img_0011.JPGThe truth is, it’s a small miracle we made it to Europe at all. I had been spending a few days in London, visiting my friends Christine, Valentin, and Josh. The morning I had to fly off to Amsterdam, London was blanketed in one of its infamous “freezing fogs.” Hundreds of flights had been grounded out of Heathrow, so I decided to try my luck flying out of Gatwick. I met a man at the airport who had been trying to get to Amsterdam for more than two days. Amazingly I got on a flight and arrived in Amsterdam only a few hours later than scheduled… Meanwhile Ed and Cez-One’s had had to make a 20 minute connection in Philadelphia to get onto their Amsterdam plane. They ran like crazy from one end of the airport to the other, and even convinced one of the transports to give them a ride. Even so, the plane had closed its doors when they arrived, and they had to cajole their way on, angry looks from their fellow passengers and all.

When we all met up in Amsterdam we discovered that Ed and Cez-One’s luggage had not made it onto the plane with them. They were not only missing most of their clothing by my guitar and synth as well. Thankfully, the electronic drums , the bass synth, and the guitar pedals had all been brought on as carry-ons — so we had our essentials. We met up with Freddy, aka Chief Jezus Genius, aka Jefe Chuy Chingon and piled into his Mercedes Sprinter Van — our roving home for the next two and half weeks. Since I had arrived so late, we had no time to dally in Amsterdam, but had to drive straight away to Brussels for the first show.

kultuur1.JPGThe Brussels show was at a sort of student cultural center on the campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the main Dutch-speaking university in Brussels, which has both French and Dutch speaking populations. Freddy had attended this school for many years and had done his civil service work at the cultural center — the Kultuurkaffee — and was also good friends with the guy who runs it, Nicolas. They already knew about our gear situation and had found a student who was willing to loan us a guitar for the night, we set up and soundchecked and ate our first meal of the tour.

kultuurshow.JPGBy 10 or 11 the Kultuurkaffee was beginning to fill up in earnest, and soon enough it was time to play. Things started out miserably — I broke a string within the first minute of playing and had no replacements! We kept on going, but without a b-string and without my synth, I was feeling pretty bummed. In between songs I put out a desperate plea for guitar strings. Soon enough Freddy put a pack of strings next to me on the stage and I did a quick change while Cez-One  and Ed kept a beat going. Now it was on! The room was jam-packed and the response to the music was massive! I yelled out “Ca va Brussels!” and cries of “Ca Va! Ca Va!” echoed back. We played for two hours, and people were still clamoring for an encore. As we left the stage DJ’s started working the room with some nice House and Techno tracks.

We had finished playing and it was time to become acquainted with Belgian beers. Our hosts told us with pride that Belgium has more than a thousand beers and kept suggesting that we try this or that brew. High marks were given to the Westmalle Tripel, a dark, potent brew that was full of flavor. Duvel, a personal favorite of Rich’s from VBC, was also dope. By the time we left it was nearly dawn and Freddy let me drive the van back to his family’s home deep in the Belgian countryside. We awoke to a grey and chilly day in Kasterlee — Freddy’s hometown. Freddy’s father raises horses and both his parents are the kindest, most hospitable people. Cez-One and I walked into the center of town and could see the marks of previous pilgrims: Very Be Careful stickers appeared on stop signs and fence posts.