The What’s Cookin’ gig was really good; we’ve gotten used to playing London now. Where it used to be intimidating, now it is another place we play. We’re looser about the big city shows, less self-concious. Much better that way.
Drove to Leicester after London show. Got in about 3:30 AM. I skyped home. Exhausted, I still had to wind down for about an hour in the dark, just listening to my brain chatter on and on.
Woke around 11 AM, showered and got out the door for a noon pickup. Paul Needham and his assistant Leah took some photos of Tommy and me. They got some great shots.
And then we were off to Nottingham. We had a truly fabulous show at The Maze. I don’t know what else to say about it; we played a couple of hours and then were called back for three encores.
Back down and around London for our last UK gig: East Grinstead. In contrast to how it sounds when you say it, East Grinstead is an old market town, and now a London bedroom community. Pretty cozy town,. Jeff and I strolled down and took a look at a row of 13th Century daub and wattle buildings, still in use as businesses and residences, I even encountered a couple of piss-drunk young guys who I could imagine in medieval garb giving me the same looks and comments 700 years ago (one of them made farting sounds with his mouth as I walked by). Funny.
East Grinstead was good gig. Decent crowd. They really liked the music. There was one lady who seemed to have had one too many drinks. She got excited a few times and started stomping and clapping in a rough approximation of the tempo of the song that had her going. In the tiny venue, we had to hunker down and really concentrate to keep the groove. But the promoter, Steve, was a great guy and treated us well.
I was up at 4 AM to get it together for our London-Berlin flight. I mistakenly thought that Gatwick Airport would be less busy early in the morning. Dream on. It was a zoo. There were several hundred people lined up for Easy Jet. The good news for us was we were on the verge of missing our flight by the time we really got in the huge line, so they moved us up to the front of the line. Then they moved us up to the front of the line to pay our overweight baggage fees. Then they pretty much waved us through security. Turns out we had plenty of time to wait in another long line to board the flight. The flight was fine, though, and we landed in Berlin.
Ralf, the promoter from Lauchhammer, picked us up and drove us to his house. We got a taste of 100 mph Autobahn driving—zoom up to the back of a semi, slam on the brakes, pass, zoom up to 100 mph, brake, etc. Very exciting. Ralf’s wife, Iris, made us a real nice lunch, then Ralf took us to a B and B so we could take a nap. I got a good one in, and by sound check I was feeling ok.
The gig was great. Real Music Club is a cool room with pretty amazing sound. It’s a real home away from home for American musicians, many of whom (like us) have a hard time getting the big gig in Berlin proper. The house engineer, Marcus, brought his Strat and his amp and let me use the rig, so our show had some loud and proud electric guitar.
It was a very rocking show to a very appreciative audience. Hats off to Ralf, Iris and Marcus for treating us like kings.
Got in late; Ralf wanted us to hang with him at the club, so we did. It was fun, trying to learn some German and teach some English to the small and friendly staff who were hanging around drinking some post gig beers. Got up and caught a ride with the nice old guy who owns the B and B. Made it to the station at Lauchhammer. The former East Germany—we are right along the Polish border—is a trip. They are still rebuilding after the Communist era. It’s dreary looking and eerily quiet at times. But everyone has been so nice to us.
On the train now, two line changes—Lauchhammer to Ruhland, Ruhland to Cottbus, and now Cottbus to Berlin. My dear old friend and former roomate Clark is picking us up for our big day off in Berlin. Our only day off of this tour, until we get to Amsterdam on June 6. We are tired but feeling pretty good.
We arrived at Berlin Hautbahnhof and Clark came to pick us up with his two wonderful kids. Then he took us on an auto tour of Berlin. What a mind-boggling city, especially for history buffs like Tommy and me. We saw old Prussian history, WW1 history, Nazi and WW2 history, the Berlin Wall, the Soviet influence on East Berlin, the thriving modern city of today.
And then we went home, had a cocktail, played with the kids, ate dinner, sat around talking music and life. Off to bed.