Joe and I recently found ourselves stranded at the main station in Berlin. At 4am with a two hour layover, we decided it was a good opportunity to discuss some of the things we’ve dealt with the past few months as well as the plans we’re making for the months to come.
On July 13th we played in Klein Schneen which is a small village in the municipality Friedland. When we left Ninas apartment in Bielefeld we knew that we would only need two hours to Klein Schneen and that there will be some time before our hosts were expecting us. So we stopped in Kassel on the way and had a second breakfast in a little café and did a bit of computer work.
When we arrived at our hosts Annette and Christian, we saw that their front yard was a bee paradise. So many different, beautiful flowers! We went to the front door and found the most peculiar door bell. We had to turn a little key which would ring (similar to a bike bell) inside the house. It was the kind of bell you would expect with a 300 year old timbered house like this one. When no one answered the door, we had the idea to check the back yard of the house. Since this concert would take place outside (not open air because of the weather forecast but in a roofed area in the garden) we knew there had to be a back yard. We walked around the block to find a garage with a poster advertising our concert. Even our new logo was on it! This had to be the right place. When we entered the back yard the most beautiful oasis opened up in front of us with flowers, bees, butterflies, trees, and plenty of little cute sitting areas. When we discovered the performing area we suddenly heard Annette and Christian talking. They were in the garden preparing for the concert which was why they didn’t hear us ringing the door bell. They said we could park in front of their garage (in which they had their own VW bus just like ours!). So we went back to Elliot and reparked.
While we were setting up in the nicely decorated performing area, Annette and Christian prepared lunch. We ate the BEST lasagne Joe has ever had and I foolishly declared to finish the whole bowl of dessert by the end of the day (which I couldn’t). We also ate a salad made from freshly picked lettuce from their garden. It was just the perfect lunch but we had to hold ourselves back. You can’t sing if your stomach is too full.
Annette and Christian are wonderful free spirits. We could relate to them in so many ways. How they see life, how they manage their daily life basically as freelancers, and their love for nature and their garden. For me they live in a little paradise. Also because the whole area is in the countryside without being completely off the grid. One of their neighbors has two rams in his garden and another has sheep. It’s a very calm and down-to-earth area.
We couldn’t really be surprised (and still we were) about the loveliness of the audience that arrived that evening. Even though Annette and Christian only invited a few people (with an invitation letter and the permission to bring other people that might be interested) it seemed almost the whole village attended. Two elderly women couldn’t come because they were invited to a birthday party that same evening. But they prepared a special dessert and sent a donation for us. On the envelope it simply said “to the musicians”. It was the sweetest thing that happened to us this tour! We could tell how our concert was a big event in the village and everyone was so excited to come and be part of it. They were super appreciative and interested. It warmed our hearts.
Another observation we made that was very refreshing to see: There were around 10 kids in the audience from the age of not even 1 to 15 years old and none of them were playing with any electronic devices. They were focused on the concert the whole time (even though all our music is in English and they probably didn’t understand everything). We were impressed. It seems so healthy for kids to grow up in a smaller town where there’s space to run around with less distraction from technology and social pressure to look or act a certain way. Some of them even came after the concert to ask for autographs. The whole concert experience was just awesome!
After the concert we devoured the leftovers of Annette’s delicious lasagna and there was still some of the dessert left (that I had promised to finish). Eventually we had to take it with us in a plastic container, but at least I tried 😉
In the evening, Annette and Christian’s garden turned into a romantic fairyland with little lights and candles everywhere. We talked to some of the guests who were all very open minded and interested in our story. They told us that Annette and Christian are their role models when it comes to living a free and independent life. That was exactly the impression we had from Annette and Christian as well.
Unfortunately we didn’t have much time the next morning because we had to be in Bad Salzuflen by 1pm. Annette offered to show us around in the village but we had to leave too soon. But there was time for a nice breakfast with Annette and Christian in the very place we performed the night before. The family from next door stopped by and gave us a basket of freshly picked berries from their garden. What a wonderful and kind gift! We discovered that Christian likes to work with wood and saw some of his carvings all around the property. We also learned that Annette makes pottery. When we left she gave us two beautiful pots (also to eat the dessert we took with us 😀 )! What warm, wonderful, kind, sweet people they both are!
