GRAVELROAD News European Tour Blog #9

European Tour Blog #9

Wednesday May 14, 2014 – off day, spending the morning in Olzstyn & moving to Gydnia, Poland later in the day.  The weather is nicer this morning in Olzstyn, so we get to explore the town square. We found the best coffee place yet on this tour right before our show last night and we hit it twice today – once first thing in the morning and again after exploring town.  It’s nice to get a bit of a break, seeing as this is our only night off in an eleven day stretch through until the end of the tour.  The sun helps too.

We make our way up to the Gdynia where we will be performing the next night.  Our tour manager assures us that our show and our stay in Gdynia will be a good one.  It is obvious as we arrive at the venue, the Blues Club, where she is met with hugs and laughter from the female half of the ownership duo.

Our rooms are upstairs.  It is a unique set up.  We kind of all share a big apartment minus a kitchen, but we all have our own bedrooms with bunk beds in them.  This apartment could probably hold a dozen people (or more) tightly into it.  We’re glad we don’t have those numbers, but we can imagine some big and wild flop-house style days inside these walls.

Downstairs the club is dotted with posters of our shows and previous shows.  There’s a row of LPs and CDs from old blues artists for sale across from the bar.  There are framed pictures of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and the like all over the place. The owners have a music store in the storefront next to the club.  They are committed to music and Ewa tells us of the strong built-in crowd that this place has.  They are seemingly part of a big family.

We take advantage of this day off to do the boring stuff of tour – laundry, buying some groceries (including my new favorite: Chicken-with-a-gun-in-an-Uncle-Sam-USA-outfit popcorn … made here in Poland, in the town where the Polish mafia reigns), etc.  We work on some music as well in our rooms, sipping Jack Daniel and just resting and refreshing.  No wi-fi either, so it’s sort of nice to be fully unplugged, except for the fact I really want to communicate with my daughter and love back home.  I miss them. But nothing’s working out due to time differences and being without internet. It’s best just to rest.  I probably get the longest night’s sleep on this tour this evening, so that is welcomed.

Thursday May 15, 2014 – Gdynia, Poland.

We have a fair amount of today to rest until we have to deal with sound check around 5:30pm for the 7:30p show at the Blues Club.  We get to explore the town, its market, and head to the main waterfront area. We are on the Baltic Sea.  There’s some interesting ships, including an old vessel fashioned as a pirate ship. The sun is out but a cold wind is blowing off of the sea.

I get to communicate via skype with my loves at home, find some killer coffee, and generally prepare for the last stretch of 5 shows in 5 days to finish the tour.  This tour has already been a great success, I kind of just want to go with the flow we’ve got and throw all of my energy into finishing it right.  There’s this great mix of focus and flexibility among everyone on the tour.  We are doing exactly what we should be doing right now.

The show starts closer to 8pm.  It’s an odd arrangement tonight.  We are the only band and we are asked to play three thirty minute or so sets.  We have fun creating a different sort of set list.  We will mix in a couple of songs that we’d not played previously on this tour, namely “44” and “Keep on Moving.”  Again, with working Joe into this tour we’ve wanted to not overwhelm him with older songs from our past catalog but he’s making requests now. Good times.

The first set has a little uneven quality because the sound mix wasn’t ideal.  There was too much bass in the main mix. We tried to do what we could on stage, namely Joe turning down.  It helped that it was a short set and we could work it out with the sound man during the second set.  The energy was great from the start and it was another night where people showed great appreciation for the music in their own ways.  This was not a dancing venue.  This was a seated group and the long, narrow quality of the club gave almost no room to get up and shake it.

There was a lot of applause and a lot of communication between the crowd and us between sets and especially at the end of the 3rd set.  I was again impressed with the insights offered by the crowd as they tried to make sense of what we are doing.  We got references ranging from The Stranglers, to ZZ Top, to Nirvana, to … well, you name it.  A regular at the club, Aunt Maggie, gracefully choosing her words in English said: “Yours is a Deep kind of Blues.” I kissed her and said “Exactly!”

The party atmosphere really turned up after the show.  While performing, we didn’t know how international the crowd was.  There were people from neighboring European countries, and expat New Yorker living nearby, and a bunch of stout locals who liked their “Piwo” (beer).  A guy in from Malta, Simon, bought multiple rounds of 8 Jaegermeister shots at a time as he demanded that we come to Malta.  Hmmm, Malta does sound nice … but for now, we’re enjoying where we are at.  On to Dobromierz tomorrow. (MR)