Saturday, September 2, 2017. Amsterdam
Here I Amsterdam in good company with my good pal Josh who runs the amazing Dolce Alchemia coffee company. I've been staying with him and enjoying the wonderful aroma of roasted beans and piping hot cups of joe in the mornings.
I've also really been enjoying the rehearsals on the piano downstairs at the ExpoCafe Zamen and also at in the lobby of the Amstel Hotel!
Last night’s gig at Cafe de Pianist was an exercise in professionalism and performance. There was plenty of troubleshooting to be had. But ultimately the punters were having a good time and that’s the main thing right? I had some trouble on a few points, namely the payment arrangement and the venue misspelling my name on the monthly schedule as “Torcha” but.. hey that’s just bad luck right? Or a bad pun haha.
I decided to make the best of it, though it was tricky to perform at a wine bar that is ultimately a venue for local people to come and chat over the BGM music. The piano was against the wall so my back was facing the audience which is always difficult I find. The sound was ok but at one point I had to get the mic turned up. The bartender was young and cute but I was a bit disappointed to not have at least one complimentary drink, but hey that’s just tough right?
My co-performer and cousin Gabriela had voice trouble so she sat in for a few of the songs we rehearsed the night before but I pretty much carried the show. The punters were in a different demographic, mostly Gabriela’s crew. I met a few cool ladies during the intermission and a few people after the show were very appreciative so that was a lovely thing.
I finished up at around 11pm and rounded out the show and bid everyone goodnight and on my bicycle attempted to navigate my way back to the Noord. Got ridiculously lost along the canals but I was ok thanks to my trusty map cache. Amsterdam is a city TO get lost in! I rode over the ferry from Centraal and finally managed to get back home where I promptly collapsed, exhausted.
So today was a day off and Josh and I walked around for the day in the sunshine and we found a neighbourhood street festival that was going on. Talk about an international hood! There were the craft beer bars that were frequented of course, and all sorts of international food stalls. I even found a Japanese sushi stall, and decided to investigate… in spite of being insanely skeptical of sushi joints in countries other than good old Nippon.
To my delight the chef was a Kanagawa man and he and I had a little chat in Nihongo which was great. Suddenly a man with a camera was at my side getting his lens all up in to the stall. Immediately I felt invaded and I think the chef did too. He asked him to stop taking photos. The cameraman immediately got indignant and said he was there to take photos for the festival. I told him he ought to ask permission first (knowing the custom in Japan). He started talking to me in Dutch (owing to my physical features, no doubt) and seemed surprised that I responded in English, and that yes, I was a 東京人 (Tokyo-person). The chef seemed glad I’d spoken up and the photographer backed off but didn't apologise, but hey, the sushi was GOOD. It was quite the intercultural interaction.
Monday, September 3, 2017. Train en route from Amsterdam to Berlin.
Last night’s gig at Cafe Langereis was fantastic. Great fun. Had a ball and got to really flex my own original stuff more last night and I also had Honey (my guitar) to play as well.
The gig was organised by Cindy Peress, an American based in Amsterdam for many moons. She is a singer songwriter herself and a powerhouse to be sure.
Also on the bill was Rowan du Chatenier, an Utrecht gentleman who had the manners and voice of an angel. He sang some beautiful tunes and he and I pretty much just played sets off each other, about three each, on both the piano and guitar.
Cindy got up and sang on a few covers with me “Hallelujah” and “Hotel California” and that went well considering it hadn't even been rehearsed!
My friends had come out to see me at this show and it was great to hang with them on the street table outside. The atmosphere was idyllic with the trams clattering by, live music wafting out from a decidedly friendly and generous venue, and the sultry Amsterdam evening enveloping us in its tepid air.
I was very happy with how this show turned out and it was a great way to round out my performances in this formidable Pirate’s Lair of a town. Now I’m on my way to Deutchsland… Jahwohl!