We’ve been making a lot of music and meeting a lot of people these past couple of weeks. This hasn’t left us a lot of time for getting all of our shout-out videos uploaded. So, here are 6 performances dedicated to 6 wonderful people that helped us out during our IndieGogo campaign!
Tom Alane – This video was taken during our night in Turin. Cheers!
Bonnie Anderson – This performance was from our favorite busking stairwell in Edinburgh.
Andrew Burgdorf – From Queen Mary’s Gardens in London to Buffalo, MN. Here’s to you!
Aaron Lockridge – Taken during our cello/viola hike on the Cinque Terre in Italy.
Kleinman Family – Near the harbor at Peschiera Del Garda, we sat down to play a set for you. You’ll see a charming young family from Bruges, Belgium enjoying the music and the day.
Brian Lenz – Here are the whitest thighs you’ll ever see at the edge of the lake at Peschiera Del Garda, Italy.
in foreign places.
Spirits seeking outward
hoping to find
the essential within.
All have questions
overflowing from sincerity
and an earnest hunger
in the unfolding epic.
We are all lost.
Words can only hint at the energy of that evening. New friends who in many ways were total strangers came together with their souls on their skins. The city had grown silent as the moon rose full. The music of the spheres, of an aged city, and of present seekers was thick in the air.
It is times like these that I do not feel like a musician, rather a primitive human hoping to use this strange, yet powerful gift of music as a conduit connecting things and selves which so frequently give the illusion of separateness.
To all that were there, thank you for your presence and full participation in shared time and space.
Here is a video dedicated to Duke and Carlyn Wagner from atop Arthur’s Seat. Wormwood’s most adventuresome performance to date!
No, we really didn’t. We haven’t done much of anything as planned the last few days. We’re calling these days “Strugglefest 2012!!!” More to come on that soon. We woke up at 5:00am today to catch a train to take a bus to get on a plane to get on another train in a different country. The first few routes were successful (trains are ridiculously comfy in Europe!) but the plane travel was a bust. We opted to wait another day for non-last-minute prices to Italy. While none of this even remotely resembles any kind of plan that we’ve had before the last 12 hours, it should end up saving us about 500 US Dollars! Good life choices.
Now we are camped out at a hotel in Luton, just outside the airport. The WiFi is exceptional, so that’s a plus, and the hotel staff gave us breakfast for 2.5 pounds a person! Very generous. We must look disheveled 🙂
But we have tickets on a plane! Three of them. Not to Venice, but to Turin, where we will hop a train and get to Genoa for our Mediterranean fix. In the meantime, we will shower/bathe and probably wash our clothing in the bathtub. Should we use hand soap or shampoo???
P.S. Continuing with the theme of unplanned happenings, we stumbled upon the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace yesterday.
Here is a video of Wormwood in Edinburgh. This one goes out to Adam Conrad. Somewhere along the Royal Mile there is a hidden garden known as Dunbar’s Close. Its immaculately trimmed hedges reminded us of Adam’s Royal Beard.
After a fantastic first week in the miserable foggy chill of the UK, Ben and I have decided we’ve had enough. While originally we planned to spend some days in London and Paris, our blood needs warming and we’ve committed ourselves to whatever travel is necessary to get our gooses to the Mediterranean. Ben has found he can’t really sleep on a bus, but maybe trains will be different. Or MAYBE he’s committed himself to a future state of sleepless delirium. Either way I’m proud of his leadership in this spur of the moment planning. There’s a good chance we will buy plane tickets to Venice.
We are a bit haphazard in mood after our first week. Sitting in a non-moving bus outside London for 40 minutes at the crack of dawn did not help. Thankfully our emotions went silly instead of sour. We think either some huge accident blocked the highway or London itself decided to play a joke on us. Prayers for the former. Curses for the latter.
I would love to someday return to Scotland and especially Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic city with a unique layout. We didn’t do many museums, but we got a very good sense of the culture and the layers of history. I’ve never seen so many ascending and descending streets that passed over and under one another. Then there are “closes” and “wynds,” which are essentially hidden courtyards and winding staircases. One such staircase was our preferred busking spot (for acoustics and charm). Walking through Edinburgh almost felt like stepping into a Dr. Seuss book. There are countless twists, turns, and underpasses.
