GRAVELROAD News European Tour Blog #4

European Tour Blog #4

Monday May 5 – off day.

We wake up after our super-fun show in the Community Hall at Grodkow, Poland.   The owner of the Inn where we are staying was at the show and communicates to us that he had a great time and that he’d brought his 9-year-old daughter to the show.  That was one of the great things about playing this type of venue was the ability to have people there from ages 8 to 80.

The breakfast at the Inn is delicious and abundant.  They just kept bringing us food, from a variety of meat dishes, eggs, fruit, salad, and on and on.  I could write a thousand words about this meal alone.  The breakfast we had in Krakow at the 4-star hotel was amazing, but all of us agreed that this was better.  This Inn’s meal seemed made for us, unlike the Krakow hotel’s.  There was maybe 2 other guests at this Inn and the fact that food kept coming out and the quality was so great and seemingly so homemade, it was very special.

To have a salad made for us was a treat to begin with, as vegetables on the road are a much needed staple that is often hard to find.  To then have some of the tastiest & most-yellow eggs delivered to our table was unique and down-home types of qualities that cannot be denied.  I’ve learned – through the kindness of my neighbors that have chickens in Seattle & from other times spent on friend’s farms – that the yellowest of eggs are the freshest ones.  Store-bought eggs, no matter how organic or hormone-free, cannot replicate the yellow-color of those laid by chickens in the last 24 hours or so.

Then, right when we thought no more food could be delivered to our table, a beautiful tray of fresh cakes were brought out.  We didn’t want to leave any food around but there was just too much for the entire traveling band to eat.  We thanked our host with a personalized CD as a token of our appreciation.  These are the sorts of experiences that I cherish on the road.

The other highlight of our off-day was our dinner with the Matysik family. They are our hosts & tour managers for this tour and they are based in Chorzow, Poland where we began the tour and where we were spending this day before traveling to Slovakia. This family of 4 are all involved with the business and, like us, got into this world of music and touring not out of a desire to earn income but out of a love of the music.  Like many people whose passions become undeniable (to them as well as to the world around them) one thing leads to another and their passion builds and builds. A magazine, a touring agency, management group, a radio program and a strong community of like-minded people fill their world now after years of organically growing their passion into something bigger than they probably ever imagined.

We love sharing stories of music, travel, family, and even life’s disappointments with them.  Just like listening to old bluesmen tell stories of an era of Jim Crow Mississippi and inviting in to a world foreign to us younger white-folks of relative priviledge, to have Andrzej Matysik (the family’s patriarch) relay stories of life when Poland was part of the Soviet empire stirs us.  To have him & his family describe the effort involved to hear western music behind the Iron Curtain is a gift to us.

Our imaginations are inspired and our senses of humility are invoked when we hear how Andrzej’s friends in the 1960’s got what were essentially bootleg Rolling Stones recordings and gathered to listen to them as part of a counter-cultural experience.  To hear him talk about seeing Muddy Waters in 1976 or Miles Davis in the early ’80’s when very few of these artists traveled that far east is invigorating.  We have so much abundance of access to seemingly everything now – music, information, mobility, communication – it is powerful to have a direct connection to a world that we heard about but becomes so personal when faces and stories are attached in this manner. Andrzej is one cool dude.  It is easy to understand why his charming wife was wooed during one of their bootleg record-listening sessions.  Sharing a meal and making this sort of personal connection is one of the least obvious but personally most important aspects of traveling and touring for me.  I wish everyone had the opportunities to have these sort of experiences. – (MR)


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