Day 9 – Over and Over

I’m keeping this one short. Sumiswald is an adorable little town where they make the clocks for Swiss railways. It also has a world renowned brass instrument factory (Hirsbrunner). Our hotel is over 500 years old.

We played a single long set on a three band bill. The first “band” was Beth Wimmer. I joined her on “Harvest Moon” by some Canadian guy. Then we played our long set to a loud crowd. I had a blast, it was definitely our most rocking show so far. I love singing harmonies now and never want to stop, though I don’t think I would give myself more than about a C when it comes to my harmonizing abilities.

The third act was a straight up rock band called Bubi Eifach. They were really good and sang in Swiss German. A lot of the crowd seemed to know their songs. It was fun being at a rock show!

There’s a lot of snow here. While I’m dealing with non-sequiturs I should mention that Serge found my lost sock in his laundry. Also it should be noted that we made it through customs without even having to show our passports at all both leaving and returning to Switzerland. Finally, I have bought no gifts and no postcards. I haven’t even seen a postcard.

Today we drive to Maienfeld for a house concert. Back to the mellow shows!

Night 8 – Why We Do What We Do

Perfect night. After working out our version of “Crimson and Clover,” our hosts at Kulturpunkt Flawil fed us an amazing vegan dinner up in the loft. The Geissberger family (Rita, Ralph, and Ananda) are wonderful people. We played to a very appreciative audience. The vibe here is intimate and everything just felt right. We had great sound thanks to Florian. There was a lot of love in the room. Beth joined us for a few tunes. She sings backup vocals on about four tunes. We do three part harmonies on a couple as well. I never knew how good it feels to harmonize with someone!

After the show we had to celebrate Ralph’s birthday. We had already had a few drinks and after the champagne we decided we were too drunk to drive. So instead we walked up the hill to the house where we are sleeping. We got lost a bit, but if you’ve never gotten drunk and walked up a steep hill covered in black ice in a small Swiss town with your bandmates, you’re definitely missing out. Eventually we found the place and our hosts (Hilarie and Rätus) had made three beds up for us. And for breakfast they made us waffles! We had an excellent morning chatting and eating before hitting the road for Sumiswald.

Celebrating Ralph’s birthday with Rita, Ananda, and Florian.

Breakfast with Rätus and Hilarie. And Mary.

Day 8 – Just Do a Thing. You Know. Whatever.

A few days ago we were listening to Serge’s iPod in the van. “Baby Britain” by Elliott Smith came on. The lyrics for verse three:

The light was on but it was dim

Revolver’s been turned over

And now it’s ready once again

The radio was playing “Crimson and Clover”

We had been bouncing a few ideas around for a cover to learn on the road and I suggested we try doing “Crimson and Clover.” Well, as it turned out we had a few extra hours in this beautiful loft space where we are playing tonight. We were set up by two and started running some tunes of Kevin’s that aren’t on the current set. After that we listened to the original version of “Crimson and Clover” (the Joan Jett version is not on Spotify), and we had it worked out pretty well in about an hour. It’s a song that I have loved since I was six and I’m glad that we are adding it to the set. It’s traditional for us to learn a tune or two on the road. Past highlights include “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “Norwegian Wood,” and “Born to Run.”

A note for those keeping score (Keith); we have played a few tunes that are not on the set list. “Sweet Jane” (Innsbruck), “Dead Flowers” (most nights as our last tune), “I Still Miss Someone” (most nights to start the second set), and “If I Needed You” (Tabea just started playing it in Stäfa so we joined in). Songs that we have not yet played that are on the set list include “Into Nothing,” “Hark the Heart and the Arrow,” and “Fourth of July.” “The Lonesome Widow and I” and “Ballad of the Parted Ones” have not been played since Stäfa. I’ll keep you all apprised of any other additions as we go.

Day 7 – Very Nice, But…

Last night’s gig was at a very nice venue on a very nice stage with a very nice sound guy and the pay was very nice. Our hotel was very nice. We played nice and had some nice scotch.

But… there was literally no one in the crowd. We played two sets to an empty room. It was a nice rehearsal.

Setting up for a nice show with a nice stage.

Nice menu 4 artists!

Personally I’d rather make a little less bread, have better promotion, and play for a small crowd who are into the music. This was the first show where that didn’t happen.

Kevin and I were talking earlier about what a privilege it is to be able to do these tours and how they would never happen if not for people like Veronika, Helmut, Paul, Beth, Tom, Michael (you’ll meet him later) and all the other people who support and help us over here. Not to mention those who are watching over our lives back home while we are away (thanks for taking care of the house and the dog, Olivia!). The idea that we are self sufficient is a myth. It’s good to be independent and capable, but I think it’s important to always remember that we don’t really survive all alone. So thank you to everyone who allows us to make this trip. We really are very lucky, and tonight we get to play at one of our favorite venues. Kulturpunkt Flavil!

Day 6 – Scharnitz

Scharnitz is just a half hour up the mountain from Innsbruck so after doing laundry we headed out.

p: Serge van der Voo

p: Serge van der Voo

Our venue in Scharnitz is called Alte Mühle. It’s a little restaurant that used to be a barn back in Napoleon’ s time. Scharnitz is a mountain pass so when Napoleon invaded there was a battle here.

p: Serge van der Voo

p: Serge van der Voo

It’s never been this cold and snowy in Scharnitz, but on the plus side it’s gorgeous.

p: Serge van der Voo

p: Serge van der Voo

p: Serge van der Voo

p: Serge van der Voo. This is our hotel.

(I just realized that there is some extra footage at the end where I forgot to turn off the camera.)

As we were setting up for the show there was a little girl of about seven who seemed very interested in my guitar so I let her play it for a minute. She and her family ended up staying all night. She and her twin sister took a lot of photos and video. We played for a very small but appreciative audience and sold a lot of CDs.

Mom, Laura, Hannah, and Auntie. p: Kevin Meisel.

Veronika came out to see us again as well. It was good to see her one last time before we head back to Switzerland.

Day 5 – The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Brutally Cold

Yesterday (Day 5) was a great day. The drive into Innsbruck was beautiful. Innsbruck is basically surrounded by mountains so we got lots of excellent views of the Alps. Our hotel is north of downtown, halfway up the mountain.

The view from Gasthof Ölberg.

After a short rest we headed back down to the venue for sound check, where I was electrocuted when I tried to sing and play guitar at the same time. Don’t touch the mic while touching your strings if you ever gig at Cafe Brennpunkt. It’s a lovely little cafe under the viaduct.

Around 6:30 we walked over to our hosts’ house for dinner. Veronika, her father Helmüt, and her mother Elizabeth treated us to a delicious meal of salad and spinatknödel.

After dinner with the Berchtold family.

It was about a ten minute walk back to Brennpunkt for our show. It’s very cold here at the moment. We played a pretty standard first set, but then on the set break a group of Americans and Kiwis who had been at our sound check came back and turned our second set into a dance party!

We had to add a few tunes to the set to keep them dancing but it was an absolute blast!

After the show I was too tired to blog. I’m writing this post at Bubble Point, a laundromat. We’re just over 1/4 of the way through this tour so it’s a good time to do laundry. This morning (Day 6) we drove into Innsbruck and played for the students at a little Waldorf school. I’ll post pics when I get them but it was fun to sit and play a little acoustic set and answer questions from the students.

We’ve definitely hit our stride. The tunes are feeling effortless and sounding better each night. I love touring.