AVT: 2.5h (107.5h)
ADT: 100 km (8,1733 km)
“I looked in the mirror today and I’m literally lumpy.”
There is an undeniable chill in the air this morning.
It’s 7:40 a.m. as I write this. The sun is rising over these low Fryslan fields and there is condensation on the van windows. When we loaded our luggage for the final voyage of this tour I could see my breath in the air. Winter is coming, friends. I keep asking the government to do something about it, but nothing ever happens. You just can’t fight Big Winter.
I had zero opportunity to do a blog post yesterday. It was kind of a whirlwind. We got in late from our show in Drachten two nights ago and had to be on the move early for an afternoon gig in Hoornsterzwaag. Usually I write these posts as we drive to the next gig but the drive wasn’t long enough to bother. Sometimes it goes that way. The problem for me is that I have to go back through the centuries to pull out two days of memories.
Give me a minute ….
I remember it being a fun show. It was at Eetcafe de Zaak, which is where Ken dressed up as a cat last year and Deni was so hopped up on cold medication that he didn’t even remember it. It was a pub gig. I’ve told you about how pub gigs can be really great if the vibe and the sound are right. We had a lot of people there from all over the place – Netherlands, Germany, Austria, England. It’s cool to watch this Sarah community come together from my position behind the drums. It really is pretty remarkable.
My enduring memory of the Drachten gig is borrowing a hat from dear Helena of Erle. I maintain my position that hats are better in the store than on the street, but in certain circumstances you can get away with them on stage. Mick Mars certainly did. Alice Cooper. Slash. You have to be careful, though. I have controversial opinions on when stage hats are allowed, but I won’t go into them here. Let me just say that hats are always okay as a joke, and that was me in Helena’s hat in Drachten.
The show felt a little bit like Winterswijk. We were tired and kind of out of it and we got to play a bit louder than usual. A bit more loose. We had a really good time on stage and people seemed to have fun dancing and singing along, so let’s call it a success. I don’t remember what happened after the show. There may or may not be incriminating photos of me laying on the floor at Sietske’s place. That might have been a hallucination. In any case, it was a late night by this tour’s standards and I didn’t sleep particularly well. Nothing new there.
I forgot to mention that before the show were treated to a fabulous dinner by our friends Tjitske and Angie and Nici. Thanks again, guys!
Yesterday morning Sarah wheeled around in the van to pick up Deni and me for a quick breakfast at Hotel Ferwerda before we drove off to Hoornsterzwaag. Short drive, narrow streets, new hotel. We had maybe half an hour to collect ourselves in the hotel before we had to load in for our afternoon tour finale. Once again we found ourselves in a small town community centre packed with people. The show was organized by our friend Pieter (of the Kompenije Rock festival in 2017) and it was great. There were so many friends in the audience for one last ride. I can’t name them all but I’m so grateful to each of them for the time and energy they put into the band over the past six weeks.
There was a powerful and profound moment for me at the show. I met another man called Pieter who is an avid reader of my tour blogs (thank you!). We talked for a few minutes and he told me that his earliest memory is of a Canadian tank rolling down the street in the town where he lived. It was near the end of the Second World War and the Canadian army was fighting to liberate The Netherlands from years of Nazi occupation.
Most of you will know that the liberation of The Netherlands was a brutal and costly campaign (nearly 8,000 Canadian fatalities). Memories are long here. I am always touched when someone mentions the liberation to me. Obviously I had nothing to do with it, but as a Canadian and a history person, it moves me to know that Canadians are held in such high regard in this part of the world. And when I meet someone who actually remembers it – who saw and heard and felt it – the weight of all that history hits me. One time on this tour we were driving through Germany and I could imagine tank battles happening in the open fields around us.
The history, man.
There are a million stories like that in these villages. At this moment we’re driving to our friend Joost’s place to drop off the rental gear. Go back 75 or so years and you will find a tank in his living room. Literally. There was a tank positioned in the living room of the house he now lives in. It’s everywhere, from Pieter’s earliest memory to Sietske’s father jumping off a train to escape Nazi forced labour programs. It’s not in the history books, kids. It’s here. Right here, on the very streets we’re driving through right now. It still gets me every time.
So the tour finale was a good and fitting farewell. The band played really well, closing with a more subdued than usual cover of Cindy Lauper’s Time After Time. We left the stage tired and satisfied with a tour well done and then spent the next hour or so signing things and taking pictures and talking to people. Then it was the final tear down and load out, helped as ever by a small army of friends who treat us so well.
After the show about 20 of us went out to a Chinese buffet for a big post-tour feast and party. At one point I stood up to take a photo, amazed once again by this community that Sarah has brought together through her music. One show at a time, one tour at a time, one hug at a time she’s made a world. There were friendships at the table that would never have been made without her. Experiences that would never have been shared, not just for the fans, but for the band. We owe a lot to Sarah for building this and I hope she knows we know it.
The tour doesn’t feel over, by the way. Out here on this Dutch highway it just feels like we’re on the way to the next gig. Leaving as early as we did definitely prepares us mentally for a long travel day. A week or two ago if we were on the road at 8:00 a.m. it meant a long, long drive ahead – one of those drives I wrote about earlier where the work doesn’t end when you arrive. Today it’s different. It’s a marathon travel day that we’ll handle like we handled the entire tour: moment by moment. It will be around midnight when at last we pull up to Ken’s place and go our separate ways.
It's amazing how quickly six weeks can pass. You don’t need me to talk about the tour time warp again, but I can assure you that it exists. It’s weird to feel like you’ve been here forever, but you can hardly remember anything. It’s a blink in slow motion. If I didn’t have the tour blog I’d forget half of what we did over the past 40 days.
Forty days. Isn’t that how long Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness? I’m probably missing a couple of good parallels there, but so be it. I’m six weeks in now. At this point of fatigue you may begin to have messianic delusions, but only the true messiahs can articulate them.
I desperately want to close this entry with something poignant and beautiful and literary. Something beyond a vague blasphemy that might alienate a chunk of my audience.
More tomorrow from the other side.
*Cover photo by Marjan. Hat photo by Conny Kiefer.