Here’s another video from the German tour – an unplugged performance of me singing BGs with Robert Carl Blank on his song “10 or 12” – filmed at our last Songs & Whispers show together in Bremen.

Some days before there had be an afternoon at a house concert where I hummed along to this song from the audience while Robert ended his set with it. The next night I fumbled my way through it on stage, and from there it became the closing number of our night together. That last night in Bremen was the first time dance moves were introduced however…

Ever since Spring arrived in Bremen – and she was very late – in the mornings when I wake up in the Bremen flat (and the Bremen flat has been the centre point of most of the last three week’s shows), I wander into the kitchen, put the kettle on for coffee, and swing the window open wide. There’s a small park below and, in my weeks here, an already familiar cast of local characters. I love to look out that window, and most recently, to sit on the sill, my back to the green below, the sun above, and the breeze around, and write in my notebook.

My walking route to the nearest main street has changed from the easiest (right and then right) to the prettiest (left, left, right, left-ish) and I like noticing the small routines that form in short periods of time.

The better route includes walking past these knits.

It’s hard to believe it’s down to one remaining performance here in Germany. I’ve had 28 gigs in the last 24 days, which has made for a kind of busy blur with scattered moments of clarity and warmth. So many of the shows have been so lovely, and beyond my expectations – though I had few for my first time here – and just when I think the sweetest, warmest moment has taken place, another one finds me.

I otherwise feel rather out of touch with the world and I have no idea of what’s happening with anyone other than me. It’s is an odd sensation, and boring in ways, but the focus of each day of getting to the venue and doing my job, all the while navigating through foreign landscapes and language, has gobbled me up.

The immersion, despite the blurred edges, has been interesting, and I’m grateful to report that since I last wrote there have been fewer hurdles and greater joys.

There is rather a lot of talking to be done while on tour, but almost entirely is that talking always with someone new. Every day there are so many new connections and small conversations.  I really noticed this on the last two long tours I’ve done, that I have a lot of conversations with new people, which I enjoy, but that I don’t get nearly enough talking in with my “old”, with my nearest and dearest, my closest knits – time zones and timing being the biggest challenge to making that happen. I start to feel it, a kind of backlog of thoughts and feelings, a collection of the little daily stories piling up and getting tangled, a lack of feeling known.

Many people here speak at least a little English. I’ve collected a handful of German phrases but have basically been a fixed post as far as communicating here goes – people have been so generous in moving towards me, when I can’t even meet them halfway. It has impacted telling stories, and really made me think about my stories too. As anyone who’s seen me perform knows, I like to talk about these songs of mine, but here that talking has changed. I speak slower, I tell fewer stories, try to be more succinct, to boil it down. I’ve started to hear my songs more as sounds than words – an entirely new experience since the words have always been the entry point for me – which just makes me think of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZXcRqFmFa8. What am I like, if you can’t understand what I’m saying? I’ve liked considering this shift. I like being sounds, smiles and gestures.

And I’ve loved getting to hear Robert Carl Blank on so many nights – he’s a fantastic player and is still, after so many shows together, pulling out songs I haven’t heard yet. Amazing. This past week’s joyful moments have been largely impacted by my friend Diederik van Dijk joining Robert and I here in Bremen.

Diederik and Robert at Kito.

After playing solo so much these past few months, it was SO wonderful to have Diederik on cello for a few songs, goodness me, and also to hear his songs again. It’s been 8 years since we last played together and he is one of the “old” – I’m glad for a few days of finding ground in conversation with someone who knows me. I needed it.

And need it still. But I fly home on Monday, just two sleeps and one gig away, and so very soon I will fall back into the warmth and comfort of familiar. I love the newness of touring, I’ve definitely loved this tour in particular, for all its ups and downs, but just thinking of my own bed now is going to bring me sweet dreams here tonight.

And tomorrow morning, one more perch on the kitchen window sill, one more chorus of Bremen birds to write by.

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…