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West Sieeeeeed meets East Germany

We had excellent driving conditions, nearly the entire way, from Gierle BE to Mittweida DE.  The pre-dusk light was warm and vivid, and seemed to hang on a little longer, just for our amusement.  The countryside scenery along the A4 Autobahn was vast and rolling.  No major hills, anywhere in sight, but in many ways we were very much feeling like we were back in Kentucky, USA… except for the perfectly clean air,  the wind farms, the border-post remnants, and the Audis flying by us at 200 kph.  Hank was as giddy as a kindergarten child, and made repeated, feeble attempts at translating every road-sign along the way.

Fuel stop in McDeutschland

When we finally reached Mittweida, the sun had finally grown tired of entertaining us, and tucked itself comfortably beyond the hills, somewhere west, high above the Atlantic Ocean.  The winding country roads of Mittweida, at night… and the leftover puddles from an earlier storm, made the home-stretch a bit of a skill-test.  But with GeePuS (Dre’s petname for GPS) as my Co-Pilot, we landed safely around 10pm at 42 Leisniger Straße, Mittweida DE.

The buzzer on the entry had one familiar name.  Dr. Greuel.  Although Dre is no doctor… and he did not hesitate to inform us that was his mother’s title, after a few welcoming hugs and high-fives, of course. Willy often calls him Dr. Dre, ironically enough, and to be quite frank, the man is smarter than most doctors I’ve ever met.

Before we knew it, people were arriving to greet us.  Frances (Dre’s neighbor and dear friend) showed up with Tobias, and it wasn’t long before the Freibergers were flyin’ and the Eirelikör shots were not far behind.  Mannfried (Frances’ father) told us all about the different schnapps and liqueurs they make by hand, and how they all do it together, combining resources, and providing additional excuses to enjoy quality time and fellowship.  We learned quickly, that when one omits gases from any orifice, you do not want to be the last one to touch your fist to your forehead.  If I had a photo, i’d insert it here… but thankfully I don’t, so it will be sooner forgotten.  (yes, I was often the whipping boy… sigh)  Needless to say, the welcoming party went on well into the night.. and almost into the morning.

Mannfried listens, as someone plays a fireside tune.

We wanted to sleep as much as possible, since it was our first real day off since we started packing, back home.  (One could say the Monday before, Kroegentocht, was a day off.. but the music, dancing and liquid-fueled merriment took a heavy toll on our bodies)  But Frances had other plans… just before noon, the phone was ringing off the hook, and Dre informed us that “brunch” was ready to serve.

Our first brunch in Dre's back yard.

 

Frances' "Frantastic" spaghetti with mushroom meat sauce and leafy greens.

With our bellies full, and the sun high above… it didn’t take long before we had the cornhole set up, and Lennon (Dre’s son) had returned from school.  Dre got his MS from the University of Cincinnati, so he single-handedly introduced the game to the good people of Mittweida.  I joked that I’d be happy to move there, and build them out of his garage… but no one laughed.🙂 dangit. oh well…

Hank's pitchin' south-paw, because of his injured right shoulder.

The warmth of the sun, and the food in our bellies… combined with the aftermath of Kroegentocht, AND an 8-hour drive from Belgium to Deutschland, quickly sent me crawling back to my comfy covey for a nap.  I threw in a load of laundry, and drifted off with little effort.  Hank, Willy, Dre, and Frances set off for a guided tour in Dre’s jeepish vehicle.  (can’t remember the name of that thing.. but it was old, and it was cool)  I regretted staying behind, a little, but there was no room in the vehicle for a 230 lb. bass-player.  I’m confident their experience was greater, being able to cruise like that, and I genuinely needed to catch up on some zzzzz’s.

Lennon knocked on the door to my room at 4:15, asking if I could give him a ride to soccer practice.  The gang had not yet returned from their tour, and I readily obliged.  Lennon’s a good kid.  At just 9 years old, he claims his English is better than his teacher… and he is already quite the athlete.  He shows tremendous love and respect for his father, and takes amazing care of his dog, Diesel.  To me, he’s on the right track… and I look forward to seeing what he will become as a young man.

