On the road out of Prague we hit a detour through the rolling Czech countryside and tiny villages where eight-year-old kids smoked cigarettes. Then we hit the highway again, and — bang — we were back in Germany, with its yellow biodiesel fields, giant windmills and no-speed-limit autobahn.
Friday’s gig was at the Kesselhaus in Singwitz, near Bautzen, east of Dresden. When we first drove up we wondered if we were in the right place – an old brick industrial building out in the woods by the River Spree. But the owner, Andreas, greeted us and pulled up the garage door of a loading dock that opened straight onto the stage. He told us that the building was a 100-year-old gunpowder factory. (Kesselhaus means “boiler house.”) Andreas, a psychologist during the week, runs the club on weekends with the help of his wife and son. A family working together not for profit but for the love of music was a pattern we saw over and over again in Germany, but one we see only rarely in the States. How could anyone not love people with so much heart? This was a fun gig.
At the Kesselhaus we discovered Jever (pronounced “Yay-ver”), a north German pilsner with a unique bite. I wonder if we can swing an American endorsement.
Saturday we drove north of Dresden to Lauchhammer and a club called Real Music. The building started in 1905 as a tavern and dance hall, then served half a century as a Catholic church until Ralf and Iris found it in 2005 and restored it to its original purpose.
Ralf works during the week as a commercial artist. He offered to take us out and show us the large posters for our show that he’d made and put up all over town. Then he said, “Oh, but, no, we took them all down.”
“Why?” we asked.
“Well,” Ralf said, “the truth is there is a Nazi rally in town here today. I don’t know why they come here. No one wants them here. They go around to different towns and have these rallies – maybe 50 Nazis surrounded by several hundred people with cameras. We do not want any trouble here at the club tonight, so we went around yesterday and took all the posters down. We hope they won’t find out about the show. We’ve hired extra security.”
That explained a poster I’d seen on the street: Lauchhammer gegen [against] Nazis. The word “Lauchhammer” was pasted over another town name.
This was our last show in Germany, and it was a good one to go out on. Everyone had a lot of fun — even, apparently, the Nazis. Mark’s mom, Katie, was dancing in the crowd when a guy bumped her gently and started dancing with her. When the song ended he offered to buy her a beer. Then Katie saw the swastika on his shirt.
“No, thanks,” she said. “I’m too old to have another beer.”
Thanks to Real Music and to Tina for these photos: