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Camelot, drop bears & Irish pubs

Backtracking, again, to the Netherlands..

Tuesday we made it to Nijmegen in the afternoon, left our bags at the venue, and wandered around to look for a hostel. No luck. None in town, actually. Passed the next few hours too tired to really do anything and just sitting around and waiting. In the evening we met up with the folks running the show, and were offered a free meal and drinks. Had fun playing there- small corner stage at Cafe Camelot. Good ambiance and there were a few people familiar with my stuff there, which is always a surprise and an honor. Got to hang out with them before going to our host’s place to crash. Played some music back at his place, and Crash played some fantastic songs he’s written, and that was that.

Wednesday we made our way to Alem to stay at a hostel I had been to in August ’09 for a few days. Had an amazing dinner at Theo’s, the proprietor, a workhorse and a supporter, and listened to the Counting Crows’ August & Everything After, which I haven’t heard in a while. Back at the hostel we sat with an Australian who lived way out in the country by Darwin. Heard some wild stories about crocodiles, swimming with sharks, wallaby hunts, and other Ozzie stuff, and made my way upstairs to sleep at the fine, rare hour of ten pm. Turns out the whole ‘drop bear’ phenomenon (koala bears getting high high up in the eucalyptus trees by eating the leaves, occasionally getting too dizzy, falling out of the trees, and, at times, killing people below by dropping directly on their heads), by the way, is the Ozzies taking the piss out of travelers. Still think it’s a great band name. The next night we played at the Irish Pub in Rossum, for Saint Patrick’s Day. Think this was the day we walked the three kilometers into Rossum to get food, walked back, and then walked back to town to the pub with our gear. Neat pub I’d been to and played in before (last time I remember walking around behind the bar and singing and playing from there) and people having a good time for the ‘holiday’. There was no amplification, and I practically destroyed my voice trying to sing out, but there was a group of cool youngsters listening and enjoying. Hung out with them afterwards- Theo, Lies, Gert, Tim, Thomas, and others. As we left I mentioned to one of the girls there, Maureen, a midwife, that maybe, whenever I get married, I’ll come back and she can help my wife give birth. She thought I said I was gonna come back, marry her, and we’d have kids together. She laughed and said “You’ll have to ask him”, pointing to her boyfriend.

Friday we helped Theo move a refrigerator and some other junk to his car and then the local dump, and caught a train north to Assen, where we were met by a prince among men, Thomas Kaldijk of Blueprint Radio. He took us to his place and we had some down time before heading into Veendam for the live radio show with studio audience. It was a cool show with a good audience, and a friend and Mali project supporter came in from a nearby village for the show. Had a full dinner back at Thomas and his lovely wife’s and spent a while perusing his massive music collection, listening, and talking about music. Good stuff indeed- love those nights. The next day they took us into Groningen and we checked into a hostel and walked around town looking for a potential venue to play that night. Ended up getting permission to play at O’Cealligh’s Irish pub and played solo acoustic there that night and hung out. Turned into a super late night as we ended up going to another bar after O’Ceallaigh’s closed. Got home at four or five. Slept in, got up, had some falafel, and made my way past the art museum to the train station intending to go visit Harlingen, a large fishing village on the coast and a departure point for the Frisian Islands. But decided to hang back and take it easy in Groningen instead. Crash and I went back to O’Ceallaigh’s and hung out with the staff and our new friend Rimt into the night. On Monday we headed to Leeuwarden in Friesland and met up with Marthijn de Witt, a really cool guy and radio dj. Had an incredible fish curry soup, or something of the sort, at his place, with Marthijn, his wife, and their three week old, and went to the radio station to record a session. Fun times there, playing and chatting into the night. He took us back to the guest house around midnight. We went back to Amsterdam the next day and visited a few friends- Valentine, a Dutch actress whom we had drinks with in Vondelpark, and Naomi Backer whom I met up with in a cafe that night. Good day there, and roamed the streets in search of food for a while, a long walk around that led to the Maoz falafel joint around the corner from the hostel. There was an Israeli guy at the hostel who had just fled from Israel, and apparently owes a ton in unpaid taxes, and he was on the lookout for a job to try to get started and settled in The Netherlands. He told Crash his father was from Ukraine, or Kazakhstan, and when he finally went to meet him at age twenty-five or so, he discovered that his father was a drunk just like everyone had said. Yikes.

The final push of shows began on Wednesday back in Alem, this time doing a house concert in a barn at the old hostel. Had to walk with our bags and guitars, again, from Rossum to Alem, which was another long and heavy stretch. First we swept and cleared the room of old furniture, wood, and all sorts of old stuff. Darius, a Latvian in Netherlands to buy cars and take back to his country to resell, was there, and managed to tow out of the barn an old Land Rover with no battery. “Dis is my biziness. My biziness iz carz.” Ended up being a great night. Thirty-plus people came, including our new friends in town, and we played for a while. There was a fire outside the barn door and we hung out by the fire for a bit and then got roped in by a drunk girl and her boyfriend to do a bit more. A few songs in, the electricity went out and the night winded down by the fire.Travelled to Bergen op Zoom Thursday for Jos Van den Boom’s Crossroads radio show. Beautiful sound and venue, and found a bit of time to sit back in the green room and strum around after we were treated to a good dinner of bread, cheese, and jelly. Enjoyed another night checking out our host, Bert’s, massive cd collection, chatting, and having some late night food.

Next day we had some down time at Bert’s and did laundry before catching the train for Leiden. A bit tricky getting to the venue, but we made it to Q-Bus just in time for a fantastic meal of Chinese takeout and played a show to a small listening crowd. One guy was in the back laid out on some sort of riser like he was tanning. Pretty funny when I noticed him in the darkness in the back posing like a model for some sort of nude painting. Never seen someone at a show sprawled out like that. I got to sit and play some guitar that night and work on a song while Crash hung out upstairs with a party band that was recording in the complex. Apparently they had some incredibly lewd lyrics which I can’t seem to remember, but really raunchy stuff.

It had rained in the night, first time it was overcast and really chilly, and we trained to the small town of Deurne and were picked up by Hans for the house concert that night in the smaller town of Vlierden. Enjoyed a nice dinner with the family and their gerbil who rolled around the kitchen and under the table in a little plastic round cage. We saw Lois extract a few teeth from the pet, too, with a pair of pliers, careful not to snap off his tongue. Wild. Lovely back yard- a lot of open space and fields for the kids to play in. Their kids opened the show- the son played one or two piano songs and the daughter on guitar. Very cute. We played and got to meet the folks briefly before rushing out to the train station to catch our bus in Eindhoven in time. I’ve always loved doing house concerts and getting to meet and hang out with the audience and hosts after the show, so it was unfortunate to jet outta there immediately after playing. Hopefully we can visit again and have more time with the folks in Vlierden. We got the train but it stopped at the next stop due to some sort of rail troubles, so we grabbed a taxi along with an Irish guy living in the area to Eindoven and got the bus in time. It was an overnight bus headed to London. We, as it turned out, were not.