Lennon and Diesel.

 

I enjoyed the time I was able to spend with Lennon.  It was therapeutic for me, missing my children so much.  I can’t help but hope that he will get to meet my son, Owen, someday.  They could both learn so much, about this world, from each other.

Frances and the fellas returned from the tour, and we decided to walk up to the ice cream stand.  Literally, 50 meters from Dre’s front door.  Excellent soft-serve ice cream, in waffelkones:)  Yum.  We then proceeded to walk, with Frances’ friend, Jana (Yonna), down to “Swan Lake”, which is a shallow pond/arboretum.. just a hop and a skip from Leisniger Straße.  Conversation with Jana came easy, because her English was good (although she would not admit as much) and she seemed happy to tag along.  I learned that she is also into photography, and works at the Mittweida University of Applied Science, as a social media manager/professional.

Jana and Frances order up some deliciousness for the Amerikanes.

 

walking out of the ice-cream stand, on Leisniger Straße, to "Swan Lake"

Hank, swingin' at Swan Lake.

It wasn’t long before our day-off expired.. and we wrapped ourselves in autumnal attire.  Dre built a fire in the mortar-block chiminea, in the corner of his backyard.  The KC 33 (East German guitar) made its way out of the house, and the Freibergers were crackin’ in time with the burning coals of pine.  We each took turns, singing the songs our folks taught us to sing.

Hank howlin' at the moon, by firelight.

We would have probably pushed on ’til dawn, yet again, but a cry from a neighbors’ window let us know we were pushing our luck.  And the realization that our first gig, in Deutschland, was less than 12 hours away… helped us oblige the neighbors’ call for peace… and quiet.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Kroegentocht

We had a blast at our final show, in Geel.  The people at Bacchus Cafe were colorful, and friendly.  The quote on the soffit read “All the freaky people make the beauty of the world” (Michael Franti) and the bar-owner, “Juiceman” was no exception.  Full braided-beard, tattoos and beady black eyes that could stare a hole in your soul… yet probably one of the funniest, most welcoming and downright-honest individuals you’ll find in a rock pub, anywhere.  We had great sound during the show, and sold some merch… then Juiceman apologized for not having more guests.  He admitted to overbooking the club (4 shows in two days).  His constituency was probably home, chewing ibuprofen, and resting for the oncoming work-week…  Still, we left satisfied, after a group photo and a few hugs.  We all agree that we’ll return to the great Bacchus Cafè, then hurry home to rest up for the daylong debauchery that Monday has promised…. otherwise known as Kroegentocht.

just arrived @ Bacchus Cafe, in Geel, BE

Rest in the bandhouse is, however, somewhat elusive.  Our friends Nick and Annelore from Cowboy Up decided they had not yet had enough of the RKG, and surprised us at our doorstep with a bag full of Belgium’s finest.. (an assortment of Duval, Westmall Triple, and… well… Jupiler (Belgium’s PBR).  And, as you can probably agree, it’s not nice to send someone on their merry way, when they bring such fancy gifts… So, naturally, we invited them in out of the cold to share in the plentiful bounty and some stimulating conversation.  They ended up crashing on the couches (which is funny, because Nick is about 6’9″), at who-knows-what time, and we nearly brought the sun up…. once again.😛

11:00am, and the Stijn alarm wakes us all abruptly.  We jumped out of our beds, paranoid, and puny.  But the excitement of Vicky and Leonie, arriving with the “wardrobe” for the days’ events, quickly sent our tickers into time.  Willy had heard talk of us dressing up in women’s clothing, so he wasted no time fumbling through the archives of articulii, coming up with a costume, relatively reminiscent of an old man on Derby Day.  Hank and I had already agreed, over a bottle of tequila, that we’d be the real men… and don blue-hair dresses.  It was quickly decided, somewhat democratically… i think… that I would wear full-on makeup.  It was also applied expeditiously.. before I could have enough coffee to change my mind.

The Fabulous, Fantastic, Flemish Five (-1)

yikes.  I just saw my photo, yet again… and it makes me throw up in my mouth, nearly every time.

