problem had clearly returned. The weld in the engine head, done in Tehran just a few weeks ago, had holes in various places. Uphill the bike was wheezing like an asthmatic [...]

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off with its head!

tweet   On my way from Esfahan to Tehran I noticed a New Sound in my bike. Anyone who’s ever owned a mature bicycle knows what I’m talking about. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M Pirsig describes how the engine of his “cycle” sounds [...]

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elephant songs: ba1pa, on one leg

The road into the mountains was wet and green and smelled accordingly. At a roadside restaurant our production assistant and general spokesperson complained about the kashk-e-bademjan, one of our lunch dishes … [...]

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beach fun

tweet   After finishing the successful shows in Tehran, I had planned to ride through the Alamut Valley to Qazvin, to visit the castles of the Assassins on the way. Then on to Tabriz, and up to Armenia. However, in the meantime, through CouchSurfing I’d met Komeil, who [...]

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elephant songs: pil ahang at darbast

five videos of the _elephant_songs_ shows at darbast, tehran in june. [...]

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elephant songs at parkingallery, tehran

In the summer of 1998, Amirali Ghasemi started the Parkingallery, an independent project space in a former garage in the north of Tehran (expanded in 2002 with an online gallery). One good Friday [...]

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kodum guri hasti?

tweet   Walking into my favourite coffeeshop Café Un the other day, I was told – with many apologies – that they were closed. But when I asked if I could stay and listen, three faces opened up into big smiles; I shook a round of hands and [...]

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long way dry

tweetcoming shortly: impressions of riding through the bone dry baluchistan desert in west pakistan and south east iran. check back or subscribe to new posts.

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elephant songs in lahore – multiple contacts

tweet   On Thursday 26 April, a fantastic selection of musicians from the Lahore rock and fusion scene joined elephant songs for a great show at True Brew Studios, Lahore. The evening was recorded by Jamal Rahman and Fatima Shah, and later mixed by Floris van Bergeijk. Jawad [...]

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rooftop meeting and show tonight

tweet   On Sunday 15 April, I was visited by Akmal Qadri and his son Nazar Abbas and tabla player Kashif Ali Dani. We enjoyed tea and music on the pleasant rooftop of Sajjad Hussain’s Lahore Backpackers. I met Akmal and friends again yesterday, when we rehearsed for [...]

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jilebi chronicles

Gooey or crispy, that’s the debate – or so I learnt from reading Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses. Either way, I was very surprised to find them here in Pakistan: jilebis! A deep fried sugar concoction that melts in your mouth, and [...]

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peeru’s café

tweet   The first time I went to Peeru’s Café, my landlord Sajjad of Lahore Backpackers insisted I take a rickshaw – “for security”. When I told my driver my destination, well-known for its qawwali performances, he proudly announced he was a qawwal himself and sang all 25 [...]

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takatak

tweet   Takatak is the onomatopeic (or, as the Germans in an unexpected but most appreciated fit of romance put it, onomatopoetic) name for a dish consisting mainly, if I’m not mistaken, of chopped up goat’s testicles. All over the old town of Lahore you can hear the [...]

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lahore!

tweet   Lahore, Pakistan! I’m in the next country of my road trip, one closer to Holland. Eleven to go :-) The Wagah border, the only overland border between India and Pakistan, was surprisingly quiet. On the Indian side, I was held up while a number of easygoing [...]

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the thar desert: balesar to bikaner

tweet   After taking my morning pictures, I knocked on a few doors, hoping to find someone to unlock the door to my bike. Everyone I talked to seemed to understand what I wanted, and then disappeared without anything happening. Eventually another hotel guest talked to some of [...]

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playing temple music in india’s deep south

tweet   Spent the best part of my last night in Madras stuffing my life into the few (…) bags I can take on the bike – I always end up packing at night, which is why I prefer to leave in the morning: just in case, it [...]

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bye bye broadlands

tweet   I was planning to leave at check-out time. 11 am. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, after postponing waking up for half an hour and taking my time packing, I left my luggage in Klaus’ room and tied the suitcase that lives in Madras onto the bike to take [...]

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jamming with egor in the broadlands

tweet   While I was grumpily attempting to whack the replacement rear subframe into the right spot on my bike so that it would line up with all the appropriate holes in the frame, a short Russian with a razor-straight fringe till just above his eyes started talking [...]

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elephant songs #1 – all star jazzband

tweet   The first official episode of Elephant Songs played in Bangalore for two weekends in February. We kicked off at the famous B-Flat in Indiranagar. The next weekend, we came back for a show at the beautiful Plantation House and at the Fireflies Music Festival. Musicians were [...]

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elephant songs #0 – surprise prologue

tweet   A few days ago I had an enjoyable hour of chatting and playing on Yugi Sethu’s talkshow, in the company of friend & multi-talented singer Yogeswaran Manickam, also known as Yoga. The show is scheduled to be broadcast next Saturday, 21 January, and will be available [...]

