House Concert #2 in Bielefeld

We stopped for lunch and to do a bit of our online/email work at a Vapiano in Bielefeld. We were happy to have found a parking spot right in front of the restaurant and our next host Nina wrote that she secured us a spot in front of her apartment as well. But when we left to drive to Nina’s it started pouring rain! We were worried if that might affect the number of guests that would attend the concert. We wrote Nina that we were 4 minutes away and when we arrived she was waiting for us with an umbrella to remove her car from the spot she reserved for us. We decided to leave the instruments in the car until the rain stopped and went upstairs to have a look at the space we’d be performing in.

Nina has a beautiful apartment which she has decorated very tastefully. When we arrived three friends were already preparing for the concert. One of them was Dami from Australia! We really had an international audience this tour 🙂 The girls prepared cheese with grapes, sandwiches, vegetables, and dips. Nina generously bought rum especially for Joe so he could have a rum’n’coke. While we were waiting for the rain to stop (or at least to become less intense) we sat down, drank a bit, and got to know Nina and her friends better.

Nina just signed up to SofaConcerts because she was taking part in a raffle to win a concert. When I wrote her and proposed a concert with us she was thrilled and immediately accepted. It’s a bit of an honor to be someones first house concert artist. We want people to like it even more so they stick with it and have other concerts to support all the wonderful artists out there. Nina’s living room is small, but cozy. Fortunately, when we finally brought our instruments in and set up it turned out to be just enough space for us. Nina also didn’t invite a large amount of people. She knew the capacity of the room very well and so it turned out to be the perfect crowd for this occasion. The concert evolved into a little party where people were standing up and dancing in the back of the room. It was really a high-energy atmosphere.

After the concert we had very interesting conversations that we often have after concerts because guests love the idea of traveling around and being a freelance musician but they suspect a downside to it. It’s always the fear of losing “security” that keeps people from living freely and doing what they love. Often people approach us and say that they envy what we’re doing and wish they had the same courage. Joe always tells them that security is more of an illusion and that there are actually no guarantees in life. In actuality, everyone can lose their job or even their life the very next day. So if we don’t know what tomorrow will bring we should strive to make sure that today is one of the best days of our life. People we talk to understand that concept but are often so deeply conditioned by the system that it would require a large amount of will power, inspiration, courage, and time to break out of their routines to finally start doing the things they’re really passionate about, in short: to truly live.

The next day Nina organized some rolls and we had a wonderful breakfast together. She was truly an amazing host, taking care of our needs before we even realized we had them. Thank you Nina, we hope to see you again soon!

– L

House Concert #1 in Bielefeld

We arrived in Bielefeld earlier than expected and had time to visit the Café Welthaus. I always appreciate these kinds of cafés that sell fair trade coffee and we even bought a homemade, vegan pizza. Super nice! This rest-stop gave us time to check out other locations and festivals in Bielefeld that could potentially be playing opportunities for us. Of course we also left some flyers there. You never know what comes from that 🙂

We found our host Jenny on CouchSurfing and her profile already seemed super interesting. She has traveled a lot with the help of CouchSurfing and now wants to give these great opportunities back to that community. She’s currently doing an apprenticeship to become a carpenter! How cool is that?! We could see her passion for working with wood right when we entered her room. She designed her own “flying bed” that is hanging from the ceiling, built herself a desk, and decorated her whole balcony with wood (oh, and she drew a map of the Lord of the Rings universe on her wall!).

She lives together with three roommates who are also carpenters (or on their way there) and their whole flat is a playground for their creative, wood ideas. First we went inside to see the performance space and get to know our hosts a bit before we brought all the instruments in. Upon meeting everyone, we quickly got caught up in conversations. When we came back to our car 10 minutes later we had a ticket from the meter maid. Samuel (one of the flatmates) gave us a resident permit for the parking space but it seemed like we got there 4 minutes too late. But we wouldn’t let a paper on our windshield ruin the day for us. We took our instruments upstairs and faced the next dilemma. The plan was to play outside on their huge terrace; I could tell that Joe really, really liked that idea. We went outside on the terrace and discussed where we could set everything up. The problem was that the weather forecast predicted a 60% chance of rain around 8pm, one hour after we would start our first set. There was a marquee on the terrace that would protect our instruments from the rain but was also hanging so low that nobody would see anything that was higher than our belly buttons. Plus, while our instruments would be dry the audience would had to stand in the rain. So the question was if we risk the 60% chance of getting wet outside or if we “played” it save and set up in their spacious living room. We decided to play the concert inside and at 7:30pm when it started to rain (not dripping, but pouring) in the middle of our set, it proved to be the right decision.

The concert was very energetic and filled with a fun vibe. Several more carpenters, students, parents, free spirits who love to travel, and even four students from the UK showed up. We could even work in a blues-scale-improvisation session for Jenny. She really did well and her friends supported her by clapping along. It was an awesome experience for everyone. After the concert we had great conversations with Jenny and her friends. She told us about her plans to travel the world and we exchanged philosophies and travel experiences. They have a huge world map on their wall where each traveler who passes by can mark a city they’ve been to with a little flag. We pinned our flag into Chicago.

