Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Getting Started

written by Rob Turner - Tour Manager

I am writing to you from the Podium Cafe Peter en Leni in Steendam, The Netherlands.  This is an intimate acoustic music room by a gorgeous lake in this delightfully quiet town.  Peter and Leni van Zeijl own the venue and live in a flat just above it.  They are extremely enthusiastic fans of acoustic music, and also very kind souls - case in point: Jon lost his first gig of the tour due to a last minute cancellation (which meant we also lost the lodging), and this couple stepped up and invited us to stay in their house two extra days.  So, after we arrived in the Amsterdam airport yesterday (and I was held in a dreary back room while they ran a "second check" on my passport due to a poor photo), we drove directly here.

It didn't take long to be reminded how different things are here.  Wind turbines abound, and a canal was visible to the right of us on the highway virtually the entire trip.  We stopped at a little rest area off of the highway, and felt like we had driven into a state park.  It featured two little restaurants, an elegant curio shop which also had some elaborate pastries and clean bathrooms - although they cost a half a Euro to use (to be fair, they also give you a coupon so that if you spend money there, you get the half-Euro back).  Healthy food and beverage options were in abundant supply, and served with warmth and enthusiasm.   Best of all, it was next to a tiny lake, at which there were paddle boats, other tiny boats and plenty of places to eat.  There was even a rope going across it, presumably for those far more athletic than I to....sort of shimmy across the water.  Jon and I ate blurry-eyed by the water.  He had only slept a couple of hours on the flight, and I hadn't slept at all (thanks in large part to the On Demand video on the plane which allowed me to immerse myself into multiple episodes of Silicon Valley and Ray Donovan, as well as some Louie CK comedy and an absolutely outstanding documentary on Stephen Sondheim).  We finished our meal and contemplated sleeping in the car for a while as we had some time to kill.  Jon rallied though.  He bought a small, but very strong coffee (common here) and drove us to Steendam while I drifted in and out of sleep.  Live Wilco and the audio from a PBS Tribute to Gram Parsons kept Jon awake.

We arrived and did indeed sleep in the car until our hosts arrived, seemingly amused by the fact that we were splayed out in the vehicle like it was 1987 and we were on our way to see The Grateful Dead in Hampton, Virginia.  They brought us into the house, and after we brought up our stuff and had the first of what would become many music-themed conversations before taking a walk around the surrounding area.  Lake Schildmeer is just a few hundred feet away (Jon and I are about to bike around it) and we walked around and enjoyed the birds, rabbits and other wildlife.  Magpies are like pigeons here, and Peter and Leni seemed amused when Jon and I marveled at them.  After a wonderful meal of frikandel, krokets and dutch fries and more conversation about everything from Elizabeth Cotton and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, we retired to our beds.  I woke up around 1 am, and rather than get frustrated with my inability to sleep, I popped on my Sirius app and listened to an absolutely incredible wildcard game between the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland A's, then fell back asleep.  Hopefully, I have beaten the jetlag.

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