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bullet, hanh?

tweet   I noticed them for the first time in 2004. Beautiful design, and a sound that makes a Harley hang its head and weep. I decided to one day ride a Royal Enfield Bullet to Europe, passing through all those countries I’d so far only seen through [...]

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oto.3 these days (and: movie edit!)

After editing the footage of riding through Nepal, included in “mountains! please?” iMovie was no longer the intimidating dark cloud that had stopped me from putting up clips of the oto.3 concerts in Amsterdam in the early summer. So here it is [...]

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temporary homelands

tweet   The hill crossing on the day I left Bangalore had to wait till after lunch – but then, so did most everything on that day. After spending many hours waiting for a meeting that never happened and accepting further delays caused by multiple half-decent but oh [...]

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strong hands and candle light

tweet   Had had a great day and a half at the Shisha Café in Pune, playing a good show with saxophonist Maarten Visser and bass player Mishko M’ba and hanging and, not to be forgotten, eating lots of fantastic food washed down with mint cocktails and dhoog, [...]

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congratulations in india

tweet   After a few very pleasant days in Anand, I needed a few hours to get comfortable in interlocal traffic again. Sanderien and I had been riding around, city style, mainly from coffee to lunch and back. The highway was difficult: three lanes, with the slow and [...]

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udaipur rooftops

tweet   Had lunch on a blitzvisit to Udaipur after riding the last 250 kilometres on the fantastic NH76 cruising at about 80 kilometres an hour. Something doesn’t work out in this equation but I don’t know what it is. The fact that I started out riding more [...]

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poha!

tweet   I left the Shahbad Government Resthouse at dawn and turned onto the still empty highway. Sometimes you were supposed to understand, without warning, that you had to go to the other side of the divider, going against the flow of (non-present) traffic, because a landslide or [...]

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till the cows come home

tweet   Oohhh I like it here. Warm and welcoming and friendly. Mister Gautam showed me my room in the Government Resthouse – a small palace, slightly crumbling in a grandiose way. A bath room full of big black ants and their deceased kin, a western toilet, and [...]

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test ride day one – my way is the highway

tweet   Got up in my Nautanwah hotel just before sunrise, brushed my teeth, paid my rs 50, and pushed the bike out of the courtyard. It was still there! Even the petrol! Was feeling a little apprehensive about leaving it there last night after some semi-aggressive guy [...]

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siddhartha’s way

tweet   Taking off from Pokhara, I easily found the Siddhartha Highway. This road was constructed in the 1960s, providing some much-needed employment for the two thousand Tibetans that ended up in Pokhara, having been relocated there from refugee camps near the Tibetan border. (After the Chinese invasion [...]

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mountains! please?

tweet   Last night in Pokhara, and I realised I didn’t know where to get a nice thukpa. This was after the restaurant I counted on for acces to their wifi network (conveniently available from my hotel room but in need of a password) turned out to be [...]

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lalala – a week in katmandu

tweet   Two crows in a tree are fighting over a flattened rat. I don’t quite get the excitement – just how nutritious can that dried out piece of fur still be? Or is this just about prestige? But it’s an entertaining spectacle I’m watching from behind my [...]

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monday match

tweet      Dancer Irene van Geest and myself were honoured being asked to curate a Monday Match, a night in the montly series of music & dance improvisation at the Amsterdam Bimhuis. We were very happy to get a large & inspiring cast together: Peter Cseri, Lily [...]

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underwear gig @ studio 7, 12 august 2011

tweet      Before rushing off to the Buurtboerderij to jam on Pumporgan tunes with Dirk Bruinsma, Jasper Stadhouders, and John Dikeman, I had the honour of playing in Sharon Smith’s rock band in Studio 7, put together by the inimitable Katie Duck.          El Torrero [...]

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dikeman & van der weide & van hulzen @ fat form, 6 august 2011

Breed begrip: an instant jazz trio on a rainy roof in Amsterdam Bijlmer. Enveloped by the smell of chocolate brownies, the sound of heavy summer (?) rain, and the curious attention of a varied audience, saxophonist John Dikeman, cellist Raoul van der Weide, and I, drummer Robbert [...]

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riding the bullet in south india, february 2011

tweet   Nayana organised a Bullet for me when I was in Bangalore a few weeks ago. On this visit, I was lucky enough to borrow it again, so I could find out how I liked a somewhat longer trip on a bike like that. And do I [...]

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those fucking fish, what is it with those fucking fish, man

tweet   It’s unbelievable. You look at the sea. You swim in the sea. You stick your feet wash your hands cool your skin get salty make love get sunburnt in the sea. But then that’s not actually in the sea. It’s more on the sea. In-the-sea is [...]

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  • next shows

    • 7 November 2014 * 9:00pm trepid
      utrecht
      * acu
    • 30 November 2014 * 8:00pm ensemble gending
      amsterdam
      * odeon

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