September 25, 2018
“Deni likes to doodle. John likes to strudel.”
Where do I begin with this one?
Man, where do I begin?
Well, touring is about living in the moment, so perhaps it’s best to start there. At this moment it’s my birthday. I’m sitting in a nice room in a B&B in Hamburg, Germany. With me are two of the best guys on the planet: Ken Ross and Deni Gauthier. We’re on tour with Sarah Smith.
If I can’t be at home with my wife and kitties, this is the place and the company for me.
The party started just about midnight, on The Reeperbahn of all places. If you had told me 20 or 10 or even three years ago that I’d turn 45 playing drums in a club on The Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany, I’d have laughed almost as hard as I laughed last night when a fan guessed my age to be 31. Don’t give up on your dreams, people. Amazing, amazing, amazing things happen when you just gather your courage and take the chance. I still can’t believe I’m here right now. I can’t imagine my life without the decision I made six years ago to start playing music seriously. I can’t imagine who I wouldn’t know and what I wouldn’t have experienced. Go. Try. Do the thing. Watch the magic unfold. It’ll change you for the better.
Last night was one for the ages, birthday or no birthday. Monday night on The Reeperbahn, and Cowboy und Indianer was packed for the Sarah show. We drove the four or so hours from Berlin in the morning, returned to Andreas’s B&B for a quick respite, then steeled ourselves for another trip to the Devil’s playground.
The Reeperbahn can be … intense. Depending on your perspective, it’s one of the greatest or worst party streets in the world. On a Monday night, though, things were fairly tame. We were greeted once again by the giant Sven as we loaded in our gear. Sven takes such good care of us. He's an awesome guy and we are grateful for his hospitality. We worked out a few more kinks with the rental equipment, did a quick soundcheck, and it was time to go.
The show killed.
I don’t know how else to describe it. People came in off the street to listen. Our new covers – and Sarah’s new originals – are real crowd pleasers. By the time we got up for the third set there were people gathered around the stage. Our friend Boogie came up to play some guitar with us, followed later in the set by Joe, who joined us to rip an impromptu blues jam. So much fun! At the end of the night they called for encores again and again we were happy to oblige.
Toward the end of the show a man came in off the street selling roses . He drifted around the crowd for a while and I lost track of him until I saw a guy motion to him. A minute or so later a dozen roses appeared on stage for Sarah. It was just that kind of night.
Afterwards people mobbed Sarah as usual. They wanted pictures with the band. They wanted to talk. It always feels good to get a reaction like that. And then, through the post-gig scrum of faces and smoke, Isabel and Dani appeared, bearing birthday treats for me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to both of them for such a sweet – literally – and thoughtful gesture. I appreciate it very much.
Later Boogie approached me with his guitar and a black felt-tipped marker. His guitar is covered in signatures and he wanted me to sign it too. As I was doing so, he confided that there are only two drummer signatures on the guitar: mine and that of Mickey Dee, drummer of Motorhead. Can you imagine? He told me I deserved it, which is among the most flattering things anyone has ever said to me. Also from the bottom of my heart, thank you to Boogie for that. I’m no Mickey Dee, but to have that connection is a genuine honour.
You know, I mentioned above that I’m in a room right now with two of the best guys on the planet. I want to give you an illustration of what I’m talking about. We make jokes about The Reeperbahn. There’s always a bit of “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” with stories about that street, because it is notorious for its excesses – sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It's an absolute freakshow if you want it to be, but the truth is there can be some sobering sights on a street best known for its inebriation.
Last night after the gig we went next door to Hesburger for a snack. It’s a burger stand where you can get the usual fast food and then hang around outside on the street and eat. Very Anthony Bourdain. The deep friend cheese and broccoli balls are highly recommended.
Anyway, last night we were standing around a table and I saw a guy staggering down the street toward us. He was obviously on something heavy. He approached us, yammering in German, and stepped between Ken and Deni. He was missing teeth. He was jittery. Ken didn’t even blink. He simply offered the guy some food, which he accepted after a few seconds of figuring out what was going on. He ate a cheese and broccoli ball, laughing, and then stuck his hand out for Deni to shake. Deni shook the hand, and then wrapped his arms around the guy in a bear hug before sending him on his way. I bet he hadn’t been hugged like that in a long, long time.
A few seconds later another guy shuffled up to us and our friend Angie handed him 10 Euros.
I learn so much from these people. They have such big hearts and open spirits. Even as I type this it kind of brings a tear to my eye. The world could be a much better place if everyone approached it and each other with the kind of compassion and humanity that I see in my bandmates. I am so proud of them. They are simply good people, and I am profoundly gratified to know that my vibration has put me in their circle to share, to grow, to learn.
Until tomorrow ….