This post is a contribution from Ben Somers, bassist with a new Transatlantic bluegrass experiment, currently on tour in Europe called The Peregrines. The guys will be sending us occasional reports as their tour progresses.
The story so far……we left England by train on Wednesday morning by way of The Chunnel, driving the car onto a train. To go underneath the English Channel was fun, but pretty bizarre. We were lucky enough to have a train carriage all to ourselves, which provided us with some nice rehearsal time.
We reached Calais, France around 1:00 p.m. and made our way over to Utrecht in the Netherlands where we began our first engagement of the tour. We arrived at the beautiful De Parel Van Zuilen in time for dinner and a brief planning session before meeting the 25 students we would teach for the next couple of hours.
It turns out there’s a healthy bluegrass, old time and modern acoustic music scene happening in Holland, spearheaded by our friend, the fantastic fiddler, Joost Van Ees. Joost organizes many events in and around Utrecht, including The Gulpener Bluegrass Festival, which we headlined the day after the workshop.
The day of the festival was a perfectly Dutch experience. Held at De Parel, a beautiful old building on the canal, we listened to bluegrass and country music from some of Holland’s finest, ate French Fries drowned in mayonnaise and drank Gulpener beer.
We hit the stage at 9:30 p.m. and were received with warmth. Our 45-minute set included material by all four of us. Considering it was the first gig of the tour and we’d spent the two days in transit practicing wherever we got the chance, (thanks Eurotunnel, how did you know?) it went really well and was a lot of fun; people even bought our CD!
We proceeded to listen to some of the following bands, hang out and eventually jam the night away, a thoroughly great experience.
As I write this from the passenger seat of our Citroen Picasso, Joe is hammering down the autobahn through north Germany to get us in to Copenhagen with enough time to see some of the city. The soundtrack is a mixture of John Scofield, Paul Simon (great article on him in the current issue of The New Yorker), and our friend Ross Martin. We’re looking forward to playing some more new tunes for the folks of Copenhagen tomorrow night at The Bartof Cafe.
“this song I sing has verses yet to come……”