Montag, 20. Juni 2016

Mäkkelä's tour blog 2016: the big chocolate robbery

I suppose it was a sign. Just about leaving my flat for this tour's first date I flushed the toilet and - bang! - that damn thing is jammed. Even though being not the most caring person I kind of understood it wouldn't have been a good idea to leave the place like this for four weeks. Calling some plumbers, wait for them to arrive, being late, being even more late, calling girlfriend and leaving this all to her (sorry for this) and setting out for a place called Hessenau. Lovely little first gig teaming up with my St Albans friends Grae J Wall & Los Chicos Muertos in a wonderfully bizarre location, middle of nowhere in the backwoods of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Next stop Kassel. Arriving early enough for a cuppa in my favourite cake shop just to realize I forgot my mic stand at home. Made it to a music shop just before closing time to buy a new one. The show turns out to be, let's say, semi successful. They accidentally set the facebook event to "secret". Didn't work out very effectively for promoting the gig. Well, that kind of stuff happens, but still I didn't see the signs. Maybe because it always takes a while to realize a tour is a tour, not a holiday trip. Things got more interesting on day #3 heading north for Copenhagen. This being a pretty long drive I decided to stay the night in Flensburg, Germany right on the Danish border. Air B&B is what we touring lunatics use these days. Basically a good idea if I hadn't lost the main key to the flat about one minute after it was given to me. Excellent. Turned out to cost me EUR 250.- unless I'd return the key before August. Not very likely to happen after all that was still to come. I assume that key is now somewhere in or near Gothenburg/Sweden but more about this later.

But let's move on to day #4. A real highlight on this tour. Still don't know what this has been.
Been driving for about one hour on a nice motorway in Denmark, one of the strongholds of European civilization and sure no country one would associate with being particularly dangerous, when a big black BMW gave me signs, made me slow down and stop on the hard shoulder. "Are they in trouble?", the writer of these lines asked himself, or maybe an unmarked police car? None of this. A youngish person in a cheap blue suit jumps out, approaches my car asking me to turn down the window. Alright, apparently no policeman. A desperate human being as it turns out. "Man, I'm in trouble! Need to get that car to Copenhagen, sell it to some Russians. Running out of petrol, please give me EUR 100.-! You can have my smartphone, my rings, my gold chain, the whole lot!"
It took me a while to convince him there's nothing even close to EUR 100.- as me being a musician on tour not doing very well money wise. Next thing the guy points at the pack of chocolate bars on the passenger seat. "What about the chocolate?" "Sorry????" "I mean the chocolate bars!" "Whatcha talking about?" "For the kids! The chocolate!" This confuses me. A lot. Even more confusing, the guy grabs the pack of chocolate bars, runs off to his car and gone. Both. Big black car and all of my chocolate bars. Didn't even get one of the rings for this. Sad but true. Still wondering what this has been.

Nightbird with coffee. Gothenburg.
But now let's stop whining as we're approaching day #5. My first show with Nightbird on this tour and my first ever in Gothenburg, Sweden. What an adventure.

Met Nightbird, checked into hostel, booked car park in nearby garage rented out by the hostel for SEK 150.-. Good. Drove to venue. Ok, we're pretty early this time, but hey, this place looks kinda very shut down. And not just for now. Good thing is, Nightbird is a multilingual bird, she even speaks Swedish. As also being a pretty clever bird she decides to ring up the promoter what time we may expect the place to open for soundcheck. Turns out to be a smart move. The guy forgot to inform us the venue is closed down for renovation the next couple of weeks from today on. Show cancelled. But: there is an open-mic night in town this very evening, we're told. You guys might get a slot there... After all I don't really mind. Why not. We're screwed anyway. But you must never give in, miracles still happen as we all know.
At Pustervikens Bar, a fantastic bar & concert venue, they wouldn't let us participate in the open mic thing, instead they offer us a proper gig in the bar area, put up a stage & pa, we get fed, all hunky dory. I'm impressed. This place regularly hosts shows of all the big names touring Sweden. Mark Lanegan was here, The Jayhawks and Ian Hunter are coming and now it's Nightbird and Mäkkelä. Seemingly my streak of bad luck has come to an end. Well, let's wait for day #6.

That's me waking up late morning, a happy person with an off-day on tour, taking a stroll to the garage to pick up some clean shirt and a pack from my stash of rolling tobacco.
You might know that kind of moment in life. You're staring at something that's actually there but your brains try to tell you it's not. Just because accepting it's there would make you feel extremely unhappy. It's a good thing for which I like the brains being what they are. Then, after a few seconds time that very brain cautiously would make you figure there's not too much about this you can do but cope with the fact it's really there. Like for instance the sight of the lock of your car door dangling on a lead from the place you've seen it the last time. Which is not exactly the place it should be dangling quite apart from the fact car locks aren't usually dangling anywhere. Obviously the respective lock you're just staring at is not in it's designated position. Next thing your brain would tell you is, this is in fact your car and it looks pretty much like a car someone has broken into. It'll be by that time you realize you might be in trouble and rather check what's left of your belongings...

Counting the losses results in a surprisingly strange selection of nicked items. Two boxes ( ca. 45 copies) of 7" eps "Single Of The Year", limited edition hand numbered, the black sleeve version. Eight packs of rolling tobacco. Six bottles of red wine. A brown leather suitcase without handle containing all I've got to wear on this tour. One black suit, worn out. One old Swedish army jacket. One blue jacket with a lot of badges on and a patch my Slovakian Skate-Folk (that's right, a new genre I just discovered last year down there) friends of Sketord gave me. An inner sole of one of my shoes. A shoulder bag with my Opinel knife in. A carrier bag with old table cloths, books and some kind of charity shop stuff I was planning to drop at my family's cottage in Finland (why on earth this...?). A car adapter for my phone charger. A Finnish mobile phone card. Lemme think... Oh yes, there is still the chance I lost that Flensburg key in my car while leaning over unloading my gear few days ago. In that case this key has possibly found a new home somewhere in Gothenburg.
Interesting also what remained untouched. A brand new quality mic stand. An alu case including a sm58 microphone, all my leads (good quality, expensive ones), all the CDs, all the LPs (apparently they had a look at them as one was taken out of the box and not put back.... well, that's alright, I put it back, good you didn't like it), most of the 7" eps. Hey boys, I might be wrong in this, but I've got a feel if you carry on this way you won't make it big time in your profession. Also they left me some litter. The wrapping of two Swedish chocolate bars. I'm slightly worried about the future of organized crime in Scandinavia after this. They've got some weird chocolate thing going up here.

At least it has been an unexpectedly professional job. No windows smashed, they just drilled open the door lock. Thanks for this. Looking at the positive aspects of this we've got a lot more space in the car now and it does make a lot more sense playing "Light Enough To Travel". There is some comfort in this I suppose. Also the car is still moving and we can continue to Stockholm. I've got a vague feel we do urgently need some sort of turning point on this whole trip. Realistically it's been going downhill so far. A good gig, with some pay and a some merchandise sales might cheer us up.

An important thing to mention here is also my deepest gratitude to all of you out there who reacted on my facebook posts re. this incident. That was a massive wave of helpfulness and support. I've been offered red wine, shirts, jackets, money, you name it! Countless people reposted this, some I know, a lot I never met. All of this highly appreciated! Thanks to all of you for these encouraging messages, posts, mails. May the chocolate gods be with you.

More or less interesting images taken on this tour can be found on the maekkelae facebook page or group.

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