TOUR DIARY: Windmills and Wild Boar

Greetings from Mainz, Germany, birthplace of the printing press! I woke up this morning in Utrecht, Netherlands and joined Matthijs, the promoter of last night's show, for some tea and coffee at The Village, a great local cafe. Matthijs runs a great Dutch website called Onder Invloed, or The Influences, and my performance of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" for his series back in January helped spark the charity EP idea: At The Village, they were playing Courtney Marie Andrews on the stereo, and on our way out we ran into the great Norwegian singer/songwriter Siv Jakobsen and her tour manager. Utrecht is definitely an artist friendly town, and I'd love to spend more time there. Today was an off day, so I decided to take the scenic route and drive through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. It's all twists and turns hugging the riverbank as it cuts through mountains covered in vineyards and autumn leaves. Every few miles, you pass the ruins of a castle up on a bluff and then enter into a small town straight out of a children's fairy tale. All the while, dozens and dozens of sleek electric trains glide north and south on both sides of the Rhine as massive barges and ferries work their way through the current. As the sun set, everything turned a beautiful, warm golden color. Once night fell, I pulled over for dinner at the Hotel Unter den Linden, a gorgeous old building right across the river from the spectacular Rheinstein Castle, which is lit up with floodlights at night. American forces occupied the hotel near the end of WWII and turned it into an officer's club, and after the war, a German Olympian from the 30's bought it and reopened it to the public. Today it's still owned by his family, and I enjoyed a delicious dinner of local wild boar and mushrooms while I watched the lights of passenger trains whisk through the darkness below the castle.

Yesterday was my first headline show in Utrecht, and it was so much fun. I played an intimate club called Cafe de Stad, and a local artist named Maurits Westerik opened with a great set. The place was full, and the audience was warm and attentive, which is all you can ever ask for a solo show. It's always cool to have folks singing along and requesting songs, but there's something particularly crazy to me about it happening in a foreign country. Those are moments I definitely don't take for granted.

Before the show, I paid a visit to Kinderdijk, an area just outside Rotterdam famous for its massive 18th century windmills. I could have spent a whole day walking the trails there, but the gig in Utrecht was an early one, so I'll just have to come back again next time.

Time to sign off for the night here. I've got another early morning tomorrow as I finish off the drive to Munich for my first ever show there!

Anthony D'Amato