Oh man, we really got the blues this time! Car troubles, blizzards, sausages with no mustard, one clown messed with our money, another clown tried to send us to a hotel with no towels, and to top it all off, some drunk kid gone and barfed right on Markus's shoes! Now, that may not be much compared to what the old blues men had to put up with, but it was plenty of hard luck and trouble for us.
We played a couple of great new venues on this tour. The Blues Club Bühler is a great old wine-cellar sort of place in the canton of Appenzell. These folks are said to be the Swissest of all the Swiss. Well, they sure like to party. The local wurst was on the grill, and of the local schnapps we had our fill. Had a very lively crew there, and Werner Gmuender and Brigitt Biedermann took a bunch of great photos. Thanks!
Another new spot for us, the Baronessa in Lenzburg is a great concert club in an old industrial building. We had a wild and wonderful crowd there.
Now we know it's supposed to be cold in Switzerland in the winter, but this was ridiculous! Snow, ice and freezing rain the whole six weeks. One morning it dumped a couple feet of snow just when we had to drive to the next gig. Markus's car (with all the gear) slid off the road in the snow, earning him the yearly Road Warrior Award, the coveted Golden Dog Biscuit! Of course, we took the opportunity to do some skiing and gnarly boarding in Nax, where we encountered some killer pow, dudes.
Our old pal, harmonica champion Bonny B, is now running two blues clubs. It was a great honor to play at the Rock Bottom Blues Club in Yverdon, as club owner Fabienne named it for our old friend and mentor. Rock played over here in Switzerland with Speedy many times back in the day. The new club is another typical intimate Swiss wine cave, with groovy lighting and bluesy portraits on the walls. Rock would definitely have dug it.
On the way to the Bonny B Blues Club in Fribourg, Dave had a little opportunity with one of the cars, got stuck in the middle of a roundabout in the middle of rush hour, and made me and Speedy get out and push. But we weren't late for the gig. Fribourg is local territory for us, so all our buddies came out, Bonny and Ice B played a few licks with us, everybody let their hair down, and we had a natural ball. This is a real musicians' club.
The Bar de la Ferme in Nyon is another home for us. Denys put on a great Swiss meal, as always, with a great selection of local wine. Had a good crowd, saw a few old friends. Speedy and Chuck blew the crowd away with their patented Cajun-style Washboard Showdown (TM).
We always have a rowdy hometown crowd at the Alte Post in Wangen bei Olten. Oh no! What's that sticking up between me and Dave? A minaret? Nope, just another stange!
The Hotel Belle Epoque in Bern is another favorite stop on the grand tour. A classy hotel and an intimate listening room. Not too intimate to do some dancing after a few glasses of wine, though!
The Blues Crew Oberschan is one of our all-time favorites. One of the best and most popular blues clubs in Switzerland, they put on a blues show once a month in season, and have brought all kinds of blue luminaries to this tiny village up in the Alps. They have a wonderful new venue with a big stage, so we spread it out and laid it down.
This was our fourth time here, and we were determined to shoot the moon. Charlie even pulled out the magical red shoes for the occasion. As always, Werner, Donatella and the crew treated us like kings, and we had a full house of rowdy blues lovers. The local paper sent a dude who took some pix, and wrote up a nice concert review the next day.
As usual, we appeared on the Radio Paradiso show on Radio Suisse Romande. Chuck did an interview, and we played a couple of songs (Black Cat Bone and Stagger Home). Pierre Angelo Creczensio filled in on bass.
Hallelujah, clean air! Smoking is now illegal in most Swiss clubs. I'm all for it. In the past, many bars became poisonous gas chambers. But yes, the ban has hurt business. Concert clubs (most of our gigs) don't seem to be affected too much. I guess if people can drive all that way, and pay all those Francs, to hear some original blues, they can handle going without a smoke for an hour at a time. However, more casual gigs, local bar bands and such, already an endangered species over here, are quickly becoming extinct. Sadness.
Dublins was as lively as ever, despite the 'bacco ban. The addicts just huddled in a mass out in the freezing cold, just outside the door. I'd hate to have to clean up that patio in the spring when the snow melts!
At the Brasserie 17 in Interlaken, they've built a shiny new smoking room onto the side of the building. The usual cast of characters kept us entertained.
At the Restaurant Equinoxe, the boss man and a couple customers got up on the tables, took off their clothes and danced for the whole last set. Wheeee!
The last gig of the tour was our second appearance at the Kulturhaus Rosengarten, a quaint little old theater in the lovely Alpine village of Gruesch. After the gig, we sat in the hotel bar and told old show business stories until late in the night.
"Cheers, everybody! See you next time!"