Recorded live at Harmony, Mexican Restaurant on Ios, Greek Islands August 2015 on a ZOOM Q3HD during the first leg of the #looptheworld tour.
I first came up with this in July 2015 after watching the final episode of GoT while on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand (thanks to Kylie for the inspiration). Since then it has been a favorite amongst my audiences. Easily the most requested song I’ve ever written. I’ve promised a few crew, in particular the boys from Norway, that I’d put it up on my soundcloud so here it is.
The track is available for free download. Please take the time to comment, share and follow while you are there. Enjoy.
And while we’re here. Here is a little video of me performing the track at Choppers on Koh Tao, Thailand.
I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. I love my job. Lately I’ve noticed a number of posts while scrolling through social media, they are often worded differently but the main idea is the same. They posed the question; If money was no issue, what would you do with your life?
I can honestly say that I’d still be doing this.
I’m lucky enough to be financially supported by my vocation. At times is does get a little economically stressful but I think those moments are shared by even those that have a lot of money. Being able to pay my own way, and that of my partner, is only a small part of the satisfaction I get from my work. When we first arrived on Ios, a small island in Greece, we were met by a smiling Greek man named Nikolas. He drove us into town and put us in a very large room for a discounted price as he was aware that I was on the island to play music. Within hours I was being greeted by business owners and staff that had heard that I was coming. Hannah and I almost never paid full price for anything from then on. We were treated as part of the Ios family before they had even heard me play. There were a handful of people on the island that had heard me play before my arrival and they quickly spread my reputation among the Ios crew. Many of them made the effort to come check out this “loop guy” and by the time I finished my first week of shows I was being recognized on the street as if I’d lived there my whole life. Next we were offered a house by a couple of lovely Swedish brothers, Nikolas and Lars. They were leaving the island for six weeks so had an empty apartment. The rent was much cheaper than even the staff quarters and we had a lot more space, a beautiful view and a kitchen. Hannah cooked me some delicious meals. It was so good to have a little home cooking again, it had been a few months.
There are a lot of perks that come with the job but the best of all is the way people open up to me after they witness a show. I’ve spoken about it in depth with my father as he was also a performing artist and has shared many of the same experiences. It’s as if people become your friend while you are on stage, they bond with me quite closely while I’m completely unaware. By the time I get off stage they address me as if they have known me for years. I do perform with all of my heart and soul and I guess my song writing and story telling do give a lot of insight to my personality but it’s more than that. People love music. It’s like a drug and I’m the dealer. We met so many lovely people on this island. They all treated us with such kindness and respect. There are too many to write about here but check out this month’s installment of “The Beautiful People We Meet” by Hannah or Chris Penner’s guest blogger piece “Searching For John Stamos” if you’d like to be introduced to a few of them. I’ll miss them but I believe that, at least for some of them, it won’t be the last time we meet.
My main gig on Ios was a popular Mexican restaurant on the headland of Mylopolos Beach named Harmony. It’s owned by a bubbly, blonde, mid thirties, Australian woman named Kathleen that has turned her love for travel and adventure into a business venture. Every season, which lasts from May till September, her and her cute little one year old son Jax make their way back to the other side of the world and continue living the dream. Most nights were quite busy with a great vibe. It was the place to be after beach time and before town kicks off. They had a great team in the kitchen pumping out massive servings of delicious Mexican food. My two favorite blokes on the island Red and Omar manning the bar and a bunch of gorgeous Australian, Irish and Greek girls running the floor that would always have a smile and an ass wiggle for me every time I played that song they like, but it was a seated dinner crowd so I missed a dance floor for most of the time I was there. In fact the one time I finally got that dance floor I’d been craving was the last gig I ever did on that crazy little island at a bar called Lotus. It really was a lovely night. All the crew that we had become close with, well at least the ones that didn’t have to work that night, came down. (Actually one guy that was supposed to work, pulled a sickie so he could come… champion!) Including, once they had closed up, all the staff from down at Harmony. Lotus is an Absinthe bar so as you’d imagine the drinks were flowing and we also had a little help with party inspiration from Mandy, if you know what I mean. It was a magic night and such a perfect way to say goodbye to the island. I started playing Lotus half way through my stay but my hectic schedule at Harmony meant I was only available one night a week. Lotus is owned by a young Greek/German fella named Nikolas and his mother who is one of the rare people that live on the island permanently. I really enjoy Lotus. Every night after I finished my gig at Harmony you could find me down there groovin’ along to Snello’s mixes, having a yarn with Nicko or playing Shut The Box with Lulah and Chris. Poppy would always greet me with a smile and a kiss (both cheeks, we are in Europe now, I must remember) and Antonis would whip up the perfect Espresso Martini.
