A short trip to Austria

I can’t believe this is my first blog for this year. I had the feeling it had been awhile but I didn’t realise it had been that long.

It’s not like I haven’t been busy or doing stuff. We’ve been very busy since the start of the year, just not gigging. We usually end up doing a lot of ‘donkey-work’ at the start of each year. That can include everything from contacting all the various booking agents to make plans to checking stock to…whatever. It’s all necessary work and as such I don’t even mind doing it/being part of it because it can also be helpful when you look back at your plans later in the year and see if you’re on schedule or not.

Anyway, up to the present moment and I just got back from a short trip to Austria. I haven’t played there all that much over the years so it still feels like a new territory in many ways. The weather was beautiful, which always helps when you’re travelling.

We travelled overnight to get to the first gig in Velden (Bluesiana Rock Cafe). I have played there a few times before but the last time was also a while ago. We stayed in this cute hotel (they had bought it from an Italian couple) and kept a lot of the Italian features – and they had the coffee to match!! Hmm, wonderful. The owners were very kind and they had everything ready for us when we arrived around 11am. We all went straight to bed and slept for most of the afternoon.

The club was only up the road from the hotel, so that was handy. It was great to see Gudrun again. She’s so friendly and has such a passion for music. I was honoured to see she had photos of my first trip up on the wall among all the great artists who’ve played there over the years.

The soundcheck was fun and I was trying out my re-vamped Vox amplifier and recently acquired speaker cabinet to match. They sounded fantastic and I couldn’t wait to play the gig proper on them!

Another great feature of this club is that the DJ plays a fantastic selection of music before and after the gig. I find myself going to him constantly to ask – “who’s this?” I’ve discovered lots of great music via him. At one stage he played a Mama’s Boys track (they’re cousins of mine) so as a joke Suzanne went up to him and asked – “is this Mama’s Boys?” The guy was floored that she knew that!!

The audience is always great there. They are very warm and friendly. It’s a real pleasure to play. I thought the band played really, really good. It had been awhile since I’d played with some of the guys so we had a lot of fun re-visiting some of the songs and taking them into new territory. Having a great guitar sound helped too and we had the most wonderful time jamming and riffing and basically having a ball.

The next day we headed off to Vienna. They had the Vienna marathon that day but luckily enough we arrived after it was finished. We arrived around 3pm and as soundcheck was at 5pm we decided to just hang out in the hotel. It was a really comfortable hotel and then it’s always a pleasure to hang out in the room, watch a little TV, work on the setlist, go through the previous gig in your mind to see if something needs a little work, etc.

The club [Reigen] was really nice and Benny the soundman was on the ball. He mixed from a laptop right in front of the stage and had everything up and running in no time – a good, big solid sound. You just know it’s going to be alright on the night when you meet guys like that. Of course he mixed from the main desk at the back of the hall for the gig.

The Vienna Spring Blues festival runs for practically the whole month of April and they have a lot of great artists on the bill each year. I can imagine the audience is spoiled for choice. We actually had quite a few people who travelled from further afield, including Germany and even Ireland. They had decided to book their trip to coincide with a gig. Cool!!

The gigs were quite early by normal standards so even after everything was packed away and the last CD had been signed, etc. we had the whole night before us. We went back to the hotel and had a few beers in one of the guys rooms. It’s always great to have just played a great gig, have a nice group of guys with you and then just relax when it’s all over and have a laugh and tell various road stories to each other and what-not. We might well have heard some of them before but it’s still fun to hear them again and it just helps to remind you of how much fun you can have travelling around and playing music. You get into some of the weirdest and wackiest situations but in the end those are often the ones you remember the best. Wouldn’t swop it for the world!!

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