Anyway… in a nutshell, the day was pure insanity.  Think mardigras, carnivale, but in a neighborhood setting, with games and theatrical performances, all scored by the judges at each venue.  There were older men dressed up as babies, complete with dirty diapers and plastic pissing penises.  Parodies of Belgian tv-shows, a Jackson-Five team, portraying each stage of his career… “Giels” Angels, who dressed like the offspring of Joan Jett and AC/DC, played “Highway to Giel”  (Giel is a slang term for “Gierle”, the town in which we were staying.  The “G” is soft almost like an “H”)The Jackson Five, and a couple friends, pose outside of "The Oak"

The games were fun and simple (for the sober).  There was a dice game, a labyrinth, a ping pong game, and a booty-bump the balls out of the box game… wait… did i seriously just type that?  :)  Ha! Well… that’s what the game consisted of, and I really don’t know how to better explain it.  Let your imagination do its work here, people….

Willy watching closely, as Stijn conquers "The Labyrinth"

We performed a few of our favorite tunes (sans bass, of course) at each venue, to intense applause.  The party-goers were mainly college-age students, and retirees… but there were a few people of working age, in attendance.  We learned much about the town, the culture and Belgium itself, just by participating in this age-old tradition.  Funny, because the women could hardly even look Hank and I in the face.  The men were more friendly than ever… hmmm…  I think Hank might have even got a “goose” or three.

At the end of the day, we won an honorable mention for “Favorite Team”… which basically gave us our entry-fee back.  Also, I’m proud to admit that I took home 5th place (out of 60 competing locals) for best costume.

And I normally only cross-dress on Thursdays…

jamming @ Kroegentocht

Blonde Banjovi

took this photo for Drew's friend, Kevin... who thought HIS moustache was cool :)

Hey Baby... how 'bout a beer?

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Four Shows, Three Days

We woke and did some much needed laundry. Went to the market for groceries, and Johnboy picked up ingredients to make our local host at Cafe Den Eik some real American Chili. Before we knew it, it was once again time to change strings and get ready for the trip to this evening’s show at Cafe Den Bromfiets (somewhere near Horentals, Be). Peter was assigned to be our driver and sound man these remaining days. We hadn’t had the opportunity to hang out much with Peter and in the coming days would discover that he was as unique, hard-working, funny, and intelligent as the rest of the crew.

After delivering John’s homemade chili to Chris and walking around town to see the sights and catch a few football (soccer) games, but it was soon time, once again, to hit the road. We arrived at the Cafe and chose to try the same single-mic setup. The lack of tables and chairs in front of the stage should have given us the clue that this house and audience would be different than the previous night. But not many people were in the place when we showed, and with a quick comment about maybe everyone will show up at the last minute, we decided to set up the single-mic. It proved to be a mixed-blessing. As we ate dinner and prepared to begin, people began pouring into the place until it had gone from empty to bustling in the course of a half-hour. We played our first set and everyone enjoyed the energy of our music, but we were told “it’s a shame, we can’t hear this good music”.  No problem.. ;)  we took a quick break and plugged in to play loud. The audience responded with enthusiasm for the music and we finished the night with hooting-hollering crowd. Peter was very patient with us for our sound issues and was integral to getting the night on track.

The next night we played closer to the band house at Cafe William Tell in Saint Lenaerts. Since this was a blues club, there were no doubts what kind of show we must put on. We took time and dialed in a good sound. And after a meal of fresh soup, bread, and cold-cuts, we did our thing up on the stage without reservation. At the end of the show, and being close to the band house, we stayed and played on the floor among the audience, even filling some requests. It was a good night.

Princess Lea, and Beardo boyfriend.

