Friday, October 3, 2014

Podium Cafe Peter en Leni Steendam, NE October 3

written by Rob Turner - Tour Manager

I have been humming Surprise Me Mr. Davis' "Home Away From Home," the last few days because that is what the Podium Cafe Peter and Leni has become to Jon and me.  Our hosts, Peter and Leni van Zeijl, have been supremely kind.  They have allowed us to stay here for FOUR nights despite the fact that Jon was only playing one show here.  The have fed us several meals.  They lent us their bicycles, and they gave us a heads-up on many Netherland'y things.

Peter was a long-time DJ for Radio Winschoten and Dollard Radio, each in the north part of The Netherlands.  His programs "Folk en Zo" (Folk and Such) and "Late Night Blues" had many listeners and served to fuel his enthusiasm for acoustic music.  In fact, with the exception of the Jeff Beck Band's Truth cd, he has no interest in electric blues.

A few years back, Peter became disenchanted with his job, and decided to leave it and pursue work in the music business.  He worked in many capacities, including as a booking agent on both sides of the fence.  So, when the economic downturn of the latter part of the last decade rendered this then-dormant restaurant space affordable - Peter jumped at the chance and he and his wife Leni moved in and started preparing it for live music.  They were up and running on May 24, 2013 and today the restaurant is open six days a week (seven days in the summer).  As some of you may have read in my first blog, this is sort of a dream place for me.  However their luck hasn't come easily.  This couple works very hard at what they do.  They are up in the morning early preparing for the restaurant's ten o'clock opening, and the room stays open until ten o'clock at night.  The only other person with which I am aware who also works these kind of hours girlfriend.  They only have one night of music a week (of course the room stays open well past ten on this night), and they book shows 9-18 months in advance.  They have just begun hosting a songwriter's night on Saturdays, which made me wish Atlanta's treasured storyteller Kodac Harrison could speak Dutch.

Despite the demands of their job, they each have wonderful spirits, and it didn't take long for this to have a profound effect on Jon and me.  Peter speaks excellent English, is quick with a smile and despite his intelligence and success, is completely down-to-Earth.  He is constantly cracking wise and not only does he make it clear that he doesn't mind having his own chops busted, he clearly revels in it.  Leni is an extremely engaging woman.  She makes much of the food here from scratch, and based on what I saw while staying here, her pies are particularly popular.  As Jon said from the stage tonight, Leni has taken us in as though she was our mother.....and Peter as though he was our grandfather.  And who laughed the hardest at this?  Peter.

Peter's quote of the week: "You are two Americans, driving a Swedish car with French plates through The Netherlands to get to Germany."

Anyway, I have been having a bit of a rough learning curve with regard to some of the details of this whole blogging thing.  And even though this is in part to promote Jon's music, he sometimes seems annoyed that I am on the computer so much.  Like many great musicians, Jon is not really into the whole promotion side of things.  But friends Jon was, because just as the sun was setting he pried me away from my computer so that I could join him to go watch the sun set over the almost-adjacent Lake Schildimeer.  

Before we even got to the lake I was wowed by the giant bright orange orb that was lying low in the sky.  When I sat down by the lake, the sun was reflecting so brightly off of the water that it looked like two lines of fire were ripping through the water.  It was pretty intense.  Before the lines joined, one little rouge fiery spot took on a cauldron-like effect.  There were also flocks of small birds flying in such tight unison that when they were half-way across the lake they collectively looked like a giant amoeba moving over the water.  Fully cross the lake similar birds would rise and fall over the tree line in a way that made them look like giant plumes of smoke.  It was a nice relaxing moment to ease my mind over my frustration with Google Blogger's inability to "take" my profile picture changes.  This deified silicon valley company is apparently on the cutting edge of everything except how to get the odor of curry out of your carpet, yet their blog platform can't get it together to allow me to change my profile picture.  Super.

We were so fond of our hosts that we really, really wanted a strong night FOR THEM, even more than for the success of the tour.  And much like last night, it didn't seem like that was gonna be the case as close as twenty minutes before the starting time.  But Peter moved the start time back 15 minutes and several people flowed in and all was well.  The crowd dug Jon's sense of humor tonight, and there was a warmth to the performance that I couldn't help but think was due at least in some part to the fact that we had been here so long, we had gotten to calling it home.  Musical highlights of the first set were "Song For JoJo" (performed for Peter, is his favorite), "Dram Lest We Get Dry" continuing its hot streak and a riveting "Peace Like a River" to close the set.  The non-musical highlight (other than my delicious dinner) was the english cocker spaniel who lay quietly, and at times attentively during the music.  He demonstrated more of an ability to behave appropriately at an acoustic music performance than many human beings do back in America.  That's right show-talkers, there are even dogs over here who can respect musical artists more than you.  Be proud.

I so love making fun of show-ruining babblers that I am almost thankful for them.

I DID say almost.

The second set started with Hank Williams' "California Zephyr" which was again strong, but nothing like last night's show-stopping version.  Jon spoke about the decline of certain industries inspired, "Dyehouse Blues," and riveted the audience with "Station Master."   Some Farenheit/Celsius confusion provided an unintentional moment of comedy during the "constant 32 degrees" verse of "The Deep Freeze."  I rarely catch "Maple Leaf Rag," and tonight's version seemed longer than the ones I had previously enjoyed, and Jon told the whole story behind Den Bosch Blues......not gonna get into that song on this blog.  Last tour the times Jon asked audiences if they were familiar with Mississippi John Hurt, most of the people were not.  So, as he told the audience before the 2nd set-closing "My Creole Belle" tonight, he is on a mission to make these two countries more familiar with him.  Very cool.  Should indicate that this and "Mermaids" are just the tip of the Hurt iceberg this tour.  Jon wondered aloud if there were any Mississippi John Hurt videos on YouTube.  Anyone else wondering the same thing should visit my links section after the setlist below.

His encore demonstrated some of my favorite things about Jon.  He played "Get What You Deserve," which not only was a nod to the spaniel (Jon traditionally gives a li'l dog bark after the "loyal dog" line), but he referenced some set break conversations by deftly weaving in Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken" and that silly little "Tequila" song into the instrumental.  I was kicking myself for not videoing this, but lo and behold as I was working on this very blog I heard the song coming from around the corner......and sure enough, Peter had captured it.  Gotta love this guy.


Podium Cafe Peter and Leni
Steendam, The Netherlands
October 3, 2014

Seven Thieves
Cornershops + Subway Trains
Level It Out
Luckier Than Most
Song For JoJo
Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me
Another Month of Mondays
Ordinary Cats
Song For Maria
Dram Lest We Get Dry
Peace Like a River
California Zephyr
Getaway Car
Dyehouse Blues
Maple Leaf Rag
The Deep Freeze
Den Bosch Blues  video
My Creole Belle
Get What You Deserve video


1 comment:

  1. very, very nice, Rob!! sounds like you two are doing great. thank the heavens, and Peter and Leni. :-) best wishes, beth wimmer