by Dan Didier
07.03.07 - Milwaukee, WI to Hamburg, GER
She said, "What book are you bringing to read?"
I said, "I'm not bringing a book to read"
She said "What do you mean you aren't bringing a book to read"
I said "I'm not bringing a book to read because I am almost done with the book I am currently reading and don't want to finish it just to carry it around for the rest of the trip.
She said "Oh." "What about bringing 'Happiest Toddler on the Block'"
I said "Why? Do you want me to read 'Happiest Toddler on the Block'?"
She said "Sort of. I'm reading it."
I said "Okay, I'll bring 'Happiest Toddler on the Block'."
And with that I was off.
I've been to Europe many times but for some reason leaving this time was one of the hardest.
If it wasn't for the fact that I am leaving my wife and our 14 month old daughter at a fun time in her development (my toddler's, not my wife's) I would generally be excited to go. Granted, I am leaving for quite possibly the easiest one week tour I've ever done (I know, I will only be gone for a week. Buck up soldier, right?); three festivals shows, where we will be on a bus, and two club shows, where we will be traveling with a good friend. But for some reason I just can't shake the missing and the longing feeling of being away from home.
The flights went fine (Milwaukee to Newark, Newark to Hamburg) considering we nearly missed our connecting flight at Newark due to heavy flight volume and weather. In hindsight after arriving safely you forget about the horrendous turbulence, annoying service, lousy food (although the "Indian food" they served as their vegetarian option was okay), and cramped legs.
But, I'll be honest with you, I'm not a good sleeper. In order for me to sleep on tour I need to have four Tylenol PMs, ear plugs, and a pillow over my face and that's when I am in a hotel room in a, sometimes, comfy bed. And even then I still can't seem to go down. So, it is out of the question to think I can sleep on a plane. After reading a few chapters of Harvey Karp, M.D.'s book that I brought along I ended up watching anything and everything they threw at me. "The Astronaut Farmer?" Bring it on. "She's the Man?" Child's play. An episode of "Everyone Loves Raymond?" Gulp, uh, okay. But, I have to admit, I still laugh and get choked up. I don't know if it is the fact that I'm just happy that we haven't crashed yet or just glad to be on the proverbial open road... again.
The first day was spent in Hamburg. Nothing too exciting happened as we waited until midnight to get on the bus for Friday's show in Potsdam. Just walked around the St. Pauli area of Hamburg and when the time was right we loaded into two taxis and headed to our European label's office. Upon arrival we had a quick reunion with everyone at the label and the band Kettcar who are headlining the Fest van Cleef festival that we are here to play. It's a festival put on by our label European label Grand Hotel van Cleef thats a three day affair that hosts bands from the label and bands that are friends of the label and bands that the label are fond of.
Dan Hinz aka Chicken, aka the other Dan, always has a knack of saying either the right thing at the right time or the wrong thing at the wrong time and sometimes this happens simultaneously. So, I will be adding Hinz quotes as I move along. Here's one. Sitting down at our hotel breakfast bar in Hamburg Dan was quoted as complaining "after 8PM German tv is nothing but boobies and ringtones."
07.06.07 - Potsdam, GER
Woke up at 1:30PM and lived the whole day within a 100 yard radius. Potsdam is a wonderful place, I'm sure, but unfortunately I have never really seen it. The only other time being in the city was on the first European Promise Ring tour but all I can recall was that we played in a spray painted concrete slab of a building outside of town where mohawks and dogs roamed free. Today was slightly different, only slightly. The festival was held in a skate park where audience members could enjoy the show while half way up a half pipe. The show went well. We played a lot of songs off our new record which is always a gamble, but we played them pretty well and had a great time on stage.
