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Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Concert Diary 2007

De Amer, Amen - 16th November

Chris Simpson writes - It was always a very special place and I guess way back somewhere down the ever winding gig road, it was agent Rolf who stumbled across it. He was one of life's great characters. An inextinguishable fountain of enthusiasm and one who could roll a joint with one hand in half a minute whilst conducting a conversation and holding the phone with the other.

Times he was all we had; times he drove me up the wall as style seemed to be one the thing that was missing. He would have you in a beautiful theatre one minute and the following year book you into a seedy joint just down the road that Magnafans would avoid like bubonic plague.

But he found the American Cafe at Amen.

It is at a crossroads in a kind of one horse village not that from from the cities of Assen and Groningen and I recall walking in through the front door to see various instruments on the walls; the typical Dutch tapestry carpet tablecloths; a smell of brewing coffee and for all the world it was not unlike you would imagine an old frontier trading post in the American west.

Look around a little more at the sepia photographs on the walls, old bluesmen and smiling country pickers and you realise that some of the finest names in the world of the acoustic guitar have played here, many from the States.

Initially we played in the bar room and I recall Lee was with us on those first concerts. Ab Slighter was the host with a kind of sadly drooping Wyatt Earp moustache and a passionate love of skiffle.

I grew very fond of him as the years rolled by and sadly he departed this life for the next last year.His wife, the lovely Inneke, survives splendidly and apart from now running the Cafe, she doubles as a preacher.

I cannot remember exactly when they converted the cowshed at the back of the building but it became a mini concert hall.

You get changed in a large back room full of things for kitchens; deep freezes and so on.The door lintel onto the stage is quite low and has been painfully caressed by many an unthinking skull down the years, mine included.

We have played there at least twelve times and sold it out equally. Why they keep coming I don't know. The audience is crammed in to your very feet and exude this expectant warmth. The stories ramble on and mostly I feel afterwards,'oh, why didn't I shut up?'

I tried it once and they nearly lynched me. They love the mixture of stories and music.

The only drawback to the big room at the back of the stage is that it is really an old shippen. If you cast a glance upwards in daylight then you will see the sky through the gaps in the pantiles.In Summer it is cool and refreshing, and a welcome release from the heat in the concert room when even a bandana gets soaked through.In Winter its a different story. Minus whatever outside and even a brass monkey would give himself up.

Linda and Matt go on out to perform 'Who knows where the time Goes. She tells them that 11th. May 2009 in the Theatre Carré, Amsterdam we will finish.

I sense the stunned disbelief.

As ever, in this magical place, I see and recognise familiar faces. Henk with the twinkly eyes and silver beard;Anneke and Ed; and Willem and Maria....and the great sound guy, Ron and his lady.

We seem to span every human emotion here.

It was a particularly hard concert for Linda who's Dad had died just a few days before. A welcome release from a lingering condition (MSA).

She performed her song,'Shine' for him as a celebration of a life. It was superb.

'Fields of Eden' ended the first set and with its usual impact.

On down the songs and I point out we that basically we just sell people memories. This occurred to me a few weeks ago after all these years on the road and the penny dropped.

It really is all we do. After the audience has left and we have loaded out and headed for home a memory is all it is.

I do also add, tongue in cheek, that you can help keep the memory alive by buying a CD! They do.

It is a long three set concert but at the end they are up on their feet again. Touching and heart warming and here they have a great tradition of having a member of the audience get up to thank the artists.

Jan Bor is one great tour manager. One of those guys who knows what you want before you ask for it and takes off so much of the load. Nice guy to be with.

We say our goodbyes and off under a Mclean starry starry night to thread our way down the narrow lanes to the motorway.

There is forest around here and I always felt that one particular area had a certain sadness about it. I was not wrong for it masks the sight of Westerbork, a kind of German concentration camp where Jewish people were shipped in, registered and catalogued and then loaded on to the trains for the long, grim journey to the final dread destination. Auschwitz.

Alone with my thoughts I wondered about the sheer lunacy of it all, the ribbon of motorway threading ahead through the lights.

Tomorrow is just another day.

Some  of our audience
Left Arrow Weesp, Holland Zevenaar, Holland Right Arrow