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  • Writer's pictureJH


Photo by Evi Stengel

September 30, 2018

“Ve willy willy willy love Villi!”

- Everyone

Let’s talk about Pangea for a minute.

Do you know about Pangea? Many, many years ago, before your mother and I were together, basically the entire land mass of the planet was collected into one enormous continent. This is called Pangea, or, if you prefer, Pangaea. Eventually Pangea began to break apart and shift across the oceans, resulting in the configuration of continents we know today. Have a look at your map. You can see how South America and Africa might fit together.

Anyway, Pangea was on my mind this morning as we were driving through Germany, because it looks so much like Canada to me. At one point we crested a hill on the highway, and the view opened up into this huge canvas of hills and fields and trees. There was an escarpment in the distance, sheer and rocky. It was the Canadian shield. Same trees. Same land formations. It got me wondering whether parts of Canada and parts of Germany were connected at some point, with parts of other countries we now know bridging the gap.

We’re so much the same, but still so much different.

Civilizations are an expression of culture. The people make the place. We know that culture is sometimes shaped by landscape, but in the end it comes down to a set of collective beliefs. Explore the culture, discover the beliefs. In east Germany, the belief seems to be that rules are there to be followed. If nothing else, that seemed to be the belief of the guy who came nosing around our van yesterday after we parked it and entered an Asian restaurant in Schmölln, Germany.

There was some question about whether the van would inconvenience other people who were trying to drive along the narrow street. We were pretty sure it wouldn’t, and the man was pretty sure he would call the police if we didn’t agree with him. And so we moved the van, because, again, in east Germany you follow the rules.

For the record, the Asian food was delicious. Good thing we found it – it seemed to be the only restaurant open at dinner time on a Saturday in the entire city.

We had a really great show last night. Honestly, we weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived at the MusicClub Schmölln. It’s tucked away into an industrial park on the edge of the city and has a small door you almost can't see. There were old stables and warehouses nearby. It’s living history, really. In the old USSR days, music clubs were illegal in this part of the world. They had to be underground and hidden in secret locations, and so here we are. Have I said before how much this stuff gets to me? History doesn’t live in books, people. It’s here in the world.

Inside, the MusicClub is a cool venue. As always, people treated us so well. We had a green room and they put on a lovely spread for us. The homemade beef soup was the best thing I’ve eaten in Europe. The stage was nice and the sound was good. And it was packed. Who would have thought? There were a bunch of Sarah superfans there, including our friend Evi, a great photographer who supplied the front cover photo (among others) for my book about the last tour. It was so great to see her! She also brought us treats including our own personalized beer cans. Cool!

Thank you to the others for supporting us once again as well. The rest of the club was full of locals who love music – the common ground between peoples and places.

Deni opened the show with a five-song set that the people loved. Then we went on and played very, very well. The crowd was into it. The band was into it. It was another Willi show, so we should have known it would be great. We did two sets and then got the full rock star treatment from the crowd. Autographs. Photos. More photos. You know, it’s nice to be appreciated as a musician, but I want everyone who supports us to know how much we appreciate them. Having you there feels great. Doing a picture with you feels great. Hearing that you liked us feels great. Thank you for those things.

After the show we came back to our B&B to relax for a bit. The boys shared a nightcap and Sarah went to bed. We talked about Arctic Monkeys and their lead singer Alex Turner, who has such incredible Mojo on stage. Two days ago Ken and Deni re-opened the Beatles vs. Beach Boys discussion from last November and Deni finally admitted he was wrong. We talked about Steel Panther and Sufjan Stevens. We’ve also talked about Alice in Chains and Chris Cornell and Motley Crue and Paul McCartney and so many others along the way.

Yes, we’re music geeks.

How interesting can all of this be for you, I wonder? I alluded yesterday to the reality of this odd life we live. We play for a couple of hours every day, but otherwise it’s a relatively quiet stream of hours and minutes. Now, that may or may not have been the case for The Joys, but for us as older, wiser people, it’s a kind of daily grind that I try to write about in a way that makes it compelling. At this moment I’m sitting in a laundromat in Weimar, Germany, waiting for the washer I’m sharing with Deni to finish its cycle. And you know, I’m wondering if the writer Goethe, Weimar’s favourite son, sat in this very laundromat 200 years ago, typing about the peculiar novelty of his humdrum day to day.

No, probably not.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

*Thanks to Evi for the cover photo!

#SchmollnGermany #TheRoad #SarahSmith #HannoverGermany

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