I … apparently … made a right tit of myself last week. I’m still processing it. I know I can get a little OTT when I meet someone or something I like – and like a lot. I’ve been known to enthuse a tad. But apparently this time I was positively gushing in my groupieness. I may have even used the word to describe myself. BLUSH. MEGA BLUSH. I just don’t do well when awed.

I still squirm when I remember being at a gig at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. A chance encounter with a fave author (Pat McCabe) complete with a witty throwaway line that he asked to borrow (the man using my words – I was in awe-city), was blown to smithereens when I asked the dumbest of dumb questions during his interview with Neil Jordan. Mortified. I’m still mortified.

Last Wednesday’s performance lacks the mortification element as it was only witnessed by four others, not four hundred. And while I’m still getting ragged about it, they’ll forget in time.

Three days after I was born, Ludwig (Lutz) Knoglinger was celebrating his 11th birthday in Linz, Austria. Little did he know that half a century later, in a bar in Budapest, our paths would cross and that I’d feel driven to tell him just exactly what I thought of him.

These days, he goes by the name Ripoff Raskolnikov (remember Crime and Punishment?) and while not nearly as famous as Dostoevsky’s main man, he certainly deserves to be.

It was a cold Wednesday evening in May. He was playing in Kobuci Kert, one of my favourite BP venues for live music. The crowd wasn’t as big as it could have been, had the weather been cooperating. We had a table near the front, as all three guitar-playing friends wanted to watch the man play. Me? I was happy enough to sit and listen.

I like my blues to have lyrics that make me think. And Ripoff writes beautifully. Everything is temporary. Lenin Street. And a favourite – It’s not easy.

I like it too, when I don’t matter. When I know that whoever is on stage would be giving it welly even if there was no one listening or watching. The way blues takes you inside, that visible inward folding, that’s what gives it soul.

I wish, though, that he didn’t speak Hungarian, that he stuck to English, as I was only getting a smattering of his between-song commentary, which, by the crowd’s reaction, was as funny as all git out. No. No. That’s stupid. Of course I don’t wish that he didn’t speak Hungarian; I just wish that I did. My bad.

It’s beyond me why he’s not world famous. He’d give Tom Waits a run for his money any day. I’d heard tell that it was more choice than circumstance and that I’d quite believe. He seems too laid back to crave the limelight. He said though that fame had passed him by. Or at least, that’s what I think he said. It was all a bit of daze. I was gibbering. He looked bemused. And as I said, I don’t do well when I’m in awe.

The good news is that he’s a regular to Hungary and is playing in Zala County on 2 June. And I can’t very well pass that up. [I’m sure I invited him to drop by for dinner.] The lovelies are in from Ireland that weekend so it’ll be an airport-gig run. Whatever I can do to introduce the world to Ripoff Raskolnikov I will do – I’m on a mission.

WOW… I’ve just noticed that he plays Kobuci Kert in August, on my birthday. Well, that’s that sorted, SJ. We’re staying put. For other gigs in Europe this year, check the website.


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