A tour of Castles? Who’s idea was that?? Well, not mine, but I was fortunate enough to go on one anyway. Frank Oberhof, together with a couple of friends, organise the “Lieder-tour” (song tour) in Germany. A project made with love and passion for music, they’ve set up a circuit of rather unlikely venues to marry live music with beautiful settings. When they asked me to play, I didn’t really have to think for a long time before agreeing to this particular adventure. I’d like to thank the Lieder-tour team for having me and to all the hosts for taking such good care of me! Here are just a few impressions and thoughts on the week:
Cultural and Linguistic oddities
Most of the castles were in the former DDR (soviet Germany). During the cold war castles were taken over by the state and turned into either hospitals, schools and children’s homes. After the fall of the wall, you could buy a castle for a nominal penny, as they were all abandoned and usually in a state of disrepair. The expensive part was the restoration and up-keeping, which means that most of the castles I played at have been adopted by very loving and eccentric people who dedicate their lives to these buildings and their community. It’s a tough, 24 hour job with perks such as…. living in a beautiful castle! You can usually still tell when you’re performing in the former DDR, especially if the audience is slightly older, by the fact that they don’t speak English as well (as they learnt Russian in school). This does not mean that they are any less interested in the lyrics – I tried my best to explain and tell little stories in between songs so as to not loose too much of the meaning behind the music. The last show was back in what used to be West Germany. I wasn’t aware of this geographically, but I could just tell instantly when people started laughing and smiling along to my lyrics. Throughout the castle tour, the audiences were super attentive, pin-drop quiet! The best singing along, hands down, was at the final castle-show in Witzenhausen (literally means joke town..!) – you lot were super fun!
The weather was beautiful for most of the week. Another cultural difference between a socialist and capitalist state is…nudity! Comrades are comrades and they don’t mind being naked amongst one another. Strolling along the lakes of Leipzig in the summer, you must be prepared to see lots of naked people…just saying. Martin, the whackiest of all the castle hosts, stripped down in seconds without warning to jump into a lake we happened to pass by on our drive from Breitungen to Weitersroda… so yeah, that happened, and now it’s in the blog! Not that I mind, but for us English people, sober skinny dipping’s a bit out there, right?
Art and great company:
Martin of Schloß Breitungen is an art dealer and has decorated the castle with the most incredible pieces of art, every corner of the castle was magical and I’m really happy I got to stay there for two nights. If you’re in the area, I strongly recommend you pay Schoß Breitungen a visit. The stage was just so beautiful, I had to try and record a song there… here’s a Regina Spektor song for you:
The coolest Castle host, hands down (and no offense to anybody else), was Robert Weinkauf of Schloß Goseck – what a dude. If you are around Leipzig, Schloß Goseck is another place you must see. The views reminded me of Italy and all the people there were lovely. Mr. de Bastion (Dad!) was with me for that show, really glad we got to go on the road again together, at least for a couple of days.
Burg Querfurt was one of the most impressive, fairytale style castles. I believe they sometimes use it as a movie set, and I’m not surprised at all. This was another great gig, not least because of Joerg, who was practically my tour manager for two days. He also took some super nice pictures and gave me a bottle of serious castle booze… this liquor is made in the bastion itself… I have yet to try it!
I would share more, but alas, I do not have the time. I’m working really hard trying to get everything ready for the new EP release, which I can’t wait to tell you about. So for now, please excuse me while I get back to emailing, plotting and organising for the next big step. Thank you again to everyone who came along to the castle shows and who helped organise it. I was made to feel welcome and at home by so many of you and my head is spinning with lovely memories, like the kittens rushing about the campfire in Weitersroda, the wonderful Uwe and Angelica of Witzenhausen, who were such wonderful hosts, the tiny little train stations that looked like toy models and the increadible sunshine – de Bastion had a good time at the Bastions.