Getting to know Bremen

After 3 solid weeks of gigs, I’m in the home stretch with one final show tonight at “Moments” in Bremen.  Nearly every evening has consisted of finding a venue, tracking down some dinner, setting up gear, playing, selling CDs, tearing down gear, and driving home.  The nice thing about having a home base ‘flat’ in Bremen is that each night I’ve had a place to come back to and get a good night’s sleep.  So since I’ve basically been living here for almost a month, I’ve gotten to know the city a little bit.

bikesI’ve taken public transportation nearly every day for the past two weeks.  It’s the first public transportation I’ve used where you pay for and receive your ticket from a machine after you get on the train and just hold onto it (honor system).  I was definitely confused the first time.

I won’t soon forget the greasy (delicious) lamb wraps (called Doner?) from the Turkish-owned kiosks.  One time I ate one and was full for six hours.  That never happens.

I’ve run to the bank to get my change converted to bills, to the post office to send postcards, the electronics store for a SIM card and batteries, and the grocery store for food .  ALDI here has daily fresh baked bread. aldi bread

There’s a touristy area in Bremen called the “Schnoor” and I busked there yesterday afternoon for a couple hours.  A guy stopped and sang the first verse of “Wonderwall” with me.

There are bikes everywhere.  There are bikes in the bike lane, bikes in the street, and bikes in the sidewalk.  Long story short – watch out for bikes.  I’ve met lots of people who don’t own cars and just take the train if they need to travel far.

There’s a strong history of counter-culture in Bremen dating back to the ’70s.  For this reason, graffiti plays a symbolic role in the city and, at least for the most part, is left as-is and not painted over or washed off.  Last night I went downtown with Joe and Boubacar and took a few pictures of graffiti here and there in the winding Viertel neighborhood.

graffiti1 graffiti3 graffiti2

So Bremen, it’s been good getting to know you.

And that’s my 2 cents worth.

2 cents

Doubleheader Sunday – Kulturambulanz and Katakomben

There have been a few days during this tour where we have played two shows in one day.  This past Sunday we played at 1pm in a concert hall inkulturambulanz a park near a Hospital in the Bremen area.  There were around 20 people in attendance and they were very into the music, and also quite generous when we ‘passed the hat’.

Then in the evening we drove about 20 minutes away to a very cool spot in Achim called Katakomben, an underground ‘beer cellar’ as Ollie, the owner, described it.  As soon as I walked in I went full-on shutterbug.  By the time the show started the place was totally packed and everyone had an ‘uber’ great time.

katakomben5 katakomben4 katakomben3 katakomben2 katakomben1 lewis katakombenbuba

And I really knew it was a good show when I broke my pick on “With Your Soul”

pick

Fotos

lewis denul

At De Nul, with the disco skull.

all together

At De Nul Joining JeConte and the Mali All Stars for their last tune.

litfass

Litfass, Bremen.  One of a few bars that still allows smoking in Germany.

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JeConte and Co. at Litfass

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Sil Matadin, bass player and loop station master, from Paris.

boubacar

Boubacar Sidibe, from Mali.  This guy is a textbook savant.  Always humming a tune or coming up with something new on guitar.

full moon

Outside Litfass after the show.  Quiet Monday night in Bremen.

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Last Night’s venue, Hafen Casino, a traditional German pub in Bremen, close to where I’m living.  A good crowd came out for this and they loved the music.

artist

This man was painting the performers.

lewis hafencasino

@ Hafen Casino

Tour in Germany

This past January I got an email from my friend Bryn, “Lewis, give me a call!  do you want to play a tour in Germany this summer?”

This really caught my eye, mostly because I rarely, if ever, get (non-spam) emails from friends asking me if I’d like to play a tour in Germany.  songsandw

I met Bryn when I lived in Chicago, about 5 years ago.  He writes and records great music (check it out!) and had been asked to do this tour in Germany himself, but because of other commitments, was not able to, so he passed the opportunity along to me.

So, after much preparation, all the tickets are purchased, and plans are in place to head to Germany August 13th and do this thing!

Let me try to premeditate what kind of questions you might have about this trip:

Q: “Who organizes this tour?”

