After 24 hours of travel – by plane from Atlanta to Paris, then Paris to Dusseldorf, by train to Cologne, then bullet train to Montabaur to pick up the van, by autobahn back to Dusseldorf to pick up Darren and Franher, and autobahn and country road to Wergen – we arrived at the Hotel Henriette Davidis for one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
The hotel is named for the author of a famous 19th-century cookbook. The restaurant serves meals prepared according to her recipes, using fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms. We washed them down with local beer.
By the time we unwound enough to look around and see where we were, where we were was a little pub in a half-timbered house that dated back to 1541 (picture below). At first the locals didn’t know what to make of us, but before long we broke the language barrier. Udo, our host, started producing secret bottles from under the bar and pouring into little glasses. Everyone in the room just kept laughing. Finally some kind of corn liquor from a brown bottle convinced us that it was time for bed. Later I wondered if that hadn’t been what Udo was trying to do all along. So it was “gute nacht” all around, and we crossed to street back to our hotel, resolving that for the rest of the trip we should be careful with anything in little glasses.
I woke up the next morning, if not in synch with the local time at least not too far off. Mark and I had breakfast and took a walk up a hill where we discovered the town cemetery. It was May first, a national bank holiday, and people were all through the cemetery, jogging or talking or tending graves. This was no broad grassy lawn like an American cemetery. Each plot was a separate garden, arranged with natural stones and planted with bushes and flowers. We saw a few stones saying something like, “1st Lt. So-and-So, 1921-1942,” from back in the days when this village was the home front.
Once everybody was up, we drove to Wetter, the next town, and found our venue for the night, Earth Music.
Gunter Erdmann runs a musical equipment sales and rental business in an industrial area on the edge of town. He and his wife and sons, who all work in the business too, live in the rear of the building, on the bank of the Ruhr River. Twenty-some times a year, in conjunction with a non-profit group promoting live music, Gunter volunteers his room, gear and time to put on a show. Our deal here is that we waived a cash fee in exchange for the use of Gunter’s backline (amps and drums) for the rest of the tour.
The backline proved first rate. Mark and I scored matching Egnater Rebel 20 amps, made in America by Bruce Egnater, with a unique design that allows the player to blend a pair of 6V6 tubes (a classic American sound) with a pair of EL84s (classic English rock sound). Very cool.
It’s a little strange starting your first show in a different country. You wonder what in the world these people think of you. The last chord of the first song died away into complete silence. But then the applause started, got louder and kept going. We ended up doing two encores and, I think, making some new friends. After the show we had soup made by Gunter’s mother from her vegetable garden, and a taste of schnapps distilled by his father.
Germany was working out okay.