2015 European Tour Blog Part 3
Middleburg is on the southern coast of the Netherlands on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic. It's not far from Oostburg, a town we have played a couple times before. It is nice to be close to the sea and cross the scenic bridges, dams and dykes. It was a windy day, but the sun was out and we walked around the square after we set up our gear.
It seems everywhere we go there is stunning architecture. "Another old building- better take a picture" we would joke to ourselves.
This night's gig was arranged by Kaas ("Case"), the guy that hosted us at his bar, Penny Lane in Oostburg. He runs a blues society, and offered us a spot at his festival but we couldn't make that date. Bar American is a small grungy club with a portable stage that sets up on top of a pool table. Somehow it works...
We had an enthusiastic crowd that night, and one crazy fella made his way backstage with a peculiar way of showing his affection:
Uhhh, I thinkhe liked the show.
We stayed that night in a Hotel back across the water in Oostburg. Even though it was only 5 miles away, we had to backtrack to get there, so it was a 45 minute drive. Thank you Eric for driving- the rest of us were not legal behind the wheel at that point! Our innkeeper remembered us from last year (when we played Penny Lane), and gave us a fresh beer when we arrived.
After another breakfast of cold cuts and cheese, we drove east into Germany to a little town called Recklinghausen. We stayed in a teeny tiny hotel in a suite with a nice "shath" - a shower/bath. Ugh.
The gig that night was in a small bar by the bus station called Rauber & Rebellen - "Robbers and Rebels." It was like any other club gig except they had huge black leather couches on the floor, so everyone was practically horizontal during the show. We were right next to the city center, and had a good time drinking coffee in cafés and walking around checking out the shops. One thing that is big there: kababs! You can find them all over the place- and they make a great late night snack...
After Recklinghausen we had three gigs scheduled with Stony Roses, a band from Germany lead by guitarist Udo Löw. Udo found out about our band from the Tonehunter website (thanks Ralf!), and asked us to headline the shows for them. I was curious to meet Udo- he looks like he might just kick everyone's ass! Haha, and his English was about as good as my German, so it made our Facebook messaging challenging.
We rolled into Zweibrüken to a club called the Hobbit, so named because it looks like Bilbo Baggins' basement. I have to say, the stench when we walked in there was incredible! It was hard to breathe. I thought to myself this might be the first gig we cancel on account of stale air.
Fortunately, they open the back door and turned on a huge exhaust fan. Whew. It was fun to have a band open for us- we would play only one long set and get to watch them play. They do a funky rock thing with an operatic female lead singer Daniela"The Voice" Rössler. Udo turned out to be a real sweetheart of a guy, and we all got along well. The place was small, so it looked really crowded when people showed up.
The next gig was in the neighboring town of Saarbrüken on the French boarder. This gig was one of the more memorable ones on the tour. We played a club called the Garage, and they had a nice big stage and pro sound system. The crowd was fantastic, and loved the show. In attendance that night was a guy named Dragan Nikitovik, a concert promoter who does HUGE shows like AC/DC in Moscow, Justin Bieber shows, Celine Dion, etc... But Dragan likes blues rock guitar, and he knew of me through a mutual friend at M.i.G. records (thanks Bernd Ramien!). He lives in Saarbrüken so it was easy for him to get to the show.
Afterwards we all hung out and had some food and beer at a place right down the street. Dragan vented to me a bit about working with another Blues Rock artist with whom he had great difficulty. He seemed to like what we were doing, and offered to help us find some bigger festivals for the summer of 2016. I am looking forward to working with him, so stay tuned!
The next morning we got a tour of historic Saarbrüken from one of the Thorny Roses entourage. More old buildings! So we took some pictures.
Our last show with Thorny Roses turned out to be uh, memorable as well. We played a tennis club in Dillengen, not too far away. I've never gigged at a tennis club before, so that was interesting. The staff there treated us well and the food was great. The turnout was just ok, but we all had fun. That night, however, was one for the history books. I'll let Eric Robert explain:
"Let me begin by saying that touring in Europe is, as you can imagine, a nonstop adventure. And it's something for which I am grateful and will remember forever. For a legit adventure, you need extremes, especially when we're talking about food or accommodations. It took some deep reflection (and constant self-reminding) about this to make it through one particular night when we arrived at a place that had been arranged for us in Germany. Our hosts, friends of a venue manager (to whom a favor may have been owed), ended up staying up (and smoking) all night in the large main room of the rural house, watching (and re-watching at high volume) an old Neil Young concert videotape. With no ventilation, the unending flow of smoke hovered where I was [not] sleeping in an above loft. I've never smoked cigarettes in my life but by dawn I felt like Camel Joe, and smelled like him too. Thank goodness Dudley had his own room with a real door that closed, and was able to get some sleep so he could drive to the next city on the schedule. And believe me... we couldn't leave fast enough. We still don't know if our two hosts ever went to bed."
Ha ha ha. Yeah, that was interesting. After putting our bags there before the show, the guy and his girlfriend were watching a Ted Nugent concert video- not from the 1970'S 'loincloth' era, but a recent one. I thought it was funny- Ted and his bass player (sans shirt) were running around the stage with headset microphones. However, when I woke up at 5 am to use the bathroom I realized that they never went to bed, and they were still watching concert videos at high volume. (How I got to sleep in the first place was miraculous.) John and Carl had to sleep in their bed- initially they told our hosts that they would sleep on the couch, but the couch was where they wanted to watch concert videos all night, apparently. After I laid back down- on a child's bed with sioled sheets- I heard "Strangehold" again, blasting loudly through the living room. It was comically horrible. Eric was curled up on a couch in the corner with his head buried in a blanket. I laid there for about another 90 minutes and had abut all the Ted Nugent I can handle. Next thing I know, John and Carl poke their heads in my room, fully clothed, holding his suitcase, coat and hat on and said "Ok, are you ready to go?" I jumped into my clothes and we hightailed it out of there at warp speed. Goodbye House of Horrors!
That awful experience prompted me to splurge on our hotel for our 2 days off in Berlin. Thank you Marriott for making us feel human again! It would have been horrible if we had to gig the next night. Losing sleep on the road is the absolute worst thing that can happen because it snowballs, and it's hard to get caught up on your rest. THANKFULLY the next 2 days were off, and we all got to check out Berlin and sleep on nice fresh white sheets in king size beds. Whohooo!
NEXT UP: ERIC CONVINCES AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT THAT WE ARE INTERNATIONAL ROCK STARS.