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  • Writer's pictureJH


October 7, 2018

"This is why you stay up late."

- Deni, hanging with Blind Baby Squid.

The blank page.

I’ve written before on this tour about the blank page. I’m staring at it now with Germany whizzing by in my peripheral vision. Is this the 19th post already? How did that happen? And what do I say today? How do I begin? Writing is like any other form of art. Sometimes the muse just isn’t there.

Of course, people like Steven Pressfield would say the muse doesn’t matter, and you have to punch the clock whether she shows up or not.

So here I am, punching away.

The best place to begin is by wishing the happiest of birthdays to my good friend Ken the Zen: bass beast, football (American) nut, master of puns, goofball, gentle spirit, and all around great dude. I think I’ve known Ken for just about four years now. When I write about who I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t jumped back into music, his name immediately comes to mind. My life is better with him in it.

I know Ken’s not big on this kind of attention, and I’ve already done a detailed piece on him (see the “November” book), but I will say thanks again my friend for helping me improve as a drummer and working musician. Ken has backed me all the way. He’s helped me get a lot of opportunities that I appreciate, including playing with Sarah. I’ve said before and will say again that his faith in me is an honour that I don’t take lightly. Have a good day, KTZ. I hope all of your dreams come true – even (especially) the ones I can’t write about for polite audiences.

The Ken party actually started last night in Schermbeck, Germany. We played another fun show in a cool venue called Ramirez Gastonomie. There was a good crowd that included many of our German fans and friends. We were also blessed with the presence of our pal Tiffy, who is just as beautiful and hip and fearless as ever. Owen Sound, Ontario represented again last night too. In Dokkum it was my elementary school friend Rob. Last night it was high school friend Ted, whose wife Shelly was the Maid of Honour in my wedding. He’s in Germany for work and found the time to come to the show. How cool is that?

Also in attendance was our pal Kenny “Blind Baby Squid” Stewart, who came up to play drums on “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman. He’s a great drummer and he dropped a slick little solo mid-song that the people loved. We were staying at his place last night, and I want to thank him again for his hospitality. He’s really helped us out a lot.

The show was good. I think we sounded great and we were feeling a fun vibe in the room. We’ve been playing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” as a plug for Sarah’s new Christmas album. Last night when we kicked into the song, the superfans suddenly whipped out Santa hats and put them on. So funny. It was like a fa-la-la-la-flashmob. Our friend Berit also joined us on stage to rock “Zombie” by The Cranberries. We haven’t played that one much on this tour, so it was fun to knock a bit of the rust off. It’s a fun song to play.

As the show was ending, Ken was presented with a birthday hat, and then he sat on the stage and let us serenade him with a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” When the final bow was bowed, we went out into the crowd as usual to hug and talk and shake hands. That’s when Karin the cake goddess appeared with a fabulous Beatles-themed birthday cake. What an artist she is. And man, the cakes she makes taste so good!

Then there were presents and photos and revelry that I suspect will only continue tonight in Drachten, Netherlands. People are so thoughtful and generous. I can’t say it enough. They make these experiences very special for us.

The post-party eventually became an after-party at Kenny’s place for the band. Ken knew he was going to need his energy today, so he retired after a quick nightcap. Sarah went to bed too, leaving me in the exceptional company of Blind Baby Squid and The Beard. We talked about drums, which is always fun for me. In fact, I’m probably better at talking about drums than playing them. Post-after-party it was bed time at last. Another great day on the road.

And now ….

And now ….

And now ….

I wish I had something literary to share today, but you can’t force that kind of thing as a writer. The insightful stuff, the lyrical stuff, comes out when it wants to come out. It has to come naturally or it feels forced. When I open up the laptop every day I generally have no idea what I’m going to write about or how. Sometimes I’m in a mood and a passage comes together for Sister Amy. Sometimes I feel silly. Sometimes I feel wistful or introspective. Sometimes there’s an incident that sends me off into a philosophical thing or generalization about the road.

What I don’t want to do is just give a daily rundown of what happened, although I know that what seems mundane to me tends to be what interests a lot of readers. If you’re one of them, you’ll be interested to know that we stop at least once on every drive for respite and coffee, and that it usually costs 70 cents to use a European truck stop bathroom. You get a 50-cent rebate sticker with purchase (colloquially known as a “pee ticket”) that you can put toward your purchase in the store. So basically you use the bathroom, get a coupon, buy more coffee, and then have to go to the bathroom again, where you get a pee ticket, buy a coffee, need the bathroom, get a pee ticket, buy a coffee, need the bathroom ….

The eternal cycle.

Alas, no poetry this morning as we drive back to The Netherlands from Germany. You would really love these views, Sister Amy. The Netherlands is such a low and pretty country. It’s flat and green and criss-crossed with irrigation canals. There are yellow flowers lining the highway as we drive. Cows and sheep lounging in these vast, wide open fields. It’s so green here. I shall attempt to write a picture for you in the next couple of days when the right one presents itself to me.

Until then, a hearty “bis spater” to all. See you at the next stop.

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