May 1 (May Day Holiday) & May 2, 2014.
Slawa, Wratislavia, Poland – “Las, Woda, & Blues Festival” (Woods, Water, & Blues Festival)
The four hour drive from Chorzow was our first adventure through the Polish countryside. It was beautiful throughout the journey, but it got especially attractive towards the end of ride. We wound through rows of birch, poplars, pines, & cedars as we approached the lake where the festival is held.
Since May Day fell on a Thursday this year, it served as the start of a long holiday weekend with May 3 (Constitution Day) being of great importance as well. There were large groups of families on holiday and I presume that this serves as sort of a symbolic marker of a turn towards warmer weather.
This festival by the lake had a mix of cabins and camping. There were a lot of people on Harleys. There was a lot of beer drinking and kielbasa eating. I counted 4 Jack Daniels shirts among the first twenty or so people I saw. It was a festive environment. We figured we’d be able to throw down a rockin’ set to this crowd. That definitely turned out to be true.
The venue was great. A hunting lodge/beer hall. Small skulls and few boar heads hung on the walls. The room was completed by a full sized disco ball hung from the highest rafter. It almost felt like a theater-in-the-round. The large wooden building held people on two levels. That added to the feel that people were almost on top of us, cheering us on. Since we were the “headliners” of the evening, that meant that everyone was warmed up (liquored up?) and ready for us.
We played even better than our first night on tour. I used a drum kit backlined by the festival and I had all sorts of problems with the hi-hat and, especially, with the throne. That damn thing kept collapsing on me, leaving me at the lowest possible position to drum. But it didn’t seem to matter.
We were able to lay down a very driving set of our “blues” music. We are staying away from our most heavily psychedelic sounds right now, but they are still there. It seemed like no matter what we played – trance blues, jump-ups, or quasi-punk rock – went over great. This crowd wanted to dance, yell, and have more reason to drink. They were having a good time and so were we.
There’s some great photos from that night. They are being posted on social media.
We played something like 3 encores. It is so satisfying to be getting this response in a country foreign to us. I don’t think we are doing anything special, just being ourselves, which feels especially validating.
About the only thing that was unwanted was some dude who claimed to be American and he begged – and later demanded – that we “jam.” First off, he was not American. He may have spent some time living in the U.S., but there’s enough idiot behavior in Europe associated with Americans and we didn’t need this guy promoting a stereotype. Secondly, we’d just played over 90 minutes of music. Jamming with some intoxicated & obnoxious guy waving a California flag (that he’d later use to jab me in the back) was about the last thing I wanted to do. The deal was sealed when he told Kirby “You be my backing band!” What?!? Fortunately, our tour manager Ewa and some helpful festival assistants kept him at bay.
We spent a second day at the festival. Initially, we were supposed to be playing a new venue in the same general region as the festival but its opening got pushed back. We took the opportunity to relax, especially because the weather got cold and wet and there were certain “jammers” we were trying to avoid. We also did what we could to alter our look (different clothes, hats, etc) to just try and not stand out. Kirby saw “Jam-dude” but he didn’t see or remember him/us. Thank goodness.
We are having a blast with our tour posse and we are seemingly getting back into the groove of tour mode. On to Krakow. – MR