The Billy Shinbone Show

February in Germany

It's quite cold. I've done a lot of driving & haven't had a chance to write until now. I remember these things: In Aachen, when we got to the venue I was given a cup of tea that is, I gather, a local speciality. It's called, roughly translated, Aachener Thinking Tea. Sort of an infusion based cocktail thing with lemongrass & some other stuff. I drank it & the tiny gears of my brain whirred a little & I did indeed think. That might have happened anyway, so I'm not sure I can vouch for its efficacy with any degree of whole-heartedness. In Offenburg, we played in an Irish Pub called Dubliner, run by a Frenchman called Pascal, who loves jazz & has battered white baby grand in the corner for his impromptu flourishes of exotic jazz virtuosity, - we were treated to one. Also of an impromptu nature was our accommodation - we slept at the large & comfortable house of a local girl's (Roberta) family who didn't even see any of the sets that we/I played. (On the slim chance you don't already know, I'm an opening act for & musician in my good friend Nick Parker's amazing band) We were invited in the late night drinking & singing session that followed the planned music. In the morning, we persuaded Roberta's dad to play us some of his amazing Brazilian choro  music on guitar. He was amazing. Then we drove to Kafe Kapillo in Langenau, a suburb of Ulm, in the south. This café is a lovely place to play music. We were treated to a fabulously over the top PA system that catered for every detail of ours & our audience's musical needs. But really what stands out is that every inch of the cafe's interior surface, including floor & ceiling, are covered in owner Dmitri's wild psychedelic folk-art paintings, drawings, doodles & fantasies. He made for us huge plates of Greek salad & sausages (a winning combination) & though I began my set with all the urgency & swagger of a man stuffed full of sausages & feta cheese, the evening ended with the raucous unhinge-ing of musical doors & a hotel with a white plastic cuckoo clock & pictures of little ponies on the toilet paper. For fans of cockney rhyming slang such as myself, this is little short of poetic. More soon.....