This post is a contribution from Grant Gordy, guitarist 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.
To start off, I had a fantastic welcome to London before the tour began – I came early and spent a couple days hanging with Ben, crashing at his apartment in Hackney. Went straight from the airport to meet Ben at a gig he was playing, and sat in on the whole thing with him on bass and a burning telecaster player named Rob. It made for a long travel day, having flown from NYC, but an incredible reception to England and welcome start to the trip.
The next night, after working on our material together all day, we headed over to Shoreditch, a funky, artsy neighborhood that reminded me of parts of Brooklyn. Ben had caught word of a party/jam session being held after hours at a cafe called Bacon Street, and we joined a group of mostly young, hip Londoners who played music of all kinds and welcomed us warmly into the fray. We jammed along to jazz standards, original songs, fiddle tunes and even some Brazilian stuff slipped into the mix. It was a delightful evening and I felt like I was getting a true insider’s view into the arts scene in London, thanks to Ben.
Jumping ahead here to after our gig at the Gulpener Festival in Utrecht, which I believe Ben covered: Fields of bright yellow canola flowers and windmills accompanied us all along the countryside of Holland and into Germany – blazing yellow strips and fields illuminated the view as we ticked off the kilometers, up past Hamburg (which always makes me think of the Beatles, of course) and then past Lübeck and over the bridge to Fehmarn, one of the places where Germany touches the Baltic Sea.
We didn’t exactly research the route too well, and were a little shocked upon our arrival to the ferry terminal when we were told it was 100 Euros to get the ferry into Denmark. Whoops! Nice ride though – we got an opportunity to stretch our legs, toss Joe’s frisbee and get some Euro-cafeteria-style ferry food.
Driving through the southernmost part of Denmark, up towards Copenhagen, I was hit by the peacefulness of the surroundings, and the relative starkness of the countryside. Green fields dotted with the occasional farm or square house with pointed roof. The sun was setting, and I’d sometimes catch a glimpse of a silhouette of an old style windmill against the dark pink and deepening dark blue backdrop; the nearly ubiquitous band of glowing golden yellow following us around at ground level.
In the car we practiced a 3-part harmony on the chorus of Joe’s song, There But for Fortune, a pensive but earnest, beautiful waltz.
Joe and I walked around Copenhagen on the day of the gig, wandering from our hotel in the Indre By district in the center of the city. We visited the Rundetårn, which is literally “Round Tower,” from the top of which there’s a lovely view of the city, and a peaceful break from the bustle of all the commercialism below.
That night we hit at Cafe Bartof, and played our 2nd official gig of the tour, to a surprisingly packed room of enthusiastic Danes. Huge shoutout to our pal Rick Hauchman, who found us a gig in the city and motivated folks to fill so many seats! They appreciated our moments of more traditional-style bluegrass, but also seemed to dig the other influences we bring to the table as well. Copenhagen is a huge jazz loving city, so I wasn’t worried that people would be expecting too much traditionalism from us.
Yesterday found us on the road pretty much all day, pulling here into Cologne around 10:00 p.m. Incredibly excited to get out of the car, we were warmly welcomed by our hosts in town Pit Lenz and Joon Laukamp, who led us to a nearby traditional German restaurant that was thankfully open somewhat late. I discovered that there is indeed such a thing as vegetarian schnitzel!
A note about the music: it’s so great to reconnect with Bobby Britt, whom I met in Colorado at least 12 or 13 years ago during my time living there and his years with Open Road. After that we would occasionally see each other at the odd festival or something when I was with the David Grisman Quintet, but Bobby and I mostly hadn’t been in touch. He’s a joy to hang with, his playing is better than ever and he is devouring all the repertoire that we’ve brought in. I have some new, somewhat challenging instrumental pieces that I’ve brought to the tour and all three of these guys are nailing all of it, and bringing fantastic material of their own. What a pleasure.
So long for now, Grant.