Our last day of the Belgian leg of the tour was to be a long one. We prepared by staying up a little too late and getting up a little too early. This being our last day before leaving for Germany, we cleaned the band house and organized our gear. Peter picked us up at noon and we were off to Brussels for a street festival. Soon we were set up and playing for a sparse crowd (rainy weather). After a few songs, a crowd had congregated in the rain to listen. Hank’s brother and friend who’d been traveling Belgium and were in Brussels also showed up. It was an energetic show, enhanced by our friends “The Wanderer” and his wife who’d driven across the country to come to the Schaarbeek area of Brussels and dance in the streets. They also brought us gifts of photos and Belgian chocolate. Having met our required time, wanting to stay and play a little extra, but being met with a downpour that began flooding the street and soaking the attentive audience, and having another show to play that evening, we decided to call it quits. We sold merchandise, met the local mayor and others dignitaries, and packed up in the rain and were soon on our way to Cafe Bacchus in Geel.

Posing with the Mayor of Brussels, who heard there was a Gang causin' a raucous on the streets...

Cafe Bacchus, Geel, Belgium. Our last show. It was a good one. We played well, and we were again well-received. Nick and Analore arrived from Waardamme to hear this last show. The place had its own sound, so Peter could quit worrying about sound and focus on driving us home safely after the show. We got back to Gierle with some “unwind” time to spare, and with Hank’s brother and Nick and Analore visiting town for the night, probably went to bed too late to be prepared for what was in store for the band in the coming day. The next day, we had agreed to participate with “Stijn the Man” in a local street festival, the “Krugentocht”. Sure, we would be dressing up, performing music, and playing games like the other teams in attendance. But we had completed playing the paying gigs, so how tough a day could it be?

@ Bacchus Cafè, Geel BE with Julie and Peter "The Juiceman". Should be called the "Gooseman", 'cuz he got Hank good:)

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

A decent Turnhout

Well, friends… it’s been a while.  The late nights and sometimes daily-doubles, (two shows in one day) coupled with Belgian brews, hours on the highway, and rainy-day blues had certainly taken its toll… But the band kept “drivin’ on” and we lived to tell you all about it… once again.

We pulled into Turnhout, with “Cousin” Vinny and “El Presidente”, Gert, a good hour and a half before the show.  We heaved our gear into the “Het Keizershof”, in Turnhout and took one look around.. instantly nodding to one another in mutual agreement that this would be an excellent venue for a one-mic setup.

Het Keizershof, Turnhout BE (thanks to Wlad and Kim!!)

We set up and played with one mic for a hushed but enthusiastic crowd. Many in attendance were more of a folk music crowd than the Rockabilly types we’ve gotten used to meeting at previous shows. Fortunately for us, we have become used to this as a group and tailor our shows accordingly. The night was fun and relaxing at the same time. “El Presidente” ran great sound for us and quickly, we fell into the zone. Wlad, Kim and the staff also showed us much hospitality, including a much needed quite remarkable meal. We returned to town and hung out with “El Presidente” and Vinny for a few beers, and then we and Vinny played some games of pool, alternating between Belgian 8-ball rules, and American 8-ball rules. We had a fun time hanging out with Vinny, a refreshing personality, whose wisdom is well beyond his years (soon to be 21). In such great company, it was easy to lose track of time, and once again, we made our way back across the street from Cafe De Valk (aka “The Brown Bar”) into the comfort and solace of our band-adobe… much later than our bodies had hoped.

Willy enjoys another great meal @ Het Keizershof

My "cuz" Vinny.  This kid will rule the world someday... mark my words.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Sittin’ on Top of the World

It was a long, rainy drive to Antwerpen yesterday but the reward was immense.  Dinner at La Campine (next to the Cafè Cosmopolite) was exquisite.  Rosie, the chef, is a true artist and her medium is gourmet cuisine.  For a trio of hillbilly musicians, we were literally blown away by both presentation and complex textures/flavors. Gratuity is not typical, and definitely not expected here in Belgium.  But in this case, I felt inspired… and left a Euro (wanted to leave more, but didn’t want to seem arrogant).  After dinner we leaned into the horizontal rain, and headed back, next door, to Cafè Cosmopolite where we were greeted with “Hey!! It’s the FUCKING AMERICANS!!!!! HAHAHAHA!!!” by raspy, smoke-choked voices, immediately followed by a hack/pleh/tooh and a handful of lung-tissue on a handkerchief.  We just smiled, politely.. carrying our gear past them, to the stage… knowing that’s exactly what we were, and confident we’d soon win them over, and reinvigorate their spirits.  Just what the doctor ordered…

