European Tour May - June 2014
Dudley Taft - Guitar, vocals
John Kessler - Bass, vocals
Carl Martin - Drums
Europe has a smell : Diesel, tobacco and cologne. At 2am , when we finish loading all the gear and merch into the van, that's what it smells like. A small price to pay for daily adventures in foreign countries. Plus they have amazing pastries everywhere, even at highway gas stations, where we stop two or three times a day sometimes. There was a lot of driving on this tour. And the van smelled like Chanel Blue. (Dudley!)
Dudley flies in a day ahead of Carl & John and goes through Cologne, Germany to pick up guitar amps from Ralf at Tonehunter Amps, a boutique custom amp shop that lends him guitar amps. This year, Ralf had a new amp in the lineup: the "Keef", an amp made to emulate the killer tones of the tweed Fenders of the 1960's. THIS AMP SOUNDS KILLER.
This year, John decided to buy a bass amp to leave in Europe, and got a German made Hughes & Kettner, a compact and sturdy beast that strives to compete with the Tonehunters.
Carl & John fly in to Amsterdam from Seattle and take a train about 160 clicks (another cool thing about Europe is that you get to say "clicks") to Almelo in Eastern Netherlands where we meet up with Dudley. Our good friend Anko picks up C & J at the Almelo train station in his official fire chief car, and we gather at Anko and Helga's in Vriezenveen to rehearse.
Besides becoming really good friends, Anko and Helga have a perfect set-up for us with a separate garage with rehearsal space below and three beds and a bathroom upstairs. Anko used to drum in a heavy metal band, but now the same guys play acoustic Irish music. The shows start Friday night at The Machinist in Oss, NE, a tiny joint where people really get into the music. We have been here once before and both times had great crowds. Later we learn that it's known as a really rough biker bar. Sometimes better not to know these things... Next a short drive to another return engagement at Bij Absolut in Sint Michielsgestel. Don't even try to pronounce it. After 2 years, we are not even close to pronouncing it right. The Dutch are unfailingly patient with our bad pronunciation, as they have heard people mispronounce their language for centuries. Even a simple name like "Oss" can get you in trouble (go figure). Of course they all speak perfect English, and likely another language or two.
Another fun night, and we are staying at a small hotel directly across from the local cathedral, which rings it's bells on the quarter hour all night long and on Sunday morning really lets loose a good 5 minute assault of aggressive bell bonging. So not much sleep at that place.
An early Sunday gig at Café de Weegbrug in Roermond, southern part of the country squeezed between Belgium and Germany. The club is run by Truus, a legendary Blues Mama who has run the place for 15 years and has had a lot of major blues artists play there over the years, the walls covered with their posters, and the stage lined with their signatures. About 20 people attend, but they stay for the whole show and are very enthusiastic. We stay up late at the bar with the Truus and her daughter and Rene the bartender. Her dog constantly barks at us, as we go back and forth to our rooms, on the third floor. Truus lives on the second floor with her dog. The accommodations are "spare", but the hospitality is warm, and by the time we leave Truus has fed us a large breakfast of eggs and bacon.
Then it's back to Anko and Helga's place in Vriezenveen, where we do our laundry, and much later in the evening, when Anko returns from his shift as Fire Chief of Almelo, a single malt session, with perhaps eight or nine bottles making the rounds, with accompaniment of cheese and chocolate.Tuesday night at Lux in Hannover, Germany a small but lively crowd, and made more friends including the sound man Hoppy, who along with Dirk runs a tight ship.
Speaking of ships, we then head directly north, to Wilhelmshaven on the German coast of the North Sea, where they have a lot of ships. We are playing this night ( Wednesday in case you're counting) at the Pumpwerke, a large club built on the site of an old, um, pump work. The place is jammed with people just leaving an outdoor music show, so the crowd was warmed up and ready to rock.
We also visit with our pal Bernd and his wife, Veronica and their 3 month old Golden Lab puppy, who goes to dinner with us. Dinner is a local specialty called Yong Schollen, fried young flounder. The next day they take us to the coast where we dip our toes in the North Sea.
Then it's a 7 hour trip to the next show, with a day to get there, so we spend the night in Frankfurt, and do some shopping and general milling about. Looks like the Hammering Man from the Seattle Art Museum made a trip?
After a cool drive down the autobahn lined with castles in the hills, we landed on Friday night at Die Halle in Reichenbach an der Fils in southern Germany, a large club out in the country-side with great staff and sound people. It was a good night, and we made some friends who drove from Austria to see the show.
Saturday we made the 6 hour drive northwest to Rotterdam for Saturday night at L'Esprit. Luckily you can drive really fast on the autobahn. Just stay out of the left lane unless you mean business! Mercs, BMW's and Audi frequently scream by at 200+ kph...This night is also a "friendly match" between the Netherlands and Ghana football teams, and the hotel in Rotterdam is full of people wearing bright orange for the Dutch team. The night-club is run by the local blues society, and we made a bunch of friends there also, Renus, Jan and Marian. Dudley met a dude that should star in the next "Left For Dead" themed video:
One last show Sunday at Café de Fles (The Flask) across the river from Rotterdam in Spijkenesse. (don't even try) They take the flask concept very seriously and the crowd is whipped into a frenzy by the time we finish the second set. It seem like the tour FLEW by too fast! Well, we will be back in September, and will visit Poland for the first time, so STAY TUNED. SPECIAL THANKS TO JAY FARMER (pictured above with the band) FOR BOOKING THE TOUR