• JH

Day 30: Face For Radio X Rocks Barnabys Blues Bar and the Lads Eat Massive Sandwiches in Braunschwei

AVT: 4h (Tot. 88h)

ADT: 330 km (Tot. 6,543 km)


“A lot of the time you have to put yourself in a box to sell your music, but I can’t be put into a box. I play lots of different genres.”

- Sarah


Yesterday we made an appearance on live radio in Braunschweig.

We’ve done some sort of live media appearance on each tour. It’s perfect for me – I’ve got a face for radio. In fact, at one point I wanted to have a band called Face For Radio, but someone beat me to it. Other bands have run into this sort of problem, of course. Bush famously had to identify as Bush X for a while over a name dispute. Ghost was Ghost BC in certain parts of the world.

Watch for the first Face For Radio X album next year.

We were invited by our new friend Florian to appear on his radio show on 104,6 Radio Okerwelle. Live-to-air performances can be fun. If you know me, you know I’m not a big fan of acoustic versions of songs (rock songs in particular), but going into a radio station to play on-air is a cool experience. We set up pretty guerrilla around Florian’s booth. We set my snare drum on a trash can and I played brushes on a couple of songs. We did three over the course of an hour, with Sarah and Florian talking about her career and playing her studio tracks in-between.

Sarah’s good on the radio. There’s something of an art to being interviewed. She knows how to be engaging and to talk honestly about her music. It’s just experience. She’s been interviewed probably hundreds of times over the years (including by me on the London Groove Machine blog), so she’s comfortable talking about herself. That’s not as easy a thing to do as you might expect. And when you’re speaking off the cuff live to a radio audience it’s easy to trip over yourself or say something wrong. It takes poise.

That’s why high level celebrities and athletes get media coaching from their people.

So we had a good time playing on-air and chatting with Florian. He’s a great guy and he really did his homework on Sarah. That’s the sign of a true pro who actually cares about the guests he brings on his show. As an interviewer and podcaster I appreciate his professional approach. There’s as much art to interviewing as there is to being interviewed. A good interviewer can make his or her guest feel comfortable and safe. Florian does a great job.

After the interview we had an hour or so to spend at our hotel in beautiful Braunschweig. What a cool city it is. There’s a lot of history running through that town, from medieval trading to bombings in World War 2. As I understand it, the city was founded in the 800s and became a commercial and political capital in the region. Some of its medieval architecture survived the war and is still standing today. It’s one of those cities where a stunning new sight awaits around every corner, at least in the old sections of town. We continue to marvel at this stuff.

The lads were hungry and on a time budget, so we went off in search of sustenance, settling eventually on donairs at a shawarma shop across from the Brunswick Palace. We didn’t think anything special was going on, but when we watched the guys putting these things together we knew we were about to have a story. I’ve never seen such huge donairs before. They were a foot long and packed with everything from cabbage to French fries. Just massive, delicious sandwiches that really hit the spot.

Good thing we had a bit of time before we ate the most fabulous pre-show dinner at an Indian restaurant. Curries and naan and rice and … the food, man.

The food.

I think we all feel very blessed. Look, we’re over a month in at this point. Now is when the road wear begins to get to you. Just all of the travel and strange beds and not much sleep and playing and movement. Things can fray a bit. People have moments. They can become irritable. I did yesterday. There are no blow-ups or anything like that, but we’re human. We chafe. We’re all pretty good at recognizing our triggers and keeping it cool. Feeling blessed is part of that. When you sit down together to a dinner like that, in a city like that, you remember how lucky you are to be where you are and be with who you’re with.

We played a fun club called Barnabys Blues Bar. It’s an old, old pub run by an American ex-pat called Peter who used to run a famous venue if New Orleans. Like so many others, he and his staff took great care of us. It’s a small room with a stage opposite the bar. When we arrived for the gig there was a good crowd waiting, including a bunch of our German friends once again. It was a much different vibe from the theatre show in Herborn. Louder. More rock and roll. Even so, we had to keep a handle on our volumes in a small room like that. The place screams party, but the band still has to be pro.

I think the show went really well. The band played great (again, Deni with those leads!) and Sarah’s voice was on point, despite the smoke in the room. We’re all a little dry today from second-hand smoking, but I guess that’s the price of glory sometimes. I suspect Sarah will be loading up on water today to get her vocal cords back in shape. She’s basically been singing every day for over a month. I’ve said before that it takes special preparation and endurance to do that. Her voice is as strong now as when she hit the first note in Leer almost five weeks ago.


Remember Leer?

Thin threads of memory. Dutch and German fans. Steak.

I think I was actually there.

Tonight we play our last show in Germany on this tour. We have something like a 30-page tour itinerary for Germany. We’ve turned the last one. When you start out it looks like a long, long grind, but the experience of it is much different. Again, it comes down to living in the moment. The road just forces you to be present, and so there’s no long future to consider and no weight of history to pull you down. You feel it in your body and mind, but it doesn’t crush you like you think it might. We’ve done … 28 shows? But we’re fine. Our energy is good. We’re eating well and taking care of each other.

We’ll miss Germany, you know. We love it here. Love the country, love the people, love the venues. Germany has been wonderful to us and we look very forward to coming back. I hope I’ll be able to do that (and I’ll be working hard on my Deutsch in the meantime).

But let’s not talk of endings. We have a Saturday night special in Ludwigsfelde tonight and we’re ready to throw down. One more for Deutschland before we say farewell and fall backwards into the waiting arms of our friends in The Netherlands.


*Cover photo by Lesley Field. Live photo by Dani Smile.

#Tour #TheRoad #SarahSmith #BraunschweigGermany