Our shows , so far, have been for a seemingly upper middle-class of Belgian society.  Cafè De Kröeg, Ace Cafè, Den Eik, and Cowboy Up… the people all seem to appreciate the music (if merch sales and compliments are any indication) but they appreciate it with very little hootin’ n hollerin’.  At Cowboy Up, we were grateful for the freestyle two-step duo, (Edmund and his best girl, whose name escapes me).

Edmund "The Wanderer" and partner

Their two-step, line-dance technique was almost martial-art-esque, with some hints of ballroom.  It was really something to see…  Matter of fact, i’d almost venture to say I’ll never forget it😉

The next show was Cafè De Kröeg, in Netherlands.  The owners immediately made an impression, pulling up in their 1960-something Plymouth Valiant.  On the rear dash, a Hula-girl was juxtaposed by a bobble-head Jesus, from the opposing corner.  Sporting gray-primer, and original everything… it didn’t even need a flux-capacitor to take us immediately back home.

Classic Plymouth Valiant

z'Jeezus

We played a great show, at the Cafe De Kröeg, around a single-mic setup.  There were only about 15 people there, but they bought aLOT of merch, and showered us with apologies.  Apparently there was a death in the local rockabilly community… and half the town was at his funeral.  They invited us back, with much enthusiasm, and promised us a better turnout.

Cafe De Kröeg, Netherlands

There wasn’t even time to burn a fag after the show.  We all piled in to the Opal van, almost as Stijn was pulling away.. on the run ;)  We arrived at the Ace Cafe in Rümst, nearly on schedule.  The owner, Chris VandeVoorde, explained that he was going upstairs to shower, but our dinner was soon on its way.  He said to eat, and relax.  But when he came back downstairs, we should begin our show immediately.

"THE" Ace Cafe, Rümst BE

And that we did.  Our spirits were, for a moment, deflated… realizing we had left one of our tuners at the Netherlands gig (and no one is getting rich on this tour).  This is usually not a huge deal for anyone, but when you’re going into your fourth gig in three days, after traveling halfway across the world… fatigue has a way with suckin’ the wind right out of your musical sails.  BUT!!!… nothing a couple of Duvals couldn’t fix.  We tossed a couple back, and it was off to the races… In the end, we gave those fine folks, what I would consider to be one of the best shows we’ve “mustered”.  I’m especially proud of the boys, because it wasn’t lookin’ good, just a few minutes before we finished the pizza.😉

Ace Cafe

some friends from Rümst

Immediately after the show, Chris approached us and apologized… There was a rockabilly festival in town, which had lured away much of the everyday clientele.  He bought a plethora of merch, asked us to please come back, and just like the prior, promised us a full-house upon our return.

Which brings me to my initial insecurities, with regard to this tour.  I had researched the Surfing Airlines booking agency, quite a bit, before actually signing on.  I had also researched the venues and the former bands.  Much of the photos I was able to find were of rockabilly, greaser-types, smokin’ Marlboros and riding Triumph motorcycles or vintage cars.  Still, on the list of Surfing AIrlines formers, were Dale Watson, Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies, and the Jolenes (an Irish folk/traditional bluegrass band).  I was certain that we fit somewhere in between the three, but couldn’t help feel somewhat intimidated when you walk in and they’re jamming Hank III, Southern Culture on the Skids, and/or The Legendary Shack Shakers on the jukebox.  Then they look at you and say… “Hey!! It’s the FUCKING AMERICANS!!!!! HAHAHAHA!!!”  But each time… we’ve bowed our heads, politely, and done OUR THANG.  And we’ve done it well.  People who have seen us at former shows are beginning to drive an hour (or two) to catch an èncore.  We’ve been asked to sign CDs, T-shirts, and the walls of the pubs, and we even won the respect of “THE FUCKING BELGIANS” at Cafè Cosmopolite, by unplugging and playing a few songs right next to them, at the end of our show.  “Chasing Ghosts” nearly made one of them cry.  They were buying our merch, and offering some of the firmest handshakes i’ve ever encountered.  Most of them are dock-workers, at this particular section of Antwerpen, so you’d expect them to be a little “rough around the edges”.  They turned out to be some amazing people, much like our friends back home, and really made us feel like we were in the right place. I even got invited, the night before, into the kitchen of the Cafe Den Eik.  I got a hands-on lesson, on how to make Belgian Mayonnaise.  You may laugh.. but this is as I explained to the Belgians, “some good shit”.  Chris, the owner, looked at me a little cross-eyed, when I called his ancient family recipe “good shit”.  But it was funny to hear him say it back to me, with the Dutch overtones😉

