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  • Writer's pictureJH

Day 37: Sarah Lights Up Dutch Television And Experience Comes in Handy in Dokkum, Netherlands

AVT: 1.5h (105h)

ADT: 100 km (8,013 km)


"Hips are like chips, just with out the 'c' what I did there?"

- Ken


I guess it’s Saturday.

Ken has a simple of way of understanding things: it’s a gig day or it isn’t. Today is a gig day, as all but a few days have been for almost six weeks. Tonight we return to another scene of infamy in Sarah Smith Euro tour lore. We’re going back to Drachten, where Ken wore a cat costume last year on his birthday. Who knows what mischief will follow us today?

But that’s tomorrow’s blog post.

Today, as clouds creep across the Frysian sky, I’m trying to pull together memories of yesterday. We were in Dokkum, Netherlands - one of the prettiest little villages you will ever see. We’ve all taken photos of Dokkum over the past two years and they look like postcards. You don’t even have to put any filters on them. They just come looking airbrushed and manipulated and perfect. It’s that sort of a place.

We were booked for a return engagement at Zero, which is a venue/community centre that we played last year. The occasion this time around was the release of our friend Klaske’s CD. As ever, there were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, including a few Fryslaners that we haven’t seen yet. Many of our German friends were there as well for the third-last party of the tour.

But … the day.

The day.

Trying to remember.

Oh yes, Sarah was on television in the afternoon. It’s coming back to me. Last year on the tour we stopped by Omrop Fryslan in Leeuwarden to perform live on the air. This year we returned, but Sarah was booked to play solo. It turned out to be kind of a special performance. She did an EDM-style tune she recorded earlier this year (that is available on her collector’s item USB stick if you’re interested). She had some kids up to sing the tune with her, which was a lot of fun. Everyone loved it.

Before we went to the station, we spent an hour or so in the downtown coffee shop I wrote about yesterday. Sometimes it’s nice to just set up shop with good coffee and reasonable Wi-Fi (or “viffy” as they say around here). We’ve reached the point of the tour when chilling is the preferred off stage activity. Long gone are the days of exploring castles and looking at things. Six weeks of driving and playing and chatting with strangers and different beds and new cities can take the energy out of you. We’re there now. Thirty-two shows or whatever it’s been. Maybe 33.

What a blur.

Whoosh and it’s gone.

So we hung around the television station for an hour or two while Sarah was doing her thing. I was desperately trying to put up yesterday’s blog post, but the viffy wouldn’t cooperate. That’s the way of it sometimes. I used to get upset about that but I don’t anymore. It works or it doesn’t. On the road you learn very quickly what’s worth spending your energy on. I couldn’t get the blog up so I let it go for later.

After the t.v. thing we drove to Dokkum to set up and do sound check. We had a bit of time, so we found a room at the venue to act as our green room. The viffy was much better there, so in the end I got my chance to do the blog. Set up was set up. Sound check was sound check. You may remember this venue as the scene of a crisis last year. To get to the load in area we had to drive the van through an arch. It was tight but fine until we tried leave after the show. It was an incredibly tight turn to get out of the parking lot and not hit cars parked across the very narrow street. There was also a pole on one side of the lane that created all kinds of problems.

It was the most tense situation I’ve seen in three tours of Europe. Do you remember this? Five or six dudes crowded around the van shouting instructions in Dutch. Sarah trying to work it out in that cacophony of voices in the dark after a long day and a show. Really tough. Eventually she just shut the van off and got out, leaving it wedged half in the road and half in the parking lot. When she’s done, she’s done. Deni stepped up and got the van out and later we laughed about it.

This year we didn’t take any chances. We parked on the road and carried the gear across the parking lot. Turns out that was a good decision in the end. At the end of the night we were carrying the gear out and noticed that the parking spots would have been full again on the street if not for the van.

This is what we call experience, kids.

We had a fun time at the show. It was a bit weird for me because the drum riser was so far behind everyone else on stage. I felt pretty disconnected from things but that’s a drummer's life sometimes. The band played well and the audience had a good time. Klaske performed selections from her CD before we went on, and then joined Sarah on stage during our encore to play Me & Bobby McGee. They brought the house down. It was fun to watch from a safe position far off the stage.

Last night was also the debut for our friend Marleen’s lap cajon in Europe. Yesterday I said she brought us a special gift and that was it. You maybe remember me writing about the strange digital cajon we rented. We gave up on that thing weeks ago and never bothered with another cajon. However, if you follow me, you know that I play something called a lap cajon, which is a box drum that sits on my lap. I play it on a lot of shows back home but didn’t bring it with me.

As luck would have it, Marleen bought one after hearing about the instrument from me, so she dropped it off at the coffee shop yesterday. Sarah likes to have a change of pace in the show, and breaking things down to cajon is a good way to do it. I like playing what I call The Box. It’s way more comfortable than a traditional cajon and I can do a lot more with it. So thank you and kudos to Marleen for adding that wrinkle to our show. You can see me playing it in the cover photo.

After the show it was the usual thing. Pack up gear, tear down stage, carry stuff to the van. We were all ravenous by the time we got the van loaded. Late-night food can be hard to find in Europe (harder in Germany than in The Netherlands), but our old friend Sjoerd pointed us a hundred metres down the street to a shawarma place that was still open. There we enjoyed a massive and delicious feast that I will not soon forget. Absolutely fab and very much needed.

I slept pretty hard by my standards last night. Accumulated road wear. It was nice to sleep in my comfortable bed at the great Sietske of Fryslan’s house after our traditional nightcap of vodka with Sietske. We love these little rituals that become part of the story. We love these people who have become part of the story too.

Two more shows left.

I’d put a closer on that but I’m too tired to think of one. Until tomorrow, friends ….

*Live photos by Isabel Smile.

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