From London to Bremen, dot dot dot

Last night in Hengelo we played two shows, the second of which was short, spontaneous and sweet. After a cosy and lovely afternoon gig at De Nul we found ourselves at Lambooijhuis and I couldn’t resist the piano in the corner. Most of the shows on this tour I’m only playing guitar – logistically bringing a keyboard along just didn’t work and my hands, my body, misses playing keys.

After I played, an older man came up to me with tears saying “you made my day.” I’m always interested and amazed by what lyrics people hear, connect with – “I too have been ‘a witness of catastrophe’” he continued, “and I hope you will someday be a witness of happiness.” What followed was a conversation, a string of stories from his life, and it was touching and funny and beautiful and sweet and sad, and the whole time Rammstein was blaring over the sound system, an asynchronous soundtrack…

Robert Carl Blank knocking socks of at Lambooijhuis.

A little “Pussycat Pussycat” at De Nul, thanks to Slightly-Tilted.

On Saturday in Osnabruck, the first gig of the many I’m doing with Robert Carl Blank as part of a Songs & Whispers circuit, we had a fine time playing for the crowd at Big Buttinsky’s. It was, happily, another place that happened to have a piano, a beautiful old upright.

Another show was happening across the hall, the Erik Truffaz quartet featuring Anna Aaron. We were invited to sneak in to catch the last of it, and shuffled ourselves quietly into the back row. It was transportive. I get to hear a lot of live music, and am moved often by it all, but this was exceptional and I hadn’t felt lifted like that in a while. Above all else it felt lucky to be there…

The day before that I had been sobbing on the train. After a series of unfortunate events I was finally pointed in the right direction, but felt almost entirely beaten by Things Going Wrong. I have been, on this tour, particularly faced with the limits of my disability – something, admittedly, I prefer to deny. And a harsh reality check in that department mixed in with the usual confusion of navigating through a foreign language, plus last minute cancellations and miscommunications, made for a few harrowing moments of despair.

But I texted Lindsay, because I knew she would be awake in Toronto, and she pep-talked-via-SMS me while I tried to take in views of the German countryside through tears. Namely she convinced me to take deep breaths and blaze on, worry later. It got me to Bremen, but my makeup was a mess…

Later that night, after a shot set in nearby Hude, we drove back to town under sheets of lightning and my falling asleep was to the soothing wash of pouring rain on window panes. Have I ever been so shifted, moment to moment, with such frequency?

A week earlier, Lindsay had similarly saved me via text message on another day of Things Going Wrong when I travelled from London to Frankfurt. I don’t know if I’ve loved my cell phone more.

The week in England was full of love. Touring is only ever made possible by the generosity of others – places to stay, food to eat, open hearts and ears to collect the music I’m here to deliver – and my time there was entirely supported by my dears Lynn and Marcus. I’m not sure how I thought I would get myself, and all my crap, around the country on my own, but I didn’t have to face the task as they picked me up and chauffeured me with panache. London and Liverpool, the week’s bookends, moved me especially and I will write at some point of a delightful shift from noun to verb I’ve been inspired to make, thanks to one Liverpudlian in particular…

Clock birds of Liverpool.

Tonight in Bremen I played for the best open hearts and ears one can hope for and the encore and standing O swept me off my feet, *thank you*. The gig was in a church – ah, what acoustics! –and beforehand having a beer “backstage” I asked the organizer if it was okay to take the drink on “stage”, what with it being flanked by religious paraphernalia and me being rather unfamiliar with such settings. He paused and answered “God loves every kind of person,” which was an unexpected way of saying yes and onwards into song I went, avec beer…

I’m two weeks into this tour of five, and have been feeling deeply the highs and lows. The highs, oh they’ve been magical, and the lows have at least been a learning curve, albeit circuitous and steep.

In those curves, Brandi Carlile’s “Bear Creek” has been a kind of saving grace – I’m so in love with that record lately I’m about ready to switch my act to a Brandi cover-band, out of pure devotion.

And so now I will drift off, so sweetly sated by tonight’s show, with a Carlile lullaby humming in mind, all in a moment, all in a sound, all in a day’s work, we’re tumbling down…

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