Ios is a crazy place. I’m a night life kinda guy but this night life was next level. Most of the bars and clubs on the island don’t even open before midnight. The biggest ones don’t open till 3 am and they go all night winding it up around 10 am. The crew that live and work here for the season are all quite youthful, they need to be. They work hard all day and party hard all night. A decent nights sleep is not high on their agenda. I only have to work for 3 hours a day but I still found it difficult to time my siesta right so I didn’t end up walking around glassy eyed and unable to finish a single thought. A lot of the nights kind of blur into one after a while but the 17th of July I remember well as it was the only night I had off the entire time I was on Ios. 41 shows in 42 days. For the past 7 years or so I’ve been performing about 120-150 shows a year. This year I I will well and truely beat that. Last night I played the 85th show of the #looptheworld tour, in three weeks time I’ll be clocking up my 100th. If i keep this up it’ll be about 250 shows by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to Switzerland, I only have to work three nights a week there. I’m craving a few quiet nights in with a pizza and a movie.
I’m writing this while sitting on a train traveling from Milan, Italy to Lucerne, Switzerland. The locomotive is slowly winding it’s way up into the Swiss alps along side a river that has carved a pass through the towering mountains over millions of years. The scenery is breath taking. Unfortunately Hannah is not with me as she lost her passport and needs to go to Athens to get an emergency replacement. She’ll catch up in a couple of days. I’m being picked up in Lucerne by Andrew and Corinne, a lovely couple that I met with Hannah in Thailand. Not only did they book me a bunch of shows but they are also putting us up in their wonderful home. I’m tiered after the transit and missing Hannah’s company but deep in my soul, I am so very happy.
Each month we have a guest blogger write an article for the #looptheworld Letterbox. This month we have the wonderful words of Chris Penner. We first met Chris at one of my shows at Harmony on the island of Ios, Greece. We instantly got along really well, as I often do with Canadians. After we’d hung out a few times, Hannah and I agreed he would be the perfect candidate for our guest blogger this month. He confirmed that with his enthusiastic response when we asked if he’d be interested. Thank you so much for your words Chris. I hope you all enjoy this colourful perspective of the beautiful island of Ios.
For those highly unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with John Stamos, he is an actor who portrayed Uncle Jesse in the 90’s blockbuster television show Full House, alongside the Olsen Twins and Bob Saget; however, more importantly John Stamos is the most handsome Greek man of all time. Even before I wrote this I did a quick google search on the Greek god and one of the first articles was “John Stamos still has amazing hair and side burns”! Have Mercy!!
On June 8th this year my close friend Michael Budd and I decided we would venture to Greece in the hopes of finding this “ómorfo ándra” (beautiful man). It was less of a hunt considering we had jobs lined up on the island of Ios to teach watersports for Mylopotas Watersports on Mylopotas beach, so much repetition in that sentence, my English teacher would be so proud. So! We spent two nights searching the bars in Athens, knowing full well he lives in the U.S.A., we hopped on the ferry to Ios, with an Irish guy named George who we’d convinced to join us, and started our summer in Ios.
As a very sheltered Canadian from outside Toronto, whose travel experience includes all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and Mexico with my family, the move was a bit of a culture shock. Not in any dramatic fashion because Ios is still a tourist destination, it’s not like we were shitting in pots or practicing Ainu Bear Worship, it was the little things. The pace was much slower than Toronto, which should go without saying, and in no offence to Greece, but we realized once we were on the island that we were on Greek time. Meaning if we sat down for dinner expect to wait a bit longer, if you’re told something will arrive in 5 minutes, expect it to be a about 15. This concept wasn’t very difficult to grasp considering the beauty of this island, you can sit, relax, tan, soak in the majesty of what is Ios and colour me surprised, I learned to love it. Furthermore what really shocked me were the showers. Never in my life did I think I would yearn for a showerhead. For those in Canada reading this you’re probably thinking “Cant wait for hockey season to start” but after that you’re thinking “what do you mean lusting for a shower head?”. While I was using the washroom in the first place Mike and I stayed at, I asked where the showerhead was, not realizing it was stuck to a hose in front of me. If you’re lucky the water is hot but you have to spray your body, soap up then hose it all down like you’re getting rid of all your change at a cheap car wash. But that is the extent of my displeasure.
“I’m Living in Paradise” This is a sentence I repeat to myself everyday. I say this to myself on the walk down to work from the village, when times get a bit frustrating at work and mostly when I see the sun set on this island and I truly believe that. I have never been to a better place in the world. It’s sunny everyday, the temperature is perfect, there are never any clouds, and it’s acceptable to drink every night. But beyond the weather and the acceptance of alcoholism are the people. Before I left I had my very tight group of friends that I was content with, more than content to be honest, I never considered travelling and as much I love meeting new Canadians I was a bit apprehensive of experiencing new cultures and people. Will it be difficult? What are they going to think of me? Will we get along? Will they be rude or closed minded? Which turned out to be the complete opposite and my absolute favorite part of travelling, besides the late night wakeboarding, sunset cruises, smashing drinks and skinny-dipping as the sunsets over the Mediterranean. I had met so many wonderful people, friends I will have for life, which I believe is the greatest part of travelling. Opening up to stranger and discovering what it is they love, what are their struggles, their future plans and experiences is like food for the soul. Finding common interest with a person born on opposite sides of the world is exhilarating and I’ve fallen completely in love with it. Which brings me to Simon Wright and Hannah Blake.
