Switerland Gremany blog
Switerland Gremany blog
An early start.
It’s 7.45am and having caught a bus with munter (big suitcase), grunter (small but very heavy suitcase), waiting for a wife (the name of my guitar), and my rucksack with the broken zip, I have managed to get myself to platform 2 at Flensburg station. From here I travel to Osnabrück with a change of trains at Hamburg.
I have one more show left. Weirdly enough it’s actually the first place I ever performed in Germany. So this performance will mark some kind of 3 year cycle. I seem to remember the owner of the bar just talking about the drugs he indulged in during the 70’s; all cool.
Yesterday was a true day of freedom. My beautiful friends Dan and Dagmar have continued on their paths away from me, and due to the fact that I left my plug adapter at the venue and couldn’t charge my phone until the evening, I pretty much spent the whole day not knowing the time. Asmus, the brilliant man who I was staying with lent me a bicycle and I decided to explore the harbour and bay of Flensburg armed with a book to read and a pen and paper to record my thoughts. The afternoon that transpired was magical. Without a camera and no way of being contacted all I had to think about was the moment in hand. I watched German people celebrating their public holiday, sailing ships discovering the sea, and boys riding their bikes through the sand and into the small waves tickling the beach. The sun shone throughout and the pictures taken in my head will remain with me for quite some time. It made me think that this an activity I must indulge in more often. The simple yet nowadays seldom state of isolation brought on by being in a place where no one knows you, and more importantly your technological portals to things that the vast majority of your senses can’t ‘really’ feel in that moment are down. This atmosphere is pretty incredible and makes me very envious of the generations before me who could live with this as normality.
Dan went home and now I’m sad.
Since my last blog I have performed in Cologne, Hamburg, at a birthday party in Husum, as a special guest in Flensburg, and in a beach bar on the Island of Sylt. I am actually in the car right now getting on the train to leave Sylt after a couple of days hanging around the island. Yep it’s a train for cars but unlike the euro tunnel it’s on a track raised from the sea just a little over high enough.
Wednesday - Johann was a drunk german literature teacher being disruptive during our sound check in Cologne. I am not an aggressive person but I must admit I felt like punching him, and that I could take him if he had attempted to punch back. As we ate our dinner in the bar he continued to pursue our attention with broken, drunken, english with content full of disputes over generally accepted historical facts, as well as info on his personal perspective on a range of philosophies. Mix in with this the odd disrespectful approach to our female tour manager and you can probably see why I was pretty pissed off. Before losing my rag I thought maybe I would try talking to him and finding out who he was. Up until this point I hadn’t really asked him anything and had only been trying to defend myself from his verbose attacks. On engaging with him his mood lightened, and actually within a few sentences I started to like him. I could see he was an interesting guy with a lot of passion for art, yet it also become very obvious that he was not in the best moment of his life; he needed something. He had been asking for a song and with a new empathy to his personality I decided to sing him one. For whatever reason it seemed to calm him down completely and the aggression that he had been giving out was depleted. After he sat for a few moments in quiet, he got up, shook my hand, gave me a hug, and went on his way. Who knows what he did after but I hope the song helped.
Thursday I swapped shirts with a girl named Jenny, Friday I gave away my spare swiss coins, Saturday I over thought the right busking spot and ran out of time, Sunday I swam in the north sea, Monday I walked down a beach with great friends, and Tuesday Dan went home and now I’m sad.
Six in six.
Günter and his friends continued to serve us free beer long after the end of the show and the beautiful feelings from the music were still hanging in the air. He even gave us a beer to walk back to the hotel with; his idea, not ours. Leaving Schwäbisch Hall the next morning was a sad event, yet I’m very tempted to say I will be back someday.
A Taxi, three trains, and a short historic walk later, we found ourselves at Café Blumen in Mainz. With the sun making it’s self known and it’s warmth continuing into the evening it became a half indoor/half outdoor show in which a lot of very pretty Mainz people sat and politely watched with candles illuminating their faces. The encore became very special as Dan and I sung together outside completely unplugged. You remember these moments
Unpredictably, this was my third visit to Mainz and the other two times were about 15 years ago as part of a swimming event. Feeling surprisingly fresh I wandered off this morning beside the river to ‘Freibad Maaraue’, the 50m swimming pool where I nervously competed all those years ago; it was closed! Not willing to accept defeat in my quest for nostalgia I jumped the fence where I had the chance to stand next to the pool, close my eyes, and envisage the past. I took a couple of photographs and then noticed a man doing some jobs. Decided it was best to scarper quickly.
Breakfast was served by the elegant, hard working waitress from the night before and by 1.15pm we stood on the platform waiting for our train to Duisburg. With so many bags getting on and off trains can be a nightmare and on this occasion we managed to get ourselves trapped at the end of the train blocking the walkways through the carriages. Positively, out of this, the chance to meet two female travellers from Belgium presented it’s self and after a short introduction they gifted us chocolate from their homeland. In response Dan and I performed a rather sketchy rendition of my song ‘Empty Can’. They seemed to like it :)
Now we continue on the train to Cafe Kaldi in Duisburg. The sixth night of the tour, and the sixth show. Six in six.
Berne, Swizerland - 13th May 2014
Dr Strangelove will endeavor to heal your sickness with a DVD recommendation. Not on a whim, not to get rid of you at speed, but in attempt to prescribe to you a friend for your state of mind. Such conclusions are not found without a consultation, and from the coffee table outside the therapy begins. Stefan’s surgery is on Rathausgasse in Berne and the coffee doesn’t run out! In front of the table, a few paces from the rocking horse, myself and Dan Wilde went busking in aid of our show at Ono that evening. We had met Stefan with his friend Ralph in the hotel that morning; Ralph enjoys quotes. During the busk a local Romanian violin player named Iulia joined us.
After a further busk where a beautiful girl and person named Maryam watched, we went onto the venue. An old wine cellar that convincingly feels like a cave. The main doors to Ono are angled diagonally bridging the path and road suggesting at the promise of Berne’s under caverns. The third country of the year that I’ve had my first gig in, and this was my favourite of the lot. The cave provides great acoustics and I was able to use them in conjunction with the sound equipment to feel unplugged but most certainly loud enough. At the show were Stefan, Ralph, Iulia and ‘observer of the busk’ Maryam. Along with Dan, our tour manager Dagmar, and Ono barmaid Florina we continued our interactions into the night at Berne’s late night bar ‘Kreissaal’; Dan and I paid for the rounds with the busking change. It was quite the day!