Rode bikes all over Berlin, well mostly in the PrenzlauerBerg area. Look it up. Seriously. It was like the front line of the cold war in '61. Crazy history. Saw where the church was, the church that sat vacant for 25 years in No-Man's-Land of the Berlin Wall. Did I upload the pics? I think I did.
Then went out clubbing to a place called White Trash. If this place were in LA, it would be the best club in LA.
The to Club Bassy where it was country night. Huge disconnect in my brain seeing redneck germans. Bob Wayne was performing and he did about 8 encores.
Sleep was good.
Day ? Update.
I don't remember where I left off but it was a couple of days ago. Let's see...
We drove to Osnabrück, Germany, a nice town with a large downtown shopping type area that is a street but only a pedestrian street. We've been advised to do some busking before shows and some good places to do it. So we set up and played for about an hour or so before the show. Most of that time was spent. Talking to the folks who were curious about us.
We get to the gig, a place called Big Buttinsky and it's located in a cinema...sorta. It's very nice and has couches and comfy chairs and we meet Ben Riddle, our tourmate, for the first time. He is super nice, laid back, slightly hungover. Turns out the night before his ride back to where he was staying was on the back of a bicycle, so he did like an hour ride clinging to the back of a bike while carrying a guitar and his bag of cd/merch and he was a little sore.
We set up to play and the sound is Awesome. I mean really great sound. Tracy plugs into the house bass amp and its a big Ampeg 1/2 stack thing, I am able to get my dual signal thing going pretty well with whatever amp I used (I honestly can't remember the brand) and we make big sound. Tracy has recently taken to using the Porchboard as well (it's a foot activated pedal that sounds like a kick drum) and we add it in a few places and so the two of us playing sounds like 2 vocals, 1 acoustic guitar, 1 electric guitar, 1 bass guitar and 1 kick drum. Make big sound!
The folks here are super great and they bring us chinese food for dinner (good food but not photo worthy) and we hang out and rest on the comfy couches for a while.
Ben goes on first and he has some really beautiful songs that are instantly singable and you find yourself singing along. We left the porchboard on stage for him and he took to it like a techno dj. I took some video of him and it's on my page somewhere.
We go on after and folks seem to be digging it, we tells some stories with the songs and everyone listens intently and we have fun. Its a little tough to read because they are so polite, we kind of have this feeling of "did that go over well?" And when we finish they just keep clapping and the promoter guy asks if we will play an encore. Of course we will! We thank them all and I tell them "over the past 2 and a half years, we've played over 260 shows in 14 different states and 5 different countries ~ this song has kind of become our life." And we rock into our version of "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll" (AC/DC). I get about one line into the song and I see a guy to my left break out in a huge smile and actually hear him shout "YES!" Success.
After the show ~ we are all staying at the soundman's flat. This is arranged and he does it for most acts coming through town, but he is also working the reggae jam until 6 am so we rush there and he meets us on his bike (it's like 2:5 miles away) and we crash in a punk rock apartment. Ben and I both have cocoon type sleeping bags that don't zip up and Tracy's bed is in danger of folding her up if she moves to much. But we all sleep well.
Next day: Netherlands.
Day 47 (or thereabouts)
Drive from Osnabrück, Germany to Henglow, Netherlands. I have the GPS set to tell me when I go 5 mph over the speed limit. It may be the autobahn but that doesn't mean there aren't speed limits and hidden camera things. The GPS goes off with a "Gong" like from a churchbell. We look around for the church the first dozen times it goes off...
We have an afternoon show today. We get there and everyone seems slightly hungover. This observation turns out to be accurate. The previous night was a huge party and Sunday's show has been dubbed "The Henglow Hangover". We play a few of our quieter numbers. Folks are few but really into it. Its now nearing 8 pm and we haven't eaten but they want us to come to another club and play again.
We beg to eat first. Ben is fading fast, he hadn't been feeling well all day. So we find a Turkish restaurant, order some iced tea and eat. We strike up a great conversation with the owner. We all agree that we love the people from our countries but not so much what the governments and that the people should really get to know each other and more world problems would be better off.
We leave dinner with every intention of heading straight back to Bremen but the folks from the show earlier are now hanging out waiting for us to play some more and they have brought friends!
So we set up some chairs and we start going around, Ben does a song, we do a song and so forth. This is now our 3rd show together so we are singing each others songs and playing guitar together. Great fun.
Talk with a guy who has been to texas and we talked alt.country for a bit. Said my singing reminded him of Jeff Tweedy. I dig that. We even performed "lies like these" which we haven't done in years! Some guy yelled out "Do you have a boyfriend?" After Tracy finished singing and we all laugh as I raise my hand.
We waved goodbye as they filled us up with bottles of water and coke light for the drive.
Slept in late, now its time to go play a festival. See ya later.
Day: Tuesday 7/16/13
I am sitting in a laundramat doing, well, laundry. I just lost 5 euro in a machine because it was broken. It pays to be able to read signs in foreign languages. Got helped out by a guy who looks a lot like my brother Chad. (The pic below does NOT mean that the washer is sleeping)
We get to the gig and meet the other folks who are on the Songs & Whispers circuit touring with us. Most of the time @ben riddle is playing with us but sometimes The Monotrol Kid and The Hobos are with us too. We meet the MK and Hobos folks and they are all super nice MK is from Belgium, Hobos from UK (but she has family in Newport Beach that she is visiting over thanksgiving! How crazy).
We are hanging out and swapping stories about the shows so far and its so good. All the bands are helping each other, advice for this, you may know this guy, I'll tell so and so to look out for you ~ just great "we're all in this together" feeling.