Chris is one of the best people I have ever met.  He is a retired school teacher, married father of three, and owner of Cafe Den Eik.  He’s considered to be a “holy man”, but I doubt he has time to step into a church.  He’s too busy taking care of his people.  I expressed my intense appreciation for the local mayonnaise, and he smiled at me and walked away.  After our show, quite a bit later, he peeped out of his kitchen, and called my name.  When I walked back, he was standing at the counter, displaying with open hands the ingredients to his grandmother’s recipe.  I stood, flabergasted, as he walked me through the entire process.  I could tell you what was in the mayonnaise… but then I’d surely have to kill you!  To me, having someone show you a family recipe, is kinda like getting the key to the city… but without all the political BS.

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention… we ate some raw horse-meat, last night.  (except for Willy, of course..) and liked it.

Next show, tonight… somewhere near the top of the world.🙂

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Cowboy Up

Man, could that couple dance! “The Wanderer” and his wife would get up, seemingly for every other song we played, and dance the two-step and line dances, replete with well-synchronized (and often improvised) hops and skips. It was enough to get other couples to dance (though the others would really only slow dance). They were even good enough to keep us more on-tempo, a feat well understood by those of you knifers who know how we can day-dream in the middle of songs from time to time🙂 From speaking with Mr. Wanderer (Edmund), a tattooed western shirt and cowboy boot and hat wearing 50-something, Willy discovered that he was a crane operator at a shipping facility who reportedly worked 16-hour days. Willy immediately dubbed him, “the only European who worked more than three-hour days” which was met with much merriment from everyone at the table. “Yeah, certainly I work enough for a dozen Frenchmen (makes snorting noise), but I get sick of it, you know? So my woman and I go out dancing every weekend and take care of our horses at home.” And so dressed like cowboys and cowgirls, the customers like The Wanderer are at least horse-owners and farmers, which is close enough to legit for we three Knifers.

“Cowboy Up” is a restaurant in rural Waardamme styled after a western-American ranch. They serve ribs. They have horse stables, horses, and livestock. They even stock American beers, though we only saw one person, our driver Peter, drink one. It was a Bud Light that he promptly labeled “pee-water”. Rodeo footage plays on the TVs; complete with barrel racing and wrangling while country and western music is played on the house stereo. Needless to say, it’s surreal for an American to see things so faithfully, yet not quite exactly, recreated. Kind of like our music. And so we made for good company with much applause and laughter and stories shared between The Gang and the locals.

Nick, the owner, does a great job and the extended family works hard to please every customer. Even their children help out; their eldest son Jesse (8) worked the stage lighting and merchandise table for us! Before even entering the place, Nick ducks out the kitchen door and takes our order, asking if we have any vegetarians. He promptly begins preparing baby-back ribs. Nick has a genuine passion for the place, the customers, and the musicians who come to play. He puts Bob Wayne on the TV, plays Heel-Stomp on the sound system when these guys are mentioned in the course of conversation. There’s even a kids’ obstacle course in the lawn next to the outdoor seating. Everyone shakes hands like a brother, as if you’ve known them for years.

Stijn had the day off and we spent it with him before we had to leave by kicking around the futbol, jamming tunes (both on the stereo and on guitars), and swapping tall tales. He made the most of his day off after a fashion that would make University kids pale in comparison. He’s the kind of guy you feel like you’ve known your whole life. You want to see him take better care of himself, knowing all the while you’re only a few steps behind him in the party department. He’s done a lot of living. He loves his family. He’s a good soul.

