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  • Writer's pictureJH


October 1, 2018

"I like it about as much as I like anything that I don't like."

- Ken

How did I get here?

That question still comes to mind at times as we blur through all of these highways and towns and rooms. Every now and then a sight freezes me and I step outside myself for an objective look around. You get used to things over time. They become routine. But then you’re sitting behind a massive drum kit on a big stage. There are lights. There are people. They stand between rows of buildings that are so old and beautiful that your breath catches in your throat.

And you think, “How did I get here?”

I don’t need to tell the story again. It’s just worth remembering sometimes how cool life can be. Even when the drives are long, life is cool. Even when the hotels are dodgy, life is cool. Even when the food raises eyebrows, life is cool. Even when we’re tired, life is cool. This is an amazing experience and one that I’ll cherish forever.

I mean, yesterday we got to do laundry in a real deal German laundromat!

You think I’m kidding but I’m not. We’re about two weeks into the tour, which is when laundry starts to become an issue. Clean socks and underwear make a big, big difference. Plus we’ve played a few smoking rooms, so you can just imagine what those stage clothes smell like. We’ve been talking for a few days about how we might get laundry done somewhere, and as luck would have it, the fine old city of Weimar has a laundromat that was open. It can be a crapshoot. Last November it was like we got to do laundry whenever we wanted. This time not so much. That's life on the road.

Believe it or not, the simple act of doing laundry can be stressful, especially if you’re a bit stressed already. The morning did not begin with the peace and tranquility of a drowsy sunrise in small town Germany. It began with a woman creaking up the stairs to our B&B rooms, banging on the doors, and shouting, “Fruhstuck!” That’s “breakfast” to you North Americans. We knew that was coming. What we didn’t know was coming was a “lost in translation” stand-off with said woman over how much money we owed and how long we were staying.

I’d go into the details of all that but it’s not worth it. It was frustrating and difficult to make sense across two languages, and we’re tired and a bit stressed as it is. Sometimes the language thing can be fun. When we went to the Asian restaurant in Schmölln the other day, we ordered by making animal sounds and the lady behind the counter laughed her head off. Yesterday at breakfast the sounds were much less silly and nobody was laughing. Alas, we sorted it out in the end and hit the road.

So you can see how navigating automated washing machines in German could be a pain, but we managed. In the end it became kind of a fun little folding party. We also had access to some reliable Wi-Fi for the first time in a while, so we could catch up on some things. Also nice and not always guaranteed. After the laundry session it was off to the city of Apolda, where we were due to play what we gather was the local onion festival.

These tours can be so interesting. One night you’re playing a lovely stage in an empty room. One night you’re in a tiny beer tent freezing your hands off. One night you’re in a packed club and everyone is rocking. Last night it was a big outdoor festival stage with a beautiful backline and lights. They sat me behind a massive drum kit with a double kick pedal and four toms. It even had a China cymbal, which I managed to use judiciously a few times along the way. It was really great. We were the headliners for the evening, and we followed our pal Willi’s band The Polars.

The Polars are actually a thing, so it was cool to play with them. They did a lot of classic rock and Willi killed it on bass and lead vocals. They were a lot of fun. Culturalists will also be pleased to know that we had bratwurst for dinner. This we ate wandering through cobblestone streets lined with booths and tents where they were selling everything from slippers to vinyl records. It was a fun festival, and for me, just being in that atmosphere, around those old buildings, is still such a treat.

The show was great. Sometimes on a big stage like that the sound can be weird, but the crew had everything dialed in and I could hear properly. Drum risers can be weird too. Every time I hit the kick drum my riser vibrated, so it was a bit like being in electroshock therapy for an hour and half. Good thing I didn’t use the double kick. We played really well and the crowd loved it. We also did our charming Canadian thing, piling onto each other on the Cajon we had set up on stage. Such entertaining foreigners. Sarah is just so good at pulling in the crowd, even in another language.

Thanks as ever to all of the fans who made yet another trip to see us. Much appreciated!

After the show we retired to our hotel with some friends. That’s where we met … well, I don’t have a name for the tie lady, so I guess I’ll call her the Tie Lady. I don’t know her connection to the hotel, but she’s probably around 70 and petite with short grey hair. She was a bit of a pistol, or whatever the German equivalent of a pistol is, and when Ken commented on her green-yellow-black-striped scarf, she gave it to him. All things being reciprocal, Ken gave her the black tie that he wore at the show. So hey, we’re bridging cultures here on behalf of our homeland.

And now, novelty of novelties, we have – gasp – a day off! Inconceivable. I’m lounging beside Ken in our shared hotel room, writing this post as he watches highlights and laments the results of yesterday’s Pittsburgh Steelers game. We’re heading off to meet some people later and will spend the day being, well, a touring band on the road without a gig. We’re all looking forward to breathing the air, eating the food, laughing the laughs, sharing another experience together.

How did I get here? I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. What matters is that I’m here and I’m grateful.

Let’s see what the day brings.

#SarahSmith #ApoldaGermany #TheRoad

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