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Day 9: Deutsch Baby Steps und Meine Schokoladenseite in Unna, Germany


AVT: 45 min (Tot. 29h, 45 min)

ADT: 50 km (Tot. 2,417 km)

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“It’s time to take a picture / It’s time to take it right / Why don’t I take a picture / For my Facebook plog tonight?”

- Ken (to the tune of the Muppets theme song)

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I don’t remember.

You have days like that on the road.

I’m guessing it went breakfast, van call, drive, hotel check-in, sound check, dinner, show.

Memories: sparkling water at the hotel gym, a wrong turn, schnitzel, the end of the digital nightmare cajon … and Heike. Yes, Heike!

My brain hurts ….

Unna.

Unna.

We were in Unna, Germany last night.

Now it’s coming back. It was only a few hours ago that I was posting yesterday’s blog entry (in the wee hours, after we returned from the show). It’s not exactly brain fog. It’s brain-in-outer-space. It’s like when you see videos of astronauts floating around the International Space Station. There’s no sound. Only the faint hiss of breath in and out. No thought. That’s what it’s like today as I try to shake yesterday from its hiding spot.

We breakfasted at our hotel in Schwelm, and then Sarah and I took advantage of the hotel gym. What a blessed thing. We live such sedentary lives on the road, driving and driving and driving. I’m even sedentary during the show from my place on the drum throne. Music is physical, certainly, but it’s such a pleasure to be able to go to the gym and sweat and stretch and breathe. I put some Ghost on my headphones and it was terrific.

Yesterday was a short drive, too, which is always nice. My kilometre chart for this tour won’t be all that spectacular because it’s been very well and conveniently planned. Last time it seemed like we were doing six or seven van hours every day. This time we have a series of very manageable drives and yesterday was one of them. It was less than an hour to Unna, where we were to make our first ever appearance at Kühlschiff in der Lindenbrauerei.

So we drove.

We got to the venue in the afternoon as usual and were delighted to find a big … I don’t even know if it’s a club, per se. It’s not a theatre either. It’s a big room with a big stage. I suppose it’s best described as a music club, but that brings to mind a certain image. It’s not a big bar with a stage. It’s a listening room, with tall tables and a really great sound system. We did our sound check and things were good to go until we tried again to wrestle with this bizarre digital cajon we rented. In the end we decided to retire the thing. As we did so, our sound man, Jan, told us the venue has an actual cajon, so we wired that up and I played it.

Now, I don’t love playing cajon and I’m not great at it. I’m rather good with my lap cajon back home, but the traditional box never really did it for me. Having said that, compared to the digital nightmare, the standard box sounded and played great, so I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

Anyway, after sound check we went to the hotel to “relax” and stuff, which for me meant scrambling to do publicity around my latest podcast episode and try to get yesterday’s blog post together. I got the podcast stuff done but made it only part-way through the blog post before I realized I was going to be late for van call (word to the wise: missing van call is a cardinal sin). I had to abandon the blog and go do my actual job.

Dinner: schnitzel in mushroom sauce.

Deni opened the show again last night and killed it as always. We were somewhat relieved to find that we had an audience in that big space (including many of our German friends – danke!). They loved Deni’s set and he played great. After that we went up and did our thing. I went a bit off the board last night and played kick/snare in a big venue on a big stage. I even had a drum riser, for crying out loud. Normally that’s got full kit written all over it, but I like kick/snare so much that I decided to do it anyway and it was fun. What I’m realizing, though, is that a floor tom really does come in handy, so I guess I’ll be adding The Ghost (my rented floor tom) back into my set-up for the rest of the tour.

The highlight of the night for me was looking out from the drum set and seeing the lovely Heike in the audience. Heike’s one of our German friends from Lippstadt and we all love her. We weren’t expecting to see her last night, so I guess that counts as a surprise and a pleasant one at that. She and her friend Eddy made the trip and it was great to see them. After the show we were able to hang out at the restaurant next door and practice my German. Last night I said my first actual, genuine, unprepared sentence in German in casual conversation: “Grun. Grun oder blau.”

Not much, maybe, but the fact that it came out on its own without any planning is a huge milestone. It’s like when your baby says its first real sentence. I’m a baby in Deutsch, and baby steps are exciting, friends.

We’re also teaching Deni how to tell German audiences to buy his record because his “Kinder essen geld, and trying to decide which side of my face is meine “schokoladenseite” or good side. I don’t really have one. I just do the eyebrow thing.

So it was a great night, now that the memories are coming into focus. After the show we returned to the hotel. Sarah went to bed and the lads gathered in my room for conversation and an eclectic playist of music: The Weakerthans, Death Cab For Cutie, Sarah MacDougall, and Ghost’s Infestissumam record. I was working hard at finishing the blog post and getting it published. I missed my informal midnight deadline, but technically it was still only dinner time in North America, so alles gut.

And hey, if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration, listen to the latest podcast episode with Al ‘The Yeti’ Bones.

As I type this, we’re bound for the northern coast and the great and notorious city of Hamburg, where we’ve made so, so many memories in the past. We have three shows in the city over the next four days or so, with a quick side trip out to … somewhere. And ja, the music gods will place us back on The Reeperbahn, boulevard of infamy, very soon.

Brace yourself, gentle reader.

Stuff’s about to get real.

#SarahSmith #Tour #Unna #UnnaGermany

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