from the back of a bicycle, from the window of a train

Just a short note today, folks - no marathon-length blog for me. I have a few more things to do today in Den Haag (The Hague) before I head to Haarlem for tonight's show with Eva.

Where to pick up? Much has happened since we parted ways after the Arnhem Fire Alarm Extravaganza 2007. I headed the next day to Groningen, a lovely town in the far north-east of the Netherlands. I had two shows there - Cafe Roezemoes and Cafe Marleen - and each was fun in their own way. Cafe Marleen was, at least on that night, a true listening room - Alex and I played for a very captive audience that even included two songwriters from Baltimore who I know from Indiegrrl. Can the world shrink any further? I met some great people - Klaas, who mentioned in the last blog, took some excellent photos at our first gig. We met Curtis, a guy from Wisconsin who has been living in the Netherlands for about 25 years and who has hitchhiked his way across most of North America and parts of Europe. Very interesting fellow who was also kind enough to give us a lift back to the hotel after the show. I met some of my MySpace friends in person, which is always entertaining - actually, I've met a lot of my Dutch Myspace friends. They are very good at actually coming to the show when they say they will - major Dutch up, that one.

After Saturday & Sunday in Groningen, Alex and I were going to head to Heerlen (in the far south of Nederland) for our show Monday night. We were supposed to meet at the train station but I missed the train due to the line outside of the shower that morning. Walking to the station I struck up a conversation with a guy from the Congo (well, he struck it up with me) and I yet again found myself talking to a foreigner who loved living in the Netherlands. His English was rudimentary at best but the main thing I understood was his extreme joy at being here, even after 8 years. He just kept saying what a great country it was - how free.

Anyhow, Alex and I played train tag all day long, trying to find each other at the Zwolle and Nijmegen stations and finally succeeding in Venlo, where we hopped back on the train for the last leg to Heerlen (it really is in the very far south). The whole journey took about 6 hours, but we were rewarded that night with a fantastic and unexpected show. We played at an Italian restaurant called Il Paradiso di Angelo. Angelo is a Dutch-Italian who plays accordion and guitar and many other things, and he has a son, Gino, who was there that night. He had brought his cahon, which is a wooden percussion instrument, and about halfway through the show, he asked if he could join us on stage. It was fantastically fun - Alex on violin, mandolin, and bass, and Gino on percussion, and wham, I had myself a Dutch band (Vanessa Peters and the Appeltaarts?). I think I'm actually going to start a new band in every country I visit, just collecting musicians here and there. It's more fun that way.

The crowd was small that night but amazingly appreciative (thanks to Elsbeth and Bianca for cleaning out my CD inventory for the night!!) and we invited Gino to come play with us the next night in Tilburg, and then we ran out of the venue and caught the last train to Venlo, where we were staying for the night. I stayed with Hans Peeters (!) and his girlfriend Mariet, and their three lovely cats. They were great hosts, as seems to be the trend here. The next day dawned sunny (I know, I could hardly believe it), and Alex took me on a tour of Venlo, his home-town. For the first time ever, I was actually a bike passenger, and once I got used to it, it was really fun - I actually took some hilarious pictures from the back of the bike that I will post as soon as I can.

On Tuesday night we were in Tilburg at a place called Little Devil that is normally a hard-rock/metal venue but that once a month does a singer/songwriter night, organized by a very nice songwriter named Gerton:
Gino joined us on stage again and I really, really wish we had had a way to record the show - Gerton was able to catch a bit of one song before my memory card was full on my camera, but it would have been nice if we could have captured the moment. Sigh. So many lovely moments often go uncaptured. In any case, I have a feeling we will all play together again - our Holland Reunion tour can't be far away...

Wednesday I met up with Eva at long last - I feel like I know Eva very well, because we've been emailing for 6 months. She's the one that helped me get this tour started, along with Alex and Marco and Hugo (thank you thank you to everyone). I kind of feel like she's my Dutch twin, actually. She's great fun to talk to and she has a lovely dog, Pika, who sings quite nicely. We all hung out yesterday and I made pasta and it was wonderful to have a day off. I got caugth up a bit on some sleep and now I am ready to head out again into the great big world....and so here I go... I am headed to a couple of museums in Den Haag, and then on to Haarlem, which I have heard is quite lovely. Right now my only requirement for lovely is a clear blue sky. What do you think the odds are?

love and vlaamse frites,

ps - i did it! i broke through the barrier and wrote a few new songs - maybe i'll try them out this week with my remaining Dutch shows? very exciting.

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