Europe Tour Recap #1…
I am finally getting around to recapping my Greg Koch Band tour of Europe that consisted of 19 gigs in 21 days and logged in just a hair under 10,000 km or 6213 miles. We trekked across Germany, Austria, Italy then went back up through Germany to Denmark only to go back down through Germany and finally fly home from Frankfurt. The gigs were, by in large, well attended and well received. CD sales were robust and musically there were some really good moments. We saw some glorious sites and certainly ate some epic meals. I will try to hit on a few of the things that come to mind in retrospect.
First of all, I have to hand it to Delta Airlines and the very helpful flight crews of their aircraft who have adopted a great attitude in helping musicians store their instruments. I had purchased a Fender Custom Shop/Reunion Blues gig bag of doom that can withstand a 4 story drop or some such but I didn’t have to worry about gate checking my bag as the crews were very helpful in finding closet space on all the aircraft we were on. It was actually some fellow passengers that got impatient with the ne’er-do-well musicians who were holding up their boarding and they were heard grumbling and were aghast that we would bring these musical implements on board. Luckily, these crusty travelers were admonished by the crew for rudeness and I did not have to give them my line of “do you download or enjoy music for free on the internet? This is your penance.” I will say that it is a good idea to secure early boarding because I would imagine the flight crew would not have been so pleasant had we been the last ones on board.
Our tour manager, the venerable Klaus Schmidt (who I affectionately refer to as The Great German Beast) is a tour manager and booking agent extraordinaire. Not only does he book all the gigs, drive to all destinations, handle all the money, sell CD’s, help set up and tear down all the gear, load the van, cater to all the needs of the profligate musicians in his charge but also serves as recreation director as well. As a result of these immense responsibilities, a meltdown or two takes place during our travels:-) With three band members who have never toured Europe before, one of them being my 18 year old son (who was playing drums), there is a period of adjustment for all parties to understand their place in this dynamic and to try to maintain sanity while on the brink of exhaustion. Since I was the conduit between all parties, I had to keep the peace while suppressing my own inner Darth Vader who occasionally wants to take the wheel of the Good Ship Koch. No major meltdowns took place and a general sense of good will abounded but I was mentally and physically exhausted upon my arrival home in a way I haven’t experienced before. I must be getting old:)
Personally, I don’t mind traveling and playing almost every day while in Europe. Your day consists of waking up in (by-in-large) a nice hotel in a beautiful spot, rolling down to a delicious little breakfast and consuming glorious European coffee often while viewing a charming vista, traveling in a less than glorious van for seemingly an eternity but viewing more glorious sites and taking in a few up close…from the churches of Salzburg to the heights of the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden to the Coliseum in Verona…then off to the club where they make sure you are fed like a king (Italy wins every time) and outfitted with beverages of your choosing and then you get to play your music for people who can’t wait to see and hear you do it. The next day, you repeat…I dig it!!!
I could probably write a book about any given tour and I entitled this blog, Tour Recap #1 as I may have some follow up thoughts but suffice it to say, the European tours are a lot of work to put together and are exhausting to undertake but I must like it because I’ve been doing it for over a dozen years. I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to do these tours and I hope to be able to continue to see the world while playing my music for as long as I choose to do so!
That’s it for now…
Greg Koch 12/3/13