Hotei Euro Tour 2017

March 21, 2017

Japanese superstar HOTEI returns to Europe in April 2017 with live dates scheduled in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, playing in many cities for the very first time.

Says Hotei:

My career started from playing in small clubs in Japan, and we built it up to the level where I was able to play in front of stadiums full of screaming fans.

And now, I’m opening the door to the world, starting again from playing small clubs in new, unfamiliar places. Back to basics, never lose your ambition even in your success―that’s my philosophy. One step at a time with your own steps, that’s the only way to achieve your dreams.

I can guarantee you that you will be up on your feet dancing once you hear me play live with my amazing band, even if you are not familiar with me. Those who are bored with experiencing live performances with no soul will be surprised at how refreshing it is to see a real ‘live’ performance!

I am really looking forward to meeting as many people as possible on this Euro tour! If you can’t connect with the soul of the audience in front of you, there’s no chance to grab the hearts of thousands!

Hotei celebrated his 35th anniversary in music in 2016 with a new “Best of” album release and an extensive touring schedule in Japan, with 57 dates across the country. The shows ranged from intimate club shows, to a free open-air concert in his hometown in front of 25,000 fans and finishing the year with his 40th performance at the Budokan in Tokyo on December 30th, where Hotei performed 35 songs to celebrate his 35 years in music.

Hotei also found time in 2016 to continue building his international profile, striking up a personal and professional relationship with Italian superstar Zucchero and performing on his latest, platinum selling, album “Black Cat”. Hotei and Zuccchero performed live together several times in 2016, including Zucchero’s first ever performance in Japan at a special event in Tokyo, and at headline shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London and Arena Di Verona in Italy.

That special relationship has continued into 2017 with Hotei joining Zucchero on stage at the prestigious San Remo Festival in Italy in February, a major TV performance viewed by millions.

Also in 2016, Hotei released singles with godfather of punk Iggy Pop and Richard Z. Kruspe (from Emigrate/Rammstein) from his critically acclaimed debut international album, “Strangers”, and performed his first-ever LA show at the legendary Troubador, returned to the Highline Ballroom in New York, and performed headline dates in Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.

Hotei released his debut international album, Strangers, in 2015 through Spinefarm Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music. The album features an array of guests including the godfather of punk Iggy Pop singing on two songs, Emigrate/Rammstein’s Richard Z. Kruspe, Bullet For My Valentine’s Matt Tuck, Noko from UK electronic band pioneers Apollo 440, and acclaimed Texan singer Shea Seger.

Heralded by Time Out as “iconic”, and a genuine superstar in his native Japan where he has sold more than 40 million records, Hotei is best known internationally for his Kill Bill theme ‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’ and is sought-after as a collaborator both in the studio and on stage.

Hotei – European Tour April 2017

March 17, 2017

I will be working with Hotei in April. For those of you interested to know, his website says “We’ve added a couple more shows to the Euro tour, which now encompasses shows in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. Tickets are available now for all shows. Hotei will be joined by longstanding live collaborator, Zac Alford on drums, Japanese keyboard player Okuno, and London based all rounder Noko, who will be playing bass.”

Hotei’s new album “Strangers” features collaborations with the legendary Iggy Pop, Richard Z. Kruspe from European rock gods Emigrate/Rammstein, Matt Tuck from British rock band Bullet For My Valentine, Noko from electronic music pioneers Apollo 440 and acclaimed Texas singer Shea Seger.

Hotei comments, “When I was a teenager I was going to the record shops to buy everything I could by The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin… I soon realised that almost all of it was British. With idols like David Bowie and T-Rex, I’ve always felt a strong connection to the UK and now that I am living in London, ‘Strangers’ allows me to take a step out of this new and relatively anonymous space to introduce myself. A stranger to many, remembering the days when I was young and just starting out, playing gigs to a room of only 20 people, I want to connect with people individually and let them understand me through my music.”

