Archive for September, 2009

Munster

The drive is swift and a welcome break from the train. Munster is a good sized German town, about 1/4 of the population are students. The place this evening is Amp, a large basement bar in a warehouse district of town. Lots of vintage couches, lamps and wallpaper. The concert will happen around 9:30, then people will dance to a DJ and party till 6 or 7 am. Ah, to be young again. Eavo, the booker, is there to greet us and we order a nice hot dinner. The bartender brings us three cases of beer for the night (there are 3 of us), we accept one. Its nice to have a backstage room to hang out in. Bjorn orders champagne to celebrate my last show of the tour. The time comes to play music, so I take the stage as a crowd assembles. The set goes well, one of my best I’d say. All this practice is actually working. It’s nice to play to an audience who listens and is obviously there for the music. This was among the best nights of the tour, a good way to end it. After the show, we head to our accomodations at Eavo’s place and sit in the kitchen talking and having a drink. The next day we walk the streets and drink cappucino till I must say my farewell. For the last time I’ll board the train for a trip to Brussels to catch a red-eye flight back home.

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September 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm 1 comment

Hannover

IMGP9617Very short train ride to Hannover, a nice thing. Some folks have said they dislike this city, I’ll give it a fair shake. Just as I’m getting tired of hauling my stuff through the city center, I stumble upon the main museum. It’s Friday so admission is free and I have some time to kill, this is pretty perfect. Nice washrooms, too. Many ancient interesting things in this place, nice to have a glimpse into the history of the German people and their country. Time to start making my way to the Nice Nice Gallery where the gig is. I’m opening for Björn Kleinhenz, a wonderful Swedish songwriter, for the final two shows of the tour. Andi, the promoter, and Björn are real gentlemen. We go to a friends house for a nice vegan dinner then back to Nice Nice to get ready to play. This is a fine gallery, very nice people run the place and it’s a great room for a show. An audience fills it up very quickly and I do my set, a good one by my estimation. I get a very warm feeling from these DIY shows in alternative spaces organized by people who are truly passionate about music. After the show we head to Glocksee, a bar in a warehouse, for a couple drinks before bed. It’s nice to hang out with great people. I’ve been very lucky to meet and spend time with many on this tour. The next day we ride together in Björn’s car to Munster for our next show together, my last.

September 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Göttingen

IMGP9644A small university town with ancient gingerbread-style buildings and pedestrian walkways where cities in Canada have cars. I pull into town on the train and board an ultra-modern bus for the short ride to Cafe Schröeder where i perform tonight. My promoter for the show, Inga, shows up and we head to her friend’s house for a pasta dinner, red wine. Very good, I feel ready to go. Thanks, Inga! Back to the bar to set up sound and the place fills fast, over-flowing onto the sidewalk patio. This is a pretty good show, there are some folks who are genuinely interested, so I play for them. Its a challenge to ignore the talking and other things going on but the performing entertainer must do his job. After the show I meet two biologists. Time to catch our ride to the flat where I’m staying. A group of us sit in the kitchen and enjoy a few drinks, talking and listening to music. My bed is very comfortable. In the morning a fine German breakfast. Pack on my back, guitar in hand once again for the walk to the station.

September 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm Leave a comment

Berlin Pt. 2

IMGP9639I arrive in Berlin in good enough time to check-in to the hostel and walk around a bit. Tonight’s gig is at Mme. Claude, a comfy bar with upside-down furniture attached to the ceiling and a cellar performance space. Apparently this, too, was a brothel back in the day. I am playing with two other acts from Hamburg, very nice people and their music is great. It’s cool to play with others after a couple nights of being alone on the bill. The room is very full with another quiet, attentive crowd by the time I get into my set. This turns out to be a great show. Great soundman, great sound- it does make all the difference. Must get out of cellar for fresh air. The next day I explore the Prenzlauer Berg area, in former East Germany. Magnificent old buildings, lots of cafes, graffiti and posters everywhere. This city is very alive. It seems all I see are mothers with their babies. Many bike lanes and people on bikes speeding by. I like this place. I hear the cost of living is very low. There’s a great vegan cafe where I run into Melissa from Schokoladen. A nice surprise. In the evening I play my final Berlin show at Intersoup, they make a great chicken curry. Sparesly attended, but I meet a nice couple from Ireland and they enjoy the tunes. Must sleep now.

September 24, 2009 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Köln

IMGP9637More tracts of windmills, golden corn, the cows and sheep graze in the lush fields of northern Germany. This touring solo-by-train thing is an art. Where am I? What day is It? Where must I be to get to where I’m going? Navigating stations, public transit systems, do you speak English? Miss a train, catch a train. Strap on that pack and grab that guitar! All preconcieved notions of anything must be thrown out. One must have no expectations because circumstances change on a dime. Accept all as it comes, good or “bad”. Andre and Jan, my new friends in Köln, tell me the city was 90% destroyed by the allies during WWII. There are few old buildings, the most significant being the gigantic looming gothic cathedral at the train station exit. King Georg is the place tonight, a former brothel/gambler’s den/strip club. Dark wood panelling, red lights, vintage booths. Cozy and exclusive, with a large center bar. After soundcheck, we sit down to dinner then back to the bar as people start to file in for the show. The set goes well, a few glitches, but everyone seems to enjoy. I sleep in relative luxury in the apartment upstairs. My time in Köln is short, Berlin is waiting.

September 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm 1 comment

Bremen

IMGP9632With your faces chisled in relief. Beasts and men. Morbid tortured faces of stone a testament to faith and fury, death and devils. Towering empty blackened cathedral, survivor of wars, who are you now? The kind and talented Anna-Lena is my host for two days in this city on the river forks. At the venue, dinner is superb, organic. I have a sinking feeling no one is going to show up but sure enough people trickle into the back room of Kuss Rosa and quietly listen. A very nice audience to play for. After the show, we sit at the bar and talk till the wee hours then walk back to the flat. There are countless beer-bottlecaps embedded into the streets of Bremen. The Germans love their beer and their rolled cigarettes. I have a room to myself which is glorious. The next day is spent in the streets; the ancient market district, the narrow back alleys of Schnoor, and later to a village bar tucked into a cobbled laneway. In the morning Anna-Lena makes a wonderful breakfast and plays me records. The trainman’s whistle is calling, I must go!

September 22, 2009 at 3:49 pm 1 comment

Hamburg Taxi

IMGP9629The train ride to Hamburg is endless farmers fields and tracts of huge windmills. The Germans are definitely a step ahead of us in certain areas. Ultra-modern trains and city transit, nice toilets. The taxi drivers of Hamburg, however, need to learn their city. Twice I was driven around in circles. Anyhoo, my first gig is a matinee at the finest record shop in Hamburg, Michelle Records. So many great bands have played here and I feel lucky to take the stage. Christof, one of the owners, is so very kind and offers me beer and food. He is a musician as well and there are old amps and guitars everywhere. I take the stage in front of a sizeable crowd who are polite and appreciative. What fun! Then I must run to my evening gig at Pony Bar which is also great. Sparsely attended, but the few people who are there listen closely. The room is cozy with vintage furniture and sounds great. I am starting to feel very comfortable performing alone and the kinks are getting ironed out of my set. It feels quite good to step on that fuzz pedal and unleash the noise. Afterwards, I clean up and sleep in a comfortable band apartment then organize myself in the morning for the trip to Bremen.

September 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

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