Night is supposed to be dark. It's funny how a grey day works on your mood, and as soon as it gets darker, the fog lifts. Yes, there are grey days here in Italia and that, combined with a condition I have dubbed Mussolini's Revenge, finds us a dispirited bunch. Even though we are blocks from the Adriatic Sea, nobody bothers to make the trek. Kurt, who has been known to eat, has sworn off for today.
I will celebrate 25 years of marriage with a 6:30 breakfast call and an eight-hour drive up to Munich. I have a tolerant, understanding and wonderful wife, and it goes without saying I lucked out. All in all, I'd like to fly home for a day to celebrate, but my private plane is in the shop.
We'll be dropping Ricardo, our man in Italy, at the train station in Bologna. I'm hoping the sun makes an appearance for that because when you combine the two, it has to be spectacular. Then the long haul to Munich. We'll arrive in the middle of Oktoberfest, a pagan festival that sounds like it stops just short of human sacrifice. We will not get to experience that, as we then have another long drive. I'm not much of a pagan, anyway.
I could blog about what goes on in the van because that's where we spend most of the time we're not sleeping or playing. That would be the world's worst blog. It is worth a sentence or two, though. Everyone is on their best behavior, and it's a relief to not have any psycho drama. Greg, Kurt and I are beyond that, and Dylan is a happy camper.
The thing that brightens the long haul is called Auto Cafe. My friend Greg Trooper had described touring in Italy, and he made special mention of these ingenious places. The first one we went into had food everywhere, none of it fast or corporate. And wine. I know; it's crazy!
The worst thing I saw in there was a packaged sandwich. Since it looked relatively safe and cheap, I picked it up. It was fresh, not soggy at all and delicious. The bread was whole wheat, and I couldn't believe it had just come out of plastic. Good lord, America, I'm begging you ... become Italian!
Tonight, we play at another music store. It seems to be real up and down with the gigs. The Italians, for all the comic depictions, are really very reserved and polite. A little too much. The secret is to have the stage as close to them as possible, like it was last night. Then the connection is made, energy flows to the stage and heavy fog lifts once more. Let's hope we can end this part of the tour on a high point, minus our friend Mussolini.
The road to Munich
Long drive from the Adriatic coast to Munchen, as the locals call it. This gets me thinking, why do we call it Munich? The people of that town and others that get Americanized know what the name of their city is, and how to both spell and pronounce it. Isn't it a bit presumptive of us to rename it? And who decides what the Anglo version of any foreign city is? I'm assuming it was done long ago by men in powdered wigs who thought they knew better.
Anyway, the drive is a long brake-stabber, as Klaus The Competent drives the Sprinter as if it is a sports car, right up to the next bumper to let people know you want to pass. For some reason, no one thinks twice about it. People here are used to closeness in a way that's, well ... just not American. I try to go with the flow and trust that he knows what he's doing, but he has already backed into someone and had a bilingual exchange of insurance info.
Last night was the best of the three music store gigs. This is what Greg does for a living, so we just sit back and let him ride. The songs we wrote together seem to be going over well, and getting to sing them in beautiful settings is a kick. But I realize whatever I'm singing about is making no sense to a large portion of the audience. All that work turning phrases on my phrase-turning machine trying to be clever goes for naught, or close to naught.
Passing through the Alps now and reveling in the majesty. It will be a long pass through. Many kilometers, low hanging gloom clouds and the 6:15 wake up call after a close-to-sleepless night don't help. It is starting to make me road-drowsy. So maybe a nap, which I know will be interrupted by the artistic brake-stabbing of Klaus. I will think of it as anxiety training, an opportunity to be less Barney Fife and more Andy Taylor (I realize this is the wrong place for Mayberry references, but like I said ... drowsy).
More later from Munich, where we will probably miss Oktoberfest ...
Gramma's B&B with a saint I don't know out front and chilly weather the heating system doesn't want to acknowledge: That's the way to finish an eight hour drive that started in the early morning. Oh yeah, let me add this: no Internet.
My struggling, apparently low blood sugar self is brought around with a dinner of pasta and pork. Yes, we're back in Germany, and a couple stops down is the place that perfected it. You'd think that would make it easy to learn. Especially with the Internet. In most places.
Ten minutes to show time in a country Biergarten. They must have stolen a page out of Milwaukee's playbook. Across the street, I swear there's another cornfield. Our influence is spreading. Now if they can just get the names of their towns right.