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Day 17: Just Talking to Myself in the Bathroom ... and Another Fun Night in Schmölln, Germany


AVT: 2h (Tot. 54h, 30 min)

ADT: 162 km (Tot. 4,112 km)

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"When you are you going to mention marker butt on the blog?"

- Deni

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My goodness the views are pretty here.

We’re driving north on the A4 under heavy clouds. There are spits of rain. This is hilly country, and every few minutes we rise up to these incredible panoramas. Trees and fields as far as you can see. Tiny villages with their orange triangle roofs nestled here and there in the valleys like toy cities. Like the scenery you build around a model train track.

The van is quiet today and I’m quiet too. Seventeen nights in a row will do that to you.

Last night we returned to the city of Schmölln and the MusicClub Schmölln. It’s such a great venue. We played there last year and made the sort of memories that are fun in retrospect. If you were with us last time around, you’ll remember that when we got to the club, we went in the wrong door. We expected to find a venue, but instead we found an aggressively barking dog charging at us, followed by an equally aggressive dude who jumped up from a group of equally aggressive dudes demanding to know who we were and what the hell we were doing.

We couldn’t understand his words, but we got the gist from his tone.

I don’t know what they were up to, but I’m willing to bet they weren’t preparing Christian tracts to hand out downtown on Sunday afternoon. We’ll never know for sure – we got out of there as quickly and as apologetically as humanly possible (though I still think Deni wanted to fight them).

Schmölln is also where we met the infamous Frühstück Lady at our guest house. You’ll remember her as the charming elder who woke us up at some insane hour by pounding on our doors and demanding we get up for breakfast. Later we had a run-in with her over some confusion about checkout times and money. We laugh now, and you’ll often hear us shouting “Frühstück!” at each other in casual conversation. At the time it wasn’t as funny.

But we had a great show at the MusicClub last year and it was repeated this year. It’s a cool room to begin with, but what makes it special is the people. The club was packed and they were so eager to hear us play. So eager to cheer for us. So eager to love Sarah’s music. The Schmölln crowd is a special crowd and I have to say they touched me last night. True confession: I’m still struggling with my playing on this tour. Honestly, I think it’s because my standards are rising, but my playing hasn’t quite caught up yet. Mentally it’s a very, very tough place to be at times.

It was tough at times last night, too, but that audience pulled me through in a way. Looking at their faces, watching them watch Sarah, I wanted so badly to give them a show they would remember for the right reasons. And we did, you know. I make it sound like I’m all over the place up there but I’m not. It’s more subtle things that are driving me crazy about myself, which I think is good. There are fine lines between levels. The first step in reaching the levels is recognizing the lines.

I should probably stop talking about my drumming until I have something nicer to say.

The good thing about a tour schedule like this is that you don’t have to wait long for another shot. And part of the issue last night might have been the wall in the club’s bathroom. I can’t really describe it, but it’s a white wall embedded with blue stones, and when you look at them you go straight down an existential rabbit hole. It’s freaky and my eyes still can’t focus properly. I think I saw Elvis waving at me in there.

By the way, if someone can get my hands on a pair or two of Regal Tip 8A drum sticks, I’d appreciate it. They’re a lighter weight stick than I normally play, but I have a set in my bag for times when volume is an issue. I didn’t expect to use the sticks as much as I have on the tour, so they’re getting chewed up pretty good. Just putting it out there!

Anyway, the crowd loved us and I loved them. Several of our regular fans were there cheering us on. We also had some familiar Schmölln faces in attendance and we were so happy to see them. Our friend Willi came up and played a CCR song with us. Another girl, Steffi, joined us for Cindy Lauper’s Time After Time. Sarah’s great about including people in our show when we have the chance. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone invite so many people up to be part of things, to share our spotlight, to have an experience with us. It’s generous of her and the crowd always loves seeing one of their own trip the lights.

After the show they made us feel like rock stars again. They mobbed Sarah at the merch table and people were coming at us asking for autographs. I hope they know that we appreciate them as much as they appreciate us. I’ve said before that the crowd is as much a part of the show as we are. It really takes both sides to make it great, so thank you to all of them!

We’re on our way now to Gotha, to a club called The Londoner where we had a fun night last year. As I recall, the Beach Boys vs. Beatles debate was settled there and we ate something delicious. There was a painting of Monty Python on the wall and a piece of green room graffiti that looked disconcertingly like me after 17 nights of shows.

But then again, according to Ken and Deni I was talking to myself – out loud – in the bathroom at Burger King just now, so either I’m more exhausted than I realize or that crazy urinal wall at the MusicClub took me way, way deep. Maybe my memories of Gotha aren’t all that reliable. Guess we’ll have to make some new ones just in case.

I hope you enjoy these more moderate posts as much as the ones about international incidents and restaurant fires. I’d like to give you these hilarious, ebullient accounts of our day-to-day travels, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Sometimes we’re just tired, man. The road can be a grind and three weeks in you feel it. I try to give something close to the real picture in these entries. There are days when your energy is low, especially if, like me, you’re obsessing about much deeper things related to playing music at a professional standard.

Today is one of those days, but don’t take that to mean we aren’t happy.

This has been the best of the three tours so far. We’re healthy, we’re playing great shows, we’re laughing constantly. Our accommodations have been great. The food has been great. We’re enjoying spending time with each other and with the fans who make so many sacrifices for us.

Alles gut, friends.

Alles gut.

*Cover photo by Isabel Smile

#SchmollnGermany #SarahSmith #Tour #TheRoad

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