On the train back from Steyr to Wörden, Othmar tells me we can’t get a taxi from the train station to his house and we’re going to have to walk about 20-25 minutes. It’s not a big deal at all but I ask him why that is. It turns out the taxi driver in town has another appointment and had to drive someone into the city.
This is a one taxi town.
Tonight we’re going to see Harelequin’s Glance at the Museum Gugging. It’s the same place I’m playing tomorrow but tonight we go hear them play. We are the last two shows of the season at the museum. In better weather they have the shows outside but the temperature has dropped below 50 degrees and it’s raining so the shows are inside the Vogel Mann.
What is this Museum Gugging and the Vogel Mann? I’m glad you asked. It used to be a hospital for mentally challenged patients, one of those patients was fond of painting birds and the building that they use for music events is called the Vogel Mann, or Bird Man. (Pronounce the V in Vogel as if it’s a cross between an F and a V) see picture.
Harelequin’s Glance is a fantastic band made up of an acoustic guitar/singer, lead guitar, violin, bass and backing vocals and a drummer. They play with such precision in their parts and even playing this room, which could be easily overpowered by volume, they never do and yet still convey huge dynamics. The in between song banter is hysterical (I’m told) and the breaks between are nearly as long as the songs but no one minds - that’s part of their thing and I’m here for it.
Tomorrow/Today/Yesterday…The next day is Sunday and I’m playing at the Museum in the same space. We get there early to set up. I’m sharing the day with Schneida and the Sundown Ramblers.
Schneida is Othmar’s band and this will be the first time I’ve seen them play, even though I’ve known Othmar and Dylan for years now. They started as a Todd Snider cover band but then started writing their own songs. It’s a two guitar attack with Othmar on the harmonica and singing and I dig them. It’s crazy to go halfway around the world and hear a Townes Van Zant cover but that day was today.
The Sundown Ramblers are one of my buddy Roman’s bands and in this band he plays acoustic, dobro and sings in the band. There’s also a mandolin/singer and rhythm guitar singer as well Geli on upright bass and singing. Her bass playing makes them swing and they all take turns at the mic and the highlight for me was hearing a John Prine song.
I’m using some of Roman’s gear today. Since my Line 6 pedal blew up two nights ago, I borrow a delay, overdrive and volume pedal from him. I think he wants me to break the overdrive for him because the maker of that pedal turned out to be an asshole but I don’t do it. I’m also plugging one of Roman’s homemade telecasters into his homemade amp. I forget what the design of the amp is based on but it’s just got a couple of knobs and sounds perfect to me. The general rule with amps is the fewer the knobs the better the tone.*
My soundcheck takes all of 2 minutes. Make the monitors louder and I’m happy. It’s one of those rooms with everyone listening and just fantastic. I play a few songs and start introducing “Massachusetts” and I hear “I’m from Massachusetts!” What’s that? I’m thrown, the story is out the window. “Where?” “I’m from Quincy.” That’s too crazy. “Well, I have a song for you in a minute.” “Is it Charlie on the MTA?” This lady is in my head!
I play Massachusetts and then I decide to unplug and go play in the middle of the room. I have folks turn their chairs around so we’re all together. I borrow Toni’s mandolin from the Sundown Ramblers (a VERY nice mandolin) and I play Walk Away and Charlie on the MTA (very similar chord structures in those two songs) and as I’m telling the story for Charlie - Ms. Quincy speaks up. “James Michael Curley. And he even won from jail.” Lady, are you doing my bit? Yes, of course JMC. I hadn’t even gotten to that part of the story. It goes over well despite being out of practice playing this one on the mandolin. I even get them singing along the “BULLSHIT!” In the chorus. My Nana would be proud.** We get everyone singing in APB and I sing it to Barbara and change the lyric to stealing yarn as she’s been doing a lot of knitting lately.***
I make some more noise, tell some more stories and finish up after a couple of encores. What an amazing show. I’m beat but feel good.
Tonight I hop in the car with Roman and Barbara and we drive back into Vienna proper and climb the 83 steps up to their apartment. It doesn’t even phase them but after rocking on stage, those stairs add up with a backpack, guitars and bags in tow. Barbara makes pasta and we drink really nice wine and just hang out and play music. The night is so good I don’t wake up until near noon the next day.
“Since it’s almost noon, how do you feel about skipping breakfast and just going to get pizza?”
That’s alright with me. Barbara and I have a running…I don’t know what to call it. I guess I antagonize her about pizza and she is a full on pizza snob.**** I enjoy posting pictures of me making garlic naan pizza and she is the first to tell me “that’s NOT pizza!” Today we are going to her favorite place in Vienna for pizza. There’s a giant pizza oven in the middle of the place that looks like a disco ball. I ask her if they share a pizza or get their own and you would’ve thought I’d asked the most ridiculous question ever. “I never considered sharing my pizza.” She tells me. We are getting three pizzas today. I can’t finish my Magharita mit fungi so Roman finishes mine.
It’s a good walk home from there and it’s something I always appreciate about my time with them - they walk everywhere and I love it. I think I do alright but I do sometimes feel like I slow them down a little.
Roman and I talk a lot of guitars and spin a lot of music. We start talking about 90s rock that we used to listen to and I bring up Green Magnet School. Now, I know you, dear reader, have not heard of Green Magnet School but Roman had their album too. I would be surprised if there were more than 5,000 of those albums in existence. Shit, they didn’t even have a barcode on them. I got mine from David Vernon Swanberry who just gave it to me because he thought I’d like it. Roman knowing Green Magnet School is about as off the wall as that woman mentioning James Michael Curley in the town of Worden, Austria.
I love when the world gets smaller.
It’s a super casual night of listening to music and talking and sharing and I loved every second. Tomorrow I fly to Bremen*****
I wish I had written this right away as I know I’m forgetting stuff but I was too busy living to write it down and really, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
*Oh, but what about my Mesa Boogie Mark IV?? I said what I said.
**Barbara tells me later that she has a patient that loves my version of Charlie on the MTA. How amazing is that?
***She showed me a picture of the sheep that made her yarn.
****If you’re going to be a snob about something, back it up with reasons and a solid foundation of knowledge - this is Barbara and pizza and I love her for it.
*****Or so that’s what I think but I’m getting ahead of myself.