It’s a short walk from the flat to the bus stop to take the 1A into town and then it’s just 17 stops, get off and walk about 500 feet and I’m at the venue for tonight.
I don’t really have a frame of reference or other venue to compare Tjili Pop to.* It’s a small multi level bar. It’s two steps in off the street and then the main room with tables on the left and right with some bench seats on the left and chairs on the right. Further to the right is a narrow dedicated stage area, hanging PA speakers, mixing board all packed in tight. If you walk straight in from the front door you would walk up a couple more steps to the bar and from there you can weave your way either left or right to other adjacent rooms all designed for maximum leisure and hanging out conversing.
It’s really quite unique. The decorations are eclectic as well with a pair of old broken guitars adorning the wall above the stage. There’s a feel of hipster here but more like this place was like this before hipster culture would have appropriated this aesthetic and thus, at some point this place will be out of style with hipsters. Kind of like how wearing a flannel and ripped jeans in 1990 was just what you wore and then it was “Grunge fashion” in 1993 and then in 1999 when you were still wearing flannels and ripped jeans you were not cool again. Kind of like that.
Jacob greets me when I come in and again tonight I am the feature of an open mic. There’s a couple of familiar faces from the show the other night so that’s cool. We do a quick line check, I’m not using any pedals tonight. Keeping it simple.
I’m checking out these bottles of light soda, they are small bottles with fruit on the label, lime, peach, lemon, orange and this guy next to me just starts explaining all the different flavors and which ones he likes and which are good as mixers. I try to pick the orange one but get the peach one instead. They taste kind of like a carbonated version of those frozen treats that came in the long plastic skinny sleeves when we were kids.
There’s a good crowd here and Jacob does a couple of songs to start off the night and I’m paying attention to the chords of his first song and I’m normally pretty adept to just like following along but this song is skipping all the familiar progressions that I’m used to hearing. And I mention this just as an aside of like what music is like here. My ear is being pulled in a different direction from what I’m used to hearing and it’s really refreshing.
I play after him and I launch into it. Folks are digging me and it’s going well. I’m feeling uncomfortable with the sound as the speakers are in front of me and I’m just not feeling it. It sounds great out front but from where I’m standing, it’s a bit unfocused and a lot of this is likely just ME. I’ve been conserving energy all day for tonight and I still feel like I need about an 18 hour nap.
So with a couple of songs left, I unplug. I ask the folks if they’re ok with this and they are into it. I move the mic out of the way and walk down to be in with them in the room and just casually step on a chair and up onto the table in the middle of the room.
Ah, that’s so much better. No PA, just natural room sound. Also I have to really compliment this table as it is really solid and not wobbly at all. As soon as I’m up on the table I see a bunch of phones come out and video and pics being shot. I have to say that I wasn’t getting up on the table as spectacle, it just looked like the best place in the room to sing and strum and I was right.
From there I go around and talk to most everyone in the room and the next act sets up, a dude playing accordion and going from everything from Tom Petty’s “free falling” to the theme from MASH “suicide is painless” and the range is incredible. The rest of the night is just being amazed at all the talent that I just performed for. Roxy shows up after my set and we have a good hang. She asks me if I would be up for backing her up if she sings a couple of songs. Sure, of course. What do you want to play? She says she knows most songs and that’s just an absurd statement but the first two that I suggest she is like “I know those.” And we get up and do completely un-rehearsed, never before performed together versions of “Dreams” and “Tainted Love” and they go over great too. I talk with two sisters for a while, one sister performed and the other is an artist. They moved to Copenhagen from a small village in norther Italy and I love learning about how one sister got into pen and ink dot style art and the other became a singer songwriter. I compliment her chord changes too - as listening she seamlessly went from your regular chords to interesting jazz inversions while never sounding cliche or pretentious.** They just flowed naturally. I talk with another dude that has a great baritone voice and delivery (and plays in drop C tuning) and he asks me about getting nervous before performing and anxiety and all that. When he takes the stage you would never guess that he is nervous but when he sits back down his hands are still shaking. He’s trying to get to the place where he isn’t nervous anymore and that’s just great that he’s working through it.
