They tell me that the longer you continue reading this the better the chance that you will make the wise choice to purchase my album. I believe them, so read on and I will tell you my story and hopefully shine a light on the origins of the songs on 'Karaburun'. My name is John Chiecsek and I am of Irish, Hungarian/Austrian descent. I was born in the musical hotbed city of St.Louis. Mo.......(biggies...Chuck Berry....Miles Davis...does Nellie count?).. and what does that have to do with this CD? Nothing, really except this place is loaded with talented musicians and I'd like to think that a speck of it fell on me. I am the middle child of five, with two older sisters and a younger brother and sister. As a middle child I am stereotypical. Trying to fit in, stuck in between, fighting for attention...you know the story... My family moved three times between my fifth and ninth birthdays. First moving to Nashville "yaawl' for a while and then on to New Jersey where I picked up the clarinet. I was a shy boy, and again the "new kid in town", I'd get chased home from PUBLIC school by bullies and have to be rescued by my big sister Cheryl, .who takes no shit! I was a good boy (you know how that turns out) and after having moved once again back to St. Louis I decided to become a priest. Luckily, I visited a monastery, where I felt strangely uncomfortable. Thank God for intuition, something was not kosher there, actually... nothing was. Anyway, back "home" we picked right up right where we left off, Catholic school, sports, fish fries, turkey shoots ...etc...when one dark night at the school fair, I had my first anxiety attack...(carnys)...no they actually began back in Jersey while watching an episode of Marcus Wellby MD, in which a character played by the kid who was Greg Brady on the Brady bunch was diagnosed with Leukemia. For me, instant hypochondria....(wait... it all makes sense now, I'm off the couch, so sorry Doc! I don't need you anymore and it's time to start saving $) Leapfrog ahead...and my first guitar teacher is a nun...sister Suzy, Sarah ? Leapfrog again and I'm senior in High School and working in a satellite gas station at a Target store. My sister Cheryl had been studying in Germany and my oldest sister Donna had a ticket to visit her. Well, Donna got engaged and decided not to go to Europe and very generously offered me her ticket. This is a pivotal point in my story. In the meantime I get fired from the gas station for playing my guitar while waiting for customers. That felt pretty good. I was quitting a few days later anyway. So, I'm off to Europe and the best time ever. Belgium, Austria skiing and Florence drinking Chianti on the Pont de Vecchio, followed by the worst hangover ever, ending up sick in Paris and broke enough to shoplift while waiting for parents to send us $. I vowed then to return to Europe within 5 years and stay for a while. It took me 8. In between I was part of a garage band named "Forced Bussing" that had lots of fun playing, recording and once was shut down by a police helicopter during a Jimmy Page solo, then on to a year at the U. of Mo, AKA Mizzou, followed by a short time working in Yellowstone Park, to a big decision to take music seriously and move to Boston and the Berklee School of Music. Having only student loan money already piling up from Mizzou, the first thing I had to do was find a job. I did at a Natural Food store on Boylston St. There, I ate a lot of free raw cashews and discovered supplements... candy to the hypochondriac. I then got an offer to move across the street to become a "bellman" at the Lenox Hotel. (Thank you Bob and Peter) What a great time....Really if you have a chance.... It was a hotel frequented by many musicians...including Stephan Grapelly, Bo Diddley (who had me lug that heavy square guitar up to his room) and Pat Metheny, (to whom I later delivered his dry cleaned undergarments) and many more. Boston! .... Are you still reading? Just put that CD in your cart now and listen...After that lonely two year productive Scotch discovering stint I drove back to St. Louis in a $500.00 Cape Cod rusted out BMW that I bought from a guy named Charlie, who left his high school diploma in the glove box, where I was fortunate through certain herby connections to join great Reggae band and have my first taste of "success" The band was and is still called "Murder City Players" named after one of our city's infamous claims. It was a great experience. There were big crowds, beers the snuff of the 80's and pretty girls. We opened up for some big acts and backed up the great vocal group the Ital's when their band got stuck at the border. During this time I was also teaching guitar and wanting to play some American music. I figured I'd have a better chance reaching my musical potential playing Jazzy or original music. This led directly to a guitar duo. Myself and another Jon whom started out busking, playing mostly songs by Django Rheinhardt and Charlie Christian, still my two favorites. We soon named the duo SwingSet and it began to grow. In the back of my mind was my commitment to return to Europe so in 1988 just the 2 of us took off for Amsterdam. Jon had a return ticket for 3 months and I had $400.00 and wanted to stay for at least a year. As in Boston, I knew I'd have to find some work fast in order to stay. In a nutshell, we immediately met an eccentric Dutchman who had multiple passports; all legal who took us under his wing. After having questioned our reasons for choosing A'Dam, "You're not here just for the drugs, are you?? He introduced us to a north American couple that lived on a dry docked very small boat next to his floating boat on a piece of land directly behind the A'Dam zoo. Jon and I played in the street and on the houseboats and a club called the String. We were lucky to be able to stay in a wagon/caravan on the squatted piece of land down the dock. I later bought that wagon from a guy I never met named Coleman, a Canadian friend of Robert and Cecile's who had gone off to Japan. The price was 1400.00 Guilders, roughly $700.00. I borrowed that. After couple of great trips, one in which we hitchhiked to Berlin and took the train from East Berlin to Budapest and then hitched back Jon's 3 months was up and he took off. This brings us finally back to the Album. The next year and a half was tough. I washed dishes in a squatted restaurant and did any odd job possible to scratch by. I lived on almost nothing and spent the few guilders I earned on food and beer. I'm not playing my little violin here, just the facts. I made some great friends. These times in a life are unlike normal time. They are condensed. 