Our driver, Peter was accompanied by Vinnie. We had a good drive to and from Waardamme. They sat up front and chose the music, while we sat three-wide in the back seat. They’re both sharp young men. These guys don’t drink anything other than beer, don’t seem to be interested in weed or vices worse than tobacco and ladies. Peter (28) has a vintage Dodge Challenger and wears a “Nashville Pussy” T-shirt. Vinnine (21) doesn’t drive anything other than a cruiser bike and a push-mower. Vinnie seems more a greaser type, wearing long sideburns, a “Dropkick Murphy’s” T, and slicked back hair. We talk with them just about the whole way, and they go to great lengths to be accommodating by speaking to each other in English, rarely drifting into their native tongue to discuss the route. When they mention any neighboring area or peoples who aren’t Flemmish, one or the other snorts or makes a quick spitting noise. It’s quite amusing because you can tell it’s more a matter of ancestral pride than any genuine disdain for others. When you ask about this, they usually say something like, “They’re slobs.”, “They don’t work hard enough.”, or “They are conceited.” Except for the French; I think they generally really don’t like the French – even changing conversation to avoid mentioning them altogether🙂

We listen to a lot of Hank III this evening while driving. We sing along to “Crazed Country Rebel”; “….I like to drive my truck down a muddy dirt road…” Hank (The Knifer) mentions that tha line could be a metaphorical statement, to which Vinnie quickly retorts from the front seat, “Yeah, because Hank III gets Shakespearian ALL the time.”

These guys are fun and smart. We’re going to have a great week! We get home at 2:30 am and manage to get to sleep at a respectable 3:30 am. And today we’re all up before noon! Yeeeeeee-haw, let’s get on that horse and play two great shows this afternoon!

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Devil

The weather here in Belgium is perfect.  Can’t say, exactly, the temperature in degrees centigrade or fahrenheit, necessarily… ‘cuz you know it just doesn’t matter when you’re walking the streets with the perfect amount of sun on your face and wind at your back, and a smiling face on nearly every corner.  I’d guess it’s somewhere around 70-75F during the day, and high 50s at night.  Just enough to soak a t-shirt during a gig in an open-air pub, and then walk out and get instant goose-bumps, as the cool evening air soothes your salty, moistened skin.

Where I left you last, we were tired, hungry, dazed and confused.  So, we all took to the bunks with hurricane blinds (which lock out every ounce of daylight) and settled down for a 4 hour nap.  Needless to say, we woke up feeling like a million bucks, set out to have some dinner… and ended up drinking it.

Duval means “devil” in Dutch, and there’s no question where it got its name.  8.5% Belgian brew and we nearly sold our souls.  We set out to have some local cuisine, after a beer or two… but 7 or 8 Duvals later, a traditional meal was no longer necessary.

We spent some time at Cafe Den Eik, meeting some of the locals, as well as the crew from Surfing Airlines.. which, in a roundabout way, brings me to Stijn (Stan) our sound engineer/housemate.  Imagine River Phoenix, if he did not overdose on speedball, and lived another decade to roll his own cigarettes (constantly) and drink alot of serious Belgian beer.   He schooled us, effortlessly in fooseball… but we were redeemed on the pool table.

In Belgian, mostly, they play billiards.  But it’s not the billiards that you and I grew up playing… It’s three balls on a table with no pockets.  Luckily, there was a regulation 9-ball table, where we played 8-ball. With pockets.

I won’t tell you how many Duvals, each, we consumed on Thursday night.. because I really don’t remember.  But sleep came easily.  And quickly came the sun.

Church in the square, just outside our front door (Gierle, BE)

We played our first show, last night, in Lommel, BE @ The Kings Cafe.  It went really well, but I’m running out of time before our show tonight.  I’ll post pictures for both gigs sometime tomorrow…  and hopefully a story or two worth telling.  Teruggekomen!

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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