I chat with some other folks and this was a great first time performing in Copenhagen as I’m encouraged about my next trip here as I’m given leads for and someone wanting to book me shows here as well. I can’t get over how welcoming everyone has been to me.
Saying my goodbyes, we all promise to meet up next time and i walk the 500 feet back to the bus stop and take the 1A back to the flat and a bit of a re-pack of bags so I can travel with them again and before I know it, it’s closing in on 3 am. The 5:30 alarm is gonna sting.
Roxy is meeting me at the central station for a handoff of the apartment keys and she brought a friend for me to meet - her bearded dragon. Yes, she brought a lizard to the train station. I have never patted a lizard before and I kind of can’t believe that I’m doing it at 7 am in Copenhagen’s central station. Roxy is super sweet and she has gifted me a small present for me and Tracy. I give her a hug and say goodbye and board the first of my trains today.
As I sit down a woman with more bags and a much bigger backpack than me sits down next to me and that’s how I first meet Tessa from Netherlands who has been everywhere. Already 6 of the 7 continents and she’s on her way to someplace she’s never been ~ Osnabrück and weirdly, I have been there. We have a fantastic conversation. Beyond explaining things like the country of Suriname and the dish “Surinamese roti met kip” which sounds amazing. Her husband used to work for Amazon, she just got a job as a travel agent (I didn’t know that was still a thing but she’s going to be amazing at it) and how her grandfather was in a Japanese concentration camp after the end of WW2 and wrote a book about it.
I had been planning on sleeping on this part of the trip but before I know it we are rolling into Hamburg.
Tessa and I elbow bump goodbye and I go to my next train, Hamburg to Dortmund and other than a bit of last minute changing of gate, all is easy. From Dortmund, I walk outside, wait about 5 minutes for the RB52 bus to Herdecke and once I get to Herdecke, the bus drops me off a little less than half a mile from the Shakespeare Pubs and I just hoof it the rest of the way.
By the time I get to the Pub, I have been traveling for a little over 11 hours across two countries and about 450 miles. I drop off my bags upstairs in the band room**** The last time I was here, Nathaniel the owner of Shakespeare Pub, didn’t have food. Or maybe he had food but he still went down the street and got me a pizza. So I have it in my misshapen head that he doesn’t have food and I walk down to the city center, find a spot under an umbrella and order some spaghetti and a glass of merlot.
Just as my food is served, the skies open up and it is raining buckets. I am dry under these umbrellas and I actually really enjoy eating outside in the rain. I take a short video. And I sit there and finish my meal and just chill out for a bit before walking back to the pub.
The Shakespeare Pub has a PA system, it’s a couple of speakers on sticks, a small PA, mic stands and cables and it is an easy set up. I’m shocked by the graphic eq settings as I really hope no one was playing with those settings. (Everything from 1K and up is maxed out, if you don’t understand that, just imagine all the high end cutting through your ear drums. ). I dial in a good sound in about 30 seconds and I’m ready to go.
the night started slow but just kept picking up steam but now I must sleep and tell you about a truly fantastic show that is so fresh, my ears are still ringing from it. Part 2 tomorrow.
*Oh and I found out the history of Literaturhaus where I played the other night and how at one point it was, and I’m going to get some of this wrong but, it was a church that was purchased by a couple who turned it into some kind of “sexual church”? Where parties would be held and…really, my brain kind of couldn’t comprehend anymore.
**Yes, chords can sound pretentious. And me stating that a chord is pretentious is bordering on me being the arbiter of cool and what’s acceptable and I don’t care. It happens, it’s a thing.
****The band room used to just have a comfy couch to sleep on but now there’s two single beds up here, a bathroom, a big screen tv and so many books.