July 2008, Molson Amphitheater with Mark Hubner was the first time I saw Dave Matthews Band live. February 2010, Dan Hammonds basement with Sam Statham I watched Sidney Crosby score the golden goal for Canada to win the Olympic gold medal and June 2015 at Harmony restaurant with Mitch Bolton and Mike Budd, I saw Simon Wright play for the very first time. There are moments in your life that are burned into your memory with a cattle prong and watching Simon perform was certainly one of them. I am a music lover and a live music fanatic and there aren’t many words in my limited vocabulary to describe how I felt that night: Shocked, awed, amazed, blown away and chills. At one point during his performance he did a remix of the Game of Thrones theme song and being a GOT nerd I could barely contain the little girl scream I wanted to release. I kept it totally cool and just looked across the table at Mike showing him the hairs that were standing up on my arm and he returned the same gesture. I had never experienced a looping machine before and to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention during the first song until I thought there were about 6 people on stage only to glance over and to my great surprise there was just one dude. It was incredible! After meeting Simon and Hannah and discovering that their spirits and personalities outshined his talent was mind blowing. Here are two incredible people, talent and kindness taller than the CN Tower (had to get a Canada reference in here somewhere) and so down to earth. I feel extremely lucky to have seen Simon perform his music and extremely privileged to call them my friends!
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering “what happened to George who you convinced to come to Ios with you?” as you should be! Well, George got a 600Euro ticket and had to go home after 3 weeks, I miss him but Ios got the best of him as it does of many people. I myself have felt at times that the island is beating me, which is nearly impossible cause I’m a 6’5 man stuck in a 5’8 frame. Thankfully I’ve met the best people in the world to share my first summer abroad with and I enjoy everyday a little bit more than the previous, meaning to say everyday is the best day of my life on Ios!!
Thanks for reading,
We didn’t meet Josh on this particular #looptheworld adventure. We met him on our last trip to Thailand in February earlier this year. However Josh is one of the beautiful people that we met on that holiday who inspired us to stat this column. We had just stepped off the airplane in Surath Thani, Thailand, which is not a glamorous airport and we were looking to book our ferry ticket over to Koh Tao. Alas, each counter that we went to were sold out. Standing in the line at the last counter we discussed that if we couldn’t get the ferry to Koh Tao we could head to Koh Phangan for the night instead. I mean, a night on Phangan is always a good adventure. We were interrupted by a tall handsome man standing behind us who commented on Simon’s guitar. The normal “oh you play guitar? Me too…” conversation followed and pleasantries were exchanged.
Koh Tao, sold out. We purchased our tickets and a Phangan sticker was placed on our shoulder. With no accommodation booked and the full moon party only a few days away we did wonder if it was going to be difficult to find a place to sleep but didn’t stress on it too much because “the universe works wonders”.
We’re piled on to a bus and drive for about 45 minutes. Anyone that has travelled will know as soon as you have had even one small exchange with someone it seems that the next time you bump into them it’s like seeing an old friend. At the dock Simon, Josh and I got chatting about our travels, music and life. A few beers in and we’re on the ferry bound for Phangan. A few more beers and we’re talking religion, philosophy and music and just for good measure we talk a little more music. I love those moments, which seem to happen more frequently whilst travelling, where there is an instant connection between people and it truly does feel like you are old friends. By the end of the ferry ride Josh had graciously offered us a bed in his room and we were all looking forward to a night out on the infamous Phangan.
We were sad to leave Josh the next day but managed to convince him to come to Koh Tao after the full moon party.
Josh is one of those magnetic people that you meet who are happy and comfortable within themselves and so always attracts other good humans. When he arrived on Koh Tao a few days later of course he brought with him more lovely friends who he’d just met. For the next few days we explored Turtle Island via scooter, snorkel and foot. Josh is a musician, photographer, videographer and film maker. When we met him he was on his way home from a pilgrimage style trip in India were he traveled to small towns and large cities filming a documentary on Indian music and learning as much as he could. I’m really looking forward to the finished product.
Josh generously suggested that he make a video clip for Simon. One night at Fishbowl Beach Bar we filmed a set with one GoPro and one DSLR. He edited the clip upon his return home in New York.
This is what he created. Enjoy!
Thank you so much Josh. We are so pleased that we met you and look forward to more adventures somewhere else in the world.
Check out some more of Josh’s work at http://www.vimeo.com/joshallenimages
In June 2014 I met up with Andy V on Koh Tao in the Thai Gulf to play a string of shows over 12 days. We played every night except one in two venues. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays we would play at an Aussie Bar namedChoppersand on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays we would play at a bar on the beach named Fishbowl. Though Andy and I have played a lot of music together in the past it had been almost 3 years since our last jam (With the exception of one hip little gig at a whiskey bar in Byron Bay). In this time both Andy and myself had started playing with the Boss RC loop stations. I am on Beatbox, guitar, vocals and MCing and Andy takes control of bass, keys, sax and vocals. It’s amazing what two guys with loop stations can get cooking.
It was great fun working with Andy, I learnt a lot and played some of the best music of my life in a tropical paradise. Good times.