The Reeperbahn Blues…
This story is also about YOU…
We were touring Europe. One town after another, different venues every night. It is exhausting but I love every bit of touring, meeting new people, seeing new places, and playing music. This summer I was playing with a rock’n’blues band Trainwreck. We were travelling in a caravan, living on the edge, not knowing where we were going to sleep till the last moment (or if we would even sleep at all), not knowing if it was safe or not or when our next meal would be…
This happened in Hamburg’s Reeperbahn street in St Pauli, a red light district and a convergence point for music in Germany where The Beatles cut their teeth as touring musicians. Bright neon lights, music clubs and excitement… I’d never been there before. I only heard about it. As soon as we arrived in Hamburg, the first day, we were dropped off to our cheap hotel, whereas the caravan was parked behind the venue at a different location not too far away. Imagine living in a caravan with four (sometimes six) people – there’s stuff everywhere. It’s really hard to be organised. So I guess I can kind of understand how I left stuff of a lesser value in the caravan. It was such short notice, you know, checking in a cheap hotel, unloading gear, running down to do a sound check. And by then, your mind is on doing a good sound check and making sure everything is working. Touring and living in a caravan, things happen so quickly. You might miss bits. And I did…
We played our gig and it was awesome. Great people. Part, party, party. After that gig we partied on. That was fun. But the next night in the same venue, I remember just before we got on stage, Simon, the owner of the caravan, said to me that it looked like our caravan had been broken into and they really had had a good go at my suitcase. That’s when my heart dropped. Only a few hours earlier I had realised that I had brought my laptop, guitar and bass into the hostel, but had left all of my tour cash in the caravan. Our caravan was parked in a small parking lot behind the venue which I remember the band members jokingly called Heroin Park because they had seen people shooting up there. I just knew straight away that they’d taken all of it. I was silly. I forgot and left it in the caravan, which of course was broken into. It’s a red light district. People are trying to rip people off. So…
I had a lot of money stolen. The money I had earned for the previous months of touring through various countries. A lot of money for paying the band, for my tour flights and getting around. I guess I felt a bit stupid that I let myself been robbed this way. And I also was angry at the druggos, I can only assume the druggos – they are everywhere in Reeperbahn – that’d broken into the car, thrown everything around and found it, as well as my iPhone and my camera. I was angry at myself for being so careless. Suddenly the excitement of the neon lights and the vibrancy of the place was gone and I seemed to notice only junkies and prostitutes in the street. Later, the words of Tom Wait’s song were ringing in my head:
A high dive on a swimming pool
Filled with needles and with fools
The memories are short but the tales are long
When you’re in the Reeperbahn
When you are robbed, you feel dirty, you feel violated. But the worst feeling of all for me was the sense of betrayal that I had. From the stage I’d seen the happy people who had so much fun listening to us, and yet someone had gone and done that. It is a strange feeling when, in a weird and totally unjustified way, for a moment, I was disappointed at them for betraying my trust…? I felt even worth because I even had that moment. So I went back to the hotel, picked up my guitar and quickly poured all that angst and frustration into a song about it. Thank god for music! It came out as an energetic angry riffy tune I call “The Reeperbahn Blues”. And that made me feel better.
But there I was, moneyless and phoneless, in the Reeperbahn, feeling very alone in all of this. And this is when this story starts to be about YOU – my listener.
I discovered that there were people out there who really cared, people who would make sure I was actually ok and take action, not just ask how I was and just move on. They asked with full intent to help even though I would deny it. I am too proud to ask. So they did it on their own. They reached out to YOU, my listeners, through social media and you answered. You wrote posts and shared them, which asked to buy my EP online and pay more for it so it can help me out on the tour. That showed that there are more people out there that I’d thought who actually cared about me. And you did that. I got an amount back that was able to cover the most immediate costs and allowed the tour to go on. I cannot express how grateful I am to YOU for this.
Through that horrible experience I realised that people do care. As a way to thank you I promise that once I record ‘The Reeperbahn Blues’ (it is only a demo at the moment), I will make it available here for you for free. In the mean time here is a video of me plying this song at the NightQuarter.
I look forward to many more sometimes hard, sometimes ugly, always worth while experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hoping that you are part of that journey. Because it is YOU, the listener, who makes all of it matter.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey, click hear to listen to my most recent album, ‘Per Te’.
Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.