The next day we finally had the time to sleep in since our next gig would only be 7 minutes away. We took our time to shower, get dressed, and have breakfast and decided to visit an animal park that Jenny recommended to us. It was a free park and it was very nice for us to take these few hours off just to walk around a nice landscape. On our way back to the car we met a couple from Gütersloh. We were curious because they were speaking English with their kids and the Dad didn’t seem to have any accent. Turns out he was from Iowa and his wife from Italy! It was cool to see another international couple. We gave them our flyer and got into the car. Onto concert #2 in Bielefeld!

Thank you Jenny and her flatmates for your hospitality and enthusiasm towards our concert in your home! You were great hosts and we’d love to see you again soon!

– L

Public Concert @ FreiWerk Paderborn

Last week we’ve been on our July-Tour through the Ostwestfalen-Lippe area.

Our first stop was the FreiWerk in Paderborn. It’s an open workshop space where you can build furniture (or whatever you can envision) out of wood, which is especially great if you can’t use your Dad’s workshop because you’re a student who now lives in Paderborn far from home.

The concert was organized by our dear friend (and matchmaker) Nika and her new music platform Musikgeschichten (music stories). She recently moved to Paderborn and discovered that music IS happening in Paderborn but the communication and promotion channels are not working out so well. As a result, people don’t really know what, where, and when things are happening. She is trying to build a platform to connect artists of all genres with locations in Paderborn and to promote these concerts as efficiently as possible.

I must say she is very good at this. First of all, the concert space was great and there was a lot of room for us to set up our equipment and instruments. Lennart (one of the owners) and his team were super nice as well. We were warmly welcomed with drinks and some pizza and could rearrange the space whichever way suited us most.
Second, there was an impressive number of guests whom attended, all of which were friendly and attentive. Since the door was open during the whole concert, we were able to entice people walking by to come in and join the fun. It was just a very nice crowd.
Third, Nika had the idea for a little spontaneous jam session afterwards which was very unique to this gig and we really enjoyed it. It is nice to see how our performance made other musicians in the audience want to join us on stage and create a musical conversation with others afterwards. I was surprised and proud once again to see Joe play the trumpet and the cajon at the same time. I saw a video before where he played the trumpet and the drums at the same time, so I know that he CAN do that, but it stuns me every time I see him doing that. He’s just a musical all-around talent. I must admit I need a little time to really get comfortable with jamming. It’s like all things in life, it comes with time and repetition. But I really, really enjoyed watching others creating new sounds and recreating songs in this jam.

We spent the night in the flat of Reinhold and Lasse, good friends of Nika. Reinhold even stayed at a friend’s so we could have a private room! They all were very hospitable. That evening, Lasse had already invited several people for breakfast the next morning. He prepared roasted tomatoes and mushrooms as well as sunny side up eggs and toasted paninis. Nika later told us that cooking is a newer passion of his. We were glad to have been able to experience his skills. We were in the middle of our breakfast when Nika and her friend Anita (who was visiting as well) and later Reinhold and Michelle (another musician from the jam) came by and joined us, sharing interesting conversations about life, dreams, visions, and ideas. It was very interesting to have a glimpse into each of their lives and to find out, that the struggles and wishes of each person were somehow related and everyone could understand the others in their search for a greater meaning in life.

After breakfast I gave Nika a singing lesson which I enjoyed a lot because I haven’t done that since we moved from Chicago to Germany and I find myself learning so much through teaching. Plus Nika is a very attentive student and a quick learner. It was really fun!

Last, we went walking with Nika and Anita towards the city center of Paderborn. Nika was a great tour guide. She showed us the Pader (a super clean stream that gave Paderborn it’s name. At its springs you could even see thousands of oxygen bubbles reaching the surface which made the water look like it was raining), some of the water wheels along the stream, as well as beautiful gardens, and the Cathedral of Paderborn with a little bee hive in its courtyard and the famous three-rabbit-window. That was also the place where – for some reason – we talked about the Russian version of Winnie the Pooh. It’s a really cute little bear with long claws who likes to sing.

The real attraction though was the little chapel in front of the big cathedral. Reinhold already told us in advance that this chapel has the best acoustics you’ll ever find and it was indeed astounding. Nika and I sang a canon because the echo in this little chapel stayed in the room forever. We stayed in there even longer than in the cathedral because it was fun to try different chants and songs which other visitors seemed to enjoy as well. It’s really a magical place.

Finally we treated ourselves to some ice cream and went back to Reinhold’s and Lasse’s place to get into our car and leave for the concert we had that evening. Our next stop – Horn-Bad Meinberg – was only half an hour away.

Thank you Lennart and the whole FreiWerk team, Reinhold and Lasse, and all the other wonderful students that made this experience awesome for us!

And special thanks to Nika, for this great opportunity, your hospitality, and your friendship! All the best for Musikgeschichten! We’re excited to watch the Paderborn arts community grow!

