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After my mammoth posting last time, I thought I'd keep this post a little shorter. Our next destination was Asten, in Noord Brabant, Netherlands...to stay with with Ozzy Van Der Loo. We'd never met, but he'd done all the arranging of our gigs and the workshop in Belgium and Southern Holland, so we reckoned he was an on-the-ball sort of guy. We were warmly received by his partner Jolanda, and very shortly afterward Ozzy turned up, and we were introduced to Thomas, their 8 year old son, who had been looking forward to seeing us..our reputation went before us! We offloaded our gear into the house, and as my knees were feeling a bit stiff, so I said I'd like to take a walk before we rested-up, so we took a stroll round the town...very typically Dutch - quiet, neat streets, houses with a blend of traditional and modern features. After dinner at the house, we loaded up the car and drove off with Ozzy giving directions to nearby Eindhoven (having had enough of the vagaries of the Garmin satnav by now)...and headed off for Balls Pool & Snooker Cafe. We spotted it straight away..very smart looking with its neon signs and we parked right outside. It was different to what we'd expected, we'd sort of imagined playing in the pool hall with scowling youths annoyed at us for interrupting their game...but the pool room was in the back, and we would be playing in the small front bar...with its tiny stage right in the main window...Amsterdam whorehouse stylee!
It was all a lot slicker and smarter than I'd expected, we got to work setting up our gear and the PA, and got a quick sound check in before the place started filling up. Thjeu, the owner was obviously a real character..enthusiastic, welcoming and always with a laugh and a smile for everyone, and his partner Marijke was a lovely warm lady...just the sort of people to make you feel right at home.
Opening the evening at Cafe Balls
As per usual, I opened the evening to "warm up" the room,Thjeu did the introductions but in my opinion they crowd didn't need much warming up , and they were pretty enthusiastic right form the start. It was a very busy place, with a packed crowd, and very vocal with their praise. Job done, we took a break, and get Hollowbelly on to do the main event. Thjeu again did the introductions, this time sitting himself behind the drumkit and doing a bit of impromptu tunage on Hollowbelly's harmonica which was rack-mounted onto the microphone stand. Another cracking performance from the main man, although afterwards Hollowbelly said felt he hadn't really connected with the crowd, but from where I was standing connecting with the crowd wasn't an issue, they were all still up for it big time.
Hollowbelly tuning the Pyronator...appropriately bluesy lighting this time...
Doing a live performance is always a personal and emotional event, so I do my best to reassure HB that in the room it sounded great and went over really well....I'm getting the hang of this malarky... support act, driver, guitar tech, personal therapist...next time he says I should tell him not to be such a f*cking prima donna! (or words to that effect). Sales at the Hollowbelly Shop seemed to indicate that he was very well received with Tee shirts and CDs going out to new fans. That's not the only merchandise that shifted. I was asked if my guitars were for sale...so with fistfuls of Euros on offer, I sold a nice Romeo y Julieta CBG, fitted with a JuJu pickup..then 5 minutes later as sold my twin broomhandle baritone SwampBow. All in all, a damn fine evening - so far Ozzy had set us up with two nice venues with enthusiastic audiences....things were looking good. I packed up the gear while Hollowbelly and Ozzy chilled out in the bar, then it was a fond farewell to Cafe Balls and a short steady drive back to Ozzy's house. We chilled out with a little drink, but we had to get off to bed fairly early, as there was a REAL job of work to be done tomorrow..our first workshop in the Netherlands, plus a big evening gig.