Thank you Annette and Christian! We had an amazing time with you and look forward to seeing you again soon! All the best for you!
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!
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!
Our next stop after Paderborn was Horn-Bad Meinberg. This little village is the home of Andrea’s Glücksmasche, a shop for knitting supplies. The special thing about this store is that next door the owners Andrea and Ingo opened a café where they host workshops, book readings, and concerts. We got in contact with Ingo through a webpage called SofaConcerts. We wrote him a message asking if he might have an open spot for us this year. He later admitted that they were fully booked until 2021 but wanted to host us so badly that they delayed their summer break for one week to be able to host us beforehand. We really, really appreciated this opportunity. Especially because it was the first gig of this tour that we secured. Once that gig was fixed we booked others around it. So thank you Ingo for giving us a starting point!
The first thing Ingo did was offer us some coffee and drinks while he was transporting the tables from the café into the shop next door. It was nice to have a little chat with him and a moment to relax after the drive. It was a nice calm welcome for us. When we arrived we could park right in front of the café which was perfect for bringing in all our instruments. While Ingo was facing all the chairs towards the big window of the café we set up our instruments right in front of it. The café holds around 30 people and 25 seats were already reserved for the evening so in the end we played a sold out show. The audience was from Paderborn, Bielefeld, Detmold and Horn-Bad Meinberg. Some of them come regularly while others came for the first time. But all were very excited and supportive. It was a very positive and fun vibe.
After the concert we drove to Andrea’s and Ingo’s place in Detmold which was only 10 minutes away. Unfortunately, Andrea could not attend the concert because she had another meeting. But after eating her wonderful ratatouille for dinner and having some great conversation, we offered to play some songs for her. They have an old piano in their living room since their daughter used to play (she is now a very talented fashion designer. They showed us a few pictures of her collection and we were stunned). Joe had the idea and brought his guitar and trumpet and we played a few songs for Andrea. She was so happy to have gotten the chance to hear us after all, and we were more than happy to play for her. Both Ingo and Andrea are such kind, warm people. We really appreciated their hospitality.
The next day Andrea needed to leave early to Dortmund to pick out new fabric for the store. Some people might consider this work but Andrea was looking forward to it. She really enjoys working in her little shop. It’s not common to meet people that love their work so we were very happy for her for finding her passion and being able to live it. Ingo took the day off to show us around Detmold and invited us for a little drink at the market place in the city center. Shortly after, it was time to leave for our next concert in Bielefeld, 45 minutes away.
Thank you Andrea and Ingo, for this wonderful opportunity and your generous efforts. We really appreciate it and are looking forward to seeing you in two years for Ingo’s Birthday Concert!
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!
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!
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! 🙂
Last Friday we performed in Erfurt-Germany for our hosts Tanja and Tony. They welcomed us into their beautiful home that they share with their cute tortoise, Egon 🙂
Right when we arrived they greeted us with such kindness and we knew it would be an awesome experience. While setting up our instruments and eating some of their delicious appetizers, we were able to get properly acquainted with Tanja and Tony.
Their guests were very friendly and attentive. One of the guests brought her very cute dog, Alma, who checked on me while I was playing the Cajon, because she didn’t recognize this unusual sound.
What made the occasion extra special, was that we not only shared our music, but also got to make music with them. After the concert, we taught Tanja and her friend how to play some chords on the ukulele and the Blues-scale on the piano. We also had great conversation and got to know a bunch of wonderful people.
The next morning Tanja gave us an excellent tour through Erfurt. We were lucky because during that weekend they celebrated the Krämerbrückenfest. The whole city was filled with good food, medieval dressed actors, and music. Tanja showed us the best ice cream in town and they even had some vegan options which I loved! It was so nice to spend extra time with Tanja and look around Erfurt. In addition she was helpful with suggesting other local venues we could perform at. She would make a great booking-agent! 😉
Thank you Tanja and Tony for this amazing experience! We look forward to seeing you again 🙂
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!
Plus the best dessert Joe ever had 🙂
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!