We woke up in Switzerland this morning, where I think the grass really is a little greener. We think of Switzerland as a peaceful country, but yesterday’s paper here in Baden said that 300 years ago today this town was attacked by both Bern and Zurich. Opinions among local people differed as to why. Some guessed religion; others said jealousy.
Bands can’t play too loud in Switzerland. Every venue is equipped with a dB meter that is mounted over the stage. Once a month the police come around and download the digital history of the volume of bands through a USB connection. I’m not making this up.
Limits vary from town to town and by the size of the venue. Our limit was 96 dB. The level when the room was empty was around 65. A handclap sent it to 78. When we got the crowd clapping and singing, and as we went among them with percussion instruments — no electricity involved — the meter sat right on 96. What it read when we were playing I don’t know, but no one seemed worried about it. They say the police monitor the average, not the peaks. So I doubt they’ll have arrest warrants out for us when we come back to Switzerland in a few weeks.
I went down for the hotel breakfast this morning and heard a Duke Ellington piano solo of “All the Things You Are.” I thought, “This is superior breakfast music they have in Switzerland.” But it kept getting better: Ruben Gonzalez, Tom Waits, the Staple Singers, Jimmy Smith….
“This is incredible,” I told Franher. “This could be my iPod.”
Then I got up for glass of water, and when I returned to the table the others were laughing.
“It is your iPod,” Franher said. “When you walked away the music went with you.”
Sure enough, my phone was playing in my pocket. Still, it made for a very pleasant breakfast.