– L

House Concert in Schmallenberg

The last stop on our mini-tour last weekend was the beautiful town Schmallenberg, in the High Sauerland District. It was our first concert booked through SofaConcerts and apparently the very first house concert for our hosts Bettina and Dietmar. Therefore, it was extra important for us that they have a nice experience.

As soon as we pulled into their driveway Bettina came out to our car and greeted us. She said she was looking forward to our performance all week, which was very flattering to be so highly awaited. Bettina and Dietmar were such amazing hosts and are marvelous people!

We brought our new PA System because we knew that we would play in their garden. Since we only bought it the week before we were really excited for the opportunity to test it. Even though it was raining a bit on our drive from Leipzig the weather in Schmallenberg was warm and sunny and so was the mood. While setting up and sound checking we noticed one of Bettina’s friends (who arrived early) had tears of joy in her eyes. It’s those small signs of appreciation that make the whole performing/touring experience so fulfilling. Driving from one town to another, connecting with kind, generous, interesting people, sharing our music with them, and leaving with a sense of mutual gratitude. What more could a touring musician wish for?

After our very successful concert (which included several encores) we enjoyed a delicious barbecue (with exquisite vegetarian options) and had great conversations with all the guests. It really was a splendid day. As we left, Bettina and Dietmar even gave us a plate of left-overs to take home.

Thank you Bettina and Dietmar! You’ve been excellent hosts and we’re absolutely looking forward to seeing you and your friends again!

– L

House Concert in Leipzig

The idea for our mini-tour last weekend (Erfurt – Leipzig – Schmallenberg) began when Wohnzimmerkonzerte Leipzig booked us to play on Saturday 15th. We discovered them through Facebook, and to make the travel more worthwhile, it only made sense to book a couple shows before/after theirs. Both of us have never been to Leipzig and were thrilled to drive there and get to know the city and the people that live there.

Our hosts were Anja and Maik. Both love to travel – like us – and get to know new people and their music. They host concerts regularly and listen to the music of their former guest musicians whenever possible.

When we arrived, Maik had just come back from the big garden they rent not too far from their home. He brought bags of cherries that he picked from their cherry trees. I’ve only seen that many cherries in a super market!

While we were setting up, Anja and Maik prepared lunch for us and soon the guests started to arrive (and they continued to arrive all throughout the evening 😀 ). Before the concert, we had the opportunity to relax on their beautiful terrace, eat a bit, and get acquainted with several of their guests.

The concert was a huge success! The crowd requested a couple encores which really set a fun vibe for the rest of the evening. At one point Anja and Maik presented their vinyl/record collection which provided the music for the rest of the evening. From Metallica, to Queen, to Peter Gabriel, and Kate Bush. I got to taste the local Leipzig beer Sternburg Export, and of course, lots and lots of cherries. Somebody asked us if we’re “planning on doing this professionally,” which made us laugh a bit because we actually ARE doing this professionally. People often assume we have “a real job” and that music is our hobby. It’s fun to break it to those people that a life as a full-time musician is actually possible, and for us, the best thing ever. We’re living our dream 🙂

The next morning we had breakfast with Anja and Maik (while listening to music from their former house concert artists) and learned a bit more about the amenities of Leipzig. It seems to become more and more attractive to young, creative people that appreciate a little more green in a city. Unfortunately, we didn’t have more time to really see Leipzig since we needed to leave for our next concert. So we said goodbye to Anja and Maik and left their place, but not without a big container of cherries!

Thank you Anja & Maik for your time, hospitality, and your cherries. Hope to see you again soon! 🙂


– L

House Concert in Rotterdam

We just had another wonderful house concert in Rotterdam!

Daniël and Oliver, whom Joe met in 2016 through Couchsurfing, organized a wonderful evening in their beautiful home.

We arrived one day early to spend some time with them, since they became our dear friends in the past three years. Oliver, who loves food and has his own food-blog, made an amazing dinner (vegetarian, just for me 🙂 )!

Roasted Cauliflower, Koussa Moutabbai (pan-roasted zucchini in tahini), a yoghurt-rice dish based on a recipe called Chick Barak, and a vegetable omelet. Super tasty!

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Plus the best dessert Joe ever had 🙂

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The next day – concert day – Oliver and Daniël needed to work in the morning and we had time to set up our instruments and sound check. It’s always exciting to wait for the audience and set up the room so that everyone will be able to see us and have the most pleasant experience.

Finally more and more people arrived. Daniël even posted the event on Couchsurfing, which is why a group of young travelers attended as well. By show time, the living room was packed.

We played two 40 minute sets consisting of our original songs and some covers. Everyone was attentive and engaged and we all had a blast!

You could really tell that our music touched the audience, which lead to super nice conversations about our songwriting and lyrics afterwards. Even the idea of writing our own musical came up.

Thank you Oliver and Daniël for your hospitality and for organizing this fun event! We had a wonderful time at your place and feel grateful to have you as friends!

Here’s a little clip of our experience:

– L