The next night the quartet traveled to beautiful Cerkno, and aside from a man, who sat in the front row and grimaced at us for two sets straight, we had another wonderful evening and a fantastic meal of local food cooked for us, with the chance to see more good friends (Bogdan, Brina, and Bostjan). From there it was back to Austria for a gig in Graz on the 15th, which turned out to be one of the tougher concerts on the tour. The frowning man in Cerkno must have sent his cousin to the show, another guy glared at us for the two sets at the Stockwerk. Of course he was pretty much the only person we could see in the audience since the lights directed at the stage were so bright the rest of the listeners were hidden from sight. Before the concert Ab and I were interviewed by the architect, Michael Habernz, on his radio show where we had a nice dialog about the music and the process of working together.
At this point it was time to head south to Italy for the last series of concerts before heading back to the Netherlands. Our first show was in Udine, where we had the greatest food of the tour. The organizer explained a whole system of growing food and livestock, bartering with other suppliers and exchanging goods that were developed according to old school methods. He explained that “organic food” was nearly impossible at this point, genetic engineering had infiltrated nearly every aspect of farming, but it was possible to utilize traditional methods for healthier and better tasting goods. The lunch we had at his restaurant sold me on the idea completely. Despite being thoroughly exhausted at this point, I needed to get some laundry done after lunch and got directions from the hotel to a coin wash. I found the Laundromat without trouble, but inside there wasn’t anyway place to pay for the machines and no one was working there. A young Italian man watching his clothes dry noticed me stumbling around with a bag of dirty laundry and told me to go to the African shop around the corner, there was a man at the counter who could help me. Incredulously following his direction I found the store, which was filled with about a dozen Africans in heavy discussion. The man at the counter took one look at me and said, “One second, I’ll help you with your laundry.” We left his shop and he got the washer running for me. “Come back in an hour, your clothes will be finishing up in the dryer.” As he walked back to his store I realized that he must be fluent in at least three languages, what was he doing in Udine running a Laundromat? I turned to step out of the door and Wilbert walked in with his bag of dirty clothes and glanced around confusedly, as I must have looked fifteen minutes earlier. “You’re not going believe this, but you need to go around the corner to the African shop…”
On the 17th the band traveled to play in Bologna, which is supposed to be one of the great cities in the world for food. As luck would have it, we were on the edge of town so it was another afternoon of sandwiches and me shooting photographs to kill time. Then to Rome on the 18th still completely, if not more, tired. However, when we got off the train and stepped into the chaos of that city I saw a poster for a Mark Rothko retrospective being held at the Palazzo Delle Esposizioni. Exhaustion be damned, I was going to that museum. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation or maybe it was the complexity of the streets, but within ten minutes of leaving the hotel I was completely lost, so a half hour stroll turned into a two hour march. It was well worth the effort though, what an amazing exhibition- fantastic pieces from every aspect of Rothko’s career. Getting the chance to see his early figurative and biomorphic paintings, and the very late gray work was extraordinary. I went to the sound check with the other guys charged with inspiration. As with all the other shows on this leg of the tour, Ab spoke to the audience in Italian each night, introducing himself as Ab Persico (Baars means the fish, “bass,” in Dutch). Things started off a bit rough for this show, the location of the gig had been changed more or less last minute, and a woman in the audience kept trying to control her laughter throughout the first set. I figured that she’d leave, but like the angry old men in Cerkno and Graz she decided to stick around. In this case, however, it seemed that she actually came to enjoy the music and was listening enthusiastically by the end of the concert. There wasn’t a chance to eat anything before the performance, but the hope was to grab a nice meal afterwards- we were Rome! But it was not to be. After the gig we were lead from one end of the block to the other and back again while it rained, nothing was open so dinner consisted of a piece of stale cake and a beer back at the hotel. Our last concert in Italy took place on the 19th in Porto San Giorgio, a town more or less the opposite of Rome- mountains, quiet, space… A beautiful little venue called the TAM club, some morning coffee in the village, then to a train to Bologna, a plane to Amsterdam and a nightcap at Krom before getting some Netherlands sleep.
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