The Hobos were up first, this will technically be there third show TODAY. They were out busking earlier and did 2 sets there. Their drummer is all spread out using a suitcase as a kick drum, a cajon box, a snare and a melodica (among other things) and he keeps the groove tight for these great folk/pop songs. My fav was their cover of Cindy Lauper's "time after time". I think it was the only cover they played but they really made it their own.
Ben Riddle was up next and he had everyone singing along with his "free as a bird" tune. This is our 4th show together and I just keep liking his stuff more and more. Another fav is one where he's playing the guitar very percussive, actually slapping the strings and playing footstomp on the off beat. Its very hypnotic. Am really glad we got paired up with him, just a great human being.
Then The Monotrol Kid was up. The name comes from the pedal on a forklift. Its a great story but better when Eric tells it. They were bass and guitar like us and he also split his acoustic signal into the pa and a guitar amp via pedals like me. (Great minds me thinks.)
We played next and had a great time. Tracy plugged into the MK's ashdown bass amp so that made all the low end sound great. We taught everyone what an APB was and they sang along. Our songs seemingly teach geography of the US unintentionally. And I mentioned how Americana we are yesterday ~ but its really true. We are an American band by birth but our sound is very American as well. I never truly thought about it or heard it more clearly than on this trip. And not in a jingonistic-asshole-toby-keith way but just in a solid this-is-who-we-are way.
We ended with a rocking version of "one, two, three" and the slant of the stage and me jumping...I didn't fall but let's just say I didn't stick the landing. (Keri Strugg did better on one leg). Folks bought cds, we talked to lots of folks that really liked it and made new friends and fans. A+ day for sure.
Oh and the Axel played! Almost forgot. He's local to the area and was fantastic, at one point a giant jam was going on and there really was a party on stage.
Our new friend Wolfgang showed up and brought us a present of his last board game. This guy has designed over 40 board games and won a whole bunch of awards for them as well. (We went back to the flat and had bread, cheese and wine and played it!)
We all hung out and chatted and learned about each other. I talked with Axel...(I am totally forgetting their names right now!!! AH!!!) They were born in Berlin in the 60's and I learned a lot about how the Berlin wall coming down felt to someone who lived inside it all their lives. It comes down to this: The wall had been there all their lives, it was all they knew. One day it was there the next it was gone, what the hell is going to happen tomorrow? They were not separated from family and friends ~ it was strange and weird and full of uncertaintinty.
Then I had a mushroom pizza from a turkish restaurant and thankfully they did not put tuna on it.
Today ~ playing on a TV show and then somewhere else!
Day: yesterday 7/17/13
Tracy made eggs and cheese almost omelets with gouda cheese. Me thinks that makes it fancy. We decide its very good.
Then we start driving to Radio Wesser TV station. The station is in an old brick building on the second floor. Second floor actually means third floor, there's Ground Floor, First floor, Second floor. Get used to it.
The crew are wicked nice and set us up in the green room. Ben is doing his performance first and then us. They like to record each song twice so they can mix the 2 camera shoot twice to make it look like a 4 camera shoot. "German Technology" we are told! We suggest smoke and mirrors. I'm giving away the trade secrets ~ Spoilers!
They have cameras set up in the green room so they can record us setting up and getting ready. This consists of Tracy and I on our phones and trying to be real quiet so we don't end up on Ben's performance!
Performance goes well, I have no idea how they were getting all the sound thru 2 microphones but they said it sounded good. (Recorded twice ~ 4 microphones??)
Then we interview and when they asked us if we had any "hobbies" - I was *this* close to saying I was a choreoanimater. You know the person that makes up dance steps for cartoons. (There will be like one person who gets this obscure sports night reference). The interview goes fine, Tracy and I both talk afterwards about how we totally suck at interviews. Its awkward.
Ben does his interview and we do some pick up scenes of us walking in, driving up, etc. It's very Hollywood, Ben is a natural. Tracy says she just feels dumb and I am trying to channel my inner Jason Schwartzman (in the Darjeeling Limited) for being comfortable in awkward environments.
Then we drive back to Bremen...
Day: yesterday (cont) 7/17/13
We get to the Hafen Casino which is not in fact a casino. I'm not even sure its a Hafen (whatever the hell a Hafen is) It is in fact an old truck stop with a restaurant and patio area. They serve us up some great food and we sit around while Heiko sets everything up. I do feel guilty about this but he seems to have it all under control and damn this food is tasty. My guilt is balanced out by helping him carry a few boxes. (Heiko is from Songs & Whispers, the touring agecy/folks that put this tour together). This place seems like a strange area of a sort of industrial park and place where some trucks occasionally drive by.
As we're sitting there a few people come and sit down on the patio. There's a big open patio, tables and benches and a place for the band to set up and its starting to fill up. Pretty cool, eh? Yes. We see our new fan Werner (from the day before) has made it out to the show. Dig that!
Its Ben's turn to go on first and he even has a bunch of folks that saw him play here last year and have come back to see him. Fans are awesome. Ben does a great set, gets an encore and ~ seriously, we're touring with the dude and I can't get his songs out of my head. With our music we kind of hit you over the head, Ben's music just sneaks into your brain. Very good stuff.
We start playing and I think its going pretty well, good reponse and we're actually "rocking" a bit. I mean we ain't got no drums but we're still digging in. We get a huge sing-along going for APB and we use Heiko as the protaganist in the song. Big fun. We end our set and after some cheering and clapping - Heiko says "they want more, can you do 3 more songs?" Of course!! I grab my camera and take a quick vid of folks wanting more. (See below).
So we give them some more, we end with "truckin song" and a big jump and say thank you but no one is leaving and they are still clapping. There are folks all around the tables, just off the street, this place is over capacity! Awesome. Heiko comes up and says "can you do 3 more?" Yes. Yes we can.
We rocked, we rolled. It was a good, good night.