Apart from a hellish, sleepless flight to Frankfurt in a plane full of screaming babies we arrived in Germany fairly unscathed and spent a Lost In Translation 24 hours at our hotel near the airport. We met up with our tour manager, Rebecca Kemp, the next morning and headed off to Cologne, city of the beautiful cathedral and the first show of the tour. We had a video shoot for German TV before the show; a little unnerving as we were just getting our sea legs. Our first German audience, a nice size crowd, gathered just before doors opened as we were wrapping up the video. As it turns out, the audience was not entirely German – Roy from Newcastle came over for the show, bearing 2 bottles of Newcastle Brown. Bringing beer to Germany is a little like bringing coals to Newcastle, but it is good stuff. We also met up with Thomas, who told us he drove 5 hours to the gig but we don’t know from where. Thomas, if you’re out there, thank you!
After a night off in Berlin the next four days were a blur. The second show of the tour was at Berlin’s Crystal Club, where we were graced with a nice crowd and this lovely review. On to the indescribable Blues Garage (venue) & Motel California (accommodations). The audience at the Blues Garage was great, a bit larger than the night before – and the Motel California was a crazy quilt of Americana, blues, rock and western memorabilia, all lovingly curated by our host and promoter, Henry. We had a Wurlitzer organ in our room. Here’s the proof: MotelCalifornia
Show #4 was in Duisburg at a cozy venue called Cafe Steinbruch. We tried out a little of our newly learned German (“Frühstück zu Hause”) on the crowd who very kindly indulged us and promptly switched back to English! Then it was on to Koblenz, and Cafe Hahn. We were greeted at soundcheck with tea & homemade cheesecake, a baby grand piano and gorgeous sound courtesy of Jörg. Along with gorgeous accommodations (a heated slate floor in the bathroom? Bathrobe and slippers? Are we on tour or at a spa?). All of this would have been enough to make us happy but an audience of 150 and two encores made Cafe Hahn the best show of the tour so far.
A week into the trip we drove across the border into the Netherlands for our first of 5 Dutch shows at the famous Paradiso in Amsterdam. Our old friend John Lester, who is about to move from Amsterdam to New York City, graced us with his bass playing…. I’ve long wanted to play the Paradiso and it did not disappoint. After our Amsterdam show we flew through the remaining 4 Dutch shows in Den Haag, Bakkeveen, Lage Vuursche and Venlo. The gig in Bakkeveen was especially memorable – a beautiful venue, great crowd and a boxer dog, Pips, with whom I fell immediately and deeply in love.
Our show at In The Woods in Lage Vuursche was packed with people and we were so happy to see so many familiar faces on our third visit there. Bart & crew are always so good to us and we look forward to the great company at dinner almost as much as the show. The Venlo show was at Perron55, where they have an outstanding crew who took such good care of us. We had a few more fans from far-flung places (Julian from the UK) and some friends from Twitter (hello Ruud!) who tweeted the gig as it happened.
We drove back to Cologne that night for a few hours sleep before flying to Munich the next morning. It was originally scheduled as a day off but we were offered the chance to play live on BR2, Germany’s national public radio, on a show called Nachtmix, which is hosted by Karl Bruckmaier, a veritable encyclopedia of music and a lovely guy as well. With the studio lights turned down low, and a small audience of 15 or so, it was like playing a little speakeasy or a jazz club. Easy to forget the huge audience out there in Radioland. Regrettably we didn’t see much of Munich, but we’ll save it for next time. We did get to sample some local beer though – Wow!
The last four German shows were a blur – some of the longest drives were at the end of the tour so much of it was spent in the van, driven by the ever-capable (and cheerful!) Rebecca. In Kassel we had a sold-out crowd (yes, sold out!) and a grand piano – two things that make us very happy. We also met up with singer-songwriter Markus Rill, another Twitter friend. The show in Erfurt the next night was a bit strange, with audience members sitting around the perimeter of the room but dead space directly in front of us. Bad Feng Shui, people! Then it was on to Dresden – a long haul but we arrived in time to wander around the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen and marvel at the post WWII restoration of Dresden’s historic buildings. The audience that night at Tante Ju was warm and very vocal, and we felt right at home but wish we could have stayed to see more of the city.
We finished up the tour in Hamburg at the Downtown Bluesclub. I can’t say enough about Uwe, our host and promoter. All gigs should be like this one. We were treated so well; first a long, leisurely soundcheck, then a lovely dinner (amazing schnitzel!) with Uwe, the crew, our record label head Michael Golla, our booking agent and the TV crew who were there filming the show. The club was packed and the audience showed us the love. Afterwards, Uwe brought the champagne and we celebrated the end of a successful tour – 15 shows in 16 days. Next time (yes, there will definitely be a next time) we will build in more days off so as to see more sights and get more rest. We’re not spring chickens, you know.
Much gratitude to the awesome Rebecca Kemp for keeping us between the lines and never losing her cool, to Michael Golla for an incredible job on tour promotion, and to Nigel Morton at Moneypenny Agency, Joanna Serraris at Musemix, & ASS Concert & Promotion for booking the shows. Heartfelt thanks to all the lovely people who came out to see us, in some cases showing up at the venue hours early for autographs and/or driving hundreds of kilometers to get there. We are so grateful. And finally, love and admiration to Barry Walsh. Every night we get to make music together is an adventure, a journey and a gift.