|The venue in Gross Schauen
We're just back from a packed 7 day tour around Germany - 6 gigs in that time - and a very unexpected weather boom which soared up to 35C (high 90s in Faherenheit). While it was fantastic to have heat for a week, I can fully understand now why everyone complains when the temperature stays up around 100F - it's impossible to do much - I was feeling very drained by the end of the week. thankfully all our concerts were in the evenings so the temperature had dropped considerably and the wonderful German efficiency ensured air conditioning in most buildings. Our one worry was that people wouldn't come out to a show when it was so warm, but we were delightfully surprised and had good audiences everywhere we went.
Our first morning there we had a very early start - up at 7am to catch a ferry to Hallig Hooge - it's a 90 minute drive to Schuttsiel where the ferry leaves from and as we haired along the roads with only minutes to spare our guide and friend Barney was hastily making contingency plans in case we missed the boat. I'd been following some friends on Facebook doing 100 days of happiness posts and when I saw the ferry waiting for us I thought there's my first day of happiness!!!
|So happy to see the ferry!
I've written about the Hallig before here - "a handful of soil in the sea" is the title of one book about the place - right in the middle of the sea … This was our fourth visit, but the first one in good weather - the horse drawn carriages were out to take the day trippers and everyone was busy at the cafes.
|Barney, me, Joern, Maike and Tom after the gig
Cos once again it was a 7am start to catch the 8o'clock ferry back to the Mainland - three early mornings on the trot don't sit too well with us - I used to be an early morning person, but you can't have late nights and early mornings - now I function best if I can sleep until about 9.
Anyway, we decided to detour on our way back to Kiel to check out the next night's gig in Eckerfoerde. We were told it was a tiny cafe, that it was sold out and that we wouldn't need any PA system. But I hate singing without a good sound system - we turn the volume down if the audience gets too noisy and it's a great way of controlling the overall volume of the room. Organisers often freak when they see a sound system coming in and no matter how we reassure them that we're not loud they are never convinced until the gig is half way over. Tom plays very subtle percussion parts - bodhran (the Irish drum), eggs and other shakers, and congas to keep a rhythm - if we play without amplification, all that subtlety is lost plus we end up forcing our voices to be heard. Bearing in mind too that our audience are not native English speakers, although the level of English is good, it's a lot of work to keep them interested all evening and if they can't hear us clearly then they're even more inclined to start chatting with their friends. We leave lots of breaks throughout the evening so that they can chat away uninterrupted and then listen to us uninterrupted.
Anyway we met up with the owner, cased the joint! and went into the beautiful little market town for lunch al fresco beside the market - there was one stand selling tomatoes - I have never seen so many varieties of tomato - there must have been 14 or 15 different breeds. Wow! They really no how to do it over here.
And on to Kiel - another quick sleep and then a quick meal - a pasta place where they cook everything fresh in front of you - then sound check and gig. This is our 3rd time playing in the Kulturforum in Kiel and again the audience were a delight, the sound was fabulous and the Pflammkuchen afterwards was the treat at the end of the night. I got chatting to some Polish people who were in the audience on a school exchange with some teachers and students from Kiel. WE got invited to Poland - wouldn't that be an adventure?! I'd love to do that - will keep you posted on developments.
|At the fjord in Eckerfoerde
A long journey next day to the other side of Berlin - over 5 hours driving including an hour in a Stau (the German word for a traffic jam). There's still a lot of roadworks going on and a beer lorry had tipped over in the middle of the single lane traffic.
|Drinks outside at the interval
|Breakdfast the next morning with Detlev, Lutz, Tom and Katya
Next stop Annahuette. This was for their first Celtic Festival and we were chuffed to realise that we were top of the bill - an honour indeed. There were Irish dancers, Scottish pipers from Dresden, two lovely girls playing harps and guitars and singing and a group of 6 musicians from Leipzig playing Dubliners style songs.
|Roasting hot in the marquee
Our last stop then was to Munich, to our friends Alison and Frank who were the first people to give us a gig in Germany 21 years ago. We've stayed friends ever since and always have great fun with them. It was so hot in Munich that we stayed indoors most of the time and lounged around their patio in the evening eating Alison's great food and talking nonsense while solving the problems of the world.
|Our friend Frank introducing us at the Irish Folk Club in Munich
So all in all it was a wonderful week. We had both been a bit nervous about doing a tight run like that - we're not as young or as fit as we once were and weren't sure that we could manage. But we did, albeit we're totally exhausted now, but it was fun and do-able again. I've already started plans moving for next years visit, but now it's on to the next thing - recording the new CD.