Hanging with my man Antony last night after we played, it struck me I rarely see Macedonians after gigs in Milwaukee. There was also his pal from Croatia and, of course, countless Austrians and a smattering of Germans.
I feel like I'm treading on thin ice here. Would it be as offensive to an Austrian to assume they are German as it would be for me to hear a stranger confuse Milwaukeeans with Minnesotans? Or the ultimate insult: Mick Jagger from the stage of Alpine Valley shouting "Hello Chicago?" I might be the Ugly American, but I am trying in this region of shifty borders to know where I am.
The attractive alpine set we saw last night could easily sneak into Minneapolis and be mistaken for local talent. Waking up in the village of Kufstein has me wracking my brain for new ways to say cute or charming. I feel like I am part of an elaborate model train layout. People dress as if they expect the sequel to "The Sound of Music" to start shooting any minute, and as we head out for Habach and the gig later tonight, it alternates between awe-inspiring Alpine splendor and what seem to be identical adorable (phew, found one last synonym) villages layed out around churches.
We stop at a flea market to inspect the goods. My fantasy of finding some treasure is soon replaced with the revelation that no matter where you are in the world, these things are the last stop before the landfill. The German version features too many knick-knacks, and throws in the occasional pair of liederhosen or other Von Trapp regalia. All of this is worn unironically. Irony itself is thankfully absent from this trip. If anything, clueless Americans are the unwitting entertainment here when they are not wittingly attempting the same with their guitars.
Habach is achieved with a brief stop at a gasthaus for authentic German cuisine. We eat outside with a view of a long, sloping meadow so green, it looks colorized.
When the recommended special – schweinhaxen – arrives, it is the biggest chunk of pork ever put before me. A Matterhorn of meat. Roasted with the skin on and served with a giant ball of potato dumpling swimming in the meaty drippings and a vinegary cabbage salad, it looks like three days food. More of it disappears than I would like to admit, and Kurt and I decide to follow Klaus' instructions and walk the remaining half mile to the gig.
Now if you are going to get lost, this is the bucolic setting to do it in. The biggest threat would be butterflies that look like Walt Disney created them. And, since Klaus' directions turn out to be a little inaccurate, that is exactly what we do. Luckily, Greg doubles back and finds us before we become a matter for the American embassy and leads us back to the venue.
The village we are playing in continues the unbroken string of amazing venues. It is an inn (where we will also stay) in the woods, hidden from the modern world. A stream gurgles as we cross a small bridge, and we are introduced to Dieter, whose small and funky basement club looks like fun. After a short set up and quick mic check, I find my room and a well deserved nap awaits. Not sure what's so tiring about a trip through fairyland to a perfect gig every evening, but a yawn is a yawn and must be attended to.