Documenting Germany: Part 1
A saunter around Germany. 8 gigs in 10 days. A lone pigeon, a fool. Wide-eyed and curious, nervous about driving on the other side of the road.
Loose ends tied up. Route planned, sweet structure - with a little room for spontaneity and divelment. No milk in the fridge for this morning’s breakfast or coffee. Have I failed to prepare? Nah, I’ll be sound. Suitcase, bag, laptop, leads and a guitar case with my name sprayed across the front in big letters. They won’t miss me - they’ll be googling me sure!
I’ll be googling them too, “English to German translation”. Gesundheit. Bus to the airport, plane to Frankfurt. “German rules of the road” and, “Just Kids” by Patti Smith for the reading.
I’m the last to get on the plane and in the very back row, close to the toilets, handy. I fall asleep after 6 pages but not for long, I’m doing that head fall forward dip thing, and wonder if your man across from me is laughing at my bandy neck acrobats. I ease drop for a bit on the flight attendants who have gathered behind me, the price of secondhand cars and recent good deals they got on theirs is discussed, “I’d say no one ever sat in the back seat of it, immaculate for a 2011 convertible”.
Arrived late in Frankfurt. Nothing to report, stayed in a hotel by the airport. Picking up the rental car in the morning.
Toyota C-HR in white mind you, back seats also immaculate! Tipping away on the autobahn. No speed limit at times, but not all the time. Keeping an eye out for the signs. Heading for Homburg in Saarland, one of the shortest trips on the tour at 1hr 19mins – out the far side of Kaiserslautern. It’s close to the French border, Split The Difference (La Resistance). Mandy’s Lounge is the venue.
Mandy and Michael are wonderfully relaxed and give me a warm welcome, they feed me beer and lentil soup with beef sausage after my soundcheck. I count 10 heads at the bar not long before kick-off and am hatching a strategy in my head to win them over. Just then, a Tuam native Ciara Murphy arrives in with 12 or so friends she’s made during her time living in Germany. They’ve all travelled in from Saarbrücken, a short distance by train to Homburg, and they are from all 4 corners of the globe. An international troupe. A few more locals ramble in, I’m at ease now.
An hour and a half of music. Two 45-minute sets, there’s graft in it, but it’s the perfect gig to iron it out. Lots of learning, another school day. Some magic moments present themselves throughout the night. There’s a shout for a Saw Doctors song from the Tuam contingent. I offer up, “A Small Bit of Love”. A small bit of love goes a long, long way baby. A hat is passed round for this wandering bard, and there is some interest in obtaining my record. There is a great picture taken with the whole Saarbrücken crew on an old film camera before they head off for their train. I hope it sees the light of day. I chat to Brendan, a Belfast native at the bar for a bit before heading off earlyish, long drive to Suhl in the morrow.
360km to the middle of the country. I’m clocking them up and enjoying driving now. I’ve The Felice Brothers and John Prine coming out of the speakers. I listen to some German music also, Max Prosa stands out. The scenery opens before me about three quatres of the way to Suhl. Towns on hills, towns in valleys and rows and rows of pine trees. Suhl is a sleepy town itself, with half-wood build houses and some impressive statues. The streets are quiet. Songs for the People of Suhl, I’ll sneak that g in tonight. It’s a ticketed event, I wonder if there’ll be any interest.
I get to the venue, Kulturbaustelle for soundcheck around 5pm and am greeted by Boris. It’s a nice room, square, with a bar and a small stage, like a community centre. They put on all kinds of shows, movies, events for kids and all gatherings in between. Boris offers me a dark lager and German sausage with a white bread roll and informs me that the gig is sold out. I’m pleasantly shocked, a sold-out gig in Germany. The room fills up early, at least 50 people in it and most of them have as much English as I do German. Good on them for taking a chance. Some have listened to my music ahead of the gig and are complementary. A subdued and attentive audience, dead silence. A pleasure to sing for them. Songs for the People of Suhl lands well, a special night.
I gather up my pieces as the room starts to clear out, Boris sticks on a miscellaneous CD that he seems to have burned himself. Linger by the Cranberries, followed by The Waterboys with Whole of the Moon. I say goodbye to all involved in running the event as my ears are pricked towards the speakers. It’s, A Small Bit of Love by The Saw Doctors. A sign or a blessing that I’m still trying to decipher. I step out in the night, glorious soft snow begins to fall on my head as I make my way back to the hotel.
To be continued…