We tried some excellent whiskies, and even smoked some “old Toby” tobacco, courtesy of Bob Latchaw, on the slopes of Edinburgh castle. The food was nothing exceptional, but we didn’t go out of our way to find any affordable fine dining. Mostly pub fare and grocery stores kept us fed. We found Tesco had the best selection, but a little co-op had the best fresh foods and gluten-free options. The beers on tap at pubs were very good, and there are many ciders available at most places. It seems to me like a city for all ages. Many generations could enjoy living in or visiting that place. That goes double if you consider the dark age and how defensible the castle remains to this day, haha.
The UK was good to us. Don’t mistake our mock cynicism for true unhappiness. We had one great day of sun and many great days of drizzle, and we enjoyed all our time. London is a bit busy for Wormwood’s artistic pace, but it’s quite impressive. Just the same, let’s see if we can’t get to warmer climates!
Finally!!! We have spent the afternoon taking care of some business at a cafe which gave us the time to upload two of our five videos so far. The video files are large and take approximately an hour to upload. So, I imagine the videos will likely be a little bit behind our current whereabouts as the trip continues. A huge thanks to Gino, owner of The Coffee Mill Cafe, who allowed us to enjoy some coffee, chips, and bum around for the afternoon. Enjoy our first two takes!
Here is a shout-out to Jared Shulz, our good friend and first backer on our IndieGogo campaign. This was on day 1 in Glasgow, Baylen’s cello, Felicity, was freshly purchased from the shop with a brand new set of strings. (Please forgive her temperment.)
Next, is our shout-out to Bob Latchaw! This is the castle in Edinburgh. You’ll notice an unladen European swallow flying by at 1:07. After we finished our set, many strange French-men popped their heads over the castle wall and began hurling insults at us. (Monty Python reference, everyone.)
Through faults of stone
These human hands
Reach out with
Every face a city
Every heart a song
The cracks that divide
But in the end
We rediscover bedrock
Or the human soul
We never should have
Having spent a few days in Edinburgh and run into several types of great human beings, I’ve found a feeling of kinship in new faces that I hoped for but did not expect. Wormwood played a set of music on the top of Arthur’s Seat. Ben insisted we make the trek up that winding path, and I didn’t argue, but I complained heartily whenever appropriate.
Thankfully, it was worth the effort. Playing for a private audience of tired hikers (fifty people or so) with a bird’s eye view of Edinburgh was magic of the first order. It may have been Wormwood’s most satisfying performance to date.
We connected with a group of Germans travelling for school and several American’s as well. We’ve spent a couple evenings chatting with those wonderful people. They are young and smart and complete strangers except that we share one noteworthy experience at the top of a very small mountain. It’s the kind of connection Ben and I hoped we could make via our music and our honesty.
We also found great conversation with a brother and sister from Australia. We sat in the lounge of our hostel and shared a few stories and tips as we all organized bus/plane tickets on extremely slow internet. When traveling it seems planning is a good portion of daily work. Ben and I have discussed feeling pressure to “make every moment great” when on vacation. That isn’t possible or healthy. Just because we are traveling doesn’t mean living stops. Still have to eat. Still have to plan. Still have to take a shit once and a while. Maybe the key is finding joy in every activity. (Yes, that’s right, I relieved myself in two dozen scattered cafés through Edinburgh! What did you do with your summer?)
We spent some time with a pair of women visiting Edinburgh from London. They saw the cello and viola by our bunks and “demanded” that we play for them. So we got the common room bar to shut off the music for a spell and we played a few rounds. The Londoners told us later that they honestly expected us to make up excuses or dodge the situation. We told them that would undermine the purpose of our trip. We came to share our craft with anyone who cares to listen. We hadn’t really stated that explicitly until our two, new friends initiated, though. Thanks, you two, for helping us realize our project! Also, thank you for encouraging us to try haggis. It is quite tasty.
I wish this post came with a video. We have many to share,but they are rather high quality (as we prefer) so it is painstaking to upload them! As soon as we find public WiFi with sufficient speed, we will begin sharing our joy on the interwebs. Until then, stay in touch and enjoy your own magical, everyday moments.
“Attitude and Gratitude” these are the words shared by the joyful couple we ran into on our flight to Halifax. Their enthusiasm for life was infectious. They were individuals who embraced and expressed their sense of wonder at the things that most of us have stopped noticing. I’m grateful that we ran into these people at the start of the trip. I’ve already come to lean on these words as yesterday’s exhasution (“Yesterday” meaning some combination of Tuesday-Thursday interspersed with naps), disorientation, and mild frustration at the loss of an expensive piece of recording equipment was palpable.
