Friday, May 21, 2010

Switzerland Tour

While the Icelandic volcano gods were sleeping, resting their firey bellies momentarily, from May 6th to 12th the Red Hook Ramblers slipped over to Switzerland for a quick tour and a successful appearance at the Meilen Jazz Festival (locally known as Meilemer Jazztage). That combination of stealth and luck was our key to a fabulous time while the odds were stacked against us.
Yep, it looked kinda tough from the outset. In Zurich, a number of venues offered us gigs and then went out of business or bailed on us. We then resolved to do heavy busking to drum up cash, but the weather report was full of rain. Additionally, our banjo/piano man, Chris/Ceej/Cujo Johnson could not go with us and our road manager's (Tara's) dear grandmother passed away just a day before our departure. But we kept our chins up, and amazingly, the sun came out blazing.
We owe a lot of thanks to Rolf Schweizer who organized the Meilen festival and took good care of us. He put us up at a mountainside resort overlooking Lake Zurich where we partied with some local yodelers and Coco (Chris Cortier) jammed on didgeridoo. The audiences at the festival were great, and we gave them everything: four hours of hot jazz on Friday and Saturday, plus a parade from the train station to Blumentals restaurant, our main hang. We proudly found our picture in an article in the Zurichsee-Zeitung paper.
From there we moved into downtown Zurich and had our first gig at the zoo. Kids and families loved us (of course!) and the zoo was very, very generous with the food. Yes, the Swiss dig good food, and even the zoo's cafeteria featured gourmet salads, wine, beer, steaks... mmm. I'd gladly live in a cage there.
On Monday we had a burst of luck while busking down by the waterfront. A lovely expat named Penny took a shine to us and connected us with restaurant owners that cater to the Swiss bank crowd.  Thanks a ton, Penny! Give ol' Murphy a pat from us. Also, our wonderful new friend Uli (who had seen us perform in Meilen) found us roaming around and hooked us up at Zurich University for a big party at their geology center. From there, we raced across town and fell into the care of Erik Haemmerli at Old Fashion bar. Erik, we can't thank you enough for your hospitality - wow.
On Tuesday we played again for the university students and then finished the day at Erik's other restaurant, Bederhof.
Thanks so much to Tara Simmons, our road manager who really made this thing happen, and thanks to all the lovely Swiss people that made the trip spectacular.  We hope to see you all again!

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