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Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Concert Diary 2007

The Bottom of the Sea, Emmeloord - 5th May

Linda Simpson writes - Chris and I came over on North Sea Ferries as always. It was a smooth trip and we enjoyed our customary bottle of wine with dinner, followed by a couple of games of backgammon, before heading for bed at around midnight. We then wound our watches forward, losing a precious hour of sleep.

At 6am Dutch time we heard the very unwelcome wake up call and the next two hours were spent trying to ignore the various messages calling folks to breakfast, the shops, the reception desk etc, etc. Finally, at 8am, it was time to drive off the boat for the start of a new adventure. It was a beautiful day and there wasn't too much traffic on the roads so we got to Soest in good time.

Over the years our friendship with the family De Jong here has become such that we now feel that we are coming home. We joined everyone for coffee, hugs and biscuits, catching up on what's been happening and then, feeling as if we had never been away, we made our way to our cabin and started the process of unpacking.

It seemed that we would never empty the vehicle - it was like one of those films where impossible amounts come out of small boxes - but eventually it did stop and we then had to start putting things away. After three hours we went to the shopping center to get fresh things like milk and eggs. We were not sure what time Matt would be turning up but we were hoping to get a bit of a catnap before his arrival. We were also starting to feel rather hungry as we never have breakfast on the boat, and we hadn't managed to get around to eating anything at the cabin either.

By 6pm the suitcases were about empty, everything was roughly where it was going to be and I'd made up a couple of beds - now we could have a bit of something to eat and grab a few zeds.

The phone rang.

"We're here - which cabin are we in?"

All I can say is that it's a good job that Chris had put the white wine in the fridge and cleaned the outside tables and chairs!

Matt's Mum and Dad had brought Matt over, along with the things that they had very kindly looked after for us since the last tour. We had another round of hugs; the coffee went on; the glasses came out and the laughter started. We sat in the sunshine and had a few glasses of plonk - probably not a good idea on 4 hours sleep and nothing to eat - but hey - that's rock and roll.

At about 7:15 Henny and Ina left us to it so we stayed outside a little longer then, at 8pm, we observed 2 minutes silence, as this is the Dutch Remembrance Day. We put on the TV so that we would get it right. It was impressive to see Damm square in Amsterdam filled with people as the queen laid the wreath and all heads bowed. It is a mark of respect for those who gave their lives; it is also for those who are still giving their lives. Sometimes it seems that we have not come very far but I'm sad that this ceremony seems to be losing ground in Europe.

What a first day! We did eventually have something to eat, watched a film, put a few more things away and headed for bed. Actually, at that point, the place looked like a bomb had gone off - the clothes all needed ironing, the washing up was left on the draining board and we had an early gig the next day. It was about 1:30am - the alarm was set for 8:30 and I was left wondering why we do these things... anybody got any answers?

The alarm went off far too soon, it felt as though I had only just laid my head down.

At least I was first in the shower, which helped to wake me up. Matt and Chris then showered (separately of course) and while they were doing that I dug out the clothes that we needed for the gig and started ironing. By the time Jan arrived at 11am we were almost ready and almost human.

We had one last coffee (about the 5th of the day), loaded the vehicle and set off for Emmeloord. Doris was most put out because Jan had Eve with him. Eve is a Tom-tom and she was already primed for the trip; sorry Doris.

We arrived smack on time, met with the sound engineer Michiel and his father Chiel. They brought the equipment and started to set it up. The weather was glorious, although there was still a chill in the air, and it had already been decided that we should play outside. There were other bands playing further down the street and there was also a fashion show in the square. It was Liberation Day and everyone was out to have a good time.

Johan, the owner, made us some lovely coffees. Anne looked after us well and the rest of the staff were also very nice and helpful.

Linda and Matt

Chris and Barners were a bit playful with the fresh cream that came with the coffee and everyone was in a good mood because of the sunshine and carnival atmosphere. By 4pm we had a nice audience and were ready to play.

I was a little worried that the songs that we normally play in theaters wouldn't work in this outdoor situation and that we would have to re-think the sets, but once we started it was obvious that it was fine and we had a great time.

Michiel was very good - he really cared that the sound was right and kept checking that all was well. His Dad took lots of photographs; some were very funny.

People wandered by, some stopped and found themselves a seat, others only had time to stay a little while and so they stood at the edges of the crowd and moved on after a few songs. One girl who lived within listening distance came down for a closer look with an African Grey parrot on one shoulder and a Macaw on the other. I don't think that's happened to us before; although we did see wild Macaws flying overhead when we were playing in Venezuela.

Bert, a journalist for 'Music Maker' magazine came along with his wife and little girl. He was there to see us prior to an interview scheduled for the following day. I always admire journalists when they don't simply rely on listening to recordings. The late, great Jip Golstein always came to see us live if he was going to do an interview. It garners respect in a business that is all too often ego driven.

Bert had some sad news for us; the wonderful Ab Sligter at the Café De Amer in Amen had passed away on Tuesday. Ab was a truly amazing character that loved his music and made the café into a very well known, and highly regarded, music venue. He will be sorely missed by artists and audiences alike.

We don't know now what will happen, we were looking forward to playing there again in November. One thing for certain - it will not be the same place without him.

For anyone who would like to read it, there is an obituary on the web site of Radio Drenthe.

We still had the second half of the concert to do; it's a strange feeling having news like that and then turning yourself around to go back on stage. It has happened to me a few times now, once when my mother was taken really ill, you just have to push it out of your mind. The show must go on.

The sun continued to shine and we played our hearts out. I was surprised that people were so quiet, they were really listening and many people came up afterward to say how much they had enjoyed it. We were happy that we'd done our best and it seemed that it was appreciated. That'll do.

Johan offered us Saté for dinner before we left. It was absolutely delicious, the chips were real chips and the salad was perfect. It was just what we needed as we were pretty well wrung out at that point.

A nice coffee to finish and it was time to go home, Eve was in charge of directions and we were soon back on the motorway. Why is it that it's always quicker to get home?

It's always good to get the first gig under our belts - it gets us wound back up again.

In the autumn we play mostly theatres but, in Spring, we have always worked the smaller places.

We're often asked 'what are you doing here?' as if it's some kind of a sin to play a café, but we enjoy it. We hope it widens our audience and it keeps us grounded; if you can't play the tough gigs - you shouldn't be playing at all.

It was a good day.

Our wonderful audience
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