GRAVELROAD News European Tour blog #6

European Tour blog #6

{I’m posting this on Sunday May 11: we’d like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women in our lives that we cannot be with today who are celebrating this day.  For us, it’s less about the Hallmark moment and much more about the deep appreciation of how strong women, name our mothers and the women with whom we’ve shared in the parenting experience, have impacted our lives and the lives of so many others.  Thank you for all that you give of yourself.  We love you.}


Thursday May 8 – traveling within Czech Republic: from Ceske Budejovice to Brno to Uhersky Brod.  No show today.  It is a day of transition.  GravelRoad will be reverting back to our 3-piece configuration with Kirby having to return to the US.  This was part of the plan.  We didn’t know if we’d have Kirby at all for this tour, so to have him for half of it was great.

This is hopefully one of the most unique things about our band: We are playing original music with a small group of players and can seemingly accomplish strong musical standards despite some occasional musical-chairs.

This comes from our roots.  Since I first started playing, I’ve been creating songs with friends who refrain from strict guidelines in terms of music-making.  The friendships are always the core of what will translate sonically.  We’ve become very comfortable allowing our friends the space to come and go in life.  I’ve found this dynamic to be inspiring.  This doesn’t work for everyone.  I/we definitely have two friends with whom I/we could probably be making more music but this is not how they’re comfortable operating.  That’s fine by us.

I think these skills help us when we want to work with other musicians, especially blues men like T-Model Ford.  We like collaboration and we like challenges.  This is why we enjoy having friends as guests for songs or events with us.  This is part of the joy of creating music.  It is more alive with newness, and songs & skills can and will evolve from this sort of arrangement.  Again, it is not for everyone but it works for us and I hope that long-term, this is one of the aspects of GravelRoad’s music that will stand out.

We left Kirby in Brno where he’d bus to Vienna and then fly home.  We’ll see you in less than two weeks. We’ll miss you.

After a little walking through the center of Brno, we drove east into the hills of Czech’s wine country into the town of Uhersky Brod.  Our posse looked tired that day. The night off was appreciated.  We did some walking through this town too. But since today is a national holiday (the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe), the whole country is sleepy like us.

Friday May 9 – Uhersky Brod, Czech Republic

I’m pretty sure we stand out here more than we do in other, larger cities.  In fact, I feel like we are the only people not from this town as we walk through the streets and stores in the middle of the day. I entered at least 3 shops and they tried to speak English to me … it must be obvious.

We splinter off for parts of the afternoon and reconvene in advance of the show.  We are seemingly the only gig in town. There is a very “blues” feel to the crowd tonight, even more so than the last Czech gig at Highway 61.  The crowd is a little older.  They are very focused on us as we play.  There’s a relaxed seriousness to the crowd.  As Joe’s friends Derrick & Skick, who came in from Prague told us, “They were staring at you guys intently.  When a table needed drinks, one person would get up and get the whole table a round of beers and then return to studying you.”

It was a really nice reception – with the call for a second encore quiet loud – and a great reminder that even an apparently older & seemingly more “traditional” blues audience can like our hard driving and eclectic style of music.  One local said “You’re better than AC/DC.” Didn’t see that one coming, but ok! We missed Kirby, but obviously we were able to deliver a quality show without him.  There’s that mix of the challenge and the excitement that comes with it.

Finally, on the way back from this gig, the evening took a surreal turn when we witnessed a man laying awkwardly on his back across three steps that lead down to a street’s curb with his head tilted back onto the street and his limp body descending from the sidewalk.

The van pulled over.  Our tour managers are two Polish people and we are three Americans and this is a medium-sized Czech town.  It’s not like we’re exactly sure how to summon help here.  Three young-adult females are walking by.  Perhaps they can help us call for help, but this whole scene has to be bizarre for them to be involved in as well.

I approach the downed man slowly.  I’m an experienced Basic Life Support Instructor (technically, I’m Training Center Faculty back at Harborview in Seattle, for those interested).  I feel a responsibility to asses the victim.

He’s breathing. It’s shallow, but it’s regular.  He’s probably drunk, but there’s 2 concerns.  He is laying so awkwardly, it looks like he may have hit his head … something I’m all to familiar with as well.  Secondly, his head is laying on this narrow old Czech hill-town street.  One careless or drunk driver could really give this guy a head injury … and we witness 2 cars driving with some Friday night recklessness as we survey the scene.

I begin talking to him loudly, but I don’t know Czech (except to say Thank You and that’s not really relevant here).  The girls and our Polish hosts are exchanging comments, one of the girls pulls out her cell phone, another begins talking to the man as well.

He mutters something in Czech … I guess to the effect of “I’m fine, just resting.” Uh-huh.   He gets assisted to his feet and moved to safety.  We get back in the van and head back to the hotel.  Moving on …. (MR)

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