3 months is more like a year. The 20 years since then feel so light, more like 10. This is the time when I wrote most of these songs. I was too "shy" to play them. Too insecure, too exposed for criticism. I was definitely the center of my own neurotic universe and not good enough. It took me this long to feel OK about letting people hear them. It took this long to realize what not a big deal it is. Anyway, I ended up staying in A'Dam for about 16 months and during a last excursion to Spain and Portugal I met a German girl on a nude beach and had a moment of "Thank you God! Bliss". And it was just a walk. It was better than sex. It was beauty, romance, youth, ignorance/bliss, possibility...and I was going home in 2 weeks. I told her I'd come back in 6 months to see her in Berlin. It all sounded great. I sold my caravan to a hippie named Derrick for the same price I paid for it and came back to St Louis. I started playing with SwingSet again and saved my money to go back and see Uta. It was more than just to see her. It was sort of like finishing up a chapter of your life that you know is over. 6 months later, after having exchanged letters, one of hers telling me of plans for us to travel to Prague and stay in cheap hotels and walk the streets and something about Kafka, I could not wait. Unfortunately, 2 days before my departure I received a call from her, telling me that she had a new boyfriend, a German, close by and that our romance was impractical and sweet but that I should not come and "I'm so sorry". A preemptive "Dear John " letter. Needless to say that kind of brought me down. What was I going to do in A'Dam for a month with nowhere to stay in February? I arrived totally down. Typical Dutch weather and nothing to do but hang out and get drunk, I decided to go to Turkey. Several friends from before had gone and said how beautiful it was and cheap, always a concern. I bought a bus ticket to Istanbul and took off. During most of the long trip I was the only non-Turk on the bus and was already a nervous wreck. This trip was tough. Like a long slow steady panic attack. I ended up in Izmir, beautiful. Where I promptly went for a drink and met another guy named Jon. He happened to be Dutch. Ironic, He said, "This is not the real Turkey, if you want to see the real Turkey come with me! I said, I'm here, sound great. I wanted the maximum experience. So he took me to a small seaside town called Karaburun, where he worked as an interpreter for everyone. He spoke and I'm sure speaks at least 12 languages. Any tourist in town was able to communicate with him around, from English to Russian to Japanese etc.... He was not your average guy. He told me of being in a comma for months as a boy in Holland and after having been injected with some moisture from the wall inside his house how he finally stood up in bed awake. He told me of going to Paris for the first time where he walked out of the train station, looked around and recognized street names. He realized he already knew French. He told me of being confused with so many languages running through his mind and forgetting his mother tongue when on the phone back to Holland. Craziest of all he recalled memories of being in the womb and feeling punches and asking his mother when he grew up if she was trying to abort him and her saying yes, I'm so sorry. He was very intense and we both liked to drink. We drank a lot of Raki and water. I ate goat brains and got hit on by men during Ramadan. There was also a fort on top of a cliff overlooking the sea where a general lived. He liked Jon and called us in to his compound. A machine gun toting soldier opened the gate and we sat and talked, very "Midnight Express". He laughed we laughed and we finally got away with" I'll visit you someday in the USA", please do! John also took me in an 8 foot long plastic boat out to an island about an hour row away. We were nearly sunk when we forget to remove the anchor ( a big rock tied to a rope) we had dropped from the front of the boat. Genuine close call as the tide on the other side moves out to sea and Greece hundreds of miles away. When we were finally towed in by a fisherman. Kazir, the owner of the boat was upset and scolding Jon. I asked him what he said which was "Don't be killing any of my patrons". After having the best fresh Calamari of my life I felt fortunate to be alive. This trip inspired the title song and name of the album "Karaburun". Anyway I made my way back to A' Dam then St. Louis where I've been ever since. "Space Wife" was inspired by wacky new age girls, fluff. "Draggin" was the first song written and was inspired by a beautifully tragic gone girl, "You and Me" is about escape, enlightenment, acceptance and another relationship...." Just A Fish" is about remaining awake and a relationship. "Sticks" is about truth, dispelling fear, living in a wagon in a rainy city and triumph. "2000 Years" is time, religion, acceptance and loneliness. I recorded them at home while my wife and my son were visiting her home in Kharkiv Ukraine. I used a Boss 8 track about the size of a thin hardback book. I played guitars, bass, sang and percussion. I had some big help with more percussion and some re-records from Jamie, thanks to him and yet another John who played drums on Space Wife and Jeremy who did assorted percussion. Of course if it were not for my wonderful wife and amazing son I may never have gotten around to this! Thanks for your attention and I really hope you enjoy the album, John.