Now it is 7am on Friday morning after 10 hours of blissful sleep in a rickety bunk bed. It’s amazing how attitude can shift when well rested, fed, and watered (or caffeinated, as the case may be). “Yesterday” we had our first three performances, each with their own unique connections.
First, I played some solo Bach and fiddle tunes during our 4 hour layover in Halifax. I set up outside an empty gate so as not to force solo viola (insert viola joke here) onto anyone’s ears, but rather allow them to come listen if they wanted. They did. One gentleman approached me afterwards expressing gratitude for my performance. He mentioned he was stressing out over work things on his phone, heard the music, sat down, and left his stress for a time. There were many others that showed up and applauded as the Gate 15 audience.
Next, Wormwood set up under the cover of a few trees to avoid the slight drizzle on Buchanan street in the heart of Glasgow. We were met with many smiles, kind words, generous tips (17 pounds in 30 minutes!), and the unwavering attention of a small child and his father. We enjoyed a nice conversation with the father who mentioned his son had never seen anything like it and was clearly transfixed by what we strange adults were doing. Here is Baylen at our first spot.
Finally, we found ourselves in a coffee house as the rain increased, enjoyed the company of friendly baristas, and played a short set for the coffee house.
In each case, our music has brought some form of joy to those that have heard it and opened the door to conversation and connection that likely would not have been there otherwise. I’m excited to see how this way of sharing music continues to open up these doors. In the meantime, I’m going to return to my journaling and attempt to orient myself around these two important words from a stranger.
Next surprise took place around 10 this morning when we stopped to take inventory in a half conscious daze of jet lag and realized our tiny iPad microphone had rolled away at Halifax airport! Too late now. That sucker is gone!
Luckily, the company that makes our little condenser mic is UK based and we found a store with them in stock! Serendipity? Check. First unplanned expense? Check!
We also found a cello for me (Baylen) and made a friend at the music store. Hats off to Ben at Biggars Music! I have not named my new companion, but she is quite temperamental. :p
So here’s the thing about Glasgow…everyone keeps telling us we’ll like Edinburgh much better! Seriously, we have had multiple people ask us what we plan to do here, and when we say we leave for Edinburgh tomorrow they seem relieved! Haha. Is there some dark secret on these streets that Glasgowians don’t want us to catch wind of? So far the only thing shocking has been the price of single malt. Ben and I had a pour of 12-year Dalmore for the same price as a pint of beer! Eat THAT absurd Minneapolis liquor prices.
We are fighting to stay awake so we can reform some semblance of sleep schedule. Update soon on how successful that struggle turns out.
There’s nothing quite like arriving at an airport, trying to check in and being immediately directed to a “special services” desk. The silent panic in that queue was palpable. From what we could tell, it was a place for travelers trying to check bags big enough to transport livestock, frazzled folks who missed flights, and clueless people like us who booked their tickets on third-party websites that only kind of exist…
Long story short, we stood at the counter for a short eternity while an incredibly patient desk person made several phone calls. We were both just about finished internally evaluating our life choices when she smiled and handed us our boarding passes. Phew! We can laugh about it now!
The next surprise was a pleasant one. We were just about to enter security when Ben leaned down to untie a shoe and a four-sided die fell out of his viola case! He has no memory of intentionally packing any dice, so we must conclude that this cute little stowaway joined us of her own accord. She has been named Dee Four. Expect further tales of this brave polyhedral!
We made it into Toronto without a hitch and through customs. The many colored arrows pointing us down a long series of hallways had the affect of a cattle chute. It wasn’t unwelcome, though! We are both dragging from lack of sleep. (Cheers to those who celebrated our departure with us!)
Then we flew to Halifax. As we boarded the plane we got to chatting with some very friendly Minnesotans also Faxing to Hal. They were brandishing a Ukulele and looking forward to their first busking experience. I hope they won’t be insulted if I quote them. “We’re shooting for two dollars!” Their enthusiasm was infectious and we had a great time laughing and joking. Cheers, you two!
Once on the plane I saw there were adorable tiny monitors in front of our seats that let us track our flight on a little map. (Top speed 585 mph and a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet if you were wondering.) I’ve never watched my little GPS blip float over rivers and lakes. Pretty surreal 🙂
Now we are relaxing in the Halifax airport and trying to pretend that it is 10:30pm when our bodies think it is 4:30pm. Our flight leaves in 4.5 hours. This should be interesting! Here’s a picture of Ben striving to be restful :p