The talented ladies of Della Mae (would that be Della Maes or Dellas Mae?) have been providing a travelogue of their European tour here at Bluegrass Today. This final installment comes from guitarist/vocalist Celia Woodsmith.
We tried reindeer, fresh salmon and pickled herring, gorged on Belgian waffles, Swiss chocolate and Jagerschnitzel. We braved the Tube strike in London, crossed the Rhine in a wooden canoe and practiced saying “Hello” and “Cheers!” in at least five different languages. Our sound man Tim learned how to drive a stick shift in a 20 Foot Mercedes Sprinter….on the Audubon in Germany (where, if you aren’t aware, there is no speed limit).
As if that weren’t enough, to wrap up the tour we flew from Helsinki to Chicago by way of Berlin, and immediately hit the road for a show with the Steep Canyon Rangers in Terra Haute, Indiana. 7 hour jet lag didn’t slow us down a bit then, but if you need to reach me now I’ll be sleeping for the rest of our vacation….
Simply put; what an incredible tour. Not one show was under attended, and we even had a couple of ‘Della Heads’ come to 5 concerts throughout Switzerland, Germany and Denmark! We even managed to convince a young man from Switzerland to be our Merchandise Manager for 8 of our 13 dates. Matthias jumped in the van with only the clothes on his back. Perhaps there is a lesson that we could learn from his intrepid manner; when an adventure presents itself…jump on board!
The ever impressive Euro audiences surprised us by attending our shows even if they hadn’t heard us before or seen us live. YouTube seemed to be a major player in our marketing along with those who had heard our records or appearances on radio shows. The interest in experiencing live music was strong in all the countries we visited. Any day of the week, there were people packing into the theaters and clubs making time in their lives to experience art.
Most touching for us were the several groups of young musicians we had the chance to connect with at various concerts. A group of young men playing country in Ballerup, Denmark, a young woman singing Bob Wills in Buhl, Germany, a traditional bluegrass band in Oslo, Norway and old time musicians who had been to Grey Fox ’11 in Aarhus, Denmark.
The wealth of young musicians playing traditional bluegrass songs runs strong throughout Europe. When picking with musicians in Oslo we easily played such traditional tunes as Molly and Tenbrooks and Don’t That Road Look Rough and Rocky with full harmony!
American culture in general had a special place in one of our last shows on the tour. After visiting the House of Blues in Boston, MA 15 years ago the owner, Henri, decided to open a venue in Isernhagen, Germany called The Blues Garage. With a huge statue of liberty to our left, and a Cadillac hood as the centerpiece of the stage, American kitsch decorated the whole venue. Henri obviously had a special love for American culture, and named the hotel connected to the venue Motel California. What a trip!
The final days of the tour were spent in Finland, where we played a show at the Savoy Theatre in downtown Helsinki. It was there we had two whole days off and were able to enjoy what the city had to offer. We indulged in a traditional sauna (pronounced Saow-na), and managed to experience the old and beautiful parts of the city, most notably a perfect sunset in the city’s tallest tower.
As the tour came to a close I realized I felt bittersweet about leaving behind such invigorating experiences. One of our most precious memories from the tour was coming out for a third encore in Rubigen, Switzerland and playing more songs in the middle of the audience while they joined hands and danced around us. A show like that happens only once in a while, and when it does we remember all the reasons why we love living a troubadour’s life.
Della Mae has never before delved into Europe like we did in the last three weeks; driving ourselves, finding our way and forging ahead in our first ever headlining tour. If all goes to plan this was the stepping stone that will start us off on a long and fruitful relationship with Europe’s many countries and exuberant people. I can’t wait to see what the next Euro tour holds!
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