Travellin’ Light

John Lindberg Answers 20 About Life on the Road

JazzHop Revolution
JazzHop Revolutionaries: Tani Tabbal, John Lindberg, Rahman Jamaal

John Lindberg is primarily known as a bassist, composer and co-founder of the String Trio of New York, which celebrates its 30th anniversary concert season in 2007-08. He has branched out into film, both as a producer and a writer. His current projects include the film/recording/performance project JazzHop Revolution, featuring hip-hop artist/actor Rahman Jamaal and drummer Tani Tabbal, which is scheduled for a February 2007 release by Lindberg’s Lindy Film and Recording Editions. In January, Lindy will release Bass Walk, a twenty minute short, written and produced by Lindberg and co-directed with Burrill Crohn. The film’s opening trailer can be seen on the newly enhanced Lindberg is also performing with pianist/vibraphonist Karl Berger to support Duets 1 (between the lines), co-leading the John Lindberg/Kevin Norton Quartet with Dave Ballou and J.D. Parran in a program of commissioned from the leaders from Meet the Composer's Commissioning Music/USA Program.

What is the most difficult airline to deal with in terms of instruments and equipment?

Well, they’ve all been a gigantic pain in the ass at one time or another concerning the bass. But the one that pushed me over the edge ( I no longer fly with the bass, my rider calls for presenters to provide quality instruments), was Air France. I had gotten the instrument over there free of charge in the flight case in checked baggage, and then was charged something like $800 to return with it, pleas to supervisor and all went for naught. And you are stuck, the flight is boarding, you have to get to the next place, that was it. And oddly back in the 80’s Air France was the coolest, they use to let me bring it on the plane and put it in an empty business class seat for free with a big smile and comments, like “Of course we’ll let an artist like yourself do that if it makes the trip more comfortable.” Times do change…

Which airline has the worst economy seating and food?

I don’t think it exists anymore—I hope not—but it was a charter airline called Trans International Airlines. The seats didn’t recline and they had no food…I vaguely remember them passing around a paper sack full of mealy apples when they had to stop in Gander, Newfoundland to refuel.

Which airport is craziest for making connecting flights?

For sheer unique craziness it was in Bangalore, India. I remember sitting in a thatched hut terminal walking out to a dirt runway and getting on and off little airplanes until they found one that worked…I think it was Bangalore, but it might have been somewhere more obscure…anyway it was in India, and memorable. Here in the States my hometown Detroit Metro takes the cake. Your connection always seems to be somewhere between two and three miles away through a maze of alternative ways of getting there just to find out it is cancelled because they don’t fly in blizzards…

What is the most important thing you ever forgot to pack?

Condoms…then socks.

What is your worst lost baggage story?

It was the worst and best. The airline sent my bass flight case to Salt Lake City and I landed in Des Moines. They were sorry and explained to me they couldn’t get me the bass for another day or so. I explained I was a major concert soloist and had a major performance that night in Des Moines and my only recourse would be to rent an exquisite instrument equal to mine and that cost a lot of money. Eventually a supervisor bought my pathetic plea and laid several hundred bucks out of petty cash on me to placate my misery. After much calling around to get another bass at the last minute, they delivered my bass to the hotel in time for the concert with a note saying keep the money for your inconvenience.

What country hassles musicians the most at customs and passport checks?

Israel. Back in the days before open borders and the EU and all the other changes in Europe, East Germany and Austria were the most harrowing gauntlets to run there. But nowhere can touch Israel in this category.

Which city has the worst cab drivers?

Again this is the worst and best. I call it even between Amsterdam and Athens for completely insane, ultra fast and illegal driving maneuvers that are highly life threatening but sure as hell--at least so far--get you to the gig or train or airport on time!

What is the best hotel that a presenter has provided for you?

There have been some great ones—but the criteria must be considered, I mean is it what happened at the hotel or just how resplendent the accommodations were in general?

Three come to mind for altogether different reasons: A hotel in Madras, India on the ocean, DoubleTree Suites in suburban Philadelphia, and Hotel Saint Germain in Paris.

Do you travel with a laptop or a PDA? If so, how many times a day do you check your e-mail?

No laptop, no PDA. I check e-mail sporadically on hotel computers.

Do you listen to music on the road? If so, what device do you use?

Yes, the device is between my ears. I listen to music in my head, and that’s all. Really.

Do you do your own laundry on the road?

No. But once Marty Ehrlich and I gave it a try in Austria in late November. Man, we had it together—the little bottle of Woolite and everything, and we were washing stuff in the sinks and bathtubs because we saw there was a laundry line outside the hotel. We went and hung our stuff out there. The next morning we had a stack of frozen solid clothes neatly piled on the floor wondering what the hell to do with that. We got them into several large plastic bags, and by the time we got to the next gig we had nice clean soggy clothes and a bunch of extra plastic sacks to carry. No more road laundry for me.

What is your most nightmarish sound check to date?

The one at West Point, NY, where a speaker feedback squelch permanently damaged my left ear and gave me a case of tinnitus to live with forever. That’s pretty nightmarish—and the nightmare don’t stop.

What is the scariest food that has been laid out for you backstage?

None. As in you haven’t had a chance to eat all day, no restaurants will be open after the show and you have no time before the show and the food backstage is none. I don’t know if that is scary, but it’s certainly a mild form of torture.

What are your three favorite venues?

Again this is a question of thinking about what happened in the venue, as well as the venue on its own. Spontaneously, I’d say Philharmonic Hall in Berlin, Le Petit Faucheux in Tours, France and Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

Which cities have the best restaurants for late after-gig meals?

Paris, and Santiago in Chile.

Which cities have the best after-hours sessions?

Never been to one.

What is the best city that closes down too early?

The best cities don’t close down too early, but for some strange reason I wish Passau, Germany would stay open later.

What is the best locale to have a day off?

Los Angeles. I love hanging out at Venice Beach.

What is your cure for jet lag?

There’s a cure?

What is your best tip for the novice?

Start having fun, keep having fun, then have more fun.

Ruined Time

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