Note: To aid your reading, you may wish to check out the whole set of photos on Facebook.
We had a welcoming party at Wien Flughafen (Vienna Airport to you and me) and were whisked immediately into the city, swallowed whole by history and architecture. Dave Redmond (double-bass player extraordinaire) and myself were to play that night, so apart from eating, we did nothing but try to catch up on sleep from the previous night. Last minute packing is no fun. Nor is the lack of clarity and sleep that normally accompanies it.
The venue which was the Laden at Verein 08 was tiny. A living room. But it made for a cosy gig and one which we enjoyed immensely. Usually we’d like to play shows like this a capella and unplugged but we couldn’t afford the huge costs that comes with transporting a double bass – so we brought an electric instead. We plugged into a crappy guitar amp and set up. It actually worked very well. The a cappella thing really focuses your mind on projection. It was interesting. I’d love to compare recordings from plugged and unplugged shows to see which I prefer.
Undaunted by the bed-sharing that inevitably follows these budget tours and heartened by the fantastic welcomes received wherever we go, we managed to keep sane… or maintain the same level of insanity we arrived with. Touring the States has been good training for this, where you’re masters of your own destiny completely. Our second show is in Litomerice, which is in northern Czech Republic near Dresden, East Germany. It’s a long drive from Wien, so we rent a car. It turns out that the rental costs a great deal more than expected… so our delicate budget is feeling the strain. Still, onwards to Litomerice.
Now I know practically nothing of Slavic languages, and the fact that it’s not New Year’s Eve means that the number of phrases I can
realistically use have just been halved. Our hosts for this evening are Lukas & Marta. Marta has made us some vegetarian wraps with soya that we could’ve sworn were chicken. (They say everything tastes like chicken. Not true. Humans taste like pork. The cannibals used to call humans “long pig”. What I never found out was whether we taste like wild game, or domesticated animals. I’d like to know – preferably without having anyone killed, or indeed eaten.)
We have a little lie down before heading out to the venue, which is in a park beside the summer cinema. It’s another unplugged show, but with a split level floor, so a ready made little stage. It’s another small venue, but it’s full and the people, as we become quite accustomed to, are lovely. (And all quite beautiful too. Slightly intimidating!)
We didn’t get much time in the town, but it’s got a beautiful old square – cobbled and well-preserved. We also are quite lucky. That night, after a little after-show chat, food, and drink, we spent the night in an old Communist apartment block. Nothing strange, but it was a first.