Euro Tour June 2018: Holland Review

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The gorgeous high-ceilinged café at the Groningen train station has me gaping. Our train leaves in thirty minutes and I am admiring the woodwork, half-moon windows, detailed stained glass and gilded ceilings of this century-plus building. I’m thinking that, finally, despite this being a Starbucks, even with the global saturation of its corporate image, even this mega-brand cannot homogenize the appearance of such a awesome historic place. Close my eyes and I could be in a different century, coffee in hand, smile on face.

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More than a week has sped by and we have completed the Netherlands portion of our tour and above is a picture from our second show at La Sonnerie. The last blog chronicled the first two shows. Three other Holland performances have taken place since then. Let me tell you about them:

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On Wednesday of last week, we were driven to a lovely little back room of a local bar and restaurant in Geldrop in which a folk organization called “Roots I’nt Groen” hosts monthly performances. Walking in, the stained glass dome ceiling took my breath away. We sound-checked seamlessly and then a crowd of interested folks came through the door at precisely 8:30 and we were on the stage by 8:35, performing two sets to folk-hungry listeners eager to hear songs “from Canada via Beijing.”

I have to pause for a moment to bless a listening audience. Even with wine on offer and a busy bar at the back, during the sets these listening audiences are so polite and respectful. Each lyric finds space to hang in the attentive air. The subtle weaving of instruments and voice can finally breathe in a listening space, like linen hanging on a clothesline and dancing in the breeze. And even those words seem inadequate to express my relief and appreciation for a listening crowd. Thank you.

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A break is needed in these performance environments, though, during which people can move around and refresh, and I am only too eager to offer a two-set experience for that very purpose. No one leaves! No one seems satisfied with just a 45-minute experience! It’s fantastic! So, when the show resumes, everyone takes up their original locations and focuses again on the stage. I feel very grateful to be performing again for such kind groups of music appreciators.

So that show was a great success and afterwards, the venue gave us a lovely gift of two bottles of wine that we have yet to enjoy. That’s because our next few days were quite busy with travelling first to Nijmegen (half-way up The Netherlands) and then to Steendam, up north by the German border in Northeastern Holland.

First of all, Nijmegen:

Last year, I played a little venue called The Camelot and met two amazing humans there: Floor & Floris. Two names almost the same, one man and one woman, two people I am proud to call *my* friends despite our limited knowledge of each other. Those two people were the only purposeful attendees to my Camelot show last year (despite it being a busy bar) and they graciously appeared to this year’s show as well. What a treat to see them again. I am so touched that they could come!

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The show in Nijmegen was at a little chapel through Cozy Concert Series that seats a maximum of 40 people and whose glass windows and architecture also blew me away. Maybe stained glass in a chapel is more expected than in a train station café or in the back room of a restaurant, but I am nevertheless stilled by the glow of satiny light through coloured glass no matter where I encounter it; this was no exception. The chapel is also a stop on The Santiago, so our sound check was slightly delayed due to the blessing bestowed on some pilgrims passing by. Of course, after their blessing, they walked away…

(C’mon, that was funny!)

The crowd was a lovely mix that included all ages and nationalities including two people from Canada, one from Mississauga and the other from Montreal. After the show, a small gang of concert goers gathered at Floris’s bar where he is one of the permanent staff (the Deut) and we enjoyed a few more hours of drinks and conversation with such enlightening people who do everything from study brains and the genetics of language, restore social communities to peace through psychology, and design computer chips for automation in cars. Such interesting people we meet!

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[The picture above is from Nijmegen–a funny shoe store downtown that has lost its “S” and is now selling HOES. I couldn’t resist…]

Then, Steendam:

The venue called Peter & Leni’s is run by two people of the same name and was a spot on my November tour last year. Peter and Leni are beautiful humans for whom I have great affection. Peter was gracious enough to pick us up from the train station (and deliver us back to the station the next day—thank you!), and Leni greeted me with a smile and a hug that overflowed with sunshine. They fed and housed us and we left feeling refreshed from their incredible kindness, not to mention the lovely afternoon gig on their warm stage.

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Situated right next to a lovely lake, after our performance I had the joy of taking a run before dinnertime that took me around the water and through some great country villages. I felt like I was floating on the air, my feet flying, and the rare taste of freedom returned to my body—a fleeting feeling for a mother, I must say! Noted and valued fully.

Speaking of being a mother, I have been video chatting with the kids every day and miss them terribly. Their little arms and faces and grins… I can’t wait to be near them again. Only one more week left of time away but a handful of shows yet to perform. As we head into Germany today, I’m heading closer to a reunion with my babies. Next week will be a sweet return to them: my true definition of home.

All in good time. For now, more music.

Germany: here we come!

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