Teitzi, accompanied by the aroma of freshly smoked cigarettes was looked in battle with the fruit machine when I walked snow into the hotel lobby from a short morning ramble around town. The ubiquitous half drunk black coffee balanced on the neon distraction like a dutiful companion to the half full packet of cigarettes. He’s a man who knows how much salt he likes on his chips and assures me that he wins more than he spends on this mechanical loaded dice. Not the story the bar owner told me last night he triumphantly pulled a bag of clinking euros from the belly of the beast exclaiming……“This the only way to get money out of these thing you know” while demonstrating the lyrical and mellifluous nature on the Finish language.
Today we’re driving 400km north to the Pakkasukko Jazz and Blues festival in Kemi. Finland in winter is all straight lines. The borders of the flat snow covered terrain drifts effortlessly into the frosted pine tree line, seemingly the only feature that distinguishes the earth from the sky in this ice grey hue. Teitzi assures me that in fight between a VW van and a moose, the moose invariably wins. Much as I’d like to see this wild and noble creature up close I’m not sure that the theory needs testing.
The road stretches out to the north, two black lines punctuating the bleached white frame, like young scars on old skin. The intrusion of our own invention…. blood raised to the surface of the skin. The falsetto tones of Canned Heat slip under the door somewhere in the hallway of my mind. a ghost of song, haunting and distant but just audible over the rumbling black circles beneath me..……… I’m on the road again.
Yesterday afternoon my twin prop plane set it wheels down on Kokkola’s snow covered runway and delivered me into this winter wonderland. My childlike enthusiasm fading swiftly as the tiny baggage belt came to a halt and I was left guitar and luggage less in the tiny vacant airport, the feeling of being the last boy to be picked for the football team was as fresh and cold as the air in my lungs. I sat and waited, waited and sat. My friend Teitzi arrived. He smoked; we sat and waited, waited and sat. He smoked again. My guitars finally landed some hours later after a guided tour of the baggage highways and byways of Helsinki airport and we left for the show. Guitars don’t always do what you tell them to.
Last night I felt a feeling I had not felt in some time…….
There was a nest of tiny snakes writhing in the pit of my belly, my hands were sweating. Small fits of laughter and internal dialogue interrupted my backstage preparation. The pint I had bought from the bar was now mysteriously empty in my hand and begging to be refilled. Disasters scenarios popped up like cartoon thought bubbles as I attempted to burst them with the knitting needle of reason.
I was nervous …….….. and it felt good.