The Netherlands, again

Location: York, England to Boxmeer, the Netherlands
Venue: Peelstar Country Club, 107 FM


Leaving York, England the road leads back to Europe. This will be my third Channel crossing, still no Chunnel for me. Take the train to Hull, and this time a different ferry. I will cross to Rotterdam, Netherlands. Ferry to bus to train, to train, to train.
Once again I settle into the Hotel la Promenade, Baarn, just outside of Amsterdam. M.C. Escher used to live here, the stairs at the hotel remind me of him. If you want to experience a country and its culture, get out of the big cities.

Boxmeer, the Netherlands with Bert van der Wijst

The town is Boxmeer. It can be difficult to find. A few weeks earlier, on a day off, I decided I would take out my map of Western Europe, drive across the Netherlands and drop in to say hello to Bert and his family. His email response to my intention stated his lack of confidence in my ability to find his town or home. I thought a jaunt across the Netherlands would be fun. It is fun, until you realize you have missed the turn for the second time. Now I am lost in the countryside the language myth is borne true once again. “Spreekt u Engels?” (do you speak English?) A pause and then the answer, “No”. I keep searching, my map… useless, taking smaller and smaller roads until I arrive in Boxmeer.

Found Bert.

I survey the layout of the town and find Bert and his house. He is surprised. Besides being a radio personality, Bert was a fireman. He shows me his collection of miniature fire trucks he built and painted, very impressive. Bert and his family invite me to a family Bar B Que, Dutch style. The grill is set next to the table. You select your food to grill and cook it right there. We sit among his apple trees, eat, talk and I play a little music. I will return in a few weeks for an on air concert, I will need help to find my way back.

Leaving Bert and his family, I head to my hotel in Boxmeer, get on line and a few minutes later my navigation in Europe enters the digital age. The next morning I head to Amsterdam, then Germany, then the long road to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Bertwin 2

Boxmeer Radio Concert, Peelstar Country Club, 107 FM

Hey, let’s do a live radio show with host Bert van der Wijst. Live country, out in the country.
Now weeks later, I am back. Bertwin Bijleveld, the Baarn Bluesman, has kindly consented to give me a ride from Baarn to Boxmeer. Much easier finding Boxmeer with a local. We leave a little late and due to traffic delays we are running tight on time. Bert welcomes us as the show begins. Doing live radio is always a thrill. The format is controlled by the host and meeting expectations is always a challenge. You usually get there early enough to discuss the format and how the show is going to go. I arrive as the show goes live. As I unpack my instruments, Bert says, “Play us a tune.” This starts a three hour live radio show. Tonight it is “shootin’ from the hip” radio. Bert has a great sense of humor. He plays few songs and interviews me only briefly.

Bert can see I don’t have a good read on the timbre of the show, so he waits for me to finish each song and then says, “and another one?” Bert is pranking me. Undaunted, I rise to the challenge. I keep talking and playing. My segment goes for quite a while, one song or story at a time. I played most of the songs from the new album “Mama’s Goin’ Out” along with many songs from my other albums. Bert is amused at my struggle to get a read on the show, but only a sly smile gives away his enjoyment. He is professional all the way. It was a little unnerving in the beginning, but quickly became a lot of fun. I am grateful for the opportunity and really enjoyed meeting again with Bert and his wife. After the show Bertwin and I start back to Baarn. We stop for a Turkish pizza, something new to me. Both Bert and Boxmeer are full of surprises.

Back to Baarn

The Netherlands is a beautiful country operating at an even pace. I never feel rushed here. The people are fun loving and friendly. It is flat, like Florida, but without the hills. This is why it is the bicycle capital of the Universe. You see thousands of bicycles. There are everywhere and unlike the U.S. people here really use them. The Dutch have a simple system for transportation. The street is for cars, the red sidewalk is for bicycles and the rest is for pedestrians. You figure out the red sidewalk part once you find yourself walking on it, not advised.

Cafe Quispel pic 1

Café Quispel

is a fun place to play and a good time. I stopped by the Café Quispel meeting Sonja van der Laan. I will be playing without a PA system so, looks like a walking minstrel gig. The first set I walk around playing songs and speaking with the people who came out to see the show. Attendance is good and we are all having a good time. I meet Jack Visser who asks me, “Would you like a PA?” I said it would be nice with the room filling up but it would take too long. He smiles and leaves in a hurry. I finish the first set and continue to meet and greet the people. Jack returns, bursting through the door with a PA amp in his hands. Now, it about ten minutes, there is a quality PA system set up with microphones. Ok, the next set is from the stage. My show goes well, we do a couple of sing a longs, the Dutch like to sing. A great time is had by all. The hotel is walking distance so I head back. Tomorrow, Germany again and the last segment of the tour.

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