11th April 2017 Euro Tour: Frankfurt, Zoom
12th April 2017 Euro Tour: Cologne, Clubbahnof Ehrenfeld
14th April 2017 Euro Tour: Amsterdam, Paradiso
15th April 2017 Euro Tour: Paaspop Festival, Netherlands
17th April 2017 Euro Tour: Hamburg, Indra Club
18th April 2017 Euro Tour: Berlin, Musik + Frieden
21st April 2017 Euro Tour: Zurich, Papiersaal
22nd April 2017 Euro Tour: Brussels, Rotonde Botanique

Hope to see some of you on the road… can find out more on Hotei’s website. He’s a kind and decent bloke but he’s a demon on the guitar. Come and see…..

Free The Weed 39 – by John Sinclair

May 25, 2014

John Sinclair at 12 Bar Club, London, Sunday 11th May 2014

Highest greetings from London, where it’s still a crime to smoke and possess cannabis products and the medical use of marijuana is not yet recognized by the forces of the Crown. Like the guy at Customs told me a couple of years ago when he seized my medically prescribed cannabis in its official Dutch medical container and refused my offer to present my Dutch prescription and my Michigan medical marijuana card: “This is just smuggling drugs to us.”

I’m in London to mark the release of my new album MOHAWK from Ironman Records and play a couple of little gigs with my drummer and comrade Steve The Fly, who produced the album for me in Amsterdam and is here with me for the month where we’re guests of Caleb Selah and The Fuck You Sound internet radio studios in the Blackheath sector of southeast London.

We’re in good hands here and our medical and recreational needs are being well attended, and that’s a very good thing. At the end of the month I’ll be enjoying the great honor of opening for Marshall Allen & The Sun Ra Arkestra at the Sun Ra Centennial concert at the Barbican Centre—one of the highest points of my performing arts career, now in its 50th year, and I’m very happy to be here.

But I have to confess that I’m looking forward to fulfilling my artistic duties here and moving on to my favorite roost, the beautiful city of Amsterdam, where my daily life is centered on the coffeeshop called the 420 Café located right in the center of the city. I’m the Poet In Residence at the 420 when I’m in town and I take my post there just about every afternoon, plug in my laptop, have a coffee and roll a joint, greet my friends, conduct my correspondence, record my radio shows and work on scheduling and posting the programs for my internet radio station,

As a poet, writer, internet broadcaster and public intellectual fueled by art, information, marijuana and espresso, there’s no better place for me than the 420 Café to hang out and get my work done without interruption or discomfort. In my travels and in daily life, all I need to keep up with my work is a place with Wi-Fi to plug in and work my keyboard, and I’m usually hunched over my MacBook at a table in somebody’s kitchen as a guest in their home, but it’s far more satisfying for me to be able to take care of my little business in a public setting where I can quietly fit in to the flow of humanity around me and feel more like a human being myself.

Since I left New Orleans in 2003 to try to base myself in Amsterdam I haven’t had a home of my own, and after my first 60 years residing in a series of apartments and houses while I found my way in life, married, had children, remarried, gained more children and somehow got them all through the Detroit public schools, then moved to New Orleans and spent 12 years in residence there with my wife Penny, I was ready for something different.

A house fire in New Orleans in 2000 burnt up my most prized possessions, my music and book collections, and with the counseling of my Buddhist friends I learned to live without them. I set out for Amsterdam a couple of years later with “a suitcase stuffed with clothing / & a bag full of manuscripts / & hand-burnt CDs.” My wife was settled in Detroit attending to her aging mother while I went ahead to try to make a place for us across the Atlantic Ocean, but it turned out she didn’t like it there and decided to stay in Detroit. So I left the furniture and all my other possessions there with her and kept on with my quest to establish myself in a strange—but very comfortable—new place with very few material encumbrances.

After a lifetime as a tenant with familial responsibilities I was on my own in a foreign land without a housing budget or any visible means of support, suddenly dependent on my friends and sympathizers for a place to sleep and the means of survival. Twelve years in New Orleans living by my wits as a music writer, performer, community radio broadcaster and slash-&-burn barnstorming bard had produced barely enough remuneration to keep up with the rent, and I concluded that if I had to starve in New Orleans, I could just as well try to starve in Amsterdam where at the very least I wouldn’t have to be worrying about the police and nobody was armed.