A: “Songs & Whispers” a live music and artist development network. It is presenting live music in venues in Bremen, Germany and other places in Europe.

Q: “Is this a paid tour?”

A:  No.  I have to pay my own way to get there and stay there (plane ticket, apartment to stay in, food) but there will be ‘pass-the-hat’ style tip collections at each gig I play which I will get to use to recoup my expenses.  Also I will be able to sell and keep all money from selling my own CDs and other merchandise.  I have been in contact with several other musicians who have already played for Songs and Whispers and they told me that after all was said and done, they were able to make back their expenses plus a little more.

Q: “Are you goint to stay in hostels during the tour?”

A: No.  The musicians rent a flat in Bremen and use it as a ‘home base’ for the duration of the tour.

Q: “How long is this tour?”

A:  From August 17th to September 8th

Q: Is there anyone else on the bill?”

A:  Yes.  Most shows I’ll be playing will be with a band called JeConte and the Mali All-Stars

Q: “Do you speak German”

A:  Very little.  I bought all 3 levels of Rosetta Stone for German a long time ago, studied for a while, forgot about it, and am now picking it back up again, learning how to say things like “Dog” and “Egg” and “Sandwich”, but probably won’t know enough for any practical use.  Just enough to maybe make a couple of German people think I’m cool.

Q: “What songs are you going to play for the shows?”

A:  Songs and Whispers encourages their guests to do mostly original music with a few covers.

Q: “Are you bringing your piano?”

A:  No.  Just my acoustic guitar and a suitcase.

Q: “While you’re in Europe, don’t you think you should see some sites, and visit some people?”

A:  Yes.  After the tour I plan on visiting a friend from college who now lives in the U.K. and then over to Denmark to meet some very distant cousins who my uncle Jim met while doing some family history research online.  I found out about a good place to busk in Copenhagen.  Also it’s the 200th Anniversary of Soren Kierkegaard and I hear there are some cool exhibits on him.

So it’s coming up, just a few more weeks away.  In case you or someone you know happens to live in or near Germany, here are the dates/venues of the shows:

Saturday, August 17th @ Big Buttinsky, Osnabruck, 21:00

Sunday, August 18th @ De Nul, Hengelo, Netherlands, 16:00

Sunday, August 18th @ Lambooijhuis, Hengelo, Netherlands, 20:00

Monday, August 19th, @ Litfass, Bremen, 20:00

Tuesday, August 20th, @ RadioWeserTV, Delmenhorst, 14:30

Tuesday, August 20th, @Hafen Casino, Bremen, 20:00

Wednesday, August 21st, @ Strandgelanda am Weichelsee, Rotenburg, 20:00

Thursday, August 22nd, @ Altes Gymnasium Bremen, 13:30

Thursday, August 22nd, @ Moma-Cafehaus, Worpswede, 20:00

Friday, August 23rd. @ Sonnendeck, Dangast/Varel 20:00

Saturday, August 24th, @ Litfass, Bremen, 14:00

Saturday, August 24th, @ Whiskey Tasting – Summerfest, Bremen

Tuesday, August 27th, @ LOX, Bremen,  20:00

Wednesday, August 28th, @ Strandgelande am Weichelsee, Rotenburg, 20:00

Thursday, August 29th, @Elephantseven, Hamburg, 18:00

Friday, August 30th, @ Altes Amtsgericht, Lilienthal, 15:30 and 20:00

Saturday, August 31st, @ Schwarzer Bar, Wilhelmshaven, 21:00

Sunday, September 1st, @ Kulturambulanz, Bremen 13:00

Sunday, September 1st, @ Katakomben, Achim, 20:00

Monday, September 2nd, @Grusewsky, Emden, 20:00

Wednesday, September 4th, @Radio Jade, Wilhelmshaven, 14:30

Wednesday, September 4th, @ Pumpwerk, Wilhelmshaven, 22:00

Friday, September 6th, @Harlekin Pub, Neuharlingersiel, 20:00

Saturday, September 7th, @ Slatterys, Delmenhorst, 21:30

Sunday, September 8th, @ Club Moments, Bremen, 20:00