So, we as a band have this thing with foosball tables (or kicker tables as they are called in Germany) and a little crystal that is in a black satin bag in my backpack. Here's the back story. In Tallahassee Florida during the Lucero tour last winter the four of us played a lot of foosball at the club. We are a competitive bunch so obviously playing becomes "for real" and "for keeps". So, at this club someone saw a little plastic crystal on the ground and ever since then we have played for the right to keep the crystal. The teams are as follows. Me and Davey vs. Justin and Chicken. Old school Maritimers vs. New School Maritimers. Actually, the teams just happen to end up as such since we divided them up by talent level. Justin is really good. Chicken, well, needs practice. Davey and I happen to be lucky enough to score sometimes.
It's a best of three type scenario switching sides after every game. Standing tall along side my teammate I am proud to say that the only place the crystal has been is in my bag. All gloating aside, the point of all of this is that there was a kicker table at the venue and during the after show party we decided to play a regulation Maritime kicker series. Davey and I take game one 7 to 4. We switch sides. Now, there is a custom with kicker that if the other team does not score at all and you win out right 7 nil the opposing players have to crawl under the table. There has been few proud moments in my life. My wedding. The birth of my daughter. And now watching my band mates crawl under a dirty kicker table on a dirty floor, that had glass shards from when Justin, aka Crash McKlug, dropped his Corona, in Potsdam Germany. The crystal is safe again.
Chicken's quote du jour: Misunderstanding Amy Winehouse lyrics as "Take that viking to rehab. No. No. No."
07.07.07 - Bremen, GER
After yesterday's lack of exploration I wanted to get as far away as I could from the venue so I spent the afternoon walking around Bremen with a friend. There was a skateboard festival called "Endless Grind" happening so we stopped by to check it out. It was nice because it had an "old school" vibe and many of the tricks I saw were the tricks of yesteryear which made me nostalgic for my early teens. I ran into some old friends that I've met on previous tours and enjoyed the sunshine. A really nice time.
Back at the show everything was running on time and on schedule. THEN, we hit the stage and it seemed like the world came crashing down. Let me tell you something. There is no lower feeling than playing a pretty lousy show in front of a ton of people. It doesn't matter how much you rehearse or have the songs "in your hands" there are always times where nothing seems to work out or go right. If it isn't missed cues or chords it's lousy monitor mixes and vocal mic feedback. However, after we left the stage we heard "Zugabe! Zugabe! Zugabe!". At first it scared me because for all I knew they were screaming something like "Please to stop playing ever!" Fortunately for us it was "Encore!" that the crowd was yelling in unison. AHHH, the sweet sound of dodging a bullet.
Chicken quote: This needs a little set up. So I've noticed this phenomenon where bass players in rap metal bands have to have their bass guitars so low they have to hunch over making them look like a marching dinosaur. But for some reason in a conversation with a bass player in another band Chicken dared him to play his bass super low like a "monkey beating an ancient stick."
07.08.07 â€“ Karlsruhe, GER
Another day. Another Schlachthof.
This is the last day of Festival van Cleef. It started just like any of the other days. Wake up. Find the catering. Eat a little breakfast. Check for internet access. If yes, make a makeshift office that includes my laptop and cameras. If no, walk into town and find a call shop/internet cafe to call home and check email.
Today was the latter so after a very long walk I found a place to check in with the wife. Apparently our little one now says "whoa" when eyeing something she likes.
All in all this festival was a pretty successful venture and I am glad that we made the trip over here to play it. That being said, I am looking forward to the next two shows where we will be headlining in clubs and not outdoor venues. I say this because shortly after our set today the heavens opened up and rain poured down upon the audience who seemed unfazed by their new predicament. This made it a little harder to once again venture out into town, so the rest of the night was spent stuck backstage doing anything to pass the time.
In other news, Sunday, July the eighth is a day that will live in infamy as the day Davey and I lost the crystal for the first time... but got it back again in an exciting game where we were down 3 nil and scored five in a row to win.
During breakfast Chicken created the character OrangenSHAFT (See photo).
Dan Didier is the drummer for Milwaukee's very own Maritime. The band will release their third album Heresy And The Hotel Choir on Flameshovel Records October 16.