So I starved for several years until I could get my footing, but the 420 Café has sustained me throughout my entire occupation of Amsterdam and provided me with a stable base from which to operate, ensure my survival, make new friends, and keep up with my self-imposed workload. They play music that you can listen to, my own tunes are on the playlist, the splendid staff of the 420 has furnished some of my closest friends, and I’m always made to feel more than welcome in the warm, comfortable environs of this old-school cannabis café.

The great thing about the cannabis café culture is that there’s one for everybody. There used to be 750 coffeeshops in Amsterdam, but even with the continual shrinkage mandated by the government over the past 20 years there are still more than 200 operating coffeeshops that cater to every stripe of the smoking community. Each has its own distinctive ambience, its own musical direction, its own menu of weed and hash, its own non-alcoholic drink specialties, and its own idiosyncratic clientele.

There are coffeeshops in far-flung neighborhoods for the local tokers, many varied spots in the Centrum for touring smokers of every origination, hard-rock coffeeshops, joints that play house music, rap, reggae, jazz and classic rock. If you’re a resident or a regular visitor, you choose your favorite hang and fall in whenever you want to. It’ll have the menu you want to pick from, the music you want to hear and the patrons you want to be with, or you move on to another place that looks like where you want to be at.

As a life-long daily marijuana smoker, this is my idea of civilization. In my old age I’ve managed to arrange my affairs so I can get to stay in Amsterdam for about half the year, traveling to London and around Europe to perform as requested and returning to the States to visit my daughters and granddaughters, do enough work to keep paying my way, and stay in touch with what my hundreds of friends in Detroit and New Orleans and all around the country are doing to make life more interesting all the time.

One of my brightest dreams remains to establish a coffeeshop like this in Detroit where the laws would now allow it, a place where registered marijuana patients could come, present their cards, take a seat at the table of their choice, have a coffee or a juice or a soft drink with their friends, and light up and be somebody while the music of Radio Free Amsterdam is played continuously as the appropriate soundtrack for the setting.

I’m out of space for this month but think about how great that will be when it finally happens. Free The Weed!

May 25, 2014
© 2014 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Free The Weed 35 – by John Sinclair

February 4, 2014

John Sinclair

Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where people in the cannabis community are looking on in wonder as the United States takes its first tentative steps toward legalizing marijuana for use by all thinking persons over 18 years of age.

Like they say in New Orleans, a lotta people don’t know that marijuana is not actually legal in the Netherlands, although over-the-counter sales of cannabis has been allowed under what they call a “grey area” in the law which amounts to a sort of super-decriminalization policy that not only eliminates arrest but lets smokers buy and ingest the sacrament in designated coffee shops without police interference.

But growing, distribution, wholesale transfer and delivery are still fully illegal, growers are tracked down and arrested, distributors are intercepted, delivery remains fully clandestine, shop owners are prohibited from stocking more than 500 grams of cannabis products on the premises at any one time, and even the consumer is limited to purchases of no more than 5 grams per trip.

So the mouths of the men and women in the Netherlands cannabis industry water with envy while they watch the people of the states of Colorado and Washington provide for full legalization of marijuana and its open distribution in dispensaries and other licensed public outlets.

Dutch tokers have enjoyed and taken great pride in their peculiar form of cannabis decriminalization for more than 40 years, but the Dutch government has always refused to move the rest of the way toward legalization and now the pioneering role of the coffeeshop culture is being usurped by two of the United States, with several more sure to follow soon.

For example, in an historic new development in America, the General Assembly of the state of New Hampshire recently voted in favour of House Bill 492, which calls for the legalization of personal use and home cultivation of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older and the establishment of regulations for the retail production and sale of cannabis.

This makes the New Hampshire House the first state legislative chamber ever to vote in favour of regulating cannabis and, as a NORML report hopefully speculates, “signal[s] that politicians are finally beginning to acknowledge the will of their constituents.” Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan, however, has already voiced her opposition to House Bill 492 and intends to veto it if it reaches her desk.

But she’s just following the bad example of her party’s leader, President Barack Obama, who told The New Yorker recently that he is “troubled at the disproportionate number of arrests and imprisonments of minorities for marijuana use” but has no plans to rescind the nation’s idiotic marijuana laws which trigger those arrests.

The President admitted that he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer… [but] I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.

“As has been well documented,” the President said, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.”

The New Yorker points out that the Obama administration “has given states permission to experiment with marijuana regulation…. The president said it was important for the legalization of marijuana to go forward in those states to avoid a situation in which only a few are punished while a large portion of people have broken the law at one time or another.”

Obama said in the interview that users shouldn’t be locked up for “long stretches of time” when people writing drug laws “have probably done the same thing.”

“The experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge,” the president said. Yeah, a challenge to the federal government to dare to ignore the expressed will of the electorate and keep on harassing, arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning people for smoking pot and trying to get their heads right.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Once public approval of marijuana legalization moves over 60% — it’s reached 58% now — legislators and elected officials will start falling all over each other to move legalization into reality, and it’ll be a whole new day not only in the U.S.A. but all over the western world.

In line with the thoughts expressed in this particular column, I’ll be travelling from Amsterdam to Denver, Colorado to gain some experiential knowledge into how the new law is working out for people like ourselves. I’ll be playing at the Neal Cassady Birthday Party at the Mercury Café and then nosing around Denver and environs for a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to reporting from there for my next column.

I’ll be getting into Colorado just two days after the Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks for the National Football League championship in the Super Bowl, which some pundits are calling the first ever Marijuana Bowl—since, as NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre points out, it features “the two most pro-cannabis-legalization cities in the U.S.” He suggests that the game should be renamed “The Super Oobie Doobie Bowl.”

Bob Troutman reports (courtesy of my pal Michael Donnelly, a Flint native and long-time resident of Portland, Oregon) that “Super Bowl bets between Denver and Seattle mayors are in. If the Seahawks win the game, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will get a quarter pound of ‘Hickenlooper Mile High OG Kush.’ Should the Broncos win, Mayor Michael Hancock will receive an equal amount of ‘Seattle Armageddon Space Needle G-Force Indica.’”

Talk of the Marijuana Bowl inspired Nick Creegan of FOX Sports to write a thoughtful piece exploring some of the contradictions inherent in the present scheme of state-by-state legalization under the dark ugly cloud of the federal prohibition of cannabis.

For one thing, Creegan writes, “It is still illegal for NFL players who live in the state to use marijuana because it violates the drug policy under the current collective bargaining agreement. The same will go for Washington when their pot doors open this spring.

“The NFL is getting pressured by lobbyists to stop penalizing players for smoking pot, saying it could be helpful for getting through concussions and other injuries.

“The lobbyists are also calling attention to the fact the league is fond of the alcohol industry, such as their relationship with Anheuser-Busch. They pitch Bud Light as the ‘proud sponsor of the NFL’ and even had some ads in rotation showing Budweiser and Bud Light bottles going head-to-head in what they called a ‘Bud Bowl’ game.”

Creegan says that last September the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver put up a 48-foot-wide billboard next to the city’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, insisting that the NFL needs to “stop driving players to drink” and the “safer choice” for athletes was actually pot. A petition was launched by the group in efforts to get NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to change the league’s marijuana policy.

Finally, Creegan ponders whether “pot legalization in a state [is] making teams more successful” and points out that “For the states where marijuana is outlawed completely, they’ve actually had a difficult time in the postseason. The Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals all come from states that have not decriminalized pot. Go figure.

“If you noticed, the more marijuana-friendly localities really kicked butt,” he concludes. “I don’t know what it really means in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a nice bit of karma if nothing else.”

January 21-22, 2014
© 2014 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.