Wednesday, November 10, 2010
OCTOBER 29-NOVEMBER 3: MÜNSTER, HANNOVER, VERVIERS + COLOGNE - Jazzy Time!
The next day, we moved onward to Münster to play the familiar Hot Jazz Club, and had a lot of friends in the audience (Marco also lived there for ten years). It's always a struggle to fit on that tiny stage, but we made it work by having Marco set up a little bit behind Adrian, which was actually cool because we were so close that we could hear each other very well.
We had another easy drive to Hannover the next morning - we even had time to stop at a mall along the way to try and find more of the franken-adaptors (like the one that had been assembled for my Eventide in Amstelveen). While John looked around for the Saturn electronic shop, Marco and I were lured by the smell of sugar and fat, and decided to grab coffee and (of course) pastries. He went slightly overboard, picking out three oversized confections: a traditional berliner, a marzipan elephant ear, and a wedge of marble cheesecake. Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, our coffees came with little sugar cookies (and Marco got a mocha as well). Diabetic coma, anyone? We laughed, because the cookies had crosses decorated on them, so they looked like miniature edible advertisements for his Normalizer CD - plus he was wearing his cookie monster shirt. Talk about a photo op:
We arrived in Hannover in the early afternoon, and met Marco's lovely parents in the lobby (he was born and raised there, but they traveled twelve hours to see their boy and meet up with friends). After checking into our rooms, I decided to go for a walk and snap some pictures, because on our drive in, we'd seen a funky little flea market on the water.
A few hours later, and we were at the erm... cozy Jazz Club, where I declared it opposite day, because the stage was so small that I had to set up on the other side. It was definitely a unique experience, but it was cool to play for the crammed-in audience on that little vermillion stage. I even received a bouquet of flowers after "e", so I put one behind my ear for the encore... might be a look I go for more often... Anyway, afterward we snapped a bunch of photos with Marco's parents, and did our usual signing. We had a quick drink at the Wolf Bar with some of Marco's dearest friends, and shortly retired to our rooms to get some rest before our trip to Verviers, Belgium.
The drive to Verviers is pretty far - about four hours, but luckily it was an off-day, so we were able to sleep in a bit, which is always nice (especially on tour). I'd never been to Belgium before, so I was excited to see what it would be like, and more importantly, what awesome food we'd eat for dinner. We started to really worry and we drove our ginormous Mercedes down the ancient, teeny streets, and saw nothing but residences and closed up shops surrounding our hotel. Oh, and let me tell you about this hotel. It has a tennis court in the lobby - I kid you not:
Upon checking in, we asked if there were any restaurants nearby. The owner furrowed his brow and frowned in a not-so-promising way, and explained "It's a holiday today, plus it's Sunday... hmmmm." I forgot that it was Halloween that night, and that the French celebrate it as a holy day... He didn't ever really come up with any suggestions for us, so we figured we'd have to drive to Maastricht, the closest major city at 17km away. Since we were in the car all day, we decided to first try and follow the signs for "city center." We drove around for about twenty minutes, just about giving up all hope, when we found a little place next to the town's movie theater. Marco immediately hopped out and asked if they served food. He returned shortly, smiling, with thumbs raised so we all tumbled out, and Felix drove on to (eek) try and find parking. We got inside, and started perusing the menus. A server came over and took our drink order and then warned us that the kitchen would be closed for another hour. Our stomachs grumbled in unison at this news. We discussed what we'd do, but being so hungry it was hard to make a decision. Luckily the waitress returned and suggested a few nice places - which, hey, happened to be a short drive away! (Apparently we had been driving on the outside of the city's center, d'oh!) A half an hour later, and we were enjoying a lovely meal at La Seigneurie, which is owned by a Greek man and his Italian wife, which the menu reflects rather clearly.
After dinner, Ade and John retired to their rooms, but Marco, Felix, and I decided to stroll the town to see if we could find any fun Halloween things to do, as we actually saw some costumed people roaming the streets. We walked all around, and just about gave up, when we started to see signs for a "Black and White", with arrows instructing us where to go.
We followed these mysterious pieces of paper up a winding, massive hill, keeping our ears open for music or cars. We got to the top, and we looked at each other, utterly confused. "I, uh, think, uh, it, uh, must be over..." we agreed between breaths. Oh well, at least we got some good exercise in...
The next evening was our gig, at a cool little club called "Spirit of 66."
The stage was the best sounding one of the tour so far - really tight and dry, so we could really hear each other and improvise well on songs like "Beat Box Guitar" and "A Little Madness."
We got back to the hotel, a little wired from a great show, and we found a tennis ball in our hallway (of course). We then began to kick it around, just acting completely silly and giggling away. We either had extremely easy-going neighbors, or more likely, they put the rock bands back in their own hallway, away from the other guests. Smart.
Marco and I had a day off next, as Ade had a clinic in Cologne. We wandered the city, took a tour of the famous Dome, and had a nice cheap little fish lunch at a Nordsee.
We grabbed some green tea and decided to check out the music store near our hotel. There we tested out and bought really expensive headphones, consequently racing back to our rooms to compose. Hours flew by, and my zombie-like concentration was broken when I got a text from Felix inviting us to go to a Kölsch brewery near the university, where he, Ade, John, and the promoters were having a big meaty, schnitzel-y dinner. Marco and I met them in the typical biergarten and he tore into this big old stinky pork shank, and I, of course, had a salad. Afterward we took the university engineer's recommendation went to Papa Joe's Jazzlokal, a really cool, funky club with a house band that has played bebop-style jazz every night there for the past forty years:
We ended up sitting right next to the stage, in this strange narrow little pew, and our drinks sat in this little flower box-like trough. We joked that the cocktail waitress should just pour alcohol right into it so we could lap it up:
We walked the engineer back to the train station, and subsequently fell right asleep, for the next day we had a 6AM lobby call so that we could make it to Dusseldorf in time for our flight to Lisbon.
Ouch - no one ever said that touring was all fun and games. And if someone has ever said that, I will personally punch them